Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Not Being There

Being a semi-reclusive artist who can pass a whole week spending less than a dollar a day, I spare no expense when it comes to something I really want. Most recently I really wanted to see British musician Steve Winwood perform live, repeating an experience I had twenty years ago that still hovers near the top of my 10 Greatest Live Performances list. To that end, last weekend my husband and I flew from our home in Maine to Washington, D.C. to see his act at the Warner Theater on Monday night.

Naturally we purchased stellar seats -- 8th row orchestra, smack dab in the middle. Okay, yes, I admit our outing did not come cheap and we could have used that money instead to feed a family of ten starving Africans, or starving people of any nationality, for six months. But we didn't. We used it to see Stevie, which is what I still call him, having become a fan back in his early days when he went by that name.

So you can imagine how annoying it was to finally be sitting there (having first visited with the friends who graciously hosted us and then driven into the city and found a parking space for our rental car), so close to the stage we could see all five band members sweat, and have two people seated directly in front of us holding their cell phones up and filming the concert, then uploading it to YouTube or streaming it live on Facebook or whatever the fuck they were doing, for pretty much the whole time. These two cretins, one male and one female, actually watched 90% of the proceedings on their cell phones, despite the fact that the band played their hearts out within spitting distance of them.

Looking around the theater, I saw countless others doing the same thing. Besides being distracting, the glow of the cell phones commanding my attention despite my futile attempts to look away, it was a depressing reminder that so many people are such fools, a fact I try hard to forget but which seems all but impossible to do these days. The most amazing thing is that both of those cell phone people in front of me had also paid $150 (plus a $13 fee if purchased online) for the squandered opportunity to witness greatness firsthand, choosing instead to boast online that they were there.

Except they weren't.

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