By Andrew Ramirez
This past weekend, for the first time this year, LA was hit with white hot temperatures—some authentic, shirt-sticks-to-your-skin desert burn. So hot it felt good sitting in the shade listening to the radio like you were in a Norman Rockwell painting or something, drinking beer and eating watermelon. Two hours to the Southeast, the Coachella music festival was also underway but none of us had gotten tickets. A few days earlier my housemate had fallen victim to the prank put on by Skull and Dagger, and his psychedelic hedgehog balloon suit sat leaking warm air on the front porch alongside the bucket stilts that had been duct taped to his shoes.
I didn’t feel bad about missing the festival this year. Last year I attended like any good liberal arts college student would, and I think that’s enough to satisfy the cliché. Coachella sounds more like the name of an airborne slug anyway. All those music festivals do. Last year when I drove down towards Indio for the festival, my windshield collected so many Bonnaroos and Lollapaloozas and Sasquatches I couldn’t see where the hell I was driving, and the wipers only made things worse.
But it’s funny how you think you’re over something and it comes sliding back. This weekend as I sat drinking and watching the sky change colors with fellow non-Coachellers on the porch, my inner hipster/poet hands grabbed a hold of my heart:
white sun sucking on red skin.
carnival food eating up my pink insides.
oh baby oh Coachella, with or without you—
you’ve either run a needle through my heart
or left a walnut-sized exit wound
in my wallet.
A fear tears welled up in my eyes until I realized how unsympathetic I was for anyone affiliated with music festivals, past or present—my own silliness included.
Like last year when I fainted mid-show on the second day of Coachella. When I came to, I was thirsty and furious, and I started to rant: They should provide more mist fans. More free water stations. Why can’t they pick a less hot weekend. We’re not cattle, this isn’t fucking Cattlechella…
But the portly girl who shared her water with me pointed out that I was wearing a polyester button down and black pants. She didn’t say anything, but looking at her I knew that she wanted to. Even if cattle did dress themselves—they’d probably know to wear something more temperature sensitive.
I went home thinking: Shorts. T-shirt. Next time. Another lesson.
But now I’m supposed to be outraged over ten Coachella tickets that didn’t exist? My friend and his balloon suit made the front page of the Daily Trojan the morning after the prank, and I was a speck jealous thinking he had won a ticket until I read the caption that followed: Punk’d.
That didn’t make sense to me either.
It’s too bad that it was a prank, but it’s even worse that people got all up in arms over it. I think it’s that McDonald’s league syndrome: everyone thinks they deserve to be a winner no matter what. As if it’s not fun enough to wear the shit—the balloons, the wedding dress, and stand there in the sun collecting wide-eyed stares from passersby—nowadays there needs to be a reward for it and if there isn’t how could you, how could you?
If someone’s not winning, then someone must be getting wronged.
We just don’t have as much fun as we used to shaking the dirt off our clothes after we’ve gotten thrown to the ground. We’re too spoiled, too stuffed with pride, and even worse: we’ve forgotten how much fun it is using your hands to get back up. When I was on the basketball team in school, I played six minutes the entire season, and on my sixth minute I accidentally scored a basket for the other team. When the playoffs started I didn’t even wear my shorts underneath my sweats. And my senior year of high school our football team was so awful we were every opponent’s homecoming game. I mean, we lost by sixty points more than once. One time I was leveled by a running back so hard I got a bloody nose and four months later I was the featured on his highlight reel—that’s right, the highlight reel that got sent out to coaches all over the country. I considered myself, in a way, famous. And he didn’t do so badly either when he took off to Maryland on a full scholarship. I mean, if you can’t learn to laugh a few things off, you’ll drive yourself crazy thinking how worthy you are.
And if a guy in a wedding dress isn’t good enough already, if a suit of balloons doesn’t make you smile, if a guy covered in blue paint wearing a diaper and a white hat like a Smurf still pisses you off—what’s really wrong? Look on the bright side: it’s a costume for next year, it’s one hundred and twenty balloons just waiting to go pop.