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The nature of life in reality . . .

Hallucinating Elvis – Musings from the Mississippi Delta - Part Two

I promised myself that I would complete one project before going on to another. Hopefully, I'll be able to get these finished in the next couple of days. For any readers who aren't Durannies, I do appologize for rambling on so.
The rest of you will understand.

I did have a very busy weekend this week too . . . so I'll have even more to talk about in the next few days.
Just hang in there!

Grand Casino - Biloxi, MS Friday August 20, 1999

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, “Mississippi is the armpit of America.” If you ever have to drive through it, do it in the dark. I promise you won’t miss anything. I’ve done that numerous times en route to New Orleans and the trip is quite enjoyable. This trip didn’t allow that luxury, however.

We set off from Memphis around 7:00 and began the drive. Sonya and I had loaded up all kinds of musical delights and Harold was content to read and sleep in the back seat. I had an ice pack for my knee (which was still very swollen) and the trip was less than miserable. It got warm and then hot the closer we got to the “beautiful Mississippi Gulf coast.” I am still amazed what lies an advertising executive will tell to make a buck. Anyway, we got to the hotel around 2:00. We were all starving, so we stopped a nice little family-run seafood joint a block or two from the hotel. Harold had been there years before, and I was too hungry to question his judgement. The food was quite good actually, and the décor can only be called “dandy” . . . you know, beautiful driftwood objects d’art and stuffed fish.

We came back to the room and I decided to take a little nap to rest my knee while Harold and Sonya scoped out our surroundings. When they got back, we called to see if Troy had arrived. Sonya talked to him and he did have something up his sleeve. He had - and had backstage passes Sonya and me!! I was so excited!! But, we couldn't meet him to get them until after the show.

We managed to keep our traps shut through dinner with Nathan, his girlfriend Amanda, Anna, and Harold (who had sobered up nicely). We were supposed to have a much bigger group, but plans got confused. Autumn (who’s boyfriend we ran into at the shows) had planned for everyone to meet up at Magnolias . . . which happened to be at the Grand in Gulfport. She had no way of knowing this because she couldn’t even get into the casinos (she’s under 21). But that’s fine with me. I like the fact that some die hard fans weren’t even born when the band first got together. Ok, I feel old now. Moment of silence for my passing youth, please . . .
In any event, we had food and met up with the gang from Tunica outside the theatre. We didn’t know what Troy looked like, really. He gave us a description: 5’ 8”, 120 Pounds, dark hair, and a goatee. That should have been enough to find him. Sonya and I were nervous though, so I wrote his name in Sharpie on my bag of goodies and Anna held it up like the limo drivers at the airport. We ended up not needing it, though because I found Troy at the other end of the walkway. We talked for a bit and decided to go and take our seats.

We were highly disappointed with the venue. It was much better suited to Wayne Newton or Sigfreid and Roy than a rock and roll show. We were seated at long tables and cocktail waitresses scurried around carrying drinks, nachos, popcorn, and beer. I felt like I was at the fair or something. The folks at our table were very sweet. One couple had come all the way from Birmingham (and she was a pediatric resident with a single night off her on call pager!). The other had a Jen (which is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned). We saw Veronica and Anna down on the floor and decided to “go talk to them.” We did and sat in the middle tier for a while. I motioned for the rest of our table to join us and they did. Then somehow, we managed to scam our way down to some unclaimed seats even closer to the stage. We were being hassled by security, but thought it would all be over once the show started. I mean, everybody gets up and dances at a Duran show, right?

Someone made an announcement over the PA system that they were going to delay the show for 15 to 20 minutes due to the traffic outside. We didn’t know it at the time, but this traffic was so bad that it actually delayed the band getting there. They didn’t arrive until after seven, I heard. When the show finally started, we rushed the stage (as usual). It didn’t take security long to be obnoxious again. Apparantly the non-fans who got tickets as casino perks were upset that they couldn’t see. My solution was for them to get up and dance or leave. They weren’t receptive to that suggestion. I was constantly asked to sit back down and was tapped on the shoulder more than once to show a guard where my seat was. I felt hounded and decided it would be best to move back to a table that I knew had an open seat. I stayed there for the rest of the set. Stu, Veronika’s boyfriend, was beside me. I’m glad he was too.

