My Weekend in Beverly Hills

Why Live Music Doesn’t Suck but These People Do

I didn’t go there for fun. I went there for work. The CEO of the company that I am subcontracted to write for had paid a ridiculous sum of money to sponsor a party for a bunch of B- and C-List actors and “entertainment professionals”. And we, being myself and two other members of the media team, were there to film and write about it. I was excited about this trip. I had never been to Los Angeles before. I have been to California, seen Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Redwoods, but never LA. I was interested to see how the other half lived. Well, the other 1% anyway.

Who am I kidding? Even the 1% wouldn’t be caught dead with these snakes, these vultures, these social chameleons that are only looking for their next break, which usually comes at the expense of someone else that they probably just met doing rails off of the marble countertops surrounding the pristine sinks in the restroom. And I do mean pristine (insert sarcastic tone here).

I have never met such pretentious and arrogant people, never once walked into a room of such indignant judgment that didn’t involve a gavel and a sentence.

Living the high life. I was at one of the swankiest hotels in the entire country, the Beverly Hilton. Breakfast for three people was $90, plus tip. Two Stellas and four Jagers was $65, plus tip. Ah, yes, this is really living. When just feeding myself costs more than the average minimum wage worker makes after taxes on a five hour shift (because eight hours would make them full time and they would be entitled to a break and benefits and whatnot, so fuck that). The Rite Aid pharmacy on Santa Monica Boulevard, just a short walk from where I was staying, was renovating to include a café that would ultimately serve wine and small plates to people waiting to have their prescriptions filled. For fuck’s sake, is your Valium addiction that important that you will order a glass of 1997 Chateau De Montague while you wait for your script to be filled, you pompous and overly privileged shit?

And the worst part was, these people thought they were living. These dead and dying folks, so encamped in their own ridiculous ideas of what life and living truly are, they think that they are experiencing life at its finest. “I can’t believe she is wearing that!” was an actual snippet of a conversation, if you want to call it that, I overheard. I thought those discussions only happened in teen movies about the mousey girl winning the attention of the jock, only to realize that she was in love with the less desirable boy all along. At what point does the judgment of someone else’s garment validate your own choice of outerwear? And, for all of that, why is it a socially acceptable thing to point out how much better you are than someone else simply upon that judgment of their fucking clothing?

That’s living? That’s life?!? Always comparing myself to the next guy who walks into the room to make sure that my hair and shoes and business card are better than his? Yeah, I’m good on all of that, thank you very much.

As I sat in the hotel bar, surrounded by people in tuxes and evening gowns and acting like they were the someone else that they wished they were, I relished the fact that I was in $60 Etnies, $30 Wranglers, and my favorite Umphrey’s hoodie. I relished the fact that, as I sat there, knowing that these weren’t my people and that I didn’t belong, their sideways glances and huffy comments under their breath and behind their $40 glasses of wine told me that they were more uncomfortable with my presence than I was being in theirs. And I let it be known.

Picture this, if you will: A writer, a photographer and a graphic designer, of varying genders, have spent three days filming, shooting and writing. Running from A to G to W to K to L and back all over again, just to make sure we have everything covered. And then, on Sunday, we don’t have to do anything. The day is spent hanging out with the CEO and his wife, traveling around LA to see some sights, get some other B-Roll shots and relax. So, after we said our goodbyes to the CEO and his wife, I did what most normal people would do. I bought a bunch of booze and got down to it.

Yeah, swanky hotel with all of the amenities and services you could want in the ritziest and most glamourous location on the entire planet Earth (short of Dubai, those communist pigs). What did I do? What would any red-blooded American patriot do in such a situation? I stole glassware from the bar and posted up outside, chain smoking menthol cigarettes and openly trumpeting my public intoxication.

Why? Because fuck ‘em, that’s why.

It was Oscars Weekend (did I fail to mention that?) and the hotel security and valets had their hands full. Here I am, the dregs of society as far as everyone surrounding me is concerned, taking Jager and bourbon shots outside of a four star hotel, and they couldn’t do a goddamned thing about it. Of all of the stupidity and ridiculous debauchery that was happening around me, I was actually pretty well behaved. I am talking about rich white debutantes and real celebrities, all of them acting a fool. Cops showed up (no pepper spray here, though), people were escorted out, mothers were called. Standard fare around here, it turns out. My behavior was actually pretty mild, even though I was a criminal engaging in criminal activity, as far as local ordinances were concerned. So, they left me, and the random strangers that happened to stop and chat with me for a few minutes, alone. (I also did this at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta with my eminently sage and wise older brother and my special lady-friend, who also went to ATL for UM’s NYE run with me. Pretty much the same result. Why are us criminals so shunned when we are so much better behaved than everyone else?).

In the few hours that I spent in my spot in front of the luxurious and magnificently appointed Beverly Hilton Hotel, with millions of dollars in automobiles circling the fountain in front of me as I monopolized the smoking section, I met a few interesting characters. But, as funny and ridiculous as they were, the whole fiasco made me realize something. It made me realize how much I miss home.

So, SummerCamp tickets went on sale a while back. VIP upgrades went on sale this morning.

Yeah, I meant that home.

Summer Camp Music Festival
Summer Camp 2014 Photo By Stormie Ann Lantis

I can go to this place where all differences in opinion, occupation, income, socio-political background and religious beliefs are cast aside for a few days, and tens of thousands of people are on the same wavelength. I can go to this place where all people are viewed through the same fuzzy rose-tinted glasses. I can go to this place where some people may see things a little differently than I do, but they are feeling the same thing that I am. And we all embrace the differences. We embrace the circus. We embrace the beautifully organized chaos. Because we have a different understanding of what life is than those spoiled rich brats from 90210 (yeah, that’s the actual zip code, not just the TV show).

Hippies at Summer Camp
Photo by Stormie Ann Lantis
summer camp recycling
Photo By Stormie Ann Lantis

And, come Memorial Day weekend, that’s where I will be, yet again, camped out among the trees and enjoying the ridiculousness around me. It is a ridiculousness that actually makes sense to me. In another life, I might have been one of those competing for my spot in the limelight. But, this is my life, the only one that I have, and I am perfectly happy competing for my spot in the campground on Thursday for the pre-party. I am perfectly fine competing for my spot being happy with the universe around me.

SummerCamp, I fucking love you.

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