So high, so low…

I’ve been anxious to find the time to post since about the first of the month. Now, nearly an entire month later, it seems I have a moment. Here we go.

September. For the past few days, it’s seemed like Summer is definitely over. I’m OK with fall being here, but it’s til kinda sad to see the summer pass. As the title of this post implies, it has been a bit of a rollercoaster month for me. Amidst continued animosity with my roommate, I’ve managed to have some of the best, and worst, experiences all summer.

Let’s start with the good. On the first, I, along with my friends Ben, Jared, Ryan, Abbey, Chris, Jared’s sister, and Chris’ mom went to see Ben Harper and Damien Marley. The show was at Meadowbrook Music Festival where, it is worth noting, I saw Ben Harper a couple years ago, and got backstage. The first time I saw him there I returned from the after-party to find my car being towed. This time was the antithesis of the last time. I still managed to get backstage, and the show was as enjoyable as ever but, I diddn’t end up spending the night on the side of the road outside of Meadowbrook waiting for my Dad to come pick me up.

I bought two lawn tickets on eBay, for about half of the face value. It was a good deal, that got even better when I decided I wanted to get backstage. Without having any prior arrangements made to get into the after-party, I knew I’d have my work cut out for me. I had some things going for me, I’m friends with the bassist’s daughter, and have met the band a couple of times. At least Juan, the bassist, knows me (or remembered once I reminded him). Also, I’ve got a knack for what some might call pretexting, or social engineering, or just plain old being smooth.

During the opening act (Damien “Jr. Gong” Marley) I hopped the barrier to from the lawn area, to the pavilion. I sat down in the back row, and started jamming to the music. After a few moments, a security guy came up, and asked to see my ticket. I showed him the “receipt” portion of the ticket, but not the one that said, “lawn” it was a good move, but he diddn’t bite, he told me to head back to the grass. I decided to play it smooth, and as the row I was in (very back) was nearly empty I figured I had an alright shot. I guess it was my polite, respectful demeanor, and personal introduction (complete with firm handshake, and eye-contact) that got him to agree to let me stay in that seat for the rest of the opening act, promising not to move up further. I sat there for a few songs, feeling good about making it that far, before I decided to push a little more. I went up to the security guy with whom I had already been introduced, and informed him that I was supposed to have backstage passes waiting for me, and imploring him to escort me to the backstage area to check. I was very calm, and assumed that he would comply. When met with resistance (“I’m way to busy to do that, there’s nothing I can do”) I had a choice, I could get indignant (getting me nowhere) or I could collect my three “no’s” politely, and humbly. I realized that this fellow was of no more use to me, and I moved on.

I went next to another subordanate of the security person with whom I’d been speaking. I gave him the same line about passes waiting for me, and he seemed more responsive to the idea (he had most likely seen me talking to his boss). He, however, was more busy than the first person, but he did instruct me to head down to the bottom of the pavilion (toward the stage) and consult the security guys down there. I did so, and the third time was the charm. I talked one good natured century into escorting me to the entrance to the backstage area to see if I had my passes waiting for me.

The “guard” of the backstage door instructed my escort to go backstage and ask the tour manager if he had passes for me. I told him to tell the manager that Juan’s daughter, Naiesha, was supposed to call in passes for her friend Gabe. He completed his duties brilliantly, and soon the tour manager came out to see what the confusion was all about. I greeted him with a big smile, a firm handshake, good eye-contact, and a proper introduction. I relayed my story as I had several times. He, of course, had no prior information about me, or my supposed inside source for passes, but, as I was hoping, he diddn’t want to rock the boat in the event I was telling the truth. He asked how many people I had, and I knew I was in… “I have five with me, but if that’s too many, I’ll take what I can get” I replied. He headed back stage, and a few moments later he emerged and produced six backstage passes, success!

I headed back to the lawn to distribute the golden tickets. I gave one to Ben, Ryan, Abby, and Jared and his sister, who had given us a ride. We then used them to get up to the front of the pavilion, and watched the show from about the tenth row. Following the show, we headed backstage, and waited to be escorted back. There was some superficial chit-chat for about ten minutes with the groupies, and some girls we’d run into from our home town who were without backstage passes, but determined to get backstage nonetheless. Once we were escorted back, the party began. Everyone had a seat, and got a drink, and started chatting.

Juan was waiting for us when we got back, and it was nice to get reacquainted. Eventually all members of the band made it out, and partied with us. Were my first backstage experience with the band not so special, this would have topped it. I was much less star struck than on prior encounters. I actually managed to have semi-meaning-full conversations with each of the members individually. I implored them all to start playing Fight For Your Mind again live, as it’s been out of their rotation for a LONG time… It was an incredible night, and Ben and I ended up going to cony island with the girls we kind of knew from back home, and crashing at their place in Rochester. They took us home in the morning, and that concert experience is firmly seated as the highpoint, and perfect end to my summer.

Some time after the show, a week or two, I now forget I encountered a bit of a slump in my luck. It started with my bike. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but perhaps my most enjoyed possession this summer has been my bicycle. I got it for my birthday several years ago, but haven’t really started to use it on a daily basis until this summer. Due to my proximity to downtown Grand Rapids, and both work, and school being mere blocks away, I’ve managed to not need my car nearly as much as I have in the past. I bike to work, school, the bar, pretty much everywhere. All of my classes this semester are technically located on the “downtown” campus for GVSU. One, however, is located at the CHS building, about a mile away, and uphill from my house. I ride the bus to this class, but always end up waiting for about 20 minutes for the bus to come after class. I decided to bring my bike with me on the bus on the way there, and then just ride home (downhill) after class.

I got to class, and chained my bike up in front of the building to the flagpole. I went to class, and when it got out three hours later, my bike was gone. Vanished. I immediately went to the front desk of the building to report the loss. The receptionist informed me that my bike had been impounded because I’d failed to chain it to the bike-rack. I would have been much less indignant, had there been a bike-rack within sight of the front of the building, or even just a sign informing bikers as to the rack’s location. Where, you ask, might they put the rack? What would seem most logical, if not out front? The side of the building? The large open parking lot next door? No, of course not! The most logical place to put a bike rack would be… the second floor of the parking garage! Where absolutely no bikers are likely to find it! Of course, why diddn’t I think of that?

Anyway, my bike was impounded, my lock cut. Thanks GVSU, good to know my tuition is paying a competent public safety department. Pff. Anyway, the next morning I called the head of security, and got him to agree to replace my lock. Good news, if I had the time to do it. I managed to not ride my bike for a few days, and keep it in my neighbor’s back yard away from prying eyes until I was able to go get a new lock.

It would have been OK, if my bike haddn’t been “borrowed” by Ben and his Girlfriend, Marie. They took it for a bike-ride, and neglected to lock it when they stopped at a friend’s house to say, “hi”. It was stolen, right from the driveway. I think it’s ironic, if not suspicious, that Ben’s brand new bike was passed over, in favor of mine. Mine was a good bike, perhaps even better than Ben’s, but it sure diddn’t look the part. So, long story short, I am now using a loner from my Dad, in place of my $400 bike that got swiped. Marie has agreed to reimburse me, but it’s probably going to be a long term deal, given her finances. I’m not holding my breath…

So, there you have it. Ups, downs, etc.
Enjoy the pics from the show, alas, I have none of the bike…

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