Thursday, August 11, 2005


Why does life have to be such a damned learning process all the time? Learning, learning, so much with all the learning.

And it’s not like I’m learning the deeper meanings of string theory. I’m talking about basic human endeavors such as, let’s say, Don’t take the train to a sold-out show at Ravinia that features an artist you really really want to see, especially on a weeknight. Many parts of this directive are critical, apparently, but it wasn’t in the handbook. Breaking it down:

train = good for Shawn Colvin, for Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright may require standing on the steps directly adjacent to the door, into which people will pile in at the next stop, with picnic baskets and chairs, before letting the poor unsuspecting commuters out
sold-out show at Ravinia = waiting six deep to board said train, sro on train, waiting in a sea of thousands to enter park, feeling lucky just to enter park before show starts, feeling lucky to find a patch of grass big enough to fit picnic blanket, feeling lucky to catch a brief glimpse of Ben Folds teeny-tiny head standing six-deep at the edge of the pavillion, feeling lucky you decided to listen to the second half of Ben Folds set from the train platform, which will be six deep with any number of drunk white people long before the show ends, knowing you’re lucky to get seats on the train, feeling slightly lucky at all to have gotten on this particular car, underneath an extremely loud bunch of people drunk on boxed wine
artist you really want to see = pavilion tickets yes, lawn seats next to video-game playing girl, not so much
weeknight = good for dinner at Irazu and maybe the first half of Law & Order, very sad when you’re not home and in bed until 12:22, feeling really horrible that you dragged your husband out there because he has to get up for work at 5:30

The one and a half songs I did see Ben Folds teeny head really brought this home, because as I suspected, he totally rocks out, and it’s something that needs to be seen. I almost bought a pretty cool forty-dollar track jacket that said Folds on the front, just to make myself feel better, but I resisted.

What I also want to know is, for the love of god, I knew I was too old for the Bottle, but am I too old for freaking Ravinia now?


B said...


You are fricken PETER PAN!

Everyone else is just too are young young young!!!

(did this comment make you feel better??)

Betsy said...

Oh you're so cyuute, Byron! Thanks, sweetpea. The crazy thing is I don't feel old at all, in most ways I feel younger than ever, or maybe a good way to put it is, I wish I'd felt this good and happy in my twenties. But at the same time... I've never dealt with crowds very well. And when I see a show - I really want to see the show.

Meander said...

As you said, it really depends on the show. I saw Herbie Hancock. Most of the crowd was older; it was very relaxed, and the train home was a viable option. I can't stand to be claustrophobic on a lawn. (Maybe this makes ME old?)

Teodoro Callate said...

I don't think it's about old.

I've been to Ravinia a million times (grew up pretty close to there). It is my personal belief...and I have enough evidence that I think this is valid...that Ravinia is the single most overrated concert experience one can have. Horrible logistics, horrible acoustics, horrible sight lines...what you get is the nice outdoor experience. They've got that. But that can backfire, as I've been there when it was 40 degrees and I've been there when it was 90 degrees. Rain can suck. It's a total crapshoot.

Here are the parameters for Ravinia: Pay for the Pavillion seats for artists you want to see. You can picnic beforehand if you want to. Always plan on leaving early, even if it's someone you want to see. You just need to because of the horrible logistics. If you just want a night of music under the stars, go on a night where you don't mind that it's background music. The train is almost always a nightmare...seems like a good idea but it's not. The car can suck, too, because it can take 45 minutes to make the left turn onto the Edens...but at least you aren't dealing with boxdrunks sitting on your head.

Betsy said...

I've had much better experiences in the pavillion, it's true. And I think you're 100% right about your guidelines all the way around.

I'm so glad I'm not old. I didn't think so, there were plenty of people there way older than me.

Jackie said...

Eh, back in my day whippersnapper, we'd go to the Aragon Theater (snukkk! hock!) and see the Ramones, mit the Iggy Pop and zzzzzzz

Oddly enough, I've always considered Ravinia to be for the mature adults and all that. I did, however, work for a classical music nonprofit in the North Shore for a year, which probably 'splains it.

smussyolay said...

that night was my first time at ravinia. i was firstly and foremostly there to see rufus, however. i had pavilion seats, and it was nice. i've never even seen ravinia until that night.

i was supposed to be there with the person that opened my ears to the magic of rufus, though, so it was definitely bittersweet.

my telling of the tale is here . (god, i hope that html worked.)