(The founder of Movie Talk with some “Official Rolling Stones Merchandising” shortly after The Rolling Stones in Dallas, Texas on June 6th, 2015)
(Note: The following is the first in a series of columns titled “Bruce Corner”, where I discuss stories involving my past. Names of people involved are either redacted or changed for personal reasons. All opinions are mine. This also gets very wordy, so be prepared to read for a bit. Part Two will be published shortly after Part One. I hope you enjoy this.)
Of all the Tuesdays that I’ve had in my lifetime, March 31st, 2015 was undoubtedly be one of the more memorable Tuesdays of my life. it was another boring and sluggish day at Westlake High School here in Austin, Texas. Nearly a full week since I’d turned 18, I continued to get myself through the dreadful final semester of my senior year. I went to my English class first period and then onto my off period in the second period of the day. This off-period was meant as a study hall for me to complete any pending assignments in any of my classes, but by that time in the school year, there wasn’t really a whole lot going on for me. I had already gotten into the college of my choice, and I continued to countdown the days until school was finished for good and I never had to go through another dreadful day of high school.
It was never like this throughout the year. Sure, I always had this sentiment of counting down the days until something I didn’t like was finished in this senior year. The days until I didn’t have to be a slave in the high school marching band, the days until I didn’t have to see certain people again (with the band directors being a few of those said people) and so on. But my first semester was quite fun and liberating at times. While the marching band stuff had been draining to my psyche for a few years now, it had finally wrapped up in November after the football team lost their first game in the 5-A state playoffs. While many were shocked and outraged by the calls that the referees had called on the final play of that game that ended up costing Westlake the win against the Round Rock High School Dragons. I had quite a bit of fun during this first semester. I avoided most of the marching festivals so I could go and do fun stuff like go see Carlos Santana at the ACL Moody Theater, go to the Austin Film Festival and here discussions with some of the best writers working in Hollywood as well as some of the best and under-appreciated films the festival had to offer (although the film lineup this year wasn’t that strong).
I had also found a good group of people in the form of friends I had become acquainted with in my film class back at Westlake. Without using any of their names, they were a fun, funny, and very good set of people who I felt very close to at the time. To what I feel, I became especially close with one of the ladies in the group, but nothing ever came of that if that’s what you’re thinking I’m implying. We all worked on countless projects together during the semester, whether it was projects made specifically for the districts, for our school, and for ourselves, they always seemed to be there for me when I needed work with a film, and vice versa. The woman who I mentioned a few sentences earlier became a dear friend of mine during the first semester, as we both suffered through the past marching season together, as well as being a pal in general. We were both children of divorce, so we were able to relate on several occasions with that, as well as with movies, music, and so forth.
I never wanted our friendship to be romantic, and she made it to me very clear on several occasions that our friendship would never be romantic. I was perfectly quaint with being just really good friends, and it was a terrific relationship that was one of the highlights of my high school career. However, things began to change once the Holiday break was finished, and 2015 was the new year as the second semester of high school. Something began to seem off with not only her, but with the rest of the group. It wasn’t quite apparent in the beginning, but over time, it became more and more visible as the weeks dragged on. Her and I were paired up in the worst concert high school band for the last semester, not unintentional since both of us had decided to not give a shit about anything musically (at least with the high school band) for the remainder of the year, but still quite dreadful since we were with the least qualified band director, as well as a group full of childish and way-too-gung-ho-with-band freshmen. It was quite miserable, and we both knew that it was going to be a long semester.
The work with the district that brought all of us so close began to dry up considerably, and the group began to drift away to other projects and other people, as I continued to cling on and act like everything was like it was in the beginning of the year. What I later realized as the weeks became to continue on, it became apparent that it was the beginning of the end of our little union, not just with her and I but with this group. There was never a falling out, a giant fight, or anything like that. We were all going separate paths after high school, and the group was already getting accustomed to that. I was the only one who hadn’t realized it right in the beginning. Our little texting group was no more, she and I didn’t really communicate all that much for a while, and so forth. I was internally both a little angry and a little sad about the whole situation. I always thought that I was never have an experience like this one in high school, but it was happening, rather quickly.
