WAITING IN LINE: THE DIARY OF A STAR WARS FAN Image

A few months back, while waiting furtively for the entertainment community to cease their wholesale dismissal of my attempts at a career, there arose another much more pressing dilemma. The question had been nagging at me for some time: with release of the new STAR WARS movie fast approaching, and the incumbent media blitzkrieg that was sure to follow, how in the hell was I going to see it opening day?
Surely this was the movie event of the decade, if not the century. Forget “Godzilla.” Forget “Armageddon.” They were hors’douvres, mere appetizers. Lousy ones at that. No movie had ever been more hyped or anticipated than THE PHANTOM MENACE. Period.
But for me it wasn’t about the hype. STAR WARS was an old friend. Pure escapist nostalgia from a time when things made sense to me. It had always been there, no matter how shitty the real world got. And with the concept of the Force, STAR WARS had presented a code of morality that made more sense to me than any religion ever would, if only because it didn’t have the arrogance to call itself one.
But most of all, STAR WARS was my first fling with a life-long love affair called movies. The alpha and omega of all of my deepest cinematic aspirations.
That was the idyllic STAR WARS of my youth. EPISODE ONE was something entirely different, a new film with determinedly 90’s sensibilities. The first trailer certainly had promise, chock full of your-chocolate-is-in-my-peanut-butter ingredients. For every shot of an old-school friend like Artoo-Deeto or Yoda, we had something new and outrageously cool, like Liam Neeson. Or CG drag racers. Or a frickin’ double-bladed lightsaber. How awesome was that? If it all worked, it could amount to a life-affirming synergy the likes of which I had never seen before.
But that’s a lot of pressure to put on one movie. A lot. And as “The Mummy” had taught me just two weeks previously, trailers can lie a great deal.
Only one thing was absolutely certain: opening day was sure to be utter bedlam. When should I get in line? I had a career that was barely breathing without me playing hooky on it. I could wait for the following weekend, avoid the crowds. Hmmm, now that’s just plain stupid. This was STAR WARS. Come hell or high water, I was gonna be there opening day at Mann’s Chinese Theater, where it all started back in 1977.
I had already heard of the people amassing outside the Chinese, a group of volunteers working for a children’s charity called the Starlight Foundation, collectively known as countingdown.com. With a ragtag set of tents and computers, one could have easily mistaken them for the local chapter of the Rebel Alliance. They had been there since early April. The movie opened on May 19th. I had to act fast.
Quickly, I proposed a plan to three of my best friends: everyone would take the week prior to the 19th off of their respective jobs and we’d all camp out at the corner of Hollywood and Orange, sleeping in shifts at a nearby friend’s apartment. If we couldn’t be the first in line (countingdown had already seen to that), we would certainly be counted among them. Surprisingly, they all agreed.
Originally, Lucasfilm had stated that there were to be no advance ticket sales for the first two weeks of PHANTOM MENACE, in order to discourage scalpers. Then he decided to sell tickets a week beforehand at 12:00 noon, in order to discourage me personally. Now we had to get there ahead of out intended schedule, just to make sure we got tickets in the first place. With two of my party still mired in their last days at work, the duty fell to myself and my college friend Joe, fresh off his plane from New York.
[ WEDNESDAY, MAY 12th — TICKET DAY ] ^ We arrive at Mann’s Chinese at 12:53 a.m. to discover that the line for tickets is already stretching halfway up Orange. It is a sea of blankets and bodies, but no one is really sleeping. We set up base camp for the night right outside the American Society of Cinematographers and immediately introduce ourselves to our line mates. All are friendly, if a little tentative at first. Must be hard to tell the saints from the psychopaths around here.
All of us simply assume that tickets to the midnight premiere will go entirely to the hundreds enlisted at countingdown, so most of us are banking on the second screening at 3:30 a.m. If that doesn’t happen, we’ll be forced to wait for the 9:00 a.m. the following morning. Ugh, no one here wants that.
It’s not long before our party is crashed by a loudmouthed teenager from Texas and an alterna-girl taking digital pictures of the line. The girl hits it off extremely well with Dylan, an engaging guy with Buddy Holly glasses seated directly ahead of us. Eavesdropping, I discover that both of them carry a Kenner Yoda action figure in their pockets for luck. This is apparently some kind of cosmic bond.
