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"I was Changed By Rock and Roll"

Musings on shows and introspective resolution. Yeah right.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Holy Xingolati!

It's a day after the Xingolati cruise and I know I'm still not looking at it properly. While I was there I wrote three blog entries -- posted below in order (Friday, Saturday, Sunday.) What an incredible trip. Photos to follow.

Please e-mail me if you are reading this blog -- just to let me know if people are still spotting it. Jeffmillerla at gmail.com.

J
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Yosemite People: Xingolati, Day 1, 10/14/05


It’s something of a surreal experience to be on the deck of a cruise ship watching a band of percussionists, fire-dancers, and hula hoopers play to a crowd as freaky as them.

Let’s back up. I’m on a boat with 15 bands and 1000 of the most insane people I’ve ever seen. I mean, Jenn and I are among the “normals” here, and we’re fucking weird.

Last night was “Formal” night. My pimp-gear is officially off the hizzle.

There’s a hairy guy on the boat wearing a rug and spikes on his head. I mean, 70’s southern rock hairy. Lynyrd Skynyrd hairy. Devandra Barnhardt hairy. Ryan Adams hairy.

Chewbacca hairy.

He has laminates from all the other jam cruises. What the fuck does this guy do for work?

The tattoos are amazing. I saw a Vaudville collective with sword swallowers and topless women playing 40’s pop songs.

That’s the kind of weekend this is shaping up to be.

The music is almost irrelevant.

I don’t even know where to start. Howbout the naked, completely bald woman in the hot tub – before we left port? Beers in line with the guy who runs the Burning Man singles website? Fucking running into a guy I played poker with in Reno BEFORE WE GOT TO THE DOCK?

Dude threw up all over our bathroom.

“In his defense, it was mainly in the sink,” says Jenn. “Then I made him go to the toilet.”

Won a shirt. Children’s small. Fits well.

Almost got in two fistfights seeing a band called Slightly Stoopid, one over jealousy and one because a dude was such a big fan of the band he didn’t want anyone else in his personal space.

Particle played “California Love” with G-Love on Harmonica.

Willie Waldman is everywhere.

Did I mention I watched a guy swallow a fluorescent tube?

K-23 Orchestra=sickness.

Um, let’s see.

This is what life were like if it were co-directed by Tim Burton, David Lynch and Wes Anderson. I may need some time to put it in perspective.

Good thing my Rolling Stone deadline is Monday.

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10 15 05: Animal Pass?: Xingolati, Day 2



Again: where to start is a major debate. Woke up this morning to a ship full of very groggy, very confused people, many of whom have dreadlocks. “It feels like everyone on this ship had a one-night stand with everyone else, and this is the awkward day you have to spend together afterwards” said Jenn, and she was right. If that’s true, I have a feeling that when I leave my room today it’ll feel even worse – maybe like forgetting your one-night stand’s name on a larger scale.

I was supposed to check in at the main ballroom at one to interview Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips, who’s a personal hero. I checked in. I interviewed Wayne, still a personal hero.

I told him I wanted to wear a costume. He told me who to talk to.

I went into mexico. I ate fish tacos. I bought some rum. G-Love was there. He doesn’t remember me.

Then: Jenn and I went to the pool. We met a guy there who is an artist; his work is incredible. He sits with you, interviews you for 15 minutes, and then distills your life into a phrase that he writes on a T-shirt for you. He has a photographer with him, and they are putting out a book.

Mine says: “Thurston Moore in Training.” Jenn’s? “The Guest List is the Best List.”

Nice.

Then: blur. But, somehow, at 10:30pm, I’m backstage with a group of brits in furry rabbit costumes, a woman wearing a goldfish mask, a panda bear, a sheep, and two Jesus’s (Jesi?). We’re about to go onstage with one of my favorite rock bands. We’re told to stay within the white lines. We sense anticipation.

“Fight Test.” Blur. Sweat. Adulation. “Bohemian Rhapsody!” Rocking. More sweat. Water. Unzip. Photos. Forrestt in the front row. Find Jenn with the spotlight. Get a disapproving smile from Entertainment Weekly writer. Almost pass out. “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1” Major smiling. Water. Find hippie girl with light. Point. Smile. Try to lead the hustle. Fail. Sweat. Sweat. Sweat. Look to my left. Two couples have proposed. Women are making out. The girl to my right asks if she can propose to me next. Yes. “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton.” Shit. It’s done already? Soaked. Sweat. Rile the crowd up. Sweat. Swimming in it. “War Pigs.” The freaks are singing to Black Sabbath. Smile. Smile Smile. Done.

Well, not yet. ‘Cause I gotta head up to the pool deck after a shower (lots of sweat in there) to see what the organizer called “What you’re going to be talking about when you get home.”

See Jenn. Drunk. See puke dude. Drunk. See Jeff and Jane. Drunk, high. See hippie girl. Hug. Name’s Amanda. Drunk. Me: sober. Loving it. Drink.

Music starts. People writhe. Woman sings, lovely but incoherent.

