Rude at Bonnaroo

The Rude Pundit at the Bonnaroo Music Festival

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dawn of the Roo, Day 4: The Hand Job:

The reason for the delay for the conclusion of my tale is simple: I am typing this with one hand. No, it's not that my left hand is occupied right now. Well, it might be. But I have no way of knowing since it is not with me. I'll get to that in a moment.

When he performed last night, Bruce Springsteen asked, "Is anyone alive out there?" We few who had not yet been turned into zombies called back, but it was to no avail, despite his repetition of his question. So, using the information Matt had acquired by having anal sex with a comely female zombie who I decapitated with a shovel, we coated ourselves in her viscous goo in order to throw off the zombie scent, and headed into the campgrounds surrounding the central area, also known as, "The Pods."

It was night as we traversed the grounds of Planet Roo and passed through the giant fence that separates the zombie home turf from the rest of the festival. As the zombette informed us, going while Phish was still playing was our best bet to travel with the fewest zombies around. We heard the repetition of a single guitar riff over and over in the distance and knew we were safe.

The Pods were like watching Fellini's Amarcord on acid. In one, long tracking shot we walked past zombies feasting on a tofu-stuffed child, downing ecstasy tabs like candy, searching mindlessly for limbs they had lost the previous night at MGMT's show. We witnessed every depravity we could imagine and some we could not. Watching zombies have sex with each other is not unlike watching moths rip each other's wings off, such was the violence and dismemberment on display as two male zombies attempted to 69, but instead ended up just laying there with disembodied balls on their faces. We saw them burning the legless zombies, beating each other with bones. It was a Carnival of Eww, a Circus of Oh-Fuck-Me.

Finally, in a Pod named "Han Solo," which, in a nearly ironic twist, is one letter short of how I now find myself, we saw the dumpster with "Arise" scrawled across it, indicating we had found the mythical lair of the zombie king. At that moment, we were surrounded by the undead, all painted with what smelled like barbecue sauce. They seized Matt and me and dragged us towards a chalet-sized tent where, sitting in a chair made of skulls and femurs, was my dear old friend Mark, who I thought I had left to the wolverines two years ago.

He was undead. He was a monster. He was the lord of the beasts, the master of zombie ceremonies. I only wish he had been wearing pants.

Dangling a bit lower and to the left, his head shaved, his legs missing chunks from where, I presumed, the wolverines had bitten him, wearing a Raconteurs t-shirt, he smiled. I nodded and said, "The barbecue sauce is a nice touch."

"Bullseye, motherfucker, Bullseye," he gurgled, as if his voice had been devoured. "I appreciate the smoky sweetness. Want some?" His laugh was something that echoes in my head.

"Where is Laurel?" I demanded, mustering every bit of strength I could to keep from retching.

"Oh, you mean my bride? Come out, darling," he said, gesturing to a flap in the tent, a place so huge it would do a Bedouin proud. There she was, barefoot, dressed in a spaghetti strap batik dress, beautiful, glowing, even, but glowing a dull green, a single bite taken out of her ass, a sure sign that Mark had transformed her. I texted Andrew, telling Mark to hold on a second as I wrote, "Laurel a zombie, send in the horses, get us the fuck out of here."

"You left me behind, dude," Mark said. "As sharp as the wolverine's teeth were, they were nothing compared to the bite of the zombies."

"You seem to have done pretty well for yourself, considering, you know, you're dead and, fuck, are those maggots?"

Laurel seemed transfixed by Matt's eyes. Surely, the smell of zombie made her think they could madly ball. And as she got closer to him, he put up his hands. Unfortunately, the awful zombie guts perfume had faded and his human scent awakened Laurel's monster hunger. She jammed her hand down Matt's throat, reaching all the way to his sphincter as Matt thrashed and shouted muffled cries of pain, but was essentially a shish-ka-bob on the stick of Laurel's arm. The she-monster grabbed hold deep inside Matt and pulled. And then, in a moment that never leaves my brain now, Laurel yanked Matt inside out, exposing his organs to the air, leaving him a twitching, pulsating mass. Laurel and the other attendant zombies dove in to feast. Mark laughed as they handed him the heart and said, "Ooooh, that's gotta hurt." He took a bite, adding, "Too soon?"

