He has trouble sleeping.
There is something in his teeth. It broadcasts.
It broadcasts Spanish soap operas, Finnish recipes, antique numbers stations.
The numbers stations are his favourite.
Sparse classical music. A voice. 1…13…28…6…
The sounds rush over him. He used to write down each number, now he just listens. The voices he doesn’t understand. Sometimes he wishes the music would play longer.
All day he heard these things.
But when he’s in bed, alone, eyes closed and mouth slightly open the sounds lull him.
A smattering of Vivaldi.
A numbers sequence.
His teeth buzz in a pleasant way.
Sleep washes over him. A voice. 3…65…42.
And he’s asleep, dreaming of Spanish dramas.
The 2016 Life is Beautiful festival is over.
I’ve cut my wrist band off and am finally beginning to achieve that sought after feeling: rest.
From learning about the acceptance of death to the widespread power of kind acts to the future of city planning.
My heart and mind instantly latched onto the talk of Dr. Kate Stone. The future is here and it’s not hover boards or space flight, its connectivity through the possibility of creativity through interaction.
Warpaint played a mellow but intriguing show on the Huntridge stage, allowing me space to breathe and soak in their music amongst a smaller but enthralled crowd.
Life, to sound completely obvious, is about living. Remind yourself that death is real (we all succumb to it) but use it as a reminder to live fully.
Follow your passion, follow creativity. Do not be afraid to take risks and to step out of your comfort zone. Do not let doubt hinder you from expressing yourself and halting your dreams.
Turn pizza boxes into turn tables. Laugh at Death. Create and live and laugh and dance. Dress in whatever you want to. Wear lingerie and shorts, cartoon character hats, a banana costume or nothing at all. Just make sure you are living!
Because living, being alive, is what life is all about.
And Life is Beautiful.
An auto-tuned voice is pushing its way through the crack in the frosted window.
Below the sounds of a Neil Diamond-esque song play just loud enough to be recognized.
A group of younger people shuffle by the door, expressing their wishes that the night would last forever.
Because life is beautiful.
The bracelets on my wrist are beginning to itch. I’m not sure if it’s in relation to them being on too long or the knowledge that the festival is only one more day.
Today wasn’t just about music.
After pouring over the acts we decided to focus on two things until the music of the night: art and learning.
The Life is Beautiful Ideas series is a great investment. Quick talks by brilliant minds that almost all condense into one lesson: love the you that you are.
RuPaul stood on a bare stage and commanded the attention of hundreds. “I love you!” He said, wearing an immaculate suit and his trade mark glasses. “But how can you love anyone if you don’t love yourself?”
Next there was magic and the art of asking the right questions followed by how to take creative risks from a former Cirque performer.
The audience was captivated. Their heads, hearts, and souls open and ready to learn.
Wandering through the Crime on Canvas exhibit. Exhausted revelers lounging on blow up sofas or against walls. The artist Shag at a table with fellow artists, trading stories. A girl in a peach dress sashayed around the room. Paintings from some of my idols: Greg Simkins, Brandie Milne, Shag, Shepard Fairey, etc…
A room full of neon words. Iggy Pop on the wall. It was beautiful. It was sad. It felt dirty and rotten with a twist of sex appeal.
Outside a sculpture made of trucks, twisted. The night grew darker and I became more uncomfortable. Screams from the giant water slide and beach game area (where there was free wifi). Three dancers dancing alone in front of a smoke machine covered boat playing out the same beat over and over.
Leon Bridges took to the stage with an old school funk and soul sound and moving like the lost cousin of James Brown and Ray Charles. Trying his best to hype up the Life is Beautiful people. It had been a long day, most people sitting and listening. Dancing was not happening at that stage.
A quick exit. Chicken on a stick. A long wait at the hydration station and the best latte I have ever had. Vanilla. Honey. Makers & Finders. I will be back tomorrow. Oh yes I will.
Loud. Bright lights. A voice that sounds like a murderous doll. Die Antwoord on the stage. Kill like a ninja. Die like a ninja. Kids around me singing along and my group looking on in horror. Are we that old?
Throwing found playing cards into the mass dancing mob. “Find some disrespect.”
