looking under rocks in the desert

Coachella 2012 : the first day began with beer and breakfast. it was about a mile walk to the festival. the security was aggressive and grabbing balls. the sheriff had set up a small satellite stand as though they were selling corn dogs at a county fair

Story and Photos by Jack Laszlo

Cochella photo©Jack Laszlo

at first i thought i was safe. i landed in los angeles with no problems. we drove to the desert. i filmed us driving. we slipped through a rainstorm. i imagined our car flipping over. we passed an accident that had just happened. a man was on the side of the road soaked gesturing for everyone to drive in the far lane. somebody had been hurt. we passed a wind farm. the highway was dry as we approached indio. our condo was hidden in a gated community. every twenty feet the streets were littered with speed bumps. we arrived at our friends house early afternoon and started drinking. the girls dipped in first. they were dancing in the pool twenty minutes later. it was good. we were drunk and decided to give it a taste too. conversations and ten-thousand yard shared stares started. she told me she has a young child. she was full of tattoos. she said we would spark. her eyes were huge. beautiful. everybody was high and smiling. i needed some rest. it would start tomorrow.

the first day began with beer and breakfast. it was about a mile walk to the festival. the security was aggressive and grabbing balls. the sheriff had set up a small satellite stand as though they were selling corn dogs at a county fair. our friend got popped. security pocketed the goods and told him to move on. the same happened to the stranger in front of us but he was swiftly escorted to the sheriff’s stand where he surely experienced a memorable injustice. i went through undetected. within two hours the desert turned cold. people were a bit miserable. the music their only refuge. we dove in late afternoon. the wind was sharp. they lowered the projection screens on the main-stage. i assumed from fear of what might happen if they fell on someone.

Cochella photo©Jack Laszlo

seventy-five thousand people off their tits. serious end of the world shit. a party you see in an apocalypse flick. laughable. palpable. a well overflowing in sandy sun surrounded by mountains and palm trees. life affirming death grip. snowcapped mountains in our eyelids. rugged landscape begging your presence a bit longer. new american ritual. looking under rocks in the desert. all your answers questioned. an extreme constitution. somebody good struggling with somebody bad. both full of indecision. you’ve made up you’re mind and you’ve decided to change you’re mind.

JIMMY CLIFF marched around the stage. a seventy-ish year old gold sequined psychopath. a living legend for good reason. it was cold and started to rain. his voice and antics made it seem like the sun was shining. everybody started to smile. he made the night begin.

THE BLACK ANGELS were too dark for some. just right for others. real ghouls of greatness. a sitar and cold wind blowing. the night nearly over we wondered what would happen back at the house. devastating excellence. righteous waking dreams. live pillow talk with what seemed like ninety-thousand strangers now. desperate epic dance party. long evenings long days. diminishing returns remedied by starting earlier and ending later. sentences like scenes in a movie. i need to get back to brooklyn. i have obligations. desires. people to please who pay me money. three days left. delayed planes surely in my future and none of it matters.

Cochella photo©Jack Laszlo

day two was warmer. all the girls are blond or brunette. skinny. sexy. done up like native american strippers. not as many fake tits as you would think though. we see a guy wearing a feather headdress and a tasseled mount rushmore shirt. we wonder aloud if he is being ironic or ignorant. then you have the shirtless bros in the sahara tent. territorial knuckle draggers that started experimenting with drugs upon leaving the frat house. arrested development. too pretty. too stupid. some of the girls are almost intimidating with their honest to god magazine bodies. los angeles. consolidated and relocated. brilliant sunned skin. in your mind you feel how soft they are. she smiles. most of them do. the scattered sixteen year old kids remind you of some suburban version of your former self. a walking middle finger. a prototype hopefully turning into commodity. evolution please hurry.

THE DO-LAB is going off. people in pods hung from ropes. strange horned men in robes spun them twenty feet in the air with long sticks. fire and smoke. a horn section. a poor mans cirque du soleil. a perfect getaway for the criminally insane.

a real shaman showman FLYING LOTUS sprays innovative beats toying with every genre.  EARL SWEATSHIRT and a crew of big names are watching from backstage. projections. live video manipulation. the crowd absolutely bouncing. staring. a tent brimming with awe.

