You climb the dilapidated staircase to the second floor. Each step you take sends shudders through the structure, plaster chips rain down upon you and the smell of decaying matter assaults your nostrils. Is it animal, vegetable or mineral? You don’t want to know.
Finally, you see him. He’s cleared out a little squatter’s haven amidst old cardboard boxes and even older newspapers. He’s wearing a torn-to-shreds trench coat, his back is turned to you, and he’s spray-painting some sort of intricate design on the wall. He puts down the can, studies his work, then turns. “Oh, it’s you,” he mutters as he hitches up his pants and scratches his butt. “It’s about time you got here.”
And there you stand, face to face with the man who runs the concert industry.
He reaches into a coat pocket and pulls out a yellowed sheet of paper. “Just finished working on the rescheduled dates for Leftover Salmon,” he says. “It’s all yours. I also have Juvenile and Friends of Dean Martinez going out in March and May, respectively. Oh, yeah, here’s the latest routing for Vans Warped Tour 2002. I’m still working on which bands will be on which dates, but here is how the big picture stands so far. Remember, it could change.”
He blows his nose into his coat sleeve, hacks up a yellow glob of phlegm, and continues: “Here’s that Peter Nero schedule you were asking about. Also Cyndi Lauper, Concrete Blonde and Mother Hips. Now, run along. I have work to do.”
You take one last, long hard look at the old man’s scar-ridden face as a trickle of drool oozes out of his right lower lip. A million questions run through your mind. Does the entire world work this way? Is every major decision affecting humanity made by shadowy figures hiding amongst life’s refuse? Are the governments and leaders of the world merely a front for a secret network of unknown men and women hiding behind the guise of humanity’s discarded souls? As if reading your thoughts, he pries a dried-out piece of chewing gum off of the wall, pops it into his mouth, and says;
“Don’t look at me like that. I’m only responsible for who plays where and when, like Ricky Skaggs in Houston on May 25. I’m not the one who’s supposed to save the world.”
“After all, who do you think I am? Bono?”