Jan 16 2011

Escape from Electric Factory/BEAST Coast/2010 (Scary Hours III)

Here’s another series (Scary Hours I, Scary Hours II) that I wanted to wrap up about two weeks earlier…

I had a good Christmas with the fam and all, watching basketball all day and getting a lot of music.  But all of my warm feelings about being in Philadelphia was over by Monday morning:

It's NOT Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

I’m not going to complain about the snow.  But I do not like snow.  Even 15 minutes of frostbite is enough to turn me off from the white stuff.  So I started to think about how my last few days in Philadelphia would turn out.


Electric Factory

The Electric Factory in Philadelphia

For my last night in Philadelphia, I met up with Maureen, who is doing City Year in San Jose.  The night before, we watched the Philadelphia Eagles begin their string of proving their “not ready for prime time” status in losing to the Minnesota Vikings and their third string rookie QB Joe Webb.  She mentioned that she was going to the Electric Factory to cover a show for Magnet (check the link for her article!) and for it being my last night there, I was open to getting a ticket to see a band I’d never heard of before: Gogol Bordello.

Gogol Bordello.

I went to work on getting tickets for the show, but I also wanted to see if I could run into Eugene (aka E-GZA), my teammate at Overbrook in 2009-2010.  He mentioned that he was also going to a show that night coming from Jersey.  “Gogol Bordello?”  “Yeah that’s it!”  Well that’s convenient.  

I got to the venue fine, and once Maureen was there I went inside to meet up with E-GZA.  Maureen and I did some strategic crowd managing to get a little closer to the action.

Man Man

About this much closer. (Man Man, the undercard of the night)

It was a fun time inside; Man Man brought a LOT of energy and set the bar pretty high for Gogol Bordello.  It took almost a half hour for Gogol Bordello to come on after Man Man went off, which I’m thinking was meant for the bulk of the people in there to recover/recharge/get lifted.  Once Maureen went to the media pit to take some pictures, I headed to the back to find Eugene.  I’m still not sure how I found him amongst all the masses.  We kicked it for a bit, and then watched as Gogol Bordello took the stage.  I told Eugene that I could get to the front wall of the venue, which would require getting through all kinds of people.

About this many people, times infinity.

I put my crowd-weaving skills (honed during my time at the Earth Day weekend Climate Rally in DC) to work.  Anytime I saw somebody coming out, I went in to the vacated spots.  Sometimes I ducked down, other times I cut across.  I danced my way into some areas, and sometimes I just stepped through.  Eventually, I found myself so deep that I got to the wall!  I took my phone out, steadied it while folks were going over my head and falling at my knees, and snapped my proof of accomplishment.

Heck yeah.

Now, here’s the thing about mosh pits: congratulations for getting in them, and good luck getting out.  I had people holding onto me for dear life.  There was this one girl who was just begging to be elevated by the crowd up over the security wall: “I drove five hours for this! Wooo!”  Being in that mosh pit was an exercise in balance, body control, and strategic use of resources (RE: knowing which way the pit is moving, when to help someone over, and when to get the hell out of the way of a flying body).  It’s amazing that I didn’t lose either of my phones as I was trying to take pictures and keep my lines of communication open.

Pictured: Actual motion in a mosh pit.

Eventually Gogol Bordello stopped playing (I don’t remember a single lyric but it was awesome), and Maureen called.  You almost have to fight to get out of a mosh pit (it’s not like anyone will hear you excusing yourself out).  She was none too pleased about getting beer dropped on her; I’m not sure how I didn’t get victimized.  In any case, it was a fun time out and a great way to spend my last night in Philadelphia.  Maureen was nice enough to drop me off back in West Philly.  But now, it was after midnight, and I still hadn’t packed to leave…


I told my father that I wanted to leave home for the airport at 11am.  I decided it was a good idea to go to bed at 3am.  But I got up at around 8 or 9, and had a smooth morning.  I packed up everything I bought, added several more long sleeves since California weather is trickier than I anticipated in June, and was ready to leave home when I was supposed to be.  Everything was going great on the escape route: got to the airport in time, didn’t get fined for excessive luggage (despite my efforts), got through security (never a given with me), got on the plane on time!  Everything was going great, until:

Did I mention my feelings for snow?

While I managed to find a cross country round-trip holiday season Southwest without a layover, the planes did have to stop in Denver going both ways.  Going to Philadelphia, Denver wasn’t a problem.  This time around though, it was 14 degrees and snowing like it was, well, Denver.  Hearing from Emily, it was snowing in Chicago too, delaying her route to Seattle.  After two hours in the snow, we were back in the air and eventually touched down in Los Angeles at about 9pm Pacific.  Of course, my plane was supposed to be there at 7pm before the snow delay.  If I lived at the airport, this wouldn’t have been a problem.  But it took me almost a half hour to recover my luggage, another half hour of waiting on the Flyaway, another half hour of riding the Flyaway, and about another 90 minutes of riding the Gold Line and the 251 to get close to home.  Close meaning, I still had to drag my stuff another 10 minutes before I could sit down and say to myself, “It’s 12:11am here in Los Angeles, but I woke up in Philadelphia this morning, and it’s 3:11am over there.”  Okay, I didn’t actually say that, but I could have.  I stayed up another two hours trying to begin to put my clothes away and waiting until Em gave me word that she had finally made it home in Seattle.  This wouldn’t have been as big of an adjustment if I was planning on sleeping in on the last morning of 2010.  By this time you know that I am approaching the third stanza of this article, so you know this would not be the case.


I had set up a morning meeting with my mentor Alma two weeks before the last day of 2010, and I was going to honor it.  It’s not like I wasn’t used to rolling on minimal sleep anyway.  I had a great morning meeting with Alma, as it served for my life pep talk going into the new year.  Alma asked me about my plans for New Year’s that night, and, as usual, I had none set.  Usually, I’m in church and with family on New Year’s… that was not going to happen in LA obviously, so I was up for something new.

Ice skating at LA Live maybe?

But after running through LA Live for the last few hours of the year (and getting the time eclipse from the East Coast about the New Year coming in), I ended up in a random club in Hollywood.  It was kinda wack; nobody was trying to dance in there.  All I can tell you is that I got bored shortly after 2010 ended…


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