Rude at Bonnaroo

The Rude Pundit at the Bonnaroo Music Festival

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day of the Roo, Part 3: Things Start to Get Killy:
The first time I saw Marc (with a "c") kill a zombie was, appropriately enough, during the Dead Weather's performance at Bonnaroo. Marc's a hugger, and his girth and height make him both lovable and deadly, like a Care Bear with John Wayne Gacy's face on his belly. As the band played its unholy mixture of punk, metal, and blues, Zeppelin on meth, as Alison Mosshart wailed out at the rain-spattered, stinky crowd, the zombies came through the fences. Festival goers tried to run, but the feeding had started. Marc started rushing towards a girl who might have been cute if she had had her entire face. And if she hadn't been biting the jugular vein of a dreadlock-topped teenaged boy wearing a hemp cloth skirt. I took out my pistol and was ready to chase after to protect him, but Mat touched my shoulder, giving me a stare, "No, let him go. Watch this. It's amazing."

Marc had a big grin as he stomped through the mud. "Here, pretty zombie," he called out. Her bloody snarl turned towards Marc. She dropped the violently twitching hippie and started racing at him. "You feel bad? You wanna hug?" He opened his arms. I tensed, my pistol ready. The zombie ran into his arms, but, before it could bite, Marc, truly, deeply, meaningfully, if that's possible, hugged her. Hard. Really fucking hard. So hard that the zombie stopped flailing and went limp. In one final squeeze, Marc said, "It's okay, girlie," and the beast's head popped off like a champagne cork.

I turned, stunned, to Mat, who shrugged. "Retard strength. What are ya gonna do?"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day of the Roo, Part 2: What Is the Roo?:
Mat brought me to a door in the middle of the fountain in the horribly cutely-named Center Roo. All things are "Roo" here, it being one of the only sounds most of the zombies can intone. You can hear them in the distance, yawping, "Rooooo," as if calling the others to feed. We went down a staircase to a dripping room where Mat had fashioned a camp. "Those are good guns," Mat said. "You could get a round through three zombie skulls in one shot."

"Why didn't Matt ever tell me he had a twin?" I asked.

"He's ashamed of me. I decided to sell my soul to the Devil."

"For eternal life?"

"No. For a job with Dick Cheney."

"Sweet Jesus, you poor bastard."

"You have no idea. This," he said as he gestured at the earth above, "is not what you think."

"It's not a giant compound where you trick people into coming so you can feed the zombies?"

He paused. "Okay, it is that. But it's more. Why do you think Donald Rumsfeld resigned back in 2006? Because of the war in Iraq? The failure to capture bin Laden? Child's play. It's because Bonnaroo was the code name of a project started by the Pentagon to reanimate the dead."

I interrupted, "To turn them into soldiers?"

"Worse. To turn them into walking bombs. The problem was that it worked too well. It worked too well, Lee, don't you see? When did Bonnaroo start? In 2002. Post-9/11. Why the fuck would you put it in the middle of nowhere, to the left of Fuckmysister, Tennessee? So no one would know."

"Know what? What did Donald Rumsfeld figure out? How is Dick Cheney involved?"

We heard a pounding on the door above. I grabbed the rifle. "Wait," Mat said, "It's not what you think." More pounding. "There's something else I need to tell you." We ran up the stairs. "You're probably gonna need to prepare yourself here."

"What? Why? What's going--" The door burst open and standing there was my best friend, Mark, the zombie lord himself. Except something wasn't exactly the same. He had a big, innocent grin on his face, and, in each hand, he held, by their hair, a zombie head.

"I did good, Mat. I hugged two meanies and they broke."

Outside again, in the pouring fountain water, I fell to my knees, yelling, "I left you for dead!"

Mat stepped forward. "Lee, meet Mark's twin brother, Marc. With a 'c.' He's just like Mark, except he's not a zombie and--" Marc rushed forward to give me a bear hug - "he's a bit slow."

One-Hand Caveat:
Typing with a hook has proven difficult and slow. More later this afternoon.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day of the Roo, Day One: Matt and the Mud:
"Who are you?" I screamed in the dark at the figure who looked exactly like my ripped-inside-out and eaten assistant, Matt. "You're not Matt. Matt died. Who the fuck are you?" The torrential rain pouring down around us, shaking furiously, I was holding the rifle with my right hand, balancing it on the hook that functioned for my left. "You tell me now before I shoot!" He took a step towards me.

Why am I back here, at the Bonnaroo Music Festival, one more time, the site of so many of my failures, the place where I lost my best friend, Mark, to the zombies, where he became their mad king, where I've seen so many killed and killed so many more? Why would I return to the fields of Manchester, Tennessee, to walk among the damned during their annual feeding ritual? It was simple: revenge.

I phoned Andrew, whose daughter, Laurel, had been turned into Mark's zombie bride last year. "I want to go to Bonnaroo," I said.

"You're mad," he replied. "You're fucked in the head. You were lucky you just lost a hand last time."

"I need to go. I want to kill them."


"All of them. But especially Mark and Laurel. Do you want to live on knowing your little girl is eating human flesh and fucking a dead man?"

"It's just a phase," he said, his voice filled with lies and despair.

"Bullshit. Send me in. I know how to walk among them. I have nothing else to lose."

"You have another hand."

But the conversation quickly turned to what I needed in the way of supplies, which came down to guns, big Beretta rifle, automatic Glock pistol, and ammo that would take down an armored elephant in one shot. Andrew arranged passage for me through one of the guardians of the zombie feasting grounds, where every year they tempt young human beings to offer themselves to the zombie hordes by providing a weekend of drugs, hemp clothing, and ungodly music. Obviously, this year, seeking to diversify the banquet, Jay-Z and Ozomatli would be playing their siren songs to lure the unwitting noodle dancers. The guards made sure that once the innocents entered, they did not leave until the zombies were satisfied. It kept them from running amok outside Bonnaroo.

I arrived in a gushing rainstorm, the fields all turned to mud. I went to where the fence was cut for me, and the downpour masked my arrival as I headedto the middle of Planet Roo to set up a sniper's nest. On my way towards the horrible disembodied hand statue, I fell in the muck and lost half my ammo and one of the guns.

Then I turned to see, oh, god, Matt, who now I yelled to stop before I shot him dead. Instead, I saw one of the zombies charging at him and fired, blowing the head off the monster. It was all the proof I needed. I fell to my knees, sobbing, "I thought you were dead."

The man knelt next to me. "No, I'm not Matt. I'm Matt's twin brother, Mat. With one 't'. Andrew sent me to help." He reached out and shook my hook.