The rest of the guys around us can’t believe their eyes, and I can’t say I blame them. I think we have all at one point bought into the media’s insistent myth that STAR WARS fans never get girls. Sure wish there was a news crew here to film this happening. When she finally leaves, we find out two things: one, Dylan got a bona-fide date for his troubles and two, that obnoxious kid from Texas who wouldn’t leave me alone had Tourette’s syndrome.
Around 4:00 a.m., an exhausted Joe passes out on the sidewalk. Dressed in a snappy ensemble from Structure, I think he must be the best-dressed person to ever sleep there.
Out of sheer boredom, I bust out the video camera I brought along and start interviewing the people behind me in line. Struggling actors, students finishing term papers, moms and dads… all putting their lives on hold to get their STAR WARS tickets.
Moments later, while a bunch of rowdy fraternity brothers are interrogating me with a round of STAR WARS Trivial Pursuit, a woman in an adjacent apartment complex begins screaming obscenities at us. “It’s four in the morning, shut the hell up! I don’t care about you or your f*****g Star Wars!” The line around me immediately erupts into contemptuous applause.
At 5:30 a.m. the sun finally creeps up over a virtually silent line. It’s really cold out here. I bide my quiet time equally between smoking and shivering.
By 9:00 a.m. though, it’s a totally different scene. The sun has come out and people are doffing clothing like it was “Tom Jones.” A palpable excitement is in the air as the line moves forward for the first time, if only to burp out the space in between the camps from last night and make room for the rest of the line, which now teems with new arrivals halfway down Franklin.
We end up on the lawn of a local apartment building, The Madison. The building manager is a smarmy bastard with short man’s complex. He sends an immigrant greensman over to try and kill us with the company lawnmower. We move our s**t out onto the sidewalk again.
It’s nearly noon now. The line has shuffled forward a precious few more feet. Various news crews and all kinds of media have long since invaded our little community. At one point I can count at least a hundred different cameras in my line of sight. A sea of cell phones surrounds me, all of them ready and poised with Mann’s ticketing number on speed dial.
But when 12:00 comes, nothing much happens. No one bum rushes the box office. The line begins inching forward, and I do mean inching. And no one is getting through on their phone. For the first time all morning, we all begin to feel how hot it is out here.
One hour later. Two hours later. Three f*****g hours later we finally send someone on a reconnaissance mission to fetch us a few cocktails from the wet bar that must be set up at the front of the line, that being the only real explanation for this absurd delay. Joe returns with little info. Tickets are being sold, that much is certain. The tragic confirmation that the midnight premiere has sold out has made that clear enough.
But what the hell is taking so long? It seems that people from the back of the line are bartering with those closer, asking them to buy the twelve ticket limit and sell off those they don’t want or need. I’m not sure whether to kill them or join them.
At 4:30 p.m., with a fresh raccoon-eye sunglasses tan and a mild case of heat stroke, I finally make it to the front of the ticket line so I can pay $8.50 a pop for twelve tickets to the 3:30 a.m. show. The woman at the box office screws up and only gives me eleven, but I don’t notice until I have walked away. At this point, after seventeen-odd hours in line and practically no sleep for the last two days, eleven tickets seem just peachy to me.
Driving home in a haze of sleep-deprivation and sunburn pain, I phone the rest of the guys to tell them the good news. I also inform them it’ll be a cold day in hell before I get in line tomorrow morning as scheduled. I recommend a day of recovery with a lot of aloe, and for all of us to finally get in line Friday morning.
[ THURSDAY, MAY 13th — DOWN TIME ] ^ Lots of sleep and a fairly constructive group meeting today. We all do interviews for the pseudo-documentary I am making, which seem to do nothing except exacerbate our anxiety about living the street again for the next five days.
Joe and I, hardened street veterans that we are, are still exhausted. Neither of us feel that the previous day’s sacrifice is fully appreciated by neophytes Ian and Brennan, and we are quick to demand that they get in line well before us tomorrow morning.
[ FRIDAY, MAY 14th — FIRST DAY IN LINE ] ^ Brennan and Ian get their revenge on us this morning by phoning at 9:00 a.m., waking us from a sound sleep to inform us that they are now in line and we need to bring ice for the cooler. I think to myself this is exactly the kind of bullshit non-message my pager was designed for.
