Last night, which had to be the hottest night in the history of Berkeley, Thievery Corporation, Bebel Gilberto and Los Amigos Invisibles took over The Greek Theater. I went with some friends and through the divine grace of the concert muse, I wound up getting backstage passes from a another friend that I sold my extra ticket to. So before I get into the strange attraction, let me break down the show.
Los Amigos Invisibles looked a little rough around the edges, but they blazed through a set of smoking Venezuelan funk called, “Gozadera” which matched the ambient heat rising up from the stone steps of the sweltering Greek.
Bebel took the stage next and cooled things down a bit, offering up her breezy brand of downtempo samba as couples kissed and carressed under a carpet of stars (I bet there was at least one solstice conceived last night).
Thievery assumed control and pumped out an epic set that sampled tracks from their early works, up through the ambitious Cosmic Game. They trotted out at least half-a-dozen singers with a cameo by the ultra hip, Seu Jorge. Almost two hours after they had started, they left in a flash of rapid fire strobes, suspending moments in stop motion capture with synchronous beats moving in time.They were big time–I was thoroughly impressed.But slightly before the end of Bebel’s set, I went backstage, where it was more than pleasant. Big comfy couches and candles in the open air with free beer and wine. I copped a Heineken and noticed a guy that looked really familiar and it was “Lex, The Illustrated Man” from Survivor. I don’t pay much attention to the show anymore, but was pretty dialed in when he made his first appearance on “Survivor Africa.” I always thought that he seemed like a pretty cool dude, in fact a guy that I thought I could hang out with. So I blurted out, “Hey, you were on Survivor!” He walked over, smiled, stuck out his hand and greeted me. We bulshitted about Survivor and what creep Boston Rob is, his band, “Maids Of Honor” wherein Lex bangs the skins. We also talked about his wife’s new profession as a professional roller girl and his close knit bond with Farmer Tom.
He had just returned from marrying off Johnny Fairplay and his new bride, a finalist on America’s Top Model. Ah, the incestuous circle of celebreality. Turns out Lex is a minister in The Universal Life Church, just like myself and Eric, a childhood buddy of Lex’s who was hanging out with us. Eric, an Apple exec was Lex’s fixer, getting him all access. We had a good chuckle in regards to our divine synchonicity, sloshed some beer and hit the crowd when Thievery got crackin’.
All in all, Lex was very cool, had a great persective on life after Survivor and didn’t seem driven to go beyond his allotted fifteen minutes.
I went backstage after the show for the afterparty and while my new pal Lex wasn’t there, I hooked up with two, whip-smart and sexy Palestinians, boyfriend/girlfriend. We talked intensely about the Middle East and the struggle of The Palestinian people in the face of extreme social and economic hardship. I asked, “how do they deal with it”? They both replied, “we don’t deal with it, we take action, we educate and we define the context.” I was quite frankly blown away bytheirsurvival instincts.
Life for their tribe is no reality show.
I left and walked back to my car, which was over a mile away and eventually came up on Memorial Stadium, where the tree-sitting-protestors were encamped.
The UC Police had cordoned off the sidewalks around the stand of stately old oak, doing their best to deny the protestors any sort of sustenance. They had also rigged up extremely bright flood lamps to make sure that the tree people couldn’t get any sleep. I learned about the history of the trees and the stadium from an activist named, Ana River and was struck by how dedicated these people, haunched and cramped in the twisted canopy of branches, blinded by the glare of justice, were defending the trees, true wise ones, ancients in the tradition of Celtic oaks like Gog and Magog, their Glastonbury kin.
I don’t know the full story, but those are stately trees and it seems to me that UC could find some other location to build Jeff Tedford’s sterling new sports complex. It also seems pretty heavy handed on the part of the UC Regents.
I was asked by Ana River if I had any ideas as to how they could get supplies to the tree-sitters and I suggested care package catapults and ultra-lights. We’ll see if they actually imlplement my strategies.
It was magical night of music and connections, meeting survivors, witnessing survival and my heart felt as full as the moon that hung in the sky.(Editors note) I just looked up the meaning of “Lex” and in Gaelic, curiously enough, it means “Elm Tree.”