Rude at Bonnaroo

The Rude Pundit at the Bonnaroo Music Festival

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Day Four: Escape, Survival, Showers:
The music lasted until sunrise, an unholy rave where the zombies thrashed about to welcome the new day, the Sunday, and the horrors of the final hours of their festival of the damned. We knew we had to make our escape, for soon, we would be all that was left for the zombies to eat. And surely, they would have the munchies.

The most creative of the beasts kept drugged out Bonnaroo-goers tied down under the bleachers.

They were being fattened with a steady diet of soy cheese and deep-fried Twinkies, tossed ecstasy and acid to ensure their pliability, kept out of the sun for the zombies preferred their flesh uncooked, even by the sun.

So we crossed into the tent city, the place where the dead thrived, a stinking pisspot that used to be a farm, where tens of thousands of the zombies moaned and attempted to re-create the world outside Bonnaroo, a grotesque version of normal society.

We set out through the camps, searching, as we were told, for Cowboy Jane, the one true zombie killer. I cannot tell you all the things we saw, for such kaleidoscopic madness and debauchery must truly be experienced. I'll just say this: when particularly rotting zombies offer you their cocks or cunts, they are being literal. And I'll add that mushrooms seem to sprout from the prone, slowly, awfully decaying zombies, the ones that couldn't move anymore. Other zombies cultivated these mushrooms and they were prized like currency among the savages.

Finally, we saw the hat, the mauve cowboy hat that told us that we were in the presence of Cowboy Jane. She lived in an RV among the zombies, the better to know their ways. And her ham-hock fists, ramrod arms, and striped umbrella told me that she was our champion. When we first saw her, three dwarf women went under her pleated black leather skirt, all desperately fisting and licking her as she smacked their heads and ordered them to fuck her harder. Cowboy Jane's massive haunches heaved up and down on the dwarfs' faces as she screamed, "Fuck me, little bitches," twisting her tits under her shirt until finally, giving up as so many before must have, three sweaty, moist female dwarfs emerged and collapsed. Jane winked at us and said, "Looks like I done wore these out. Gotta get me some new ones."

She hiked up her thong and told us to follow her, which was easy between the hat, the umbrella, and her fuzzy purple boots. "Zombies ain't gonna kill themselves," she said, "no matter how sad they are." She led us through the camp, back to the main concert area, where the zombies had gathered in massive, heaving numbers. We stood behind her as she took in the scene.

The zombies began to swell towards us, and Cowboy Jane said, "Stay next to me," and she began her killing rage, punching zombies in the head so hard that their softened skulls just caved in, stabbing them through their eyes with her umbrella. There was grace about her, as if zombie massacring were an art and she was its Van Gogh. Hacking and ripping, she led us to the gate as the zombies lurched towards us until, in a bizarre twist of their murderous ways, they began to get concerned for their own safety and retreated to the comfort of Bob Weir's concert.

Cowboy Jane tipped her hat to us. We implored her to come with us, to escape the zombies. "Nope," she said, "I got my place in this world," and with that she strolled into the heat and dust of a nearly empty field.

We got in our van to get away, stopping briefly when Mark had to take a piss. He got eaten by wolverines. He had been warned.

And as I left Bonnaroo, zombie paradise, behind, I thought about the monsters, pitiable cannibals, and I wondered how easy it would be to become a zombie, about how seductive their rituals are, about the nights and the lights and the fires and the music, the never-ending music the zombies live by. How tempting, to go zombie.

And then I remembered that ahead of me was a hotel room with a young couple from Kracow awaiting me with chilled vodka and a hot shower, and I headed on down the highway. Bonnaroo had not defeated me.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Day Three, Night at the Weeping Mushroom:
Before I detail the adventure of my escape from the deepest circles of Bonnaroo, I need to mention some more of the zombies' behavior I was able to observe.

Little could satiate the various appetites of the zombies. When they were denied the sweet meat of human beings, they would soothe themselves with narcotics from the earth, layering marijuana, opium, and dried mushrooms in a pipe and smoking it, a parfait of hallucination and desensitization. I believe it stopped the gnawing pain of their own imminent rot.