Cochella photo©Jack Laszlo

a sleepwalking THOM YORKE wonders aloud onstage if he is alive. larger than life he owns everything. RADIOHEAD is a machine. the lights lasers voices drums strings keys all come from one core. the camera doesn’t turn on the audience once. they know exactly what they’re doing. their place in history is cemented. forty years from now the world will have no water left. radiohead will still be listened to regularly.

the hot tub is a savior resurrected throughout every evening. a brigade of unabashedly forward looking people thrashing and howling in the living room. like a scene from lord of the flies but with everybody dancing around a dj and turntables laughing as opposed to kids lunging towards a bonfire screaming and killing piggy. brick wall stares. mind and body completely aligned. the only reflections left are the eyes of others. the carpet was pieced together by cool fire ants. they wore sunglasses and had no teeth. we had all been freshly vacuumed. costumed lunatics happy and finally alive after much anticipation. barefoot sun rising we walked home through a dew drenched driving range passing retired strangers with an ear to ear grin and a quick joke about the dogs that they were walking. maniacal laughter at the mention of hypothetical situations. a couch. a bed. the backyard. wherever.

Cochella photo©Jack Laszlo

THE BLACK LIPS played early on the third day. i saw them with my ex at the shank in greenpoint when it was still open. they destroyed the place. a real shit-show. everybody was pissing in the corner. they still killed in the two pm desert sun but i prefer them in some dark room with four crumbling walls.

ARAABMUZIK in the mojave tent was a perfect solution to the sunset. blurred fingers seriously abusing an mpc. constantly. people screaming. the light just right. then on to JUSTICE. they were twenty minutes late. it was dark now. i dropped a pressie on the ground. she helped me find it. i was shocked. and pleased. they finally came out. heavy metal mockumentary dance music. brilliant.

on the third visit to the beer tent we sat cross-legged talking with AT THE DRIVE IN playing behind us. two friends of mine who were strangers figured out they had a common acquaintance in LA. she lives next to his best friend in the building he used to live in. or something similar. we were coming up in a big way. the night no longer belonged to us. we bounced to MODESELEKTOR in the mojave like we had just popped out of a brand new womb. german techno goes a long long way in the proper conditions. and these were pristine petri dish scientific terrifics.

SNOOP DOGG AND DRE closed the whole thing out. it was a short nostalgic trip. a strange vegas-compton-hollywood mash up. we saw a military helicopter lift off as we were cattle stumbling past port a potties and metal barriers after the show. we assumed it was an all star flight hot boxed with millions of dollars and unobstructed ego. quite a thrill what they had just accomplished i’m sure.

Cochella photo©Jack Laszlo

the final night. all remaining everything dumped on the proverbial glass table. the sun of no importance. the morning strictly a moment between the moon and lunch. stiff drinks and big easy joints cheers o my gods and i cant believe what just took place statements. the only way forward is to accept everything that happened. we aren’t animals but there is a reason we act this way. there is a reason we will seek this out every chance we get. it has something to do with our past. our parents. our grandfathers. the country. the horrorshow feel good action flick. the upcoming reality tv election. the mayans. times square. the south. sarah palin. santorum. enemies. friends. money. death. pussy. love. music…

and now: the television wind-down. the sky has gone digital. everybody utters amen. thank god and his sister too. i will forever be at an airport bar. relief waits in the wings. the flight depends on how high you get and how fast you get there. a true memory. a real feeling gone though at one point it was in the palm of your hand.

flight 416 with service to JFK. not sure which side of gravity i am on. hopefully we float drift and lift. i am group E. two double bloody marys and a tall beer. a joint fading. i have a seat number. im going to edit a short film. i love seeing the brooding nyc girls boarding. leathers and chains. no longer on the reservation. i have much work ahead of me. i’ll order two drinks after take off. i’ll think we’re going down. we won’t be. some people will sleep. some people will dream. some people won’t. brooklyn: take me home and tell me what to do next.

– once again, jack laszlo

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