A moment of quiet as Die Antwoord exits. Punk and alternative rock pumped through the speakers. The crowd shrank then grew again. This time by an older group. Parents. Dads with garage bands. Moms out with friends. Jane’s Addiction hits the stage and the parents go semi-wild, dancing in their flowing skirts and cargo shorts.
With enough 90’s nostalgia flowing into our heads for the night we exit the festival.
Back to the small room. The confusing blends of dance and casino music. The smells of an entire day surrounded by people clinging to clothes.
An air horn.
A drum beat.
My eyes are heavy.
Headphones in, I shut off the light. I scratch under my green bracelet. To sleep. To wake up and immerse myself in experience one more time.
Life is beautiful.
Day one of the Life is Beautiful festival is nearly at a close.
I am sitting in an off-green chair in my room in the El Cortez with the last sounds of a DJ playing some club song or dubmash or whatever the hell it is. It’s rattling my windows.
But it’s still beautiful.
Below my window there are still hundreds of people dancing and drinking and sweating and living and letting their essence and passion flow free.
Their music making my heart pound. The sun bright and sky blue. It all came together for a perfect daytime concert.
“Where my muthafukkin sinners at?” They asked to a reply of screams and cheers and fingers pointed towards Heaven in defiance. Welcome to Sin City, where everything and everyone is beautiful.
The blocked-off section of Downtown Las Vegas was magnetic. A current running through the hearts of everyone, leaping from mural to mural, stage to stage.
We took a side-trip and caught a powerful and uplifting talk by Stacy London on style, fashion, life, how to be yourself and how to find yourself. In Stacy we trust.
We stuffed our faces with sandwiches from Buddy’s and settled in to watch Tegan and Sara perform on the big stage.
The only thing about them that can rival their talent is how kind they are. Seriously. They were the nicest performers I have ever seen. As the sky became darker the crowd grew with intensity and Tegan and Sara closed it out with their already classic “Closer.”
Walking the streets. Buildings covered in fresh murals from artists I used to read about in lowbrow art magazines rekindling those old inspirations. The haunting sounds of The City and Color trailing along from a distant stage, almost like a whisper – don’t leave! Don’t leave yet! There is so much more to see!
Stopping to watch Baron Vaughn give a brilliantly scathing comedy set on a whim. Baron is a genius with a lot to say, and people need to listen.
A quick nap.
Then back outside.
We snuck into one of the fancy areas and were able to just sit and relax, enjoy the music. It’s strange going to a concert and experiencing it with all senses but sight. Sitting felt nice, nicer than standing and trying to see through everyone in front of us. But good performers don’t rely on you to watch them. They are musicians. They captured you with their sound from speakers. So it’s okay to just close your eyes, let your body relax and let the music wash over and through you.
The crowd cheered, the band played hard and with full hearts. Sparks fell from the sky.
The dance music outside is building in tempo. Screams. Bass shaking the ceiling tiles. It isn’t always glamorous in Las Vegas, but that’s not why we’re here.
We are here for experience. We are here for music. We are here for art and food and sunshine and moonlight and love and dance and bliss. We are here because life is beautiful and it demands to be lived without tethers or burdens.
So lay down your worries, throw your head back and scream and laugh and dance your asses off because life is beautiful.
Life is fucking Beautiful.
She sent her brother to the dinner.
He came down, glowing soft and blue, radiant and hopeful.
The clouds parted and he met the old woman’s gaze.
She offered him food. Plenty of it.
He was there more for business than pleasure…but looking at the food, there was going to be no pleasure to be found.
And, being who he is, with his constant changes and phases, there would be no business without any pleasure.
He turned his nose up at the food.
He didn’t care how it made his family look or how disrespectful it was.
It looked like vomit and snot to him.
When he arrived home, his sister was nowhere to be found.
The house was cold and dark.
He looked everywhere.
Finally, he felt her heat.
The heat of anger and embarrassment.
The heat of passion and sibling rivalry.
He chased after her, but he could not catch her.
Fire flew from her feet and shadows passed over his face.
She would never forgive him.
At night, he sits and looks down over everything, hoping to find his sister.
By day, she burns bright and hot, too hot, making sure that no one – not even her own brother – can get near her.