That afternoon, Joe and I arrive a little late to discover that Ian and Brennan have set up camp on the shady side of a filthy brown dumpster, around the corner from countingdown and across from a bank of newspaper dispensers and a busy tourist bus stop. You know, so we’ll be well-informed as we choke to death on exhaust. Someone has come by and given us a few STAR WARS calendars and non-denominational yo-yo’s.
There are several weird bohemian people ahead of us in line, wrapped silently in ratty sleeping bags. Brennan tells me they have tickets to the midnight show and are calling themselves ‘the line behind the line’. Aside from them and countingdown, we are the only ones here.
It is now 2:00 in the afternoon, and fate has wasted no time in unleashing our karmic opposite on us, in the form of a homeless vagrant who uses the name Eric, presumably among other aliases. Having arrived late last night, he awoke a few minutes ago, cracked a Colt .45 and immediately began antagonizing everyone in his path.
He looks beaten and bruised, and is missing both a thumbnail and a front tooth. He interrupts any conversation you are having with a psychotic rant that may or may not have anything to do with what you were talking about. He leers and catcalls at passing women, harasses nuns and Japanese tourists, and even offers Joe and Brennan a vial of phenyl nitrate. They decline, utterly mortified. Joe’s face is priceless, the consummate bug-eyed glare that says ‘Please Mr. Homeless Drug-dealer, don’t kill me’.
He also seems to think I am in some sort of a rival gang because of the plain blue windbreaker I am wearing. When he is not looking, said jacket speedily finds its way back into my backpack.
But the best part of all is when I find out he doesn’t even have tickets to the Chinese. He has tickets to a midnight show all the way across town in Santa Monica, but has come up here to Hollywood because this is where all the “hype” is. That, and he can no doubt sell more drugs here.
He is crazy. He is an idiot. And he is ruining this for all of us. I don’t think I can take five days of this.
As the sun goes down on our first day, Eric disappears to go steal some food. For a while, it seems like he might not come back, and we all breathe a collective sigh of relief. Out of contempt, I take a dry erase marker and blot out one of the front teeth of our new Jar Jar Binks calendar. He’d never even notice, I laugh to myself.
But suddenly, here he is again, out of nowhere. I check for signs of a puff of smoke. He’s drunker than ever and hopped up on something pretty strong, judging from the way he doesn’t notice himself spitting on everyone when he talks. He immediately notices the toothless Jar Jar calendar, but thankfully can’t put two-and-two together.
I keep thinking to myself, ‘I am in hell. This was a horrible mistake. Leave, and come back on Monday like a moderately sane person.’
At 10:00 p.m. Ian and Brennan head back to the apartment for a few hours of sleep. I insist they take our camera with them, as it is no doubt going to be a rough night with our new friends.
Not long after their departure, Eric’s dealer shows up, a Stevie Ray Vaughn wannabe in a cowboy hat who parks his piece of s**t car right next to our spot, unloading what seems like a small studio apartment from his trunk onto the roof. A boom box, a guitar and amplifier, a fern… who the f**k carries a fern around everywhere? He cranks up some horrible blues music and makes himself at home.
All of this mayhem has caught the attention of some of the more sympathetic folks at countingdown. We meet two particularly nice people — Romas, a gem of a guy whose job it is to clean up the sidewalk and Avanti, an attractive if flighty woman who takes an immediate shine to Joe. After talking for a bit, they become acutely aware of our problems and agree to tell their security people. Not long after that, the police arrive. After miserably failing a sobriety test, Eric and his friends are booted from the premises.
With that, Joe and I collapse onto our sidewalk blanket and rest, I mean really rest, for the first time today. All of my prior resentment and pent-up animosity towards countingdown is now gone. They can have the midnight show, I don’t care. Thank God they were here.
In the middle of the night, with the surrounding clubs letting out, a dolled up Thai woman and her boyfriend perch themselves over us and ask us what the hell we’re doing there. I give her my most lucid answer, that this is STAR WARS, that this really means something to me and I am willing to wait for it. It feels great to say, a true reinstatement of my faith in this mission. She smiles at me, gives me a lollipop, and walks away silently.
[ SATURDAY, MAY 15th — SECOND DAY IN LINE ] ^ Returning to base camp just after noon, I feel particularly energized and chipper. Yesterday was rough, but I am finding a great amount of mental clarity in having one strong, very particular goal to look forward to. I have not felt this focused and eager in quite some time.
After roughly fifteen minutes of elusive happiness, Murphy’s Law kicks in again as I see a group of mono-browed police officers arrive on the scene to question us.
