December 14, 2010 by David Gillaspie
The Road To Rock And The Long Way Back
You hear the call. You feel the need to join the tribe for another celebration.
You find a place to pitch a tent in the mud.
That was then.
Now, Ray borrowed his wife’s mini-van for the drive from Portland to Tacoma to see Pink Floyd. He and Jay packed it for the trip.
“It’s not really Pink Floyd. It’s Roger Waters,” Jay said.
“Isn’t he the writer behind the scenes?” Ray asked.
“That would be David Gilmour now. Roger Waters isn’t in Pink Floyd anymore.”
“So we’re not going to see Pink Floyd?”
Ray loaded a sleeping bag, a shoulder bag, and a bag of food for the road. The radio spelled out the weather. Both men stopped to listen.
“Today will be a weather event. It won’t be as destructive as the floods and winds of ’96, but it will be a significant weather event.”
“Weather event?” Ray said.
“In case we get a tsunami from the sky. That way they’re covered.”
Ray threw in a raincoat, an overcoat, and three umbrellas.
“This ought to balance the danger of a weather event,” he said. “Or maybe we shouldn’t go?”
“We’re going. Unless there’s a landslide event, or an earthquake event, we’re going.”
They got in the car. Jay plugged in The Wall.
“Let me get this straight one more time,” Ray said. “The Wall is by Pink Floyd, right? Roger Waters was in Pink Floyd when he wrote The Wall and all, but now he’s not? And he’s touring behind The Wall without the Floyd?”
The skies opened with a deluge that would last two days. Roads couldn’t drain fast enough.
“It’s not a concert, it’s a stage show,” Jay said.
“Like Mamma Mia ‘The Musical?'” Ray said. “I saw it with my wife and loved it. A lot of guys wandered around during intermission struggling with why they loved it too. You could see it on their faces. Probably like that at The Wall.”
“Pink Floyd is not ABBA,” Jay said.
“Neither is Roger Waters. If you had seen Mamma Mia, you wouldn’t slam ABBA like that.”
“It’s okay. I’ve heard the tone before. Everyone likes ABBA, not everyone admits it.”
Jay looked out his window.
Puddling rain sent cars twisting across the road at freeway speed. Ray slowed down and settled in.
The Tacoma motel had a Fife, WA address. While Ray and Jay waited to register, a man barged into the lobby.
“What is it with the cops here, man,” he shouted. “They shine a light on me, they pull me over like I’m a criminal. I’m no criminal, man. What is wrong with them?”
The clerk didn’t look up. One of them said, “That’s just how it is in Fife.”
The guys found their room and turned on the television. A six year old University of Washington basketball game played on the screen. Brandon Roy of the Portland Trailblazers ran with ease.
Ray looked at the young Roy, now hobbled with bone on bone knees; Jay looked at the smoke coming from behind the cabinet.
The screen clicked to black and a high-pitched squeal filled the room, along with burnt-wire smoke.
“It’s on fire,” Jay said.
“Yep, Roy was hot then.”
“The television is on fire. Unplug it.”
“And get shocked?”
Jay pulled the plug.
“This ain’t right,” he said.
“That’s just how it is in Fife.”
They left the smoking TV on the balcony and headed for the Tacoma Dome. Traffic lined up three miles away.
After The Wall, they joined the traffic leaving the parking lot.
“I’ve seen KISS on tv with all their fireworks. The Wall had as much stuff blasting as a KISS concert,” Ray said.
“It’s not ABBA and it’s not KISS. It’s Roger Waters. It’s his Wall.”
“It’s not Pink Floyd.”
“The Wall was a movie. The show is like the movie, except it’s more interactive with the audience.”
“I noticed everyone knew all the words to all the songs. They knew when to react, like the midnight audience for Rocky Horror Picture Show. I wanted to throw some rice at The Wall.”
“Not that interactive.”
“When Roger played Mother with a video of him playing Mother from 1980 running on The Wall, I thought of Hank Sr and Jr singing ‘There’s A Tear In My Beer’, and Nat and Natalie Cole singing ‘Unforgettable.’ It’s a new tradition.”
“It’s not the same.”
“What about the black trench coat and red arm band?”
“There was some Hitler in there.”
“Instead of a crooked cross symbol, it used crossed hammers.”
“And the audience knew when to raise their arms in a cross like they do for Static X.”
“It’s not the same.”
Instead of returning to their room with the wire-fire stench, they stopped at a casino. They waited at the bottom of a stairway to a nightclub.
“The Wall covers it, but what is it trying to say?” Ray said. “It’s a concept album, a movie, and a concert, but what is it about?”
“It’s anti-war, anti-government, anti-killing. It’s the bombers dropping bombs shaped like Stars of David, and crosses, and hammers and sickles, and everything else. It’s an in-your-face demand that you re-evaluate your positions and opinions and do something about it.”
“Do something, huh?”
A man with a metal wand checked customers for weapons before letting them go upstairs.
Inside the club, music blared over a dance floor with everyone synched to the Electric Slide. Blue-shirted security staff cruised by every ten seconds.
“I think Roger Waters would love this place.”
“His next concept album could be The Dance Floor. It’s all here, nazi-like guards, robotic dancers, and a man waving a weapon detecting wand deciding who gets in and who doesn’t.”
“From The Wall to The Floor.”
“He’ll work it out.”
The best dancer on The Floor left her partner to stand in front of Jay.
She locked eyes.
“We could dance, or just stand here. I’m good either way,” she said, bumping to the beat. “You look like a dancer I need tonight.”
“He’s dancing with a blackjack table in five minutes, but it looks fun.”
A few girls from The Floor slid over, trapping Ray and Jay with their moves. One, a Gabriel Reece clone, flowed like rippling water and glided like a perfect snowflake.
“What would Roger Waters do?”