Now for something completely different

Now for something completely different

The world is a terrifying place right now. It’s hard to feel spontaneous joy.

But those of us who are not directly affected by its horrors need the occasional break from them, if for no other reason than maintaining our sanity helps us react appropriately when necessary and bravely if possible.

Getting the chance to relax, to unwind, to breathe, to think, to walk in the park and marvel in the colors, to walk in the springtime and revel in the breezes, to walk at dusk and glory in the light and shadows — all that helps us retain the equilibrium that we need.

So if you have the chance to, say, go to the Meadowlands to see the Rolling Stones, say with with your husband and your sister, on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, why not?

When you do that, it feels like you’ve left the normal world, the one filled with people you know, who might have horrendous fashion sense but not so bad that they’re all wearing the same ghastly, ill-fitting t-shirts with the Stones’ updated but unmistakable lurid logo, to enter a world full of those people in those shirts.

But I don’t want to be snarky. It’s a different world — and as long as I don’t have to dress like that, it’s an exciting one. It’s fun.

You have to get past the indignities, of course. The tickets — a combination of last-minute-ness and cheapness had us getting seats at the very top of the stadium, which has its clear compensations anyway. But the way hidden fees are tacked onto tickets — even the cheap ones aren’t, you know, cheap — so that a $50 parking space suddenly costs $80 — that’s not great.

But you negotiate all that. You park, walk past all the tailgaters barbecuing the parking lot, making it smell like a carnivore’s heaven, and walk into a vast stadium seemingly dedicated to selling beer. There are occasional booths selling other things, but there is so very much beer. And you take the escalators up to the top level, and then climb to the very top of the stadium, beyond the escalators, and if you don’t have a fear of heights (I don’t know what you do if you do have that fear, other than panic, scream, and run away) suddenly you find yourself on the top of the world.

And it’s beautiful there.

It was a lovely evening. We sat facing west — we knew that because we got to watch the sun set. The stadium is implausibly big, and we got to watch it fill with people. There was an opening act, called Lawrence — two twentysomething siblings who’d gone to a fancy Upper East Side private school, Dalton, and then to Brown, and who are Jewish, which I know because of course I googled right away — and who were adorable but whose music was indecipherable because where we were sitting it just sounded like noise — and then, much much later, there were the Rolling Stones.

They were just tiny specks way below us, of course, dressed in bright colors, just like Queen Elizabeth used to be, so she could be seen from far away. (“I have to be seen to be believed,” she said.) But the video was spectacular, and the precision in the way the video worked made them seem almost like the Rockettes. (Almost.)

You don’t go to a concert at MetLife Stadium, which can hold 82,500 people, for the music. It echoes and distorts; it’s great if you already know the songs — and it was the Rolling Stones, so who doesn’t? — but otherwise it’s just loud.

But you do go to a Rolling Stones performance to see Mick Jagger.

That man is 80 years old. He is a year younger than Joe Biden and three years older than Donald Trump. He must plug himself in at night. What he does is not only impossible for an 80-year-old, it would be an amazing feat for a 20-year-old. He doesn’t stop. He looks dessicated, like he’s been in the desert for decades, like there’s no molecule of water in his body, but he moves with such extraordinary grace and speed that he seems barely human.

(Keith Richards looks more or less his age, and Ron Woods looks as if he died two or three years ago. It’s not a good look.)

By the end, when it was dark outside and hundreds and hundreds of phone lights swayed back and forth and 80,000 people sang together, it was joyous and it was healing.

(And then of course there were the 45 minutes in the parking lot, trying to leave, but whatever…)

There was very little Jewish about the evening (although of course, given that it was in New Jersey, certainly a significant percentage of the audience had to be Jewish). But it was so good to do something different, something fun, something straightforward, before re-entering the world of fear and horror and the death of democracy.

It’s summertime.


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