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MUSIC» Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
I was informed that if I wanted to take pictures of the celebrities walking down the green carpet (no, really, there was a green carpet outside) I should show up a full two hours before the event was scheduled to start. I pondered this for a minute before I asked myself, one, who the hell are these so-called celebrities? And two, if the awards show started at nine, they would be lucky - especially given the target audience - if anyone showed up by ten, never mind seven. I probably had a better chance of catching the host, Redman, next door at TGIFridays digging into a plate of nachos than I did of seeing him make a punctual entrance.
Leaving work too early, I was forced by the bitter cold to enter the club sooner than planned and made the mistake of killing time while waiting for the show to start by ordering an eight-dollar bottle of Budweiser. I know it's Times Square in Manhattan, but Christ, I would think that Anhueser-Busch wouldn't settle for that. If I'm dumb enough to order a Heinekin, fine, I'd expect it to be pricey, but it just seems so un-American to sell a Red, White, and True for anything over three dollars. Maybe the bar was charging so much because they were worried that none of the event's guests would be drinking anything but water.
Still angry with myself thirty minutes later for drinking an eight-dollar beer, my thoughts turned elsewhere as I made my first celebrity spotting of the night. Barely paying attention, I realized too late that Charlie Murphy had walked right past me. Five minutes later, I saw him again, this time sitting at a table with his fellow Chappelle Show alumni, Ashy Larry. I really wanted to get a picture with the two of them, but being sober and flying solo, I was too worried about what the two body guards on either end of the booth would say or, perhaps more importantly, do. Yeah, I guess I chickened out, but at the least they would have made some funny whiteboy joke anyway.
After noticing the host was next to me at the bar fifteen minutes after the show was supposed to start, Redman finally made it to the stage and, wouldn't you now it, he was high. How high? Real high. A natural entertainer, he got off a couple of good jokes before turning the stage over to the first presenters of the night. I have no idea why they even went through with these formalities. I don't think anyone was too heartbroken that they didn't win and I'm sure quite a few people were not even aware that they were nominated. For the audiences' sake, they should have just let Redman go on with his diatribes, stopping only to smoke another blunt. Alas, the awards continued as planned, and there was more than a bit of amusement to be found when the winners came on stage and gave long, heartfelt thank-you speeches. Although it got old as the night wore on, it was quite funny to listen to someone stoned out of their mind speak at length about everyone who made the Chong documentary possible.
It wasn't too long into the show that the room started to smell smoky. I was more than a little surprised that everyone in attendance was somewhat discreet and that if you felt like it, it was still possible to inhale regular, untainted air. I had expected the visibility to be as bad as sitting downwind of a forest fire, but it was no worse than your average hip-hop or Phish concert. Which is not to say that people weren't lighting up. In fact, I watched two genial thugs from Jersey roll a blunt at the bar and then look at me like I was an alien when I declined it moments later. In their defense, I completely understand their disbelief; it was the High Times Awards, after all. But in my defense, I had to finish watching the show, take two trains, and then walk the ten blocks from the subway to my house, all of which is difficult, if not impossible, when curled up in a fetal position underneath a table in the corner. Yes, after plenty of trial and error in my youth, I have figured out that it is best if I stick to a liquid vice. And by that I mean to make no R. Kelly references, I simply like to get drunk.
I hate to say it, but for a good portion of the early hours, the Awards really dragged like a stoner on that first wake-and-bake joint in the morning. Boring presenters and recipients, an interlude featuring something that wasn't quite song/wasn't quite performance art, but definitely sucked, and not nearly enough Redman. Then things picked up with the consecutive wins by that model who married Greg Brady. It appeared that High Times was doing a little star-fucking by having the Best Actress also win for Best Reality Series, but like I said above, first, who really gives a shit and second, which chick on a reality show isn't an actress? Maybe High Times was making a statement on the validity of what constitutes "reality" in this day and age. Whatever, I wasn't complaining about seeing a smoking hot girl onstage twice.
At this point, I really can't say enough good things about Redman. Whether participating in the Marijuanalogues without a script, listing off the different types of weed they were smoking backstage, or explaining why you shouldn't offer him a pipe in the streets, his exuberance and breezy charm were more than enough to engage the crowd. If not the Oscars, he's a no-brainer to host next year's VMA's.
However, as awesome as Redman was, there was no topping the night's highlight, Charlie Murphy and Donnell Rawlins. Even with no shortage of intoxicated presenters, these two were the most visibly fucked-up. It was hard not to laugh as a teetering Charlie Murphy cracked jokes directed at the audience or with Rawlins barely attempting to pronounce nominees names before flat-out giving up. After witnessing these two twenty-first century Abbot & Costellos in person, I am even more upset with the premature conclusion of Chappelle's Show.
Shortly after the exit of Murphy and Rawlins, I decided to call it a night. Even though there had been some quality entertainment and quite a few laughs, the novelty had worn off. Plus, seeing people at this level of inebriation made me miss my friends back home, especially those who would have considered this night to be one of the highlights of their life. There was no need to stick around for the teetering exit walks, the High Times Awards had already fulfilled my expectations; quasi-celebrities handing out bongs for awards as a roomful of pot enthusiasts looked on through red, bleary eyes. Although I wouldn't quite call it a harnessing of the counter-culture, I would definitely consider it one of the marquee events for marijuana promotion in this country. When all was said and done, only one question remained - Legalize it?
(Oh, and you can find a complete list of winners here.) SEE ALSO: www.hightimes.com
An aspiring global adventurer who cut his teeth on the sandy beaches and dirty bitches of Southern California, Kevin Alfoldy now spends his non-vacation days in Brooklyn, New York, where he occasionally finds the time to rub the crust out of his eyes long enough to contribute reviews and feature articles for LAS. A longtime staff member, Kevin also captains the tattered, often half-sunk raft of EPmd, our irregular column of EP reviews.
See other articles by Kevin Alfoldy.
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