I slowly became more and more accepting of the whole situation as the semester progressed, but there were always little moments sprinkled in later in the semester that brought me back down again (for some reason, “Lord is it Mine” by Supertramp and “All About You” by The Rolling Stones were songs that triggered such sadness. Why? Because I’m sappy and whiny as hell like that. Also, more on The Stones later …). So we are now caught up to March 31st, 2015, a day that would change not only my life, but the remainder of how I saw events unfold in the semester. As I sat in that off-period, when I didn’t have any school work to work on, I scoured the internet for news stories to start my day, as it was about 9:30 in the morning. I then found myself on RollingStone.com, where the first headline I read on the “BREAKING” ticker on the left read “Rolling Stones Announce Summer Tour”. When I saw that headline, my eyes were immediately drawn to it. Not only are The Rolling Stones my all-time favorite band, they were the only music that my father played to me when he drove me to kindergarten as a young child. All of The Stones’ big hits were on display in this little mix in the fall of 2002, obviously the CD Forty Licks, which was the compilation album The Stones put out that year in honor of their 40th anniversary (as you can tell, I’m a bit of a fan).
As I click on the link, I read a bit about this newly announced tour, entitled the Zip Code Tour. It was to promote the upcoming reissue of the classic 1971 album, Sticky Fingers, which featured classic Stones songs like “Brown Sugar”, “Wild Horses”, “Dead Flowers”, “Bitch”, and many more classic gems. As I continued to read, more info was revealed on the tour dates. Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, they weren’t coming to Austin, but they were coming awfully close to my stomping grounds. On June 6th, The Rolling Stones would be playing at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, just down the highway from Dallas. Not only was June 6th a Saturday night, but a week after I would’ve graduated high school. I quietly began to squeal like a little girl. Oh my God. This could be my chance to finally see my favorite band of all time (sorry Bruce). I went home that day and told my mother about the news, and asked if she’d be willing to let me go, and she said yes, but she would go not only because she wanted to go, but she needed to check up on her parents, who currently reside in a lovely retirement community in Mansfield, Texas, 20 minutes from Jerry World (a nickname of the venue where The Stones would be playing). I read that Wednesday, April 8th, a pre-sale exclusive to American Express credit card holders, would go into effect at 10 A.M. that morning. It all worked out perfectly.
That day, I had a band competition that would last until about 10 in the morning, and I would sneak out of school for the remainder of the day (with my mother’s permission and consent, of course) to go ahead and buy my tickets. It was a frustrating pre-sale, primarily due to the slowness of the website with high internet traffic to blame. It was a long day because I thought in the back of my head that the show had already sold out (from a pre-sale, I know. After reading a couple of these Bruce Corner columns, you’re going to realize that I have stupid moments like these quite often). I then told my mom that I didn’t care if we sat together during the concert, that this was such an important event in my life that I was willing to get the best seat possible for a concert of this magnitude. She seemed perfectly fine with this statement, but made it clear that no matter how much I payed for my seat, I would eventually have to pay her back for it. The night then progressed, and it was near midnight in Austin, Texas. I went on my iPad to check and see if the sale would go by a little faster on there. What you had to do during the pre-sale was pick the slotted number of tickets you wanted, and then pick either Best Available, Cheapest Available, etc. I clicked Best Available, and the seat number is one that, like the certain dates I’ve listed in this story, has stuck with me ever since. My seat was Section H, Row 6, Seat 13. On the floor of Jerry World. The price listed was 400 dollars. I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything as expensive as that ticket before, with the exception being the MacBook Pro that write this story on. Without hesitation, and looking on the map of Jerry World where that location was, I clicked buy ticket, got an email confirming my purchase, and within seconds, I had my ticket to The Rolling Stones in Dallas, Texas on June 6th, 2015. Holy shit.
