Paul Heinz

Original Fiction, Music and Essays

Did You Not See James Taylor at Ravinia? Me too! (a critique of Ravinia)

Last Friday night, I and about 15,000 of my white, upper middle-class brethren (though most of them decidedly better looking) congregated on the well-manicured lawns of Ravinia in Highland Park to not see James Taylor.  Mind you, I could have not seen James Taylor for free at home while simultaneously watching the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics.  Instead, I paid good money to not see JT, and managed also to not see the opening ceremonies (though at least that part was free).

I already knew Ravinia was a lame excuse to not see a show, so I have no one to blame but myself.  About a decade ago, after purchasing tickets to "see" Lyle Lovett, my wife informed me that at Ravinia, lawn seats aren't within site of the stage.  Instead, large speakers hover overhead so you can hear the show. 

No fricking way, I said. 

Way, my wife said.

We didn't go.  My inactive social life was going to have to plummet even further before I agreed to hire a babysitter and drive through rush hour traffic on a staggeringly hot and humid weekday evening to not see a show.  There were dozens of other ways I could enjoy not seeing a show, like...oh, watching reruns on MeTV.  Schlepping to Ravinia didn't even make the list.

This year I caved, because James Taylor is one of the few acts residing on both my wife's and my circle on the Venn Diagram of our musical interests.  Also, the reserved seats sold out before they went on sale to the general public (not joking).  I thought: what the hell.  I'll get lawn seats.  It'll be a nice evening.

On the day of the event, after an hour and a half trip through the north suburbs of Chicago, a free shuttle dropped off my wife and me at the venue, where we found a shady patch of grass and laid out a blanket and chairs to enjoy a picnic meal prior to the show. 

Then the people came.  And the new arrivals constructed picnics so elaborate they required blueprints.  Men in Ray-Bans and polo shirts and women in full-length dresses attached legs onto wooden tables from Restoration Hardware, set out champagne glasses, cutting boards, cheese spreads and fruit trays, and revealed candelabras whose bases fit snuggly into the neck of a wine bottle.  It was all very impressive.  All around us, beautiful people raised their glasses, bantered and laughed heartily.

And then a funny thing happened.  A concert began, right on time, and while JT began singing, "Hey Mister, That's Me Up On The Jukebox," the people around us continued their banter, only louder.  Each syllable that spewed from their lips was annunciated with great import...all of it was apparently so VITAL to the evening, that it needed to be conveyed NOW and with as much gusto as humanly possible.

So not only could I not see JT, I couldn't hear him either. 

The ticket printouts I have from the show read as follows: "These are your concert tickets to see James Taylor."

False advertising?  You bet.  But even if they had corrected their mistake and had written, "These are your concert tickets to hear James Taylor," they'd still be open for a lawsuit.

Next time, I'm going to picnic in my backyard and put the iPod on shuffle.

Copyright, 2017, Paul Heinz, All Right Reserved