Most people assume that using drugs you’ve found lying on a city sidewalk is a perfectly reasonable and safe thing to do. Thus, they’re often surprised when I tell them a story which reveals that perhaps, in some rare cases, found drugs are better left alone.
It was the summer of 2003, the war in Iraq had just been won, Gary Coleman was running for governor and Uncle Kracker was beginning to Drift Away (so sad). In the few years prior, I had developed an angst-fueled obsession with Radiohead and was excited when they announced two midsummer dates at Shoreline Amphitheatre. After a brief defeat at the hands of Ticketmaster, my hopes were revived when a girl that I had been hanging out with and (unsuccessfully) trying to make more than friends was able to leverage her role as passive victim of sexual harassment to score two tickets from her well-connected (but not well-endowed) boss. Platonic friendship paid off and I was graciously given the second ticket.
(mp3s after the jump..)
The day of the concert came, we arrived early at the venue and, before entering, decided to walk around the neighborhood in the hope that we might find a bar amongst the business parks and ample lawns of Mountain View. As we searched, my friend stopped me and pointed to a small box that was lying on the sidewalk:
As she picked up the box and opened it, we looked inside to see that one half of the box was filled with clove cigarettes, while in the other half the cloves had been emptied out and replaced with a tiny Altoids tin. Knowing Altoids containers to be a favorite (albeit obvious) hiding place for weed and other illicit substances, I excitedly grabbed the box from her hands and opened the tin. Sure enough, stuffed inside was a dark green bud about the size of a strawberry.
Given our tendency toward cosmic explanations for minor events, we took this discovery to be a sign that we should disregard whatever qualms we might have had about sidewalk drugs, take our find into the concert and smoke it. Here, the Universe’s pro-drug endorsement, however subtle, was undeniable.
So, we bought some papers, rolled the weed up into a joint, found our seats and waited through the remarkably shitty opening act (Supergrass) until Radiohead took the stage. At long last, Thom, Jonny and friends arrived on stage and my friend and I lit up along with what seemed like every 3rd person in the audience and life was good. It stayed this way for about 3 to 3 1/2 minutes until I realized that everything between myself and the stage had become a dark, featureless void and also, that I was probably dying. The unnaturally loud music heightened this realization and the fabled light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel was for me a series of strobes, all of which highlighted the elfin face of Thom Yorke.
Embarrassed by my imminent death and my new found inability to balance standing up on two legs, I attempted to play it off to my female companion as if I were having a good time, only to find that she was not standing at my side. Given this fact, I felt it okay to collapse into my seat and take a breath and, in doing so, found her also seated, apparently dealing with the same affliction as I was. We exchanged a look equal to “What the fuck is going on?” and then she leaned over to whisper to me, “I think I’m going to have a panic attack.” These were not the words that earlier in the day I had fantasized about her whispering to me, but I let it go as I was a bit preoccupied with my crippling insanity.
My friend quickly pushed her way through the aisle and toward one of the side corridors of the venue where presumably she wept or wrote her mother a letter or some such; while I stayed frozen in my seat, gradually becoming more and more aware that I would likely survive the night and then, that there seemed to be a pretty entertaining concert going on nearby and that I could experience it if only I were to stand back up. I managed to do so, my friend eventually returned with a strikingly sunnier (and less panic-stricken) disposition and we overcame our near-death experiences to end up having a pretty enjoyable second half of the concert.
This week, the same friend will be returning the Bay to join me in attendance at one of the two shows that Thom Yorke and his new band Atoms for Peace will be giving at Oakland’s Fox Theater and, despite the apparently happy ending to the above story, we will be abstaining from drugs this time (or at least bringing our own).
For anyone looking to join us, as of this posting tickets are still available via Ticketmaster (not going to link them because fuck Ticketmaster), so don’t fall victim to scalpers until you’ve tried to buy them for face value first.
Below are a couple of dancey remixes of Thom Yorke tracks, including a lovely disco edit by Spank Rock’s XXXchange. Enjoy: