Almost fantastically, I thought about writing this week’s bit as a first-hand review of Bonnaroo 2012 for the newspaper that prides itself on being a beacon of local arts and music in particular. A non-connoisseurs point of view of one of the largest music events in the country as seen from the perspective of one who actually had no intention of being there, yet found himself backstage with one of the headlining bands (if that’s what you call them now).
See? I’m already being condescending and I haven’t even started, which validates my hesitation. Who am I to judge jack or shit, except when it comes to freedom, civil law or life and death. Ask any music snob and they’ll tell you they’d rather have their eyes plucked out by crows than to allow a non-believer to form an opinion about music, but I’ve always taken this attitude because these types inevitably remind me of the white guy that Forrest Gump decked at the Black Panther Party he crashed in the movie. But alas, that’s not my point.
As most cops do, I work on the side (something referred to as “extra jobs” in the South, and “moonlighting” in the North, whatever the hell that really means). I don’t do it as much as I used to, but as I approach my second decade in the business I do get to be a bit more picky in what I do and when, and this last week was a fluke that topped most others in all regards.
Instead of a polyester shell covering a Kevlar vest and a layer of funky body odor bearing witness to my life being wasted away in the useless gesture of guarding a convenience store parking lot that not coincidentally wreaks of decaying chicken meat and human piss, I can wear a suit and tie (vest optional), and make fabulous sums of money being polite while having a plan to kill everyone I meet as made famous by Marine Gen. James Mattis.
This work has had me backstage at globally televised events, and while Bonnaroo doesn’t count as such, it was still one of the most unique. Some 80,000 ass-smelling people present at an event where it is not statistically unusual to have a person or two die of unnatural causes in a sweaty tent, and I’m eating pineapple backstage with a vegetarian whose name you wouldn’t know from a hole in the ground, but he’s been in the same room and tax bracket as the likes of George Lucas and Warren Buffett. I “get it.”
So there I was with Thom Yorke whining his guts out 50 meters away, and I felt guilty. I knew a half dozen people that would vote Republican to be here if they had to (and you cannot possibly realize how profound a statement that is to these people), and I was just annoyed that Radiohead reminded me of an electronic Neil Young rip-off (think about it, eh?) and how pissed people would be if I said that. So it clicked: I need to say that. Maybe make it a separate review?
But to do that I’d probably have to write during daylight, on a deadline, and without a frost-covered bottle of Crown in hand—and I know I can’t change that formula now, folks.
I can, however, encourage you to look up from that cell phone and appreciate when something good is happening. It doesn’t have to be onboard a G-5 while packing heat or backstage at an event to impress you, but you do have to look up and around to smell those flowers now and then.
Life: Attendance counts. Even when it’s filled with pre-pubescent vocals coming from a middle aged man whining about electronic angst through the ironic use of synthesizers. Again.
So endeth my “review,” and that dirty-assed event as well.
Alex Teach is a full-time police officer of nearly 20 years experience. The opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/alex.teach.