Monday, August 16, 2004

We Was Rockin'

J. and I had quite the rocking weekend. First of all, we went to see a free Joan Jett concert at Rye Playland on Thursday night. I'd never actually bought a Joan Jett album or CD, but I knew a lot of her songs from the radio and MTV, and I was eager to see her rock her ass off. She did not disappoint!

There were so many small moments of wonderful, and their sum total was a great night. Here, in no particular order, are some of the highlights:

Luckily, the weather held out, and it was a beautiful summer evening, despite all kinds of threats of rain. Since the free concerts are rain or shine, and the very limited seating is first come, first serve, you most definitely hope for good weather.

I really like the park itself, which is full of greasy boardwalk style food, small rides and amusements (skeeball!), all of which bring me back to my childhood summer vacations at the Jersey shore. The roller coaster next to the concert area has the most excellent giant dragon on its side, whose eyes periodically light up into a glowing red fire, and who snorts white smoke into the air through his giant nostrils. So cool! The stage itself is a black box, but there are two screens on either side where the stacks of amps are hidden, so you get a better view of the act. The stage area backs up to a tall, narrow building, which is topped off by a beautiful art nouveau tower that lights up after dark.

After a hastily gobbled down dinner of chicken fingers, fries and soda, J. and I took up residence against a railing near the stage. Except for a small fracas, where the Westchester County Park Police got to show off how quickly they could take down a skinny 15 year old kid for saying, "I'll fucking move when I WANT to fucking move," it was a well behaved and fun crowd, which was not what you might have expected, given the looks of most of our neighbors.
It was quite a night for people watching, and I indulged in one of my favorite pastimes, See How Many Unnatural Hair Colors You Can Spot. (This is not done in any sort of mean-spirited way, especially since I have in recent years sported several unnatural hair colors myself.) There are spin-offs of this game, including Spot the Most Frightening Tattoo, Spot the Most Painful Place to be Tattooed (that one might spot in public), Count the Mohawks in Attendance, and of course, Oh Jesus, Ow, Lookit Where That Kid Got a Piercing! You can really entertain yourself with these games in any public venue, but man oh man, gotta love the Joan Jett crowd, there were nearly too many to count, in each and every category, with the exception of the mohawks, which belonged solely to her guitarist, Joey (?) Needles.

Joan played all of the songs that I was hoping to hear, all the hits that I loved from the radio, and a few songs I'd never heard before that I really thought were great, like "Fetish". From the lyrics I could make out, it was talking about a lot of things that this nice girl from the suburbs doesn't know much about except what she sees on cable tv, but the music was great, and Joan has great stage presence, no matter what she's singing. What self-confidence this woman exudes! No wonder all of the leather and lipstick lesbians were climbing over each other to get closer to her.

Now I'm embarrassed to admit this, but, dear reader, I must admit that I was mesmerized by more than her stage presence and the hard-driving rock 'n' roll. I couldn't help it, I was spending a good deal of the time staring at a most distracting part of the stage show, (aside from the fact that her producer/friend/keyboard player Kenny Laguna looks much more like he is really Sid the Accountant than a rock 'n' roller. Kenny - lose the gold chains over the black t-shirt, it's NOT working for you. Sorry, dude.) I was staring at her chest, trying to wrap my mind around the idea that the audience was able to see her nipples through her shirt.
Part of my mind was saying, "She can't possibly have worn that shirt, knowing that the lights would make it see-through." Another part of my brain said, "Please, this is Joan Jett, she's been playing in front of bright lights all her adult life. She posed topless for the cover of her CD, "Naked". Of course she knows her shirt is see-through!" And a third part of my brain was cringing, "Both nipples are pierced?? How could you stand the pain? And WHY? Why oh why would you want to impale those very, very sensitive little bits with sharp metal, and leave it there, to jut out of clothing and to shine through sheer fabric under the lights? Ow, ow, OW!" God, I am so provincial. I was scandalized.

After the concert, we scooted around the back of the tower to see if Joan would come out and sign autographs. We were wondering where she might come out, and made the mistake of going to the wrong side, so when she did eventually come outside, we got on a long and pushy crowd/line to get CDs signed. Joan was so gracious, signing anything anyone handed her, and putting up with the hugs and cheek kisses from the sweaty masses without complaint. I was very impressed with her professionalism all around.

J. and I patiently pushed forward with the rest of the barn animals, and I got to see her get mauled by a very sweaty and drunken middle-aged man, every lesbian's favorite part of the day, I'm sure. We finally got right up to the front, and luckily, she was still patiently greeting fans and signing things. J. was thrilled to get some face-time with one of his favorite rockers, and he was beaming over his signed CD.

I stood no further from her than you are to your computer screen right now, and she looks fantastic, and she was really very nice as she signed a CD for me, too. J. suggested that I take one of his CDs and have her sign it to me (such a nice boy), and she made small talk with me while doing so. How on earth she kept her makeup looking that good after sweating her ass off onstage is just a miracle, but she must have that down to a science by now.

We waded our way out of the sea of young lesbians, and went off to play arcade games, our ears ringing and my pocketbook full of our freshly inked rock 'n' roll memorabilia. It was a great, great night.

Next post:
We Was Rockin', Part II: The Little Steven's Underground Garage festival on Randall's Island.

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