Summertime and the Livin’s Easy
Shortly after getting jumped on national television, I was in Orange County, California, standing in the early summer air in khaki pants, a loose flowing Acapulco shirt, and white slippers—my faithful Hotdog dog sitting at me feet—when I got the call. It was my manager, Ryan Parsons, who had his “brace for impact” voice on, a hushed serious tone that I could tell was boiling into bad news. He smashed me in the head with the options: $5,000 fine and three month suspension or argue with the commission in a futile attempt to save my five grand and then possibly get hit with a $10,000 dollar asshole tax as well as a nine month suspension to boot. I replied, “I will think about it,” but I already knew the decision that I had to live with. A wave of frustration slammed over me. Replaying the incident in my head, I get angry at the whole situation, but suddenly I stopped. I bought the ticket and took the ride, and instead of the pouting about it, I decided right then and there that I’m not on “suspension,” I’m on a three month “summer vacation.” Time to use these hot summer months the same way I used them as a kid—eat, have fun, and maybe a bit of growing up. It’s summer, and while I’m always Mayhem, now I’m going gonzo.
The vomit-orange sun over the Santa Ana Freeway goes shadowy for a moment in the current parking lot of the I-5 northbound lanes, and I’m fired up again. The southbound lane is also a parking lot that faces the other way, and I have the funny idea that it would be awesome if the divider wall was lower so that I could say hi to the people as they pass by, plodding by me at four miles per hour in the opposite direction at about joggers speed. I would wave to them and smile hello, ask them what they thought about the CBS brawl, compliment the classic cars rolling by, and say “Buenos Dias” to cute Mexican chicks. The shadow crosses over the sun again, and this time the helicopter swoops in front of the modernistic skyscape, projecting up high, tickling the bright blue sky, my sunglasses blocking the glare of the blazing Los Angeles sun. I have air conditioning, but I like to let all the windows down while sitting in traffic sometimes. It reminds me of being fresh out of high school, with my cruddy Honda that had no A/C, no muffler, no music. As it is now, rapid techno thumps through Sirius Satellite radio, the beat hypnotizing myself and my two passengers, all entranced by the heat and the beat. I’m directed by my tour guide—an Asian girl named Kitty—who is an avid techno music fan and knows every song that you like that has beeps, bops, and female vocals. Through some clever maneuvering by me, the wheelman, we’re parked, and suddenly I find myself walking in downtown Los Angeles, surrounded by people who look like they are from another planet. They slightly resemble young people from earth: Mexicans, White people, Black people, Asians, Middle Eastern—but are adorned in crazy fashions that include Technicolor pants.
I realize I’m lumped in with these aliens in a massive rave-mob that has taken over downtown L.A., covering the streets in an eerie Tokyo Shibuya station scene, all the business suits replaced with track pants and glowsticks. Suddenly, street traffic is rerouted, and a team of five LAPD officers jog by in riot formation, billyclubs at the ready. I’m herded with a group of 18 to 25 year olds through a low-end neighborhood. Strutting by a house with no shingles on it, the Mexican guy who owns the place—a cigarette dangling from his mouth, eyes wide open—is watching this title wave, everyone scrambling in the same direction. He is just as bewildered as I am. The freak parade marches down their street. I don’t think the world understands me either. I often feel like an alien that is playing a joke on humanity, and only some of mankind gets it. It was better when I wasn’t famous. I got to pull pranks on small audiences, and the repercussions were small, never with three or more zeros behind them. Tension.
