Summer of 2007 is nearing when DM and I briefly consider attending the full-on excursion to Tennessee that the Police’s appearance at the Bonnaroo festival would entail. I watch the 2006 video stream of Oysterhead’s performance there and realize (while continuing to marvel at Stewart Copeland’s legerdemain) I have missed another damn good thing. But after hearing the options for ticketing, accommodations, and transport, I recall how long it has been since I’ve chosen to don a pair of muddy sandals and venture into a situation where comfort might take a back seat to endurance. I decide I’m not entirely up for the logistics such an excursion would require. At least for this year.
A curious story makes its way back from the festival. A gentleman called cpriddims who had signed on as festival staff takes our flag to an area where the Police entourage is due to arrive and then waits until Stewart’s car passes.
The flag is brandished, and the drummer enthusiastically responds thumbs-up from his passing conveyance. The flag is then flown by enthusiastic hands during the Police’s performance and receives its first three signatures on its blank side as cpriddims, Dive, and the SuperCat together break virgin green territory. Very nice, I think. A flattering treatment of something that was never meant to outlast its initially intended use.
It’s at this point that I get hazy. (Exacerbating my normally poor levels of memory retention, this season is a busy period at my day job: summer is when our production department gears up to churn out educational-services product for America’s crappy public schools and skill-challenged district-level administrators as their annual autumn dance with a new school year’s incompetence begins. At least I’m not doing liquor and cigarette ads.)
From then on, a sweet, tiny idea seems to gain even more traction. People on and off the Copeland forum actually begin to clamor for a chance to carry the goddamned flag at concerts, especially after Stewart is seen pointing at the thing, directly acknowledging the presence of His People in front of thousands of relatively clueless bystanders (most of whom are very probably there to see Sting, of course).
This floors me, all the more so after I see photographic evidence of the drummer’s behavior. As I said earlier, I ain’t ever been what one could call an active rock fan, so I can’t authoritatively judge how unusual this sort of attention is. But it feels like a great deal, and DM has confirmed this. Determined and well-heeled fans have always found ways to interact with rock stars under limited circumstances, but this was fairly exciting and worth pursuing as a continued effort considering the talent up on the stage.
The Flag has become a Project. Since this project’s proper execution immediately requires some major-league home-office project management, I resolve to try to stay out of DM’s way as she creates a foundation and a workflow for its continued viability. Mind you, I do not yet live within the scope of this project’s architecture. I merely visit the building it’s housed within.
But my first-ever Police concert in Philly on 7/19 adds my own cement to the bricks, and I begin to feel as though I have a personal interest.
It’s still early in the tour. Their impressive appearance at the Whisky notwithstanding, the boys are—frankly—still figuring out how to do what they haven’t done together for decades. Despite some relatively lackluster arrangements and a somewhat more lackluster-sounding Philly stadium crowd, it’s great to see the boys up there, it’s great to meet a good bunch of SC.net Scoobies for the first time, and it’s great to feel the enthusiasm these particular grinning fans convey.
(For the past few years, “fandom” had meant something other to me than the pure fun and joyful involvement with someone else’s creative work that I’d known previously. My own participation in a fan-based recreation of a certain popular 1960s genre tv show had tainted the innocence of my fannish devotion with the seeming inevitability of groupthink and personality conflict, not dissimilar to some community theater groups I remember working with. A bad taste in my mouth left behind by that recent experience was somewhat dispelled by immersion in this new group of exuberant strangers. Or maybe it was just the very good local beer available from the Philly Citizens Bank Park concessionaires.)
The flag is present that day (having acquired several more fan sigatures), up in the side seats with a slightly intense young man named Conroy. Despite the fact that DM has already begun posting specific flag-spotting directions on the forum (not yet knowing if the intended recipient knew or cared about this), Conroy is a bit far from the stage for Stewart to spot easily. Perhaps we can help.
The evening before, I’d hacked out a quick arrow with the word “FLAG” on it in a manner I had hoped would provide sufficient long-distance legibility and contrast (Frutiger Black Condensed in white type on a black arrow, tiled onto two letter-size sheets and taped together). DM and the lissome Donna will each carry one of these in an attempt to quickly guide Stewart’s gaze to Conroy’s section.
Stewart diligently and indicatively attempts to follow where we’re pointing (point, turn, point, turn, blink) but is unable to scope out our hapless man in the rafters. I feel bad for Conroy, but I’m engaged at this point. Because I now remember how much fun it is to be a fan of something again.
Feels like it’s been a while, and it’s very nice.