My feet hurt. In fact, I am not sure what they were out doing in the scant few hours I managed to sleep last night, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that my feet had spent the night in a Turkish prison being ritually beaten on an hourly basis. Unfortunately, that's one of the hazards of Summerfest --sore feet from miles of beer-fueled strutting, and hours of other beer-fueled strutters stomping on them. I think that's why Milwaukeeans have beer bellies. A big gut can sometimes act as a shield to keep people from getting close enough to step on your feet. Clearly, I need to drink more, I think, and I need to do it quickly. Screw the sit-ups. I need to be round! My feet will thank me.
Anyway, being the fortunate cheesehead that I am, I have some friends who live about a mile and a half away from the festival grounds, and they let me park in their driveway, front yard, backyard, or livingroom rather than pay the ten bucks for the "proximity" parking lot across the street. That's about two beers at the Fest, and in this day and age, it's important to have a sensible budget for these sorts of things, and if I can cut some corners and make these sacrifices, well golly... I'm gonna do it.
After parking in the driveway, I grabbed my camera and hid my keys in the designated "hiding spot" in case either he or his wife had to move my Jeep (I don't know why, really, since he and his wife were among the group I was meeting up with at the bash. But, I saved ten bucks! Remember: I'm on a budget. So, it's best not to question these things). Then, I hoofed it down the hot, sunny path like a pilgrim destined for Mecca.
When I got to the gate, the power was on, and I could hear the music and sounds of the happy people inside doing happy things. It washed over the fence and dumped a beer-scented load of happy, giddy excitement upon me. I needed to be in there, and I needed to be in there now! I just walked a mile and a half, and dammit! I need a beer!
What's this? I thought. Why is this very large man in the Security t-shirt grabbing my shorts? Please let me get to the fun people inside, mister!
"What's this?" he asked as he grabbed a lump in one of my pockets.
"That's my camera," I replied.
"I can't let you in with that." He said. "You can walk to the main gate and leave it there and pick it up when you go home, or you can put it in your car if you drove here."
"But, it's just a camera," I said as he continued to look at me as though I were an incompetent child who'd just been caught running around with a box of razor blades. "See? It's not going to hurt anyone."
"I'm sorry, sir," he said. "It's policy."
As I walked the three mile trek, I called my friends to let them know I was going to be late.
"Where the hell are you?" My friend said.
"I had to put my camera in my car," I said somewhat angrily. "The big guy who looks like he's got a package of hot dogs on the back of his neck wouldn't let me in with it."
"They let Julie in with her camera," he said.
Of course they let his wife in. She's an attractive, delicate woman whose cleavage is famous for its ability to hypnotize and render most heterosexual male security guards utterly incompetent.
Eventually, I made my way back to the gate for more fondling at the hands of the very large man. He remembered me and apologized for the inconvenience, and I honestly didn't have a problem with it. I told him he was doing a great job. I wasn't going to dwell on the fact that I'd just walked four and a half miles on an empty stomach. I just wanted to get inside and drink myself silly.
Once inside the gate, delirious and exhausted from dehydration, I stumbled the final fifty feet or so to the beer stand where I would meet my friends, and because of my dire predicament, I immediately ordered two Bavarian weiss beers. I figured it was important to get as many fluids in me as fast as I could. And, I ordered them with lemon slices in them because after my grueling death march, I probably needed the vitamin C. Besides, since I wasn't carrying a camera, I had a free hand. So, why not make good use of it?
The first beer didn't stand a chance, and after walking five feet, I tossed the empty cup in the trash. In fact, I think I may have swallowed the wedge of lemon. It felt good to have something in my stomach, and with my energy restored, I found my friends sitting where they said they were going to be sitting, and Allison the Brit gave me a nice hug and suddenly all was right and wonderful in the world.
The weather was outstanding. And we walked and laughed and had a lot of fun meandering our way through the growing mass of people. We wandered from stage to stage, stopping to grab something to eat, refill our drinks and catch a handful of songs from the bands playing. Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint was a really great show (I saw The Gnome there). However, we couldn't get close enough to the stage to get a good look, but we stood on a picnic table and danced a bit. Then we wandered to a different stage to catch some of the Zydeco madness of Terrance Simien (Also saw The Gnome there too). If you ever get a chance to see this guy play, you really should. It's a party. But, again, it was pretty crowded at this point, and unless you camp out early, it's tough getting a good seat.
Then, since it was opening night, they had a huge fireworks display, so we wandered down to get kind of close to the water to watch. It was a pretty impressive half-hour show of all sorts of big, beautiful booms.
After that, we went and caught some of the Marcia Ball show where we drank and danced a bit more (she's also another must see). Then, sometime after 11:30, we decided to make our way toward the exit, but not before stopping by to catch some of the BoDeans and have one last beer before the sobering mile and a half walk back to my friends' place. It's actually a really fun stroll with all sorts of drunk people yelling at each other because they're practically deaf from all the music and exploding fireworks.
Anyway, there was some talk about going to see Los Lonely Boys tonight, but I don't think I'll be hitting the Fest today. I mean, at this rate, it'll be a miracle if I survive the next week and a half.