NO TURNING BACK
I get to the entrance of the massive stadium where I meet my other friends, smashed against the entrance, and I look to my tour guide for some guidance, when I realize that she has undergone a transformation. She has giant beaded bracelets concealing her forearms, a bright pink ruffled skirt, and a pair of fuzzy boots—a strange, sexy version of Rainbow Bright, oddly childish, but at the same time full grown, a shocking departure from her normal sensible clothing. Her blonde hair, which normally looks odd to me, now seems right at home with this outfit, and I don’t bat an eye at her pink contact lenses. I can hear the thumping of the music and finally read the sign: Electric Daisy Carnival. A massive rave. I’m too old and not European enough to rave, but here I am anyway. “Here’s your NAMES IN THE GAME ticket!” my giggly guide exclaims, shoving the paper in my hand, as I stand smooshed against a pack of Japanese looking schoolgirls, an older, over stylish couple that looks too in love, and a guy who smells faintly of gouda. Cheddar.
The security force holds back the tidal wave of techno fans from crashing the gate like I heard they did last year. A hundred thousand people showed up, probably explains the riot run-by I got to see. I look up at the sky just as the sun is setting, catching sight of a promotional plane, when a police copter charges through my view frame. The energy is infectious now, I can’t wait to get into this place, into the faint thumping I can hear and away from the cheese guy. The flag drops, and a rush of people sprint into the arena, and after a quick pat down, my journey is both complete and just beginning.
I can now hear the BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM that was faint before, it’s now live and in living color. The freak children that looked odd and out of place outside of the L.A. Coliseum, look right at home the way that they have transformed the place. Packs of kids dance together on open walkways, their oversized pants dragging on the ground, giant light cubes adorn one grassy area, and below them is scattered with the bodies of those too tired to dance anymore, or too drugged out to do anything else. The sun has gone down now, and I’m curious to see what the arena looks like at this point. Pushing past some light-stick kids and high-fiving some Bully Beatdown fans, I enter section 23. I walk down a pale green corridor and get the vibrations from the main stage—it’s a song I recognize and breaks me into a full sprint, my friends and tour guide give chase. I skid on my heels to a stop to see one of the most shocking sights I’ve seen. The arena is stuffed. A swirling beehive of activity. A giant stage with laser light shows, amusement park rides, and the entire field is flowing with people, all bobbing, moving shaking, like little ants pulsating. I break into an excited dance, shaking, moving, jumping, and feel the music of Deadmau 5, to which I normally just bob my head to in my car. As his set comes to a close, I follow my friends out of the arena to the vending area, when I come across another piece of heaven: A Cinnabun. This artery-clogging chunk of sweetness would never even enter my mind as food while training, but hey, summer vacation, and I’m not letting my constant guilt about food stop me from shoving my face with cake and icing. I cram the sweetness in, tryin gto relieve the bitterness. Suspension. Diaz. Commission.
“You’re gonna miss it! We stayed in there too long!” I drop the barren exoskeleton of my delicious treat and take off in a sprint, my lungs still in shape from my last fight, ducking the E-Zombies and the army of Hello Kitty backpacks, and nearly run out the door of the event when I realize I’ve lost the expert on this safari, and without her, I won’t last a minute in this jungle. I jog back to her, pointing to her boots, and throw her on my back, ablaze, full speed ahead, like a racehorse and jockey in a Super Mario racing game, only putting her down when I catch sight of the stage, and I know I’m in the right place from the familiar electro sounds of Boys Noize! The music that I enter the ring to is here, live and in person. The mass of people crowded around the stage is easily navigated once I throw Kitty on my shoulders. Rave kids aren’t very strong, so the sight of an 11-foot tall, blonde, Asian rave-girl is quite frightening to the drugged out. I set her down just shy of the stage and edge up a bit more—now front and center. The thumping is at an all-time high, and I’ve never been in this situation. A strange crossroads in my life. A small circle of hell taking away my favorite activity from me. The stress of living in the public eye. Everything I say getting dissected and misconstrued. Getting jumped on national television and having to pay for the experience. I want to scream, so I do. Before I realize it, I’m dancing with full intensity—nearly shadowboxing—taking gasping breaths to get the air in to fuel this dance machine, and then I dance harder. I don’t stop until Alex, the man known as “Boys Noize,” stops the music and the crowd disperses. And with the crowd goes all of my anger over everything. I’ll write about MMA next month, when I’m done with summer vacation.