I spend the next few minutes getting a rude, smarmy crash course in pedestrian traffic regulations and local zoning laws. Seems we’re blocking foot traffic in one of the busiest neighborhoods in the city, apparently a misdemeanor offense. Another officer claims to smell marijuana smoke. “Not that I think it’s you guys or anything…”, he chides. So with the threat of old-fashioned police entrapment on our heads, I calmly explain that I don’t think we’re really bothering anyone, and that we’ll scootch back as much as we can, thank you very much Mr. Officer sir.
The cops are just doing their jobs, trying to put the fear of God into us. I’m cool with it, despite my resentment. After all, they are letting us stay. But what they failed to realize was that our line was fast becoming one of the main tourist attractions. And it was only gonna get bigger and crazier as the premiere approached.
Around 2:00 p.m., Ian and I decide to take a break and go across the street to see the 70mm revival of “Tron” playing at the El Capitan. At last, a semblance of civility. I can buy a drink and some popcorn and act like I’m not one of the crazy a******s living on the street over there.
Of course, we’re not in the theater for fifteen minutes when I get a 911 page from Joe telling me the cops have come back. Brennan has totally buckled under pressure, telling them we would move all of our stuff from the street, pronto. Furious, Ian and I head back without seeing a frame of “Tron.” We move our car into the adjacent lot and stash most of our stuff inside, hoping this will appease the police if they return.
Moments later, I discover that there is an upside to this whole fiasco. Seems that when the police returned to scare the bejeezus out of Brennan, they had also summarily kicked the bohemians ahead of us in line off the sidewalk. This, coupled with an alleged fight within their group, prompts the braided one in charge to approach me with a proposition: they are going home to San Francisco and want to know if we will buy their tickets to the midnight screening. Three of them, to be exact.
I am intrigued. The premiere, I think to myself. I have put that possibility so far out of my head that this seems like a twisted joke. But the tickets he’s holding are very real.
But sadly, I decline. Three tickets isn’t even enough to get the four of us into the premiere, much less the other twenty-odd friends we have coming to the 3:30 a.m. show. With this, the braided guy becomes visibly agitated. He stammers and hands me the tickets anyway, choking back tears as he storms away. I am left in a state of half shock, total confusion.
After giddily briefing the guys on the current state of affairs, it becomes clear that we must try to get more tickets to the premiere. This s**t happened for a reason, I rationalize. These tickets literally fell into our lap. And it would do a hell of a lot to take the sting away from the fact that our 3:30 a.m. show is still not sold out.
That evening, we swing what little stuff we have around the corner until we are in plain view of countingdown. Aside from them, we are now officially the first ones in line.
One of the first things I notice about being directly on Hollywood Boulevard is all the people driving by, at all hours of day and night, letting their opinions of us be known. Some just honk. Others see fit to scream. ‘Star Wars sucks’ is a favorite. ‘Get a life’ is also very popular. Many yell out bits of information that they think will ruin the movie for us. My favorite, though, came from an overweight fellow in a tiny compact car who simply yelled, “You are all fake-a*s Jedis.”
A few hours later, Joe and I are surprised by the return of Dylan and the true-love-he-met-in-line, Riley. They are both dolled up and drunk, on their way home from a STAR WARS theme party. I grab Dylan and walk him up the street, asking him what he thinks will happen tonight. He shoots me a grin that says there will be no goodnight, but rather a good morning. Watching them stagger away is a strange sight to behold.
It is now almost four in the morning, and the air is bitter cold. I lay down on the sidewalk and wait for my shift to end. My head swims with anxiety over whether we will end up getting the extra tickets we need. The thought of being in there for the first show, of feeling the energy in that auditorium, is all-but-impossible to resist.
[ SUNDAY, MAY 16th — THIRD DAY IN LINE ] ^ Joe and I arrive back in line to discover that we will not know about tickets until later tonight, when a whole crew of British imports is supposed to descend on countingdown to claim their tickets. So today is to be a waiting game.
With that, I turn and see we have a new person in line, a cross-country biker and armchair spiritualist named Nathan. He has traveled all the way from Oregon to see the premiere, and afterward plans on biking to Florida to see the film again with his son. He also tells us he is a henna tattoo artist, and within minutes I am getting the STAR WARS ‘rebellion’ insignia imprinted on my right calf.