The next day I went to school to brag about my purchase to my friends, with nearly all of them looking at my like I was a psychopath for ever spending that kind of money on a singular concert ticket. A lot of my friends were baffled that I would spend that kind of money for a band they felt was a little overrated (I had a lot of very snobby music buddies in high school). I’ll admit, due to the response from peers and family members about buying something worth that much money with the very little money that I had at the time, I was a little skeptical about it at first. What if the seats aren’t that great? What if the concert sucks? The Stones are the greatest rock band in the world, but maybe they’ve finally lost it in 2015. These were a few thoughts that went through my head during this ordeal. But I was certain that it would pay off. The hard part would be to try to get through the last two months of high school.
As I’ve learned both in the past couple of months and the past couple of days contemplating and writing this piece, a fact has come up that was unknown to me up until now. Not only was this ticket a means for getting ready for a helluva concert in the summertime, but also something to distract me from the fact that the group of friends had begun to drift away from me, especially with this girl. Our relationship didn’t seem as distant as it had been for the beginning of the second semester, but we still weren’t the good pals that we were in that first semester. That was gone, and it’s probably for the best that it was gone. I’ve come to realize that we’re both two very different people with different ideals, agendas and paths in life. I wanted to leave Austin past high school and go see what’s out there in the world, she wants to stick around and enjoy this big, beautiful city that we’ve both called home for our whole lives.
As I end part one of this article talking about this crazy adventure I had in Dallas, Texas (which I’ll get into more detail in part two), I want to end on a somewhat uplifting note that, believe it or not, involves her. It’s the final regular day of school, May 22nd. It’s been an ungodly boring week primarily due to the fact that it’s the week before finals (which I was able to successfully exempt all of them after successfully appealing some absences with the school). In band class all week, we haven’t done a damn thing. The final band concert was the previous Friday before the 22nd, and all I’ve done in class was to try to finish up the brilliant Keith Richards autobiography, for reasons that you can probably understand why. She’s sitting on the other side of the band hall, staring at her phone. We’re not trying to avoid each other, we’re just minding each others privacy, that’s all.
I glance over at her, and she nods over at me, signaling me to come over to her area. I put away my book and walk over. I ask what’s up, and she asks me what’s been going on. I was a little shocked by her asking me this. There hasn’t been interaction like this between her and I for such a long time, it came off as a bit of a relief. I told her a little about my summer, what I was doing all summer, where I was working, where I was going, etc. She told me her plans for what she had in store for the summer, and we just sat there, shooting the shit for a little bit. It was a genuinely nice and quietly wonderful moment, I can’t say the same for her, but it felt like a weight that had been on my shoulders for the whole damn semester had been lifted off of me, and I was able to breathe easy and go on with my life. I didn’t see this conversation as a way to getting back to what our friendship use to be, but as a goodbye in many ways. As we walked to our cars after the period was over, we continued to talk for a bit, and then as we found our respected automobiles, I simply told her “see you when I see you”, and she said something along the same lines. And just like that, it was officially over. This relationship that I had for nearly a year is now over, and it ended in such a melancholy and quietly wonderful way.
It’s not to say that I never saw her again. On the night that we graduated from Westlake, I saw her walk on the stage to get her diploma, and I like to think that she saw me walk up there as well. We would then see each other around at the Project Graduation celebration after the ceremony, nodding at each other when we’d see each other. There was no bitterness, no regret on my end anymore. It was a clean slate, we were good. If she ever comes across reading this (which I’m pretty sure she won’t be too happy that I’ve written about her in print), I hope that we continue to be cool, and that I wish her Godspeed with whatever and wherever life will take her next. Why even bring this part of my life up when I could’ve just written about my anticipation of this Rolling Stones concert? Once you read the next part of this story, you’ll learn that the concert may have damn well saved my life. Philosophically, physically, and yes, spiritually.
Part Two coming soon.