the silence and hesitation i felt after coming back from nyc in january beset me again after this trip. so much activity in so little time that its hard to grasp how to write about it.
but as most stories do, let's start from the beginning.
my late night flight to mpls began rather smoothly. i'm wondering what souvenir i could snag in the airport in between flights when the pilot informs us of two crucial facts: the mpls airport is shutdown due to weather and we do not have enough fuel to circle around and wait. we fly to omaha instead to fuel up, which guarantees that i and just about everyone else on the plane will miss their connections. we finally arrive and i find my flight has left on schedule. weather must not have been that bad for long.
no anger or frustration. i was quite happy just to be on the ground again. policy dictates that weather related issues do not constitute a free hotel room. that did get me a bit annoyed but again i just wanted to eat and stretch my legs. i called my sister to tell her the lovely news that i wouldn't be getting in until tomorrow morning. thankfully she took off work. i felt like a hunter gatherer looking for food in a closed down airport. thankfully subway and mcdonald's were open. clearly i went to subway.
still a veggie [with the exception of sushi] after five months and mcdonald's smells horrendous to me. i'm in the delta concourse which means i cannot runaway from cnn on each tv screen. i watched for awhile but the reporters were pissing me off. the level of insincerity and joviality with such dire stories rubbed me the wrong way. a sentence should never say "they are still grieving after two months" for any tragedy especially in regards to something as devastating as japan. i mean they are still grieving in new orleans, mississippi, haiti, indonesia, and all the other various places around the world that have survived natural disasters. there is no time limit for that level of pain. just because your news cycle runs at an ungodly speed, thinking that things have moved on, people are still hurting here in the real world. but i digress...
i finally find a spot to crash and manage to get at least five hours of sleep. the next flight out was less eventful than the first and when i landed, i was again just happy to no longer be in the air. my sister got stuck in traffic which is a given in los angeles, as i remembered from my first trip. meanwhile i got to people watch. pedestrians almost getting slaughtered by rental car buses [you are not made of steel, wait for the light!], people wearing hats like it guarantees them personality and distinction, a man taking a photo on his phone trying to look sexy serious and i'm a big deal all at the same time [it may look nice when posted to fb or twitter, but u look like a self important idiot in reality].
our journey began with breakfast, [french toast with pineapples for me] and then some time on ventura. we pick up our banter talking a mile a minute like we don't talk almost everyday and think of what to do while i am there. we had already discussed going to a concert, so it was just a matter of which one. we stocked up at the mexican market as she calls it, where i swear they were selling cucumbers 8 for a dollar. i got four. the next day i got to spend at home alone while her and her boyfriend were at work. as always i enjoyed my downtime and really soaked in how well my semester went. how deserving i felt of this vacation. i made a killer salad and danced around to music and scoped out tickets for the shows that weekend at the forum, which didn't go on sale until wednesday.
i knew janelle monae was opening of friday and as you know, i said back in december that if her and prince would be on the same stage i wanted to be there. i missed the first one in nyc, so when this was announced, my mind was made up. my sister didn't care which one we went to, and let me decide. such a gracious host, but that meant two things: we would miss out on hanging with some of her friends and i would go to work with her and go straight to inglewood from there.
thus, that friday was a marathon.
if you have never taught or shadowed a teacher, seriously, do it and then kiss the ground they walk on. i had yet to visit this school and it was fascinating being in a such a small school and a muslim school. the kids were adorable and so intrigued by me. are there two miss pattons? are you her sister? one little girl just came up and hugged me without having a clue who i was. they all had questions and wanted to show and tell me things. i love that.
we had gotten our tickets the night before. the $25 seats and i committed the cardinal sin: checked back for other tickets. a pair of seats in the loge popped up at the same price. good seats. the office was closed so we couldn't exchange. i let it go but still decided to call just to see the next day. of course they were gone. but again, being in the building matters most, and we are tall anyways. we always have a good view.
after a long day as we had drama club practice afterschool, [a group of kids singing why can't we be friends? by war is cute on a level that isn't even natural}, we headed for inglewood. it was amazing the difference i could feel just being over there. i knew i was around my folks instantly, but even more so when we stopped at carl's jr. the cashier gave us a teacher's discount based on our word since my sister forgot her id. we had to wait a long time for our shakes, so she gave us cookies for free.
we put on the prince 101 mix i made for her when she told me she was going to some shows. i put each song that he had played during the tour so far on there, [not the covers or protege songs] and as luck would have it she's gotten a gang of songs that he hadn't played yet....like crimson and clover, when eye lay my hands on u, so far so pleased, strange relationship. i was green with envy about so many of the songs she got that i hadn't. but i was so happy for her. it had been special so far and nice for her to get songs she didn't know. so what would be in store for us?
firstly, we got upgrades! that had yet to happen to her. and even though i really liked our seats and would have kept them gladly, until a man came to the row behind us and starting handing out tickets. we played it cool at first as to not cause a scene but when he got to our row i stood up and asked for two. we moved down to the loge, in a better section than those tickets that we lost. so as we waited, that kept us buzzed but time was starting to drag on. but singing along to mint condition videos kept spirits high.