I dropped to my knees. "Am I next?"

Mark made me wait until he finished Matt's heart to answer. "I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. You need to leave me tribute. I'd look bad to all these stinky fuckers if I just let you go. But I still love ya, dude. Even if you didn't jump in to fight the wolverines with me." I tried to protest, but he continued, "Yeah, I'd've probably rode on, too." He listened to the air. "Phish is almost over. Then my minions will return. What'll it be?"

I swallowed and asked, "Tribute?"

"Yeah, yeah, tribute. I gotta eat part of you. But we'll cut it off first and shit, so you don't become a zombie. You can then, I don't know, go out and fuckin' warn people that I'm planning a revolution, to transform all of the earth in Roo World, man, into peace and cooperation and love and flesh-eating, a beautiful thing. Can you imagine what that'll be like?"

He was lost, mad, cackling at the idea. I was sort of stuck on the first thing he said. "Cut off a part? Of me?"

"Yep. And, sorry, it can't be something small, like a toe or your cock. Nah, just joking. I don't wanna eat your cock, fag." I didn't laugh. He shook his head. "Let's make it your left hand. That way you can still jack off. Better hurry. I hear the sound of a jam band getting tired." A painted, machete-wielding zombie headed towards me.

The next thing I remember is waking up at dawn under a pile of straw and seeing that my left hand was gone, the wound pus-covered from a quickie cauterization. I screamed into my arm to muffle the cry and then I stumbled out of the tent to find Bonnaroo abandoned. But a lone horse rider sauntered up to me and asked if I was me.

I nodded. "Andrew sent me. He said I was supposed to kill you if you were unharmed. But you are fucked up." I vomited. She reached down and pulled me onto the steed to ride away, ride away, to figure out a way to warn everyone without seeming like a Cassandra or Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

But I conclude this with a tribute to Matt, whose death I cannot help feel I am somewhat responsible for.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dawn of the Roo, Day 3: Observations on Interacting with Zombies:
Even though I have had previous experience with the zombies of Bonnaroo, I have learned a bit more through my three days of contact with them.

1. If you kill a zombie, reach through its paper-thin skin, grab a handful of guts, and rub yourself all over with its decaying innards, other zombies will think you are one of them by your scent. Thus it is easier to traverse the fields of the ghouls.

2. Sex with a zombie is a difficult thing. It's not the potential for fucking right through whatever orifice you're plunged into. You need to fuck a zombie from behind.

I learned this and more because I had decided that my assistant, Matt, needed to get more information in order for us to move through the crowds of the undead. So, after Matt had used his axe to hack the head of one noodle dancing Phish fan who jerkily waved his arms as he gnashed at us, I grabbed his stomach and intestines and gave us the perfume of the monsters. Then, after a brief discussion - Matt would call it an argument, but he's young - we "agreed" that fucking a zombie was the best way to find out about the zombie leader we'd heard about in the pods of campers around the Bonnaroo perimeter. He would do the sex part, and I would watch. Oh, and listen.

Despite the fact that he's gay, Matt suggested that he fuck a female zombie (or "zombette," as he called them) because she'd be more likely to know where a teenager like Laurel might be, too. I said he wouldn't be bisexual because fucking a thing without a soul is not like fucking a person. He was relieved. After a brief discussion about why any offers of fellatio ought to be obviously ignored, Matt, who, truth be told, is a good-looking guy, which is why he gets so much cock, we decided the way to avoid getting bitten should the odor disguise fail is to enter the zombie from behind. And that he should use a segment of intestine for a condom.

A couple of other observations:
a. Music is the only thing that transfixes the zombies and stops them from eating the flesh of we captives. Nine Inch Nails throws them into such a fervor, with the flashing lights and grinding guitars, that they end up ripping their own body parts off to beat each other senseless. The Beastie Boys turn the males into raving jerk-offs. Public Enemy confuses them. Bruce Springsteen came close to getting them to give up their zombie ways, but he wouldn't do another encore and was forced to escape in a hot-air balloon.

b. If you watch as your assistant fucks a zombie female just to get information that you need in order to find the zombie leader who might be the friend you abandoned two years prior to ravenous wolverines, you probably shouldn't give in to the temptation to jack off. It generally upsets the assistant, especially when you kill the zombie just as he's coming. You have to agree to pay for the therapy.