The rest of the afternoon becomes an exercise in Zen, in finding small activities to pass the time agreeably. Ian makes use of a borrowed pair of juggling sticks, almost braining Brennan. Joe spins his new yo-yo endlessly, more than once nearly taking out my camera’s lens. I am surprised at how quickly the novelty of the last three days has resolved itself into a steady routine.
In fact, it is only when darkness falls and Ian and Brennan exit once again that things get interesting. I decide to venture across the battle line into countingdown territory. With my childish envy of their collective pole position in check, I feel it is time I get to know more of these people.
My timing could not be better. Around 10:00 p.m., most of countingdown’s regulars return, completely sauced from a trip to a local bar called the Powerhouse. Sarah, a stand-up comedienne from my hometown in Pennsylvania, plops herself into my lap and asks me to keep some other drunk guy away from her. She is very sweet, but insists on calling me Mike.
I meet Rik Carter, a renowned Hollywood makeup man who came out one day to see what was going on and ended up loving it so much he joined up. The only telltale sign of his deep-seated inebriation is the fact that it is night and he is still wearing his sunglasses.
I also bump into a diminutive girl in a faux-fur overcoat and stylish fedora named Noel McGuinness. When I ask how long she has been out here, she tells me over 800 hours — astronomically more than anyone else there. This, I think to myself, is a real STAR WARS fan. She lectures me a little on the vegan lifestyle, and I give her a tiny musical keyboard in return.
Suddenly, we all look up and see the oddest thing. Bubbles. Hundreds of bubbles hanging and swirling around our corner. I look to our base camp and see culprit Joe blowing them, wand in hand. It is surreal and beautiful, a sight I warrant has never been seen here before and probably never will be again.
The atmosphere around here is fun and boisterous, an inner city summer camp with nothing but counselors. No wonder everyone has stayed so long. Midnight comes and goes, the British people trickle into line, and yet somehow countingdown still cannot give us a straight answer about tickets. We’ll just have to keep pestering them, I guess.
I curl up in a blanket as the nightly tents spring up around me. I hear a nearby girl coax one of the Brits into a tent and explain to him in hushed tones that it is required of anyone having sex in line to exclaim “I love Star Wars” during their moment of ecstasy. After that is utter silence, except to say I’m still not sure if the tent’s slightly bellowing side is a result of the wind or something else, wink wink.
I look around and quickly surmise that there isn’t really any wind around here. Another myth debunked, I think. STAR WARS fans also get laid.
[ MONDAY, MAY 17th — FOURTH DAY IN LINE ] ^ Our ticket situation is growing dire. Seems that Lincoln Gasking, the head of countingdown, has extended his deadline for everyone else to arrive, leaving us in limbo indefinitely. Our new friends all claim to be able to help us out, but I must remain skeptical until the tickets are in our hands. God, yesterday seemed like a blur.
Ian has brought his boom box today and we bide the time listening to various STAR WARS soundtracks. A little guy from countingdown known only as ‘Chewie’ keeps insisting we listen to the horrible rock song they added to the Special Edition of JEDI. Chewie soon finds himself standing alone.
Wandering around, I soon spy a few people in the car lot next to the Chinese sparring with makeshift PVC and foam lightsabers. It’s not long before I am dueling with a fellow fan, hacking and slashing like a goon in front of a local news crew.
During our fray, I notice the unmistakably gaudy car of one Dennis Woodruff creeping into my peripheral vision. Now if you don’t know who this is, consider yourself lucky. Driving around in his ‘Make My Movie’ cars, with headshots plastered across the sides, he represents everything I hate about the entertainment industry. Vanity without talent. Ego without humility. Just plain rudeness.
Today, Dennis sees fit to approach the camera crew filming me in order to inform them that they don’t have his permission to “film his f*****g car”, after he himself consciously drove the wheeled atrocity into their shot. Dennis, if you are reading this, you should spend less time driving around harassing people and more trying to get an agent. Not that you ever could.
As I return to base camp, I notice that the line behind us is beginning to grow. Joe informs me of a rumor that Mann’s may decide to form a separate line for the 3:30 a.m. show on the other side of the Chinese. With no assurance that we will be getting into the midnight show, I feel the noose beginning to tighten. We can’t split up. We need those tickets. Everything depends on it.
It’s midnight again, and the excitement in the air is palpable. Only one day to go. People are calling it STAR WARS eve. Countingdown has borrowed a big screen Mitsubishi TV and wheeled it into the community parking lot, planning on screening the original STAR WARS for everyone gathered here. It is a great idea, but while those in charge fumble to find the remote control, a local hooker invades the line and begins stirring up trouble.
