The Way Things Work for Me (Parenthetically, Eddie Izzard @ the Kodak Theatre, August 6, 2008, 8pm)

You would have thought it was enough that I was stepping inside the Kodak Theatre, the home of the Academy Awards, for the first time. Because of my immersion in film history and my near worship of many of the people celebrated in the over-sized photographs that adorn the walls of each floor (and my lack of worship of certain ones amongst their number, such as Ms. Roberts, who beguiles me not at all), you would be forgiven if you assumed that here, at last, I was at peace with the world.

Oh, yeah. Jen and I were also there to take in a live performance by Mr. Eddie Izzard. So I had that going for me.

And yet, this wasn't enough for me. No, even though I was somewhat out-of-body as I left the portico and slipped through the front doors, the journey (encumbered somewhat by a missed turn into the parking lot that left us driving about for half an hour just to return to the same point, taking in Hollywood High School, a pair of mounted police officers, a nearly passable drag queen, a film shoot and a P.R. setup along the way) still did not feel complete.

And then, I heard this over the sound system of the Kodak Theatre:

"I'm an alligator,
I'm a mama-papa comin' for you
I'm a space invader,
I'll be a rock 'n' rollin' bitch for you..."

David Bowie closed the inter-dimensional gateway behind me as I freaked out in a Moonage Daydream. Oh, yeah.

I'm in the Kodak Theatre, surrounded by Oscar memorabilia, deeply aware that my every step was merely tracing over pathways already trod by many of Hollywood's elite, and I'm about to take in what is sure to be a hilarious effort by Eddie Izzard. And what sums it all up for me is a Bowie song? And a second-tier Bowie song to boot? Certainly the song is known pretty well, especially by those who go beyond greatest hit packages, who seek the song out as the third track on the incredible Ziggy Stardust album. But, as one who spent a good deal of years listening to the whole of the ChangesOneBowie and ChangesTwoBowie albums being played on "classic rock" radio over and over and over, I have only heard Moonage Daydream spun over the airwaves twice. And, in public, never. Unfortunate, indeed, since it is one of my favorite Bowie tunes.

And here, at the Kodak Theatre, I am singing along quietly to Moonage Daydream, waiting for Jen to depart the Ladies' lounge pre-show. I am eying the activity at the second floor bar, as I lean against the railing of the massive staircase leading upward, debating to myself whether I should partake of alcohol for the show. I am more than a little wound up from worrying about making it in time, but I decide to skip the booze because I tend to enjoy (read: remember) shows better when I don't drink, and also because it is already 8 o'clock, and the line is already stretching around the far side of the staircase. (Why there is only one bartender at each floor's bar I do not know. During the show, yes, you only need one. But pre-show? Damn it! Get those lushes to their seats!)

Besides, I have Moonage Daydream. Even with the frenzied guitar finish, it calms me. Takes the edge off just slightly, and centers my mind. I forget my torment over thinking we would be late for the show with the accidental detour of our initial course to the theatre. Soon, Moonage will give way to a PJ Harvey song -- an artist that never gets played on normal radio -- and I then wondered whether they might be playing Eddie's personal playlist off his iPod. The often androgynous nature of both songs and performers seems to lend themselves quite well to Izzard's self-proclaimed "male tomboy-executive transvestite" motif, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn he requests this in a rider to help his audiences ease into the show. But, I don't know this at all nor could I ever verify it -- it's just the way it was.

Soon, Jen and I are climbing the stairs to our perch in the upper mezzanine. OK, so it's not as great as sitting on the floor for the show. We are definitely sitting with the po' folks, amongst whom we count ourselves without regret (except the regrets that come with having little or no money). And we are definitely not in the back row, so that's a bonus. We are centered, and we are able to get the eagle's view of the entire room. I tell Jen how small the stage looks, never knowing that the Kodak stage is actually one of the biggest in the country. Jen mentions it must be the way they film it. (Assuredly, the first thing Eddie mentions when he hits that very stage is how small it seems compared to the sense of it on television, and that they must use some sort of "fish-eyed view cameras" to film it.)

The Bowie-Harvey tunes gave way to music of a more classical nature within the theatre proper, but I was still grooving to that initial Bowie mood-setter upon entering the front doors. And I reflected upon how so often in my life, my actions or moods are not governed so much by the actual activity or show to which I am going, but by the more subliminal influence of the noises or atmosphere around me. I suppose that "subliminal" doesn't really come into effect if one is completely aware of the music. And I am that one person that notices. At a restaurant, I hear everything going on around me, and am often more caught up in these little aural sidebars than I am in actual dinner conversation. Bad songs played in a decent restaurant can turn it into a place to which I no longer wish to return; alternately, I will often forgive mediocre food if the playlist is awesome. Likewise, conversation at adjoining tables always sucks me in, and if someone is an asshole or an unforgivable git, it can turn the whole dinner on me.

And then that whole dinner can turn right around again if something like Moonage Daydream were to be played over the sound system. It's the way things work for me. The experience itself doesn't just come into play for me; it's everything that surrounds the experience. Details, details, details -- not just, "let's go see the show -- show -- wasn't that great?" I'm more, "Did you notice those shabby people next to me who traded off opera glasses every 13 seconds or so? And hardly ever laughed or cracked a smile? Were they at the right show, and why couldn't they spring for a second pair of goddamn glasses?"

Eddie, by the way, was just fine -- not his best material, but some crackling new bits, and I imagine that the eventual DVD will feature a show where he has really refined most of it. (Did you know, by the way, that the original title of Darwin's The Origin of Species was "Monkey Monkey Monkey Monkey Monkey -- YOU!") Much of the show revolves around religion, and while many of his arguments against it really aren't ever strong enough to convert anyone away from their particular faith -- which I don't think he has any intent at doing anyway -- they are all consistently hilarious. The truly amazing part was that he was on stage for nearly two hours, never taking a break or a drink of anything in that entire time. Also, a bit of a surprise, he was not really in drag, either -- blue jeans, boots and tux jacket with crimson inlay. The L.A. crowd, including the people next to me, were either not very responsive or, as Jen put it, too responsive when they were, whooping and hollering every once in a while, and then dropping the laughter almost to whisper status. For my part, Izzard implies constant amusement, and I laughed throughout. As did Jen. We received more than our money's worth, and now we have seen Eddie live. It won't be the last time, either, but it was a solid first effort.

And my night was already made before the show anyway. My world was in balance through the playing of a single David Bowie song, as I entered the home of the Oscars. And all the way home, I had Moonage Daydream rushing through my head...


matt fosberg said…
Color me jealous!

Glad it was a good show, and a nice piece of writing.


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