The zombies' demand for music, music, constantly, was bizarre, to say the least. Of course, the undead have their own moaning melodies, their own bands, operating on some scrap of memory of musicality and dexterity in playing instruments and performing songs that are not unlike the sounds that a herd of buffalo would make while being forced by Indians to plunge off a cliff, the first industrial-level death march.

Yet this was not enough for the hordes of the damned. They forced aged musicians, ones not quite dead, to play for them, making them perform until they collapsed.

The air was dry at Bonnaroo. The dust in the air coated everything, making the zombies seem paler than usual, filling our lungs, allowing us to move more surreptitiously among them. They were not yet ready to dine on us. Occasionally they would gather at a giant mushroom in the center of the site, and the mushroom would spray water on the grateful predators, washing some of the dust away.

The monsters would also drag their victims to the mushroom, rinsing the dirt off the humans before devouring them in an orgy of limb-tearing and organ-sucking.

They created statues of their favorite body parts. Here's a giant pair of testicles in a field of zombies. It has a certain Duchamp-like charm:

Finally, we were told how to escape. We would have to wait until morning and go into the tent city beyond the green wall. A gasping man with his feet missing, with his last human breaths, told us, "Find Cowboy Jane. She can lead you to safety. Now please kill me." After arguing over which one of us would do it, I crushed his skull with a garbage bag of broken Birkenstocks.

Tomorrow: into the hinterlands and Cowboy Jane leads us out.

I survived the Bonnaroo zombie nightmare. My friend did not. More later after I stop the bleeding.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Day Three: A Few Observations of Zombie Culture:
Their clothes: The zombie hordes favor loose fitting clothes, when they wear clothes at all. It must be because tight garments would rub off their gangrenous flesh. All colors are encouraged, but only in muted tones with floral designs, more than likely the better to highlight their body paint and henna tatoos.

Their rituals: At night, the zombies worship around the ovens that burn their own dead, the ones that have fallen to pieces, since they are inedible. Why not make it into a kind of sacrament, a tribute to their hateful gods?

Sex With a Zombie: One young female zombie, attractive and painted with flowers and hearts, approached me to talk about what I wanted to see that night. Cautiously, I told her, wondering what cauldron of doom she wanted to drag me to. But her eyes were hypnotizing, her skin not yet discolored, her underarms shaved. She talked about dancing, about how she, herself, wanted to do interpretive dance, which she did for me, hiking up her dress to reveal her long legs and dancing lithe shadows against a tent. It was impossible to resist the siren-like draw of her gyrations. I went with her, able to secret myself into a zombie crowd writhing to to trance music. After, half mad from the spiked opium we smoked, we sweatily balled behind a tent that was there to promote zombie recycling. When we were finished, she told me that she wasn't going to school for dance, but she did it herself and how she wanted an organic burrito and how cool Woody Harrelson is for his crusade for hemp and...then, in the strobe-lit chaos, I ran, screaming to escape before I was zombified.

Their likes/dislikes: The zombies like songs that last for an hour without ending, with one note seeming to repeat over and over. Political humor involving sodomy and blow-up dolls? Not so much.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Day Two, Night and Crafts:
At dusk yesterday, we thought we saw a hopeful sign: a deep red cardinal chirping in the trees. But we were mistaken. It was actually a white dove coated in blood, singing a sad sanguine song, our dirge, we believed.

The zombie hordes gathered at night to dance in celebration of the coming feast.

We moved among them to listen to the songs, mesmerized by the thrum of different screeching sounds from different stages.

The horrors we have witnessed include the creation of pieces of clothing from the tanned skin of the dead, inked with their tattoos, eerie markings and symbols from cultures far and wide, cultures that seem incongruous with the seeming homogenous whiteness of the zombies, but perhaps markings that identify one monster to another. We weren’t sure, but another zombie seemed to be wearing the scalp of a Rastafarian, although his body was nowhere to be found.

Later we saw one roaming around with a necklace of bones, its pendant the skull of a man. It’s hard to know for certain, but the skull looked like one of the two young men we pointed in the direction of the zombies , a moment of regret passing between us, but then the horrible knowledge that we probably saved ourselves for a little longer assured us we were right.

The soulless workers have simple tasks: keep the zombies in. Keep them fed and entertained. Don't let the living escape. Dispose of the fallen when they can. They wear pink shirts and red bandannas, colors that seem to keep the zombies off balance.

