by Chez Pazienza
Banter M is usually the kind of thing that's reserved for think pieces and longform columns -- prestige stories of the political and sometimes personal variety that we figure you'll find worth paying a couple of bucks for. This, however, won't be one of those. Not by a long shot. I hope you'll understand and forgive the intrusion of what's basically something done on a lark. What I'm about to you is nothing more than, I hope, a mildly entertaining little story of one of those oft-reported internet "come for" that I actually got to experience first hand. It involves the Hollywood Bowl, a couple of really drunk young women, a mother with one hell of a swing with a seat cushion, Facebook and -- ELO. Is this self-indulgent. Oh, fuck yes. So, let's begin.
Most people who read my nonsense on a semi-regular basis would probably find it hard to believe that way back in 2007, I wrote a lengthy piece for my (now largely dark) blog, Deus Ex Malcontent, that in no uncertain terms defended millennials. It was a time in which a whole slew of oh-so-serious news reports and books were beginning to emerge either concern trolling or outright excoriating the "next generation" for being self-obsessed little assholes already glomming on to the new social media craze, which was quickly allowing them to turn themselves from normal, everyday kids into a branding exercise. Now I admit that I wrote this piece on a day when I was feeling especially magnanimous, given that I had also devoted a shit-ton of copy to railing against annoying "tweens" and the parents who inexplicably ceded the world to them -- but on this one day I wanted to extend an olive branch to the kids taking the next elevator up.
It dawned on me quite a while back that, doing the math, the tweens I despised back in 2007-2008 are now the college kids of today. The easily offended, trigger warning-ed, safe spaced, relentlessly scolding, social justice fantasy advocating, self-cannibalizing kids who've turned a lot of college campuses into segregated Orwellian nightmares where any attempt at having a good time must always be carefully considered to make sure no microaggressions against oppressed peoples are taking place (or have ever taken place throughout history). So I guess all that parental and societal indulgence, combined with a life lived being able to curate every aspect of their environment until everything that wasn't on-demand could be disappeared, really did create a bunch of fragile, kid-gloved tea cups who freak the fuck out at the least bit of adversity.
But still, I continue to believe that broadstroking a huge group of people is a bad idea, so I've never believed that every early 20-something on the planet is a self-obsessed basket case. In fact, other than dealing with them online, I've never had a personal experience that would inform and enhance any distaste I might have for millennials.
Until Sunday night.
On Sunday night, ELO -- pardon me, for legal reasons Jeff Lynne's ELO -- played their third of three sold out shows at the Hollywood Bowl. As far as I could tell, just about everyone in Los Angeles had attended at least one of these performances so by Sunday I suppose it was just my turn. I picked up my fiancee from the Beverly Grove restaurant kind enough to pay her for cooking, we drove over to a place called The Village Idiot on Melrose and got a beer, then headed over to the Bowl. The show marked the final night of the official Bowl season -- and it was a gorgeous evening for it. Perfect temperature. Clear sky. Flawlessness. By the time we got to our seat, under that lovely sky with the iconic bandshell directly in front of us, albeit a good number of rows away, the opening act -- which happened to be the Bowl orchestra -- was well into its set. We broke open a picnic basket we'd brought with deviled eggs and fried chicken from my fiancee's restaurant and a bottle of wine.
The orchestra's set ended and we waited for ELO. It was during this time, though, that a couple of young women appeared behind us. I say they appeared because, although they might have been there for some time, their talking was suddenly noticeable to us and, as it turned out, everyone around them. They were obviously drunk -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- and proceeded to regale everyone in our section with an extended lament about the difficulties of dating in Los Angeles when you're them. "Well, like, I'm an introverted extrovert," one said, with a vocal fry that would make a Kardashian jealous. "And, it's just soooo super hard to find somebody who understands that." The other one responded with a sympathetic affirmation. Nothing horrible so far other than a lack of embarrassment at the idea that everyone around them could hear their personal conversation.
