Running on Empty

25 May

The Jackson Browne concert was last night so I didn’t get to sleep until after midnight. I am really dragging butt this morning. In fact, you could say I am running on empty. But it was worth it!

Mary and I rendezvoused for dinner at Indochine, an excellent Thai restaurant in downtown Jacksonville, not far from the Florida Theatre where Jackson Browne performed.  Then we headed to the show.

I was surprised to see how many older fans Jackson Browne has. It is so interesting to see middle aged people embracing a contemporary performer. (A-hem…)

Jackson Browne performed alone on stage with a keyboard and 17 guitars. He was amazing. His voice is as great as always and he sang a mix of old favorites and newer songs. Jackson elevated my spirit to a transcendental place, filling my heart with love….

And then there was the audience…

There is a bar in the lobby of the theater. Some people came to the show to see the amazing Mr. Browne perform and others, clearly,  just came for the beer.

Who does that? Who buys a ticket to a live performance and then spends half their time wandering up and down the aisle, replenishing their beer? Apparently a significant number of middle aged Jacksonvillians–that’s who.

Of course we all know you can’t buy beer, you can only rent it–so when they weren’t getting up to get another beer, they were traipsing up the aisle headed to the bathroom. After which they no doubt reloaded…

I was appalled. Finally, Jackson even said something about it. “Are they serving some sort of beverage in the lobby?” He asked the audience. “Woo hoo!” screamed the drinkers in the crowd. “That explains it,” Jackson said. “I keep seeing people getting up and going out to the lobby. So I tell myself a story to explain what’s going on. I tell myself, they’re getting a room.”

I was hoping Jackson’s little quip would shame some of these pathetic old drunks into staying put, but no such luck.

I sent Jackson telepathic messages to assure him that not all of us were drunk and some of us, Mary and I anyway, would rather pee in our pants than get up in the middle of a song.I like to believe, on some spiritual level, Jackson heard me and I am sure he appreciated our dedication.

There were these two women sitting behind us who were among the drinkers in the crowd. I know they were drinkers because they kept getting up and I know they kept getting up because as the evening wore on, they were less and less graceful as they stumbled out of their row, banging into the back of the seats all the way. They also talked. I don’t just mean chatted. I mean full blown conversations! During the first half of the show, I was distracted by a back and forth discussion about “bifocals” that occurred while Jackson was singing his heart out.

This is what happens when middle aged people buy tickets to concerts–they wind up discussing bifocals instead of listening to the talent.

Young people like Mary and I just have to learn to be more tolerant of our elders. We’re working on it…

During the intermission (for some people the whole show was an intermission, but I am talking about the official intermission when Jackson took a break), Mary (who had the seat by the aisle) and I were talking, when both of us were distracted by something to the left of us that kept bobbing up next to the arm rest of Mary’s seat.

Upon closer inspection, I realized that the woman behind Mary (one of the “bifocal sisters”) was stretching her legs and she kept lifting her foot up.It was sort of bobbing in space there, right next to Mary’s arm.

This woman had a remarkably large foot for a woman. The pedicure wasn’t awful, but the sandal was this hideous hot pink faux-leather number with white curly-ques. The way her foot was bobbing there, adorned in garish colors, it reminded me of a Muppet–perhaps a design they considered and then rejected because it might frighten the children– and I had this fear it might start attempting to engage us in conversation.


Mary had promised she might cry during some of the songs and she was true to her word.

She is so sentimental.

Not me. I am a rock. I don’t cry for nothing.

Then, during the encore, damn if Jackson didn’t start singing The Loadout and dammit–something must have gotten into my eye because I had to take off my glasses (ironically, bifocals) and dab my eyes. I guess I am more sentimental than I thought and that song tends to transport me back to my dorm room at Florida State. (Which only served to remind me that I wasn’t that much younger than the rest of the audience after all…) Then he went into Stay–(sniff!)

The night was full of many wonderful memories–the drunk who insisted on screaming out “The shape of a heart!” right after Jackson sang “In the shape of a heart”, the young couple in front of me who could not keep their hands off of each other (I was tempted to hand them $50 so they could just leave and go get a room), the pathetic alcoholics who spent more money on beer than they did for their tickets…

Good times.

I had to admit, I was a bit shocked toward the end of the evening when I smelled the unmistakable odor of…sniff, sniff–marijuana smoke!

Now, the combination of Mr. Browne’s music and that particular odor was, let us say, not entirely unknown to me. (See “transported to my dorm room at Florida State” reference above–and be sure to put a towel over the crack at the bottom of the door…), however, I was still surprised to experience it in that particular venue with that particular crowd. Color me naive.

Considering the median age of the crowd, perhaps it was just a glaucoma patient taking a treatment…

But through it all, despite the unruly old people and roving alcoholics, there was the amazing talent of Jackson Browne and the pleasure of sharing a great performance with an old (as in long term) and dear friend. In the end, that was all that mattered.

The Save the Word word of the day is Traboccant which means superabundant. I certainly feel superabundant this morning to have been fortunate enough to have experienced such a special evening. Jackson Browne has traboccant talent and I am so glad he shared it with my friend and me. Too bad those other people had to show up…

The Mantra for the day is Listening. Something we tend to do poorly, we humans. Whether we’re more focused on getting another beer than listening to an amazing singer, or whether we can’t wait until the other person pauses long enough for us to interject what we want to say, listening is something we can all make an effort to do better.

So, listen…

Have a traboccant Wednesday.

2 Responses to “Running on Empty”

  1. Pamela N Red May 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    It’s bad when the performer even notices people leaving to get drinks.

    Sounds like a good time. I love Jackson Browne.

  2. That Weather Girl May 26, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    “Young people like Mary and I just have to learn to be more tolerant of our elders.” Nice!

    Ah, yes….the bobbing muppet foot invading my space, the guy who kept shouting out during the performance, the very thirsty beer drinkers, the chatty women behind us……..all very Jacksonville. But my personal favorite was the guy who not more than 20 minutes into the concert got up to fetch himself another beer and fell flat on his face in the aisle. So sorry you somehow missed that.

    But Jackson (Browne, not ‘ville) was nothing short of magical. Being in his presence, listening to his display of both musical and poetic genius, absorbing every second of the sublime experience ranks very high on the list of best things that have ever happened to me. “Thank you” seems somehow inadequate.

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