“And did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?”  
                                                                                                                                     – Pink Floyd
 
All That Is Gone
 

Burn, baby burn.
No. 7   |  48°N/2°E

It is not why I’m marrying her but it is certainly an impressive feat for someone who, in all honesty, could care a little less about this kind of music, brilliant music that it actually is.  This kind of music – the vast and varying catalog of Pink Floyd – is undeniably genius and there is absolutely no room for argument.  This kind of selfless accommodation and devotion – Nez’s – is likewise love of the best kind, hands down.

Together, Nez and I have seen one derivation or another of Pink Floyd/Pink Floyd music a total of three times:  Roger Waters at the Hollywood Bowl in 2006, The Australian Pink Floyd Show at the Masonic Center in San Francisco in 2007, and just the other day, TAPFS again at the Olympia in Paris.  (Before Nez, I had only managed Roger Waters in 2000.)  While we arrived at the ‘06 show appropriately and stylishly in a chauffeured town car that had even picked us up at the airport (although we flew coach and my cousin paid for the car) and the ‘07 show in a taxi (driven by an off-duty support staff from my old firm who refused payment), for the ‘09 show, Nez and I met each other at the Opéra métro station and walked the rest of the way to the nearby venerable theater.  Along the way, we devoured chicken sticks, fries, and a shared Coca-Light from Quick Burger.  (In contrast, before the San Francisco show, we had delicious Thai at Osha at Geary and Leavenworth with Ryan – the show was his Christmas gift – and his co-worker whose rock n’ roll show attendance and stories made us all look like also-rans.)  The high-end crowd of this part of the city stared from their shiny cars but we paid them no attention.  We were going to a rock show and they were going wherever it was they were going and there wasn’t anything more rock n’ roll than dipping one’s fries or chicken into a plastic container of sauce on a fashionable stretch of Paris.

 
  
 
 The world famous Olympia music hall in Paris with its trademark glowing neon marquee announcing tonight’s attraction;   Après-show, Nez and I paused for a quick memory.
 

The tickets said show at 20h00 but when we arrived at 20h08, the band was already playing “The Thin Ice.”  It was a madhouse to get seated in the darkened theater and after washing all the way to the front, and being momentarily delighted at the seemingly excellent seats we had, we were sent back to the very last row of the house where our tickets entitled us to two seats by the entrance.  All the same because the music was great and we had no complaints.  None except maybe a little wish that we could just see the upper half of the screen, this being a Pink Floyd show after all and the projected images were inseparable from the tunes.  You see, the upper floor of the Olympia sat not more than 10 feet off the ground and extended for about half the length of the theater from the back.  So, sitting where we sat, the upper floor effectively acted as an overhead awning and blocked out all of the faces of the visual to “Brain Damage” during the short encore set.  As such, all of the “lunatics” on the screen remained obscured to us (though Nez swore she saw Sarah Palin) and the lack of any audible hiss or boo from the French audience seemed to indicate that there was no one familiar to the crowd.

At the Masonic Center, TAPFS played the entire Dark Side of the Moon.  Tonight, they attempted the entire The Wall with equal vigor and success.  The crowd gave the Phil Collins-lookalike (it seemed that way from where we sat) guitarist/vocalist Damian Darlington a standing ovation for his goose-bump inducing rendition of the classic David Gilmour solo at the end of “Comfortably Numb.”  Similar affection was extended to the two fabulous ladies who took center stage and pulled off an amazing “The Great Gig in the Sky.”  The ghost of Rick Wright would have smiled. A few lines from “What Shall We Do Now?” elicited a chuckle from us:  “Shall we buy a new guitar?  Shall we drive a more powerful car?  Shall we work straight through the night?”  TAPFS is a cover band that could and for whatever we paid for our tickets we got one hell of a show.

 
 
  When I bought these tickets back in December, I attempted the band’s name with a French inflection and it came out as a string of gobbledygook.  The confused clerk resorted to searching by venue and date instead.
 

After two and a half hours, the band finally bade the adoring crowd goodbye.  “We’ll see you again,” one said as the band members filed off that storied stage.  Unlike the Waters show in Hollywood where we found ourselves afterward at an upscale and tasty sushi establishment (probably the kind with headset doormen, velvet ropes, and lurking paparazzi), this time we took a late-night train back to the Sixth to find the oven of Pizza Versuvio (8€ take-out) already extinguished for the night.  And so, we went to bed without any dinner but were quite OK relishing in our contentment.  As another sign that the time had indeed changed, I did not have to wake up at 4 in the morning to catch an early flight for work as I did after the San Francisco show.

A friend, and fellow Floydy, once recounted a story of a past girlfriend who had no real affinity for the band but suffered through it nevertheless for his own sake.  One day, she found herself singing a few lines from “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” while working on a patient’s teeth to the surprise of both her and the patient.  I, too, had dreamt of lying in bed on a cold, rainy day with a girl and listening to the entire The Wall spinning on the old record player.  Surely, I would have declared that that was the kind of girl I would marry.  And surely, I must have tried to play out that fantasy with Nez on many cold, rainy San Francisco afternoons without much success.

Yet, that night after the show, while sitting on a rocking train deep underground, I suddenly realized that I had indeed succeeded in doing just that.  I had successfully convinced Nez to sit through the entire Pink Floyd The Wall and she even liked the experience.  To be sure, I never needed that feat as some sort of litmus test for matrimony, I already knew she was the one.  Moreover, I’m not so dense as to not recognize that she chose to go to the Hollywood Bowl, the Masonic Center, and just now, the Olympia with me because I love the Floyd and she loves me.

 
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