26 June 2009
A Nice Place To Be Absent From
Right now yet another Glastonbury Festival is kicking off in Glastonbury, England. I'm aware of this fact because I saw a few moments of coverage on the BBC. They were interviewing people for comments on Michael Jackson's death (more on that from me tomorrow). And of course these people were standing in the pouring rain.
I had the displeasure of going to the Glastonbury Festival three different times because I was performing there. First of all, doing comedy shows to audiences of hungover people sitting on burlap sacks in the mud as they wait for the psychedelics to kick in is rather excruciatingly unrewarding, but the worst part for me was being stuck at the festival for three days.
If I hated it so much why did I go back for a second and a third time, you might ask. Well it was because I was overwhelmed with this feeling that I should like it and that I'd somehow just missed something. there were certain people I knew who acted as if it was the most magical thing that ever happened - a gateway to the garden of eden. At the very mention of it they'd get this knowing look in their eye and say, "Ah, Glastonbury". And if I didn't get it it was because, ya know, I just wasn't jiving with the Glastonbury vibe.
Every year that I was there, and apparently all the years that I wasn't, it rained. To me it defies all logic as to why anyone would plan an outdoor music festival in England during their rainiest season. But every year loyal Glastonbury-goers would arrive at the festival totally unprepared and react with shock that it was raining. "Un-fucking-believable", they'd mumble looking at the grey skies, "I absolutely cannot believe it's raining! At Glastonbury!". And then every year there would be the de rigueur people being all spontaneous playing in the mud...
...Every year, just as spontaneous, just like the original spontaneity of those people playing in the mud at Woodstock 40 years ago.
The whole rain thing was tragic on my hair of course. I would always spend the entire weekend looking like an angry blonde Don King.
One year I woke up entirely immersed in water.
I had to take all my clothes, my sleeping bag and everything, and put them on top of my tent hoping they'd dry in the """sun""". Then I had to go buy a bunch of tie-dyed festival clothes so I'd have something warm to wear. Did I bitch and complain? Oh, you betchya. Still the only response I would get from anyone was a glazed over look and a beatific smile as they said, "That's Glastonbury. You've just got to get into the vibe." So I tried. I did try. Apparently getting into the "vibe" means walking around and around and around through crowds of drunk English people in the mud all looking for God-knows-what, so I did that in ernest. Then the nighttime "vibe" consisted of hanging out with a bunch of comics who you always see getting drunk at comedy clubs. But here it was different because they were getting drunk outdoors. In the rain.
When some people I knew were going to watch The White Stripes I forced myself to join in even though I: A) Don't like crowds; B) Am not particularly fond of The White Stripes; and C) Have never understood the concept of standing and watching music in the first place. The upshot was that I ended up watching the "action" on a screen mounted above the stage while standing, literally, in a foot and a half of water. That's Glastonbury! You've just got to get into the vibe...
People would ask me "How's your Glastonbury going?" and I would answer, "I just want it to be over with. I'm cold and bored and all my shoes have got mud in them." Then they'd stare at me shivering in my newly purchased rainbow-colored kaftan and say, "This is Glastonbury. You've just got to get into the vibe."
One year that I was there a fellow comedienne who was a Glastonbury enthusiast found out that I still had an extra Glastonbury ticket as I hadn't used the extra free one I had been given. She went nuts and became obsessed with what I was going to do it. I had had loose plans to give it to a friend who was maybe planning on showing up, but other than that it didn't really matter to me. She was practically tearing her hair out saying, "Do you know how many people would love that ticket!??"...Every time I ran into her she would ask me what was happening with it. It ended up with her screaming at me in a drunken fury saying, "YOU HAVE TO GIVE IT TO SOMEONE!!". She then phoned a friend of hers and told them I would sell it to them for 100 pounds (??!!!). When I tried to explain that I didn't want to sell it, I just didn't know what I was doing with it yet she snapped a synapse and was practically in tears saying, "You have to give it to someone! IT'S GLASTONBURY! YOU'VE GOT TO GET INTO THE VIBE"
It all ended with me giving the ticket to a comic I know while he gave me wounded puppy dog eyes because apparently he'd been told I'd been "talked out of" charging him 100 pounds for it. So I had to stand there covered in mud handing over a ticket I didn't even care about to atone for something I hadn't even done. It was all very surreal. There was nothing to be done but spend the remaining time walking around in the mud getting drunk and acting as if I were having a good time.
And now there's nothing nicer during Glastonbury Festival time than realizing I'm not there! Woo hoo!