I will write more later. Something is digging in the earth beneath my tent. I think the moles have arrived.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Day Two: A Banquet of Flesh:
They opened the gates this morning. The air was rank with the scent of patchouli and rotting flesh. Walking through the morning heat, we ventured into the tent city, not unlike a New Delhi ghetto, seeking some sign of remaining humanity. We had to stagger, staring blankly ahead, our eyes filled with the need for human flesh, periodically mumbling, "Tool's here, man," as if we ourselves were zombies.

We don't want to be hunted, but the workers here wear masks as they dart around in their golf carts. The masks hide their features and give them the illusion that they will not catch cholera or dysentery from the port-a-potties and the trenches of the dead that line the outer rims of this nightmarish hellscape. We have named one of them "Dick Ripper" for her preferred method of sexual conquest. She is like a perverse praying mantis. Instead of biting the head off her mate, well, the name explains the horror.

I have a confession, a terrible deed. This morning, a pair of young men hopped the fences to illegally enter the Bonnaroo grounds. Why the electricity was off, we don't know. They were filled with hope and asked us what time Bob Weir was playing and which direction they could safely go. We sensed an opportunity to satiate the zombies for a moment or two and sent the men to their doom. We don't know if they got into the center or if they are now a pile of gristle-coated bones.

The zombies have constructed an idol to worship. It is a disembodied hand holding the earth.

It reveals their plans, as well as their menu.

Tonight we will venture to the stages where the zombies have created an elaborate charade to lure the living. They will force us to dance and drug us in order to separate the fresh meat from the stale. At a glance at the zombies, you can't tell where the rotting flesh ends and the tie-dye begins.

In the distance, I hear the cries of the packs of wolverines. Night is but an hour away. I hope I will be able to write more later. Unless I have to sacrifice my hands so that the rest of my body can escape.

Day One, Night Time, Spiders, Sex:
Last night, the spiders arrived at Bonnaroo. Oh, they can spray the fields with all the poisons they want, killing the mosquitoes, the taint-biting chiggers, the blood-nourished ticks, but they cannot kill the spiders. They arrived in legions, filling every section of fence with tiny webs so that it became a quilted flytrap. It's not the size of them, oh, no, but the numbers.

I am sleeping in a tent next to a fence next to a dirt road, where all night long, cars and trucks and golf carts of the damned go by. It's a curve in the road, and there's floodlights to make the path clear. I would slice the line, but I fear a sewage truck would crash through my fence and injure me just enough and damage my tent just enough so that the spiders would cocoon me for later devouring.

Earlier, I was in the co-ed showers. It is a place to hide from the dust and heat. It is also a place for furtive, hurried sex, where willing and slick partners will fellate you on eye contact, as if seeking nourishment from your seed. The stalls are small, but one woman gestures for me to join her. As we pound against the plastic sides, we talk about a bit about the bands we want to see - me Wilco, she Damien Rice, but inevitably we speak about the spiders. Another man wants to come in there with us, but we are afraid we'll burst the sides. He goes into the next stall to masturbate leaning against our shaking walls. The sex is not good. How could it be? It is merely a desperate attempt to affirm we are alive even as we must pretend we are not.

"Beware," one huddled man in another stall told me as he tried to slowly drown himself in the spray. "If you think the spiders are bad, tomorrow the wolverines."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Day One: The Warning Signs:
When one arrives early to the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee, one sees the secrets of the festival revealed. Or, as my friend said earlier, "See how the hot dog is made." The workers are busy digging trenches, obviously to have a convenient place to toss the dead. There are tents set up for the pods that will replace the remaining humans. The giant fountain sprays spinal fluid. When night falls, the zombies come out. They are not so much of a worry as I have a mallet that will dispatch them quickly. No, the real problem is the wolves. They move with a swiftness that no swinging camping tool can slow. And what is left is morsels for the foxes. The bugs. The loudspeakers that keep playing "Baba O'Reilly."

It is hot now. Even the spiders are seeking shade. We have just begun. The bloodthirst will never abate.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I Am Not a Camper:
But I am not not a camper. I exist in some nebulous region between camper and non-camper. In other words, I've never camped. And, well, shit, is it really going to be camping if I can walk a few feet and buy a beer?

I think if one is sleeping in a tent, one is camping. 'Nuff said.