But the thing is, this conversation that everyone could hear continued even as ELO took the stage and began to play. Now, in spite of a terrific sound system, the Bowl is still an outdoor venue, so if you're not sitting right up close it's never a blow-your-ears-out kind of experience seeing a performance there. In other words, the folks in my section heard the music loud and clear but it wasn't loud and clear enough to drown out everything -- certainly not the young women behind us, who had of course raised their voices to compensate for the rude interruption the band onstage was causing to their important conversation about how no guy in L.A. understood what it was like to be them and how awesome they were. There was moaning. There was whining. There was much misuse of the word "literally." And no, I'm not exaggerating any of this.
So this keeps on for a while -- until the couple next to us finally turns around and says, "Could you please keep it down? You're louder than the show." People two rows in front of us are turning around in solidarity with this request, as if to hammer home the point that they can be heard more than 20 or 30 feet away. They give an indignant huff but at least they respect the will of those around them and shut up for a little while. That is, until about three-quarters of the way through the show, when their desperate need to make everything all about them apparently becomes just too great to be contained. Despite the crescendo of the music, their voices can be heard perfectly. And they really do sound like a couple of young Kardashians having an existential crisis.
When the finale comes -- complete with fireworks, mind you -- that's when it all goes to shit.
The woman next to us -- the one who had politely but firmly asked them to be quiet -- finally turns around and lets loose. "Listen, will you shut the fuck up already? Nobody cares about your fucking lives." The response of one of these two young woman: pure self-righteous resentment. A loud, melodramatic huff, then: "Well, if you wanted to hear the show without anyone bothering you you should've gotten box seats!" And just like that, Mom decides she's had enough of these fucking kids. "Fuck you!" she shouts as she grabs the cushion she's been sitting on and begins slugging the two women with it. One of them, the one with dark hair -- as opposed to the equally irritating blonde -- responds by throwing a glass, which shatters on the ground next to us, splattering my fiancee and me with whatever was getting them excessively drunk. Mom then takes a swing and misses.
That's when security shows up.
Mom and Dad push their way through our row, furious, while security also demands that Kim and Kourtney follow suit. There are flashlights behind shined all over the place. There are people pushed aside. Oh, and there's a shitload of fireworks going off overhead. All in all, a beautifully surreal moment. Thankfully, however, even though it was pretty much the end of the show, that was the last we saw of the Scourges of Section L1.
Or so we thought.
The following day, after having relayed the drama to a friend of ours after the show, that friend sent my fiancee and I a message on Facebook. It was a posting from the official Hollywood Bowl Facebook page.
And this was it:
If this story sounds familiar it really shouldn't. It certainly didn't sound familiar to me since I was right there and saw what actually happened and for fuck's sake did Catherine Hoang's version of the story sound nothing like it. It was all there, though: the melodrama, the persecution complex, the self-centeredness, the victim-playing, the refusal to accept responsibility and the need to immediately take to social media to "clap back" against those who'd supposedly wronged her, the calling out of "white power" combined with the indignant alignment with a convenient social justice movement, the fucking hashtags.
It was so perfectly -- millennial.
Needless to say, my fiancee and I couldn't let this stand.
Now, keep in mind that before we even spoke up, there were a few comments ahead of us her questioning whether she was bullshitting and downplaying her own involvement in what happened (if it happened at all). But then we came along.
It took all of maybe an hour before she came back and deleted the comment. Thankfully, my fiancee saved it, and our responses, for posterity. Now, is this important? No, of course not. Is it meant to suggest that all millennials are like Catherine Hoang: who can sit under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl at a concert that cost a good amount of money, consume her weight in $12 drinks and still complain about being oppressed? No, of course not. But it would be nice if this could serve as a warning not to be an asshole who lives up to every single bad stereotype about your generation. Catherine Hoang did. And I gotta admit -- I really enjoyed putting her in her place for it.