You see, ever since 1993 I haven’t been able to listen to the band play Ordinary World without almost breaking into tears. When he introduced the song on that tour, he said something to his effect: “We probably wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for this song . . . so this is for all of those fans who stood by us . . . blah, blah, blah . . .” That and I’m a sucker for those high notes (when Simon actually hits them.) I was standing 30 feet from Simon, directly in front of him. Now for those of you who don’t know a lot about acoustics, this area is known as the “sweet spot”. All the sound swirls there – and I mean the actual sound, not the amplification from the microphone and speakers. This is the sound from his vocal chords propelled by his diaphragm. It hit me like a bullet. I lost it. All these morons were sitting down around me, security guards and cocktail waitresses were buzzing around and I was caught in the transfixed splendor that is a perfect note. I saw Sonya turn her head around several times to check on me. I think she understood the gravity of the situation.

For the encore, security gave up and we rushed the stage again. During Pop Trash Movie, one of the big guys was hassling a girl directly under Simon about her camera. He stayed there for the entire song! He was right in front of me and every time he moved his head, he obscured my view. Simon kept looking down at him giving him this look that could kill (hell hath no fury like the glare of a blue eyed monster, believe me I know)! He finally left her alone and got out of our way.

It wasn’t all bad though! Sonya managed to take some incredible pictures. There was also a little girl, I guess she was 9 or 10 years old, dancing her butt off beside me. At the end of the show, security finally let her dad bring her up front. He put her up on his shoulders and Simon reached out and grabbed her hand. She let out this giggle and the biggest grin I had seen in a long time. As a matter of fact, it was a lot like the grins I used to get when I thought about being at a Duran Duran concert . . . ok, I feel old again.

As soon as the band left the stage, Sonya and I rushed out to meet Troy, his girlfriend Audrey, and the passes. We waited outside for a while before they took us in the hall. I was totally nervous. I didn’t really want to talk to anybody – I just needed to calm myself down, you know? But Betty Boop was there. Apparetnly, she gets paid to dress up like her and walk around the casino as entertainment. She seemed sweet enough but I wasn’t in the mood for polite cartoon conversation. Joe came out and remembered me from the night before. That tickled me and actually brought me back down to a respectable level. We had found out during the show that it was his birthday. Sonya and I brought the space boy, just like I told him we would, and we gave it to him as a birthday gift. He seemed to like that quite a lot. We took some pictures with Joe and waited some more. As soon as the "Casino Pass People" were herded out, they took us to the room. It was really small so they had us go in one at a time. There was a photographer there to take our picture with the band. I talked to Simon about my ring - you see, I was a total dork! and had one made just like his for Christmas in 1986. He took my hand and looked at it and told me how he got his. Apparently some old girlfriend gave it to him for his birthday (his 21st, he thought) and he's worn it all the time ever since. Nick was very happy when I showed him my South Park Movie Soundtrack to sign. I told him about my 3” CD he signed the night before and he said, “that was you?!??” He also signed my Arcadia CD and Warren signed my Machine Language disc. He asked me where I was from, and he said he really liked Graceland. He also signed my pass (which just happened to be on my left breast). They took our picture, and before I left, I asked Nick if the show tonight was as good as last night. He laughed and said "No!" rather emphatically. "Good!", I said, "Last nights was much better!" I floated out of the room.

We mingled in the lobby for a bit and wound up in the bar of the Bayside Hotel Lobby. Joe and Wes were there, as was most of the road crew. The bar was pretty full up, so our group set up camp in the lounge area just a few feet away. Simon and Warren came in and made quite a scene. I just happened to be at the end of the bar Simon came to. I stood less than two feet from Simon without turning into a bucket of Jello (I knew at that moment that I was officially a “grown up.”) Now this is nothing at all against Simon because I too am a shameless flirt. He was sitting on a barstool with a couple of blondes. I thought it was pretty funny because the same two girls had been sitting on the same stool with Joe not a half hour before. Anyway, someone started ordering shots of Jagermeister and I watched Simon do five of them. At that point, I decided that I needed another drink and was determined to get it. The poor bartender was absolutely swamped. They had another guy come down to help but I’d guess that there were at least 80 people there by then. David, the band’s road manager, gallantly intervened on my behalf. I got my drink and went back over to the sitting area where our little group was.

Sometime while I was gone Warren had walked over to sign some stuff. I asked him how he hurt his knee in Chicago. For the record, he fell out of a chair laughing. He had noticed my limp and asked me what I had done to mine. He thought I had a much better war story. He also said he had a steak for the first time in twenty years . . . put an end to all the vegetarian nonsense two years ago.

The band left but our group stayed after last call and wandered back to the room at 3:30 or so. It had been a long day and we had big adventures planned for tomorrow!

The musings from the Mississippi Delta will continue

To get the whole story, visit The Queen of the Galaxy

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