The second weekend is over, and those fresh-faced, lithe-bodied kids are heading home. On the first day of the Coachella Music Festival, 30 of them were arrested for drug and alcohol violations. For the duration of Woodstock, there were only 80 arrests. And no one seems to get hauled to the hoosegow during Palm Springs' annual White Party or Dinah Shore Weekend. But hey, kids just want to have fun.
Last year, two of my friends from New York flew out for Coachella, mercifully booking lodging in a hotel. They paid $600 each for V.I.P. tickets to the first weekend of performances and ended up, shall we say, underwhelmed. You can actually pay thousands for a V.I.P. ticket to Coachella, but that doesn't mean you'll be doing blow with Lindsay Lohan. Not all V.I.P. access is equal.
My friends, we'll call them Tom and Jerry, are gay guys who live in Manhattan. Tom is a 65-year-old urban planner who bears a striking resemblance to Woody Allen, and Jerry is his diminutive 45-year-old Brazilian masseur partner. I can't comment on "happy endings," but I can tell you they live together. Jerry's dyed brown hair is worn in a pony tail, and he wears the pants in the family -- waist: 32, inseam: 26. My partner Patrick and I were simply gobsmacked these guys would consider Coachella a scene they would enjoy.
Temperatures that weekend hovered in the 100-degree range, without a cloud in the sky. Tom slathered his face and arms with SPF 45 and Jerry sported a straw Japanese gardening hat that made him look like Geraldine Page in The Trip to Bountiful. They discovered Coachella is no Woodstock. Coachella enforces a rigid schedule for each stage with performance start and end times advertised well in advance. Only some venues are tented, and air conditioning is a foreign concept. You must pay to park, and then take a shuttle into the performance area. Day and night, festival-goers trudge back and forth between the stages to see their favorite performers. Even with a V.I.P. pass, you must hustle toward the stage in advance to stake out the patch of sand where you, and thousands of others, will stand for the duration. Young people apparently find this exhilarating; I would rather chew glass.
When we hosted a Saturday lunch for Tom and Jerry at our house, it was clear things were not going well with our visiting music cognoscenti.
"Well," Tom began, as he sipped iced tea, "we stayed until 11 last night. It was okay. But I don't know what sort of benefit we're getting from V.I.P. tickets. Everyone seems to have a V.I.P. ticket, and it doesn't seem to make any difference."
What did he expect? Nubian slaves waving ostrich feather fans above an open bar? Maybe it was just the Manhattan effect, that inexplicable yearning for Alice Tully Hall. Jerry offered no opinions, but he remained conspicuously silent throughout lunch, munching his chicken salad. Neither man could cite the name of an upcoming act they were dying to see.
Lunch stretched into mid-afternoon and Patrick volunteered to give Tom and Jerry a guided tour of Palm Springs' historic architecture and famous mid-century enclaves. For fugitives from mass entertainment, nothing surpasses personal service and individual attention. By the time they returned from Patrick's tour, it was dinner time. With visible gratitude, Tom and Jerry headed back to their hotel, and not Coachella.
We felt sorry for them. They dropped a few thousand dollars on this trip, and only succeeded in buying disappointment. The same thing happened to me when I visited Cuba, so I could relate. But now I know where I belong. The last outdoor music event I attended was Adele in San Diego. Patrick and I sat eight rows from the stage, in relative comfort, and loved every minute.
Back in the day, I actually considered going to Woodstock, but it was a long drive from Michigan to New York. The friend who invited me to join him ended up stranded in Ohio with car trouble and never made it. But years later, I did see The Butthole Surfers at San Francisco's I-Beam and I once had lunch with Peggy Lee. So there. Now I'm content to nurse my vodka/tonic while watching Chelsea Lately and get my groove on with Robin Thicke's Sex Therapy. "Please hold for the doctor... the doctor will be right with you."
Robert Julian may be seen in Golden Gays, airing in Canada on Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on Slice™.