Tomorrow: we make it to the zombie leader's camp. On entering, we see this horrible image that chills us for the potential revolution to come:

Dawn of the Roo, Day 3:

Pictured: zombie bait - young, fresh, passed-out, lamp-lit.

More tomorrow morning, but Andrew called. He received a panicky text from Laurel: "Took sooooo much e thirsty but boy named Drew wl help." Andrew has reminded of how he saved my life back in 1999 during the third Woodstock, how he used Flea as a battering ram to get me through the marauding hordes after I had been injured by a flying water bottle. Damn him. Into the zombies' camps.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dawn of the Roo, Day 2:

This is a real sign hanging in the middle of what is called "Planet Roo." While it's obvious to many of us, who have seen the zombies walking people under bleachers and behind tents and coming out alone with sticky fingers, licking their lips, it is perhaps something that is needed for people who think they are hear to listen to music. Like Andrew's daughter, Laurel, who I have not been able to find yet. She's tweeting, though, things like, "Delta Sprit played 2 late 2 c, CU 2morrow, Bste Boyz".

Matt has made an incredible discovery now that the gushing rain and wind has halted: a series of holes dug by the carnivorous giant moles that occasionally drag down a poor, stoned douchebag who just wanted to bounce to Snoop Dogg, into the earth, only leaving his backwards baseball cap behind. If timed right, Matt is able to crawl through them in order to quickly get supplies. He tells me he's heard a rumor: that there is a zombie in a tent somewhere out in the farthest campground who is trying to get the other zombies to humanize. Matt believes it might be Mark. I think this is madness.

Later today: Observations on the inability of zombies to lurch through mud puddles.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dawn of the Roo, Part 1:
Imagine, if you will, the older Union soldier returning to the battleground of Gettysburg. Or the Vietnam vet returning to the rice paddies near the village of My Lai. Imagine the memory of those soldiers, the blood and gore they know poison the earth, how the stench of burnt flesh is stronger upon recollection than in actuality, how the screams of terror, of pain, the begging for life echo still in the air.

Such is the visceral impact on me of returning to Manchester, Tennessee, to the Bonnaroo Music Festival. I am writhing on the floor of my oversized Coleman tent as images of the horror of Bonnaroo 2007 come back to haunt me. I have already had a fever of dream of my companion, Mark, who was dragged away by a pack of starved wolverines just as we were escaping. Matt, who agreed to assist me this year, awoke me, telling me that I was swatting at phantoms. Matt is a wayward soul who has resigned himself to his potential death here. But he is a man who knows how to swing an axe.

It was two days ago that I received the call. "Last year we nearly lost the city to the zombies," said Andrew, the local funeral director who is an old college friend, "and it's hit my business hard. Can you come back?" It's not that I'm a hero. Oh, no, far, far from it, but he says his 18 year-old daughter has disappeared with some of the zombies' helpers. Her last text message said, "Dad going to roo w ppl i met see u sun lol." Andrew called me because two years ago I survived. I got out, alive, but Mark, oh, Christ, Mark was not as lucky. Andrew wants me to rescue Laurel. And because he saved my life once, I told him I'd do it.

It's a hot night. Matt sits outside the tent, slowly, deliberately sharpening a long axe. He wants to make sure the zombies don't get close enough before he embeds the blade in their skulls. He wants me to come outside to talk to the other terrified prisoners here, to tell them how to make it out. I refused. Fuck them. They're bait. We got in by hitchhiking along Highway 41 and were picked up by a van that brought us all the way inside the fence, telling us not to worry, that Phish was going to be here, playing two shows, two fuckin' shows, man. It was a waking nightmare.

But we are here now. We are at Bonnaroo. I can hear them in the distance, hollering, calling out, feeding. Tomorrow we will be set loose into Planet Roo to try to survive. It will be time to kill. It will be time to enjoy the killing because if it is a burden, we won't make it home and Laurel is doomed.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Stay Tuned:
The dead have risen again, and thus the Rude Pundit must return to Tennessee, to the Bonnaroo Music Festival, for a new adventure. Starting Thursday, June 11, 2009...

In a 3 a.m. rave tent filled with stoned hippie zombies, no one can hear you scream.