Mayhem. Tattooed people are simulating group sex. A trapeze artist hangs. Women are topless. A woman is wheeled out on a pedestal, naked, and gets painted. She is a life sized statue. No, a life sized fountain! The devil comes out. More women dance. More groups writhe. Is this simulated? What are these people ranting about. Still sober, but it doesn’t feel like it. The music moves. The people move. They are dancing, we are dancing, they are writhing, I am not a part of it because I’m a ‘normal’ and never before have a felt like this much of an outkast and still a part of it before because I’m dancing again and there’s Jenn and she’s shocked because she saw ‘the most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen’ where’d hippie girl go? Oh well, I dance dance dance then….

Olospo plays the super Mario brothers theme song. 3:00 am.

Jenn is asleep and I am eating a cheeseburger on the Lido deck. I see Mike, the near-fistfight from last night. I apologize. “She does crazy things when she’s drunk,” he says. “And she’s always drunk.”

I apologize.

I eat the cheeseburger.

I wonder if today can even compare. I wonder if the rest of my life can even compare.

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10/17/05 Xingolati Day 3: “Suddenly, Everything Has Changed.”



I wish there was a way to bottle the feeling on this ship and sell it as a drug. It would be safe and legal extacy, minus the bizarre twitching feeling that comes about an hour-and-a-half in. There were 25 people in the hot tub yesterday, some of them naked, none of them me, and every time I walked by they’d scream hello. Everyone talked to everyone. Lots of knowing looks – I saw you there, I danced with you here, was that you?

But there’s more. Event-wise, today was a hit-and miss. Hit: taking G. Love out playing poker. “G Love – I’m all in.” Miss: Missing the Zaireeka “listening party” with Wayne introducing song after song after song from the four-disk opus – probably the most “special” on boat event -- in order to have dinner with G.Love. But we did. And he ordered us Dom. And got in a fight with his girlfriend. It was very romantic. The kids from Filter are still giving me shit about it, and probably will as long as I know them (and I think we’ll know them a while, I think they’re our peeps.) “It was a lifechanging expeience,” one said. “Did G. Love play you a harmonica solo?”

He’s joking, of course. That’s the thing about this – not only are the artist journalist barriers broken down but the artist-fan relationship has changed to something approaching intimacy. That’s kind of a problem for a band like the Lips – how much larger than life can they seem when Wayne is eating eggs next to you at breakfast – but it also is so “special” to know that that’s an experience that you share with a very select group of people. I talked to Neal, one of the organizers; he said they tried to weed out just the people that “got it.” “It” being: inclusive exclusivity. Let’s put it this way – there’s a VIP room that I never saw being used – until last night, when it was commandeered so that a paying customer could lead a group sing-along of “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me And My Monkey.”

I’ve got to remember this feeling because it’s so important to not let go of. When I’m at home, alone, working on a shit story, I’ve got to remember that there’s a whole group of people out there willing to open up to the idea of a traveling community (yeah, I said it, it’ shippie-dippy) that’s essentially a utopia. A lot of people here were comparing it to burning man. If this is what burning man is like, sign me up.

There’s a downside, too: we heard a rumor this morning that two of our fellow sailors had OD’d. That’s just fucked. As Jenn said – “There’s a whole side to this cruise that you and I didn’t see.” And for every, happy candyflipped couple, there’s something they’re running into or away from. Last night I talked to a girl very, very late. She was dressed like an Indian princess – pearls, scarves, face makeup. Beautiful.

I asked where she had to go back to tomorrow. Immedately her mood went from joyus and celebratory to pale and depressed. “I don’t want to talk about tomorrow,” she said, and that was the end of the conversation.

The truth is, I’m always thinking about tomorrow. But now, three days in, waiting for the coast guard to give us the all-clear so I can give Jenn a ride back to her office, re-charge my batteries, and DJ a party for Nederlander Concerts, I also have to remember that yesterday and today are equally important. I’m going to try to live today like it was on the boat: when I want to get up and take a walk, I will.

Wish me luck.

5 Comments:

At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Jenn said...

There are men working in my head.

Well done Jeffery, well done.

 
At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Shannon said...

Dude, I totally recognize you because of that Bob Sagat T-Shirt. Plus I was standing right below you at the Lips show.

I'm glad I happened upon your blog and will link to it in mine when I write more about the experience tonight. I still feel dizzy. What an experience...

 
At 5:53 PM, Anonymous The Admiral said...

A good account of many that will surely follow. It would be interesting to link all the data gathered on this trip together so we could revisit the magic again and again.

 
At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can anyone tell me what type of dance that was on the Lido deck by the pool Sat. afternoon around 4? It was self-defensish, athletic as in you kick I duck, a most impressive curly haired tan blond ringleader and just drums. I want to learn! But I can't find any info...
mermora@earthlink.net

 
At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Duffman said...

I'm glad (well actually, I'm not but at least I know for certain I wasn't doing anything wrong) I wasn't the only one that had to deal with little insecure baby boys wanting to fight me because I talked to the girl they wanted to hump. Happened to me all damn weekend. So much macho insecurity.

 

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