The ensuing commotion looks like something out of “The Accused,” with a few randy members of countingdown engaging in all manner of kissing and groping, all in plain view of at least fifty onlookers. It is wild and outrageous, but it is also terribly embarrassing and uncomfortable. For the hooker, for the fans here, for the old couple that came to visit their son in line. The way I see it, being in line must be akin to being a sailor at sea, deprived of certain things. And these guys obviously don’t give a s**t who satiates them.
Halfway through the screening of STAR WARS, the bosses at countingdown interrupt to show a shot-for-shot recreation of the original trailer for PHANTOM MENACE that they had been shooting over the last week. There, onscreen, are all of the people I have come to know over the past few days. It is funny, exhilarating; a dead-on imitation. When it is over, you can practically feel reality sink into the crowd. Only one more day til rapture.
[ TUESDAY, MAY 18th — STAR WARS EVE ] ^ Knowing how late our night will be, Joe and I sleep in a little bit and arrive back in line to find complete chaos has enveloped the entire block. News crews. Toy companies. You name it. Many have donned costumes, including a foul-mouthed Darth Vader who unceremoniously informs us not to f**k with his buttons.
On top of that, some oddball from a company called Gonzo Productions has given us three life-sized cardboard cutouts of complete strangers to display at the front of the line. I immediately grab one of them and scrawl ‘I have been in line for sixteen years’ on his shirt.
But the best news of the day is that we finally have our tickets to the midnight screening. As it turns out, countingdown has had quite a few of its promised participants simply not show up to claim their tickets, and our new friends there made sure some of the extras were flown our way. All we have to do now is walk inside the theater.
Moments later, some guy named Stu flags down our video camera and proceeds to blow the lid off of some shady deals that the leaders of countingdown have supposedly purveyed over the last month. Among many others, there are allegations of illegal pre-emptive ticket buying with Mann’s theaters as well as the sequestering of countless STAR WARS promotional items given to countingdown by various companies with the intention of auctioning them off for outrageous prices on the internet. He even claims that founder Lincoln Gasking had never even seen STAR WARS until the Special Editions in 1997.
Access Hollywood later goes on to catch Stu attempting to scalp tickets to the midnight show for thirty bucks a pop. I keep thinking about some old Sunday school quote about people in glass houses throwing stones.
Around 6:00 p.m., the big lineup starts to form. Countingdown strikes their huge array of computers and tents and wrangles all of their people into place, many of whom are dressed to the nines in sleek tuxes and lavish gowns.
Our friends begin to show up, and we are soon forced to form a red-rover line across the sidewalk to keep the unfamiliar from cutting. There is serious tension in the air, like a fistfight could break out at any moment. This is STAR WARS, ground zero.
The tension is given a release when two religious picketers show up to protest our mania. One holds a crude sign that says “Jesus is the Force”. The other’s reads “The Force is a tool of Satan”. Ian is quick to point out that put together, they are both in fact claiming that Jesus is a tool of Satan.
Moments later, a few Trekkies in full Starfleet gear arrive to provoke us even further. As various violent taunts rise over the crowd, I can practically hear Gene Roddenberry and his message of a peaceful universe flipping in their respective graves.
Just before 10:00 p.m., the line starts moving. The sea of noise and flashbulbs form a cacophony around us as we are funneled through a steel enclosed gateway into the main theater. I blindly follow the a*s of the person in front of me, completely speechless and far too overwhelmed to be excited. We dash into the auditorium and quickly find fantastic seats about halfway back.
The next two hours are some of the most surreal I have ever experienced. With plenty of time to spare I make the rounds, thanking everyone who helped us to be there. Beach balls and popcorn sail to and fro. People are hugging and cheering. Joe points out that it is not unlike the ending of the movie “The Game,” with everyone we have encountered in the last week walking around us in civilian clothes, both the good and the bad. There’s the manager of The Madison who tried to kick us off his lawn. There’s the cops who ousted that drug dealer from the premises. And of course all of our new friends from countingdown.
Such a sense of community I have rarely seen before. I will be sad to see it all evaporate back into reality in a precious few hours. But what hours they will be, I think to myself.
And with that, the lights begin to dim and an enormous roar of victory explodes from the crowd.

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