then at about nine, the screens began to play graphics for janelle monae. no other opener had used them before, so i knew she was going to put on a show.
she did not disappoint me. i knew she couldn't. the sound was a bit too loud so she felt kinda drowned out, like if i didn't already know the words it would have been a problem. but who cared when they came out strong and never let up. full on performance with cloaked figures, moonwalking, tight roping, slave type figures crawling after her, and the whole band decked out in black and white. i lit up when she played cold war and my heart soared when it was just her and kellindo for smile.
she dedicated it to stevie wonder. now i knew of rumors from weeks ago and had told my sister. so when we heard that, she keep slapping my arm like "is he here? is he here?" i was too busy being into the show and listening to her sing clearly for the first time since it was just her and her guitarist, kinfolk of maceo parker no less. i zone out when i am at a show so its weird being there with someone i know, who is consistently tapping my arm to show me the pics she snagged and trying to tell me something. her excitement was contagious and made me so happy. j. monae and the band ended with come alive which had a epic breakdown with the whole band laid on the floor while she led us in singing along la la la la la la la. she left the stage, not through the hydraulic lift, no no no. she climbed down off the edge and walked out past the purple party pit general admission set up at the back of the stage. high fived the security and strutted out like a g!
like someone who knew they killed it.
it was another thirty minutes before they began to play with the lights. i knew better than to clap or get excited until i heard thunder. then it started, the horns. d.m.s.r. i love it as an opener and he came out wearing my favorite white suit. it was on.
the unique qualities of this show are numerous in comparison to the previous three:
sheila e, who i had yet to see, so when glamourous life started i had no idea what was coming next. my sister kept saying, wait for it, u know this! she was on fire.
she received a huge reception and stayed for the rest of the gig adding fire and flair.
i finally got to see these two musical soulmates on stage together.
mike phillips, who can hold a note unlike anyone i've seen. saxophones are always good. even better when in addition to the question of u/the one, which melded into u will be with me, a new song that feels like a freestyle.
janelle monae, who was brought back on stage to sing take me with u. their interplay was so cute. ur sheer perfection...thank u. also brought up to dance during cool/don't stop til u get enough, where the most adorable little girl was pulled up too. they all danced together. the girl got to sing don't stop til u get enough into prince's mic. he had the biggest smile on his face, and just completely loved it when janelle busted out a moonwalk down the main runway. unforgettable to watch. the little girl was brought up again later and sheila gave her a tambourine! can't wait til it registers to that little girl what she got a chance to do.
purple rain with the new addition of banners hanging down from the rafters. the visual was so breathtaking. no tears, but i gripped my sister's hand as we swayed and sang together. the funniest thing ever was john blackwell missing his cue and running from beneath the stage to his kit to make the beginning of the song, which was made even more hilarious by the fact the he had on a long white gown. can't buy that type of comedy.
the lights went low, and the applause never ended. it didn't take long before it began again, but it wasn't a prince song playing. not even one of the covers i have to come to expect and love [play that funky music always shuts it down]. no this was one of my top five absolutely perfect, wouldn't change a thing, songs: superstition.
my heart dropped and my sister began slapping my arm. i'm just saying oh my god over and over. we are bouncing up and down, screaming, and clapping along with everyone else. then slowly but surely the two men came from underneath the stage, joined by everyone's favorite drummer girl.
you could tell they hadn't planned what to do, but no one cared. stevie soloed on the harmonica with prince on the guitar. he did call and response with the audience with prince hyping up the crowd. he sang the first verse of superstition standing but then you could tell he wanted to do something else.
renato quickly moved out of the way and stevie played his boards. prince swapped out with ida and played the bass. the jam goes into another song i didn't know but that sounded familiar and swung back around to superstition. at this point, i'm just trying to savor it because i needed this moment to persist.
when else would i be able to see something like this? something i dreamed happened.
it actually happened and more importantly i was there. scratch that we were there.
stevie played like a beast and was escorted off by mike phillips. this time through the hydraulic lift which took awhile for some reason. prince and the band kept playing going into inglewood swinging. prince joked that stevie still wanted some more, look at him! as he finally went under the stage.
inglewood swinging became fantastic voyage which became you're the one for me. a full out party, my sister and i both floating. giggly and assured that we had at least one more encore we moved down to the seats of the unfortunate who left before stevie. he emerged again and busted a sampler set, and we just happened to be on the side of the stage with the piano. close enough to get pointed at, we sang along and danced as he grooved through his records with i would die for u having the whole audience sing and point directly at him it seemed. but of course he had to dance on the piano, which came with his next move. side to side to if i was your girlfriend. we had so much room to dance this time, just kicking it like we were alone at home with a stereo.
i had a good feeling the ballad trio was up next. i just began shaking my head when the opening notes of insatiable began as i knew my sister had yet to be graced with these. she griped about her phone being dead but was there in the moment nonetheless. those songs melt you in a way that is unreal. they slink and groove and cause pulses to rise. adore just makes you soar singing along. he didn't do the breakdown but my sister didn't even care. we sang along to the end u are with me, for all time you are with me.
he disappeared beneath the stage and we stayed right where we were. just hyped and full of adrenaline. we couldn't believe what we just saw. we were clapping and starting to get a rhythm going. a man sitting down our row was banging on his seat which inspired a man right behind us to start drumming. we caught the beat and clapping along until our whole section was grooving. i'm standing and dancing while my sister sits and keeps the tempo. we went to church with hand claps and stomping feet and back to elementary school cafeteria tables where u make beats with pencils and fists all at the same time.
finally the cameramen began to leave and the ladders descended from the speakers and we knew it was time. everyone was all smiles walking out of the arena. i felt a bit high and buzzed and sweaty and ready to conquer something. i bought my tour book and went out into the night, where the sky was once again purple. the haze is probably typical to smoggy la but it fit into my story just perfectly.
it was 1:30 in the morning when we hit the streets and knowing traffic we didn't get home til 2:30. and of course i couldn't sleep. when i started to think back on it, tears came to my eyes. i felt so abundantly thankful. due to my dear uncle p, i have seen musical legends chaka khan, sheila e, stevie wonder, maceo parker and legends in the making sharon jones and the dap kings and janelle monae. four shows, four cities, in a little over four months. it still boggles my mind.
the rest of the trip consisted of going to venice, santa monica, and hollywood, where we made a visit to amoeba records. they could have gotten all my money in there, i swear! i am collecting my prince cds and trying to do so from indie records stores as much as i can. 3121 was first from kmart. can't do everything indie as much as i want to. i bought used for you on vinyl and diamond and pearls in greensboro. i bought purple rain, dirty mind, and 1999 from schoolhouse records here in raleigh. and in la, come, rainbow children, and the lotusflow3r set. my heart almost stopped when i saw come in the store. i love that album and it was on my list of absolutely have to buy it if u see it. they had others that i didn't have but felt that they may be easier to find. but the search continues and i love it.
i left that night and had a long uncomfortable flight home but made it in one piece. plenty of memories and souvenirs to help me remember. it was so much fun and so needed. i felt ready to face my busy summer which has gotten off to a great start. its looking like its gonna be eventful but in a good way. and i cannot think of a better way to have started it than that show. my sister is going again on sunday which will be the last show in the 21 nite stand. wonder what will be in store for her but she is convinced nothing will top our friday the 13th gig [which apparently was stevie's birthday]. all i know is that i got to celebrate yet another accomplishment [got A's this semester] thanks to dear uncle p.
now i get to go back to my life and all of its interesting developments with yet another adventure under my belt. i could get used to this. i will be humming for the rest of my days. currently: the one u wanna c [ too tall to be talked down to, too over it to be put under]
yessir u are as u spoil me with each show. as always, thank you. until we meet again.
i managed to survive the trap i set for myself. i do it continually as if to challenge my talent, my endurance, my commitment. entering this previous weekend i knew i had a massive amount of work to complete and after six hours of sleep in three days, i found myself finished with my first year of graduate school. it all culminated with a cat nap on the floor of studio, apparently so gone that shakes and name calls didn't wake me. thankfully there is no evidence of this but i couldn't help to laugh when they told me. its only appropriate. my body gives out when it has finished its work.
i was proud of what i did and felt grateful that it was over. the exhibit went quite well, good impressions made all around. though i know i am not in a competition with anyone, maybe just myself, i still felt like i was winning. i felt like i was doing something that no one else was. that i was engaging and interacting on a level that others were not. that i was being noticed by my professors. it was paying off as it were. reflecting on it, i realized that i am being recognized as a force to be reckoned with. my work is of note to my professors and my classmates. my writing has been praised to me and within the realm for others to hear. i knew i was good but its nice to have it reflected back. it never gets old to me. i hope i did not sound boastful at all, just in awe of the recognition. i am used to keeping my head down and working, so this was a great end to a long semester/year.
summer is on my doorstep. first task is to continue working for my actual job! first time i am getting continually paid as a graphic designer and its for the university. its fun and my boss is awesome. after which my actual vacation happens: LA baby!!!
two very important people are there currently: my sister and best friend..... and uncle p!
i am over the moon to see her and the added bonus of experiencing one of the 21 nite stand shows with her is just purple icing. she has been to two already and has let her purple hippie out to play. going to together will just be something else. we are basically the same person, so there will be non stop dancing, singing, and overall antics for that show. may do more than one, we will see. so round 4 will be next week. i cannot wait because being there with her is gonna be the real treat, i mean i love u, uncle p but as u surely know its not just u that keeps us coming back. its that atmospheric unnameable feeling, and being with my other half will bring on a whole other type of high.
i love the image i put up there. i know my spirit has gotten me through these past few weeks. the pressure makes me rise to the occasion and i hope i never lose the ability to do so. i keep proving myself right the longer i am here. i hope everyone else finds the thing that they are meant to do, the place they are meant to be, and the things that will sustain them. with all that is going on in the world, you have to cherish and celebrate every second you have to do what u love.
it trumps everything else.