Thursday, September 01, 2005

(AI) Artificial Intelligence...

On monday, my boy Zach Raynor( suggests that we try out for American Idol. We as in 'he won't do it unless I do it with him', so i'm like "sure" and then we reason it out. We play catch with phrases like "what have we got to lose" and other excuses to let our inner superstars out for a minute.
We tell Alejandro our excuses and eventually win him over. We figure we will at least make it to Hollywood, but we figure this year they are looking for a Justin Timberlake so they would probably arrange a way for us to be ousted before challanging him. If they asked why we were competing, we (Zach and I) would say that we wanted to sing against the other in the finals.

Tuesday morning we wake up at 3:30AM. We pick Zach up by 4:30AM and then head to Gilette stadium. We are there and in line by 6AM. LONG line, but strangely less people than we figured would be there. I mean it's a good thing, but still somewhat sad. At least this means we have a better chance of getting in. We really aren't worried about the first round, more so it's the second round when they REALLY decide who they want to put on TV, and then after that it's mostly fluff.
7AM and we've moved about 20ft in this rediculously long line at this pace we expect to be at the front by 5PM. By now we've started making acquaintances in line cus Zach is a superstar so he draws attention and I'm a gent so I smile and acknowledge people who make I contact with me. So we move a couple more feet in line, but we are much better at manuevering in the line so when we move we just fill all the gaps and wind up 15ft past the people were next to each time. So then we make new acquaintances while we just entertain ourselves. Through unseen portions of the line ahead of us you hear cheers and such, most likely for the news crews that are around. We aren't concerned with them. Instead a new concern arrises; i feel a drop or three.
8AM... It's pouring, like seriously pouring. I squat down and use people as my umbrella, but then my leg starts hurting from what i believe now is a pulled quad (thigh muscle) from moving my girlfriends stuff from the 2nd floor apartment to the 3rd floor dorm room. I'm not the type to take a break cus i just want it done, so yeah...I think in my 'work through the pain' mode i worked into a pulled quad.
11AM... We're finally nearing the front of the line. By now we've made acquaintances that we pull with us whenever we manuever through the line. It is still raining rediculously hard, as in it did not pass rather the cloud brought all of its homies to piss on us too. After a couple of hours of managing to duck under strangers' umbrellas while the umbrellas next to them poured the water in 8 directions away from their holder directly onto us, Zach acquired a HUGE umbrella from someone in line. This woman was seriously just holding this huge umbrella while standing under a smaller umbrella of her friend. People never make the most sense, so rather than pointing this out Zach asked for the big umbrella and then we all moved up under the guise of not wanting to be more drenched than we were.

So about 30mins later we were at the front of the line. After hours of getting drenched and longfully wanting to be at the front of the line so we could go through the bag check then stand under the covered entrance to the stadium, it stops raining as we get to the front; like a final diss. Now it's like "Go under the cover for what? ... We caught it all the hours of rain."
Now we are behind maybe 5 people and infront of everyone else. The next group to be let through will be about 25 people. Now about 3 people back from Zach is this woman who calls forward to her daughter and the daughter's grandmother. Something about bringing her purse back. The grandmother is like 'just move up in the line'. The mother is like 'there are too many people just send it back'. The grandmother is like 'hold on I will bring it to you'. Now everyone else in the line is looking at them like are you really going to push past all the people to hand a purse over. Before I could suggest anything the woman asks Zach and Alejandro if he could push aside as well as the tightly packed people behind him. Zach replies exactly as I'm thinking he politely says 'Ma'am if you wait for like 2 mins the line-attendant will move all of us into the open area infront of the bag check and you get do what you need to then.' The old lady is like that 'doesn't make any sense' and proceeds to start to push past Zach and Alejandro. Now you can hear the politeness starting to fade in his voice as he again says "Ma'am if you just wait 2 mins we can all move out your way but right now it's packed too tight." The grandmother doesn't listen and instead pulls the mother past everyone else for what was clearly a cut in line, cus noone passed any purse. So the old lady says something about us being rude to mother and daughter. Now we don't say anything about how unlikely it is that her child is going to be the next American Idol (i'm not saying she was ugly, but ....well... if she was the last woman on earth, it would take me a few weeks to warm up to her looks), instead Zach just asks me if that was completely pointless which means talking over the rather short grandmother. I, as well as everyone around me, smiles holding back a laugh of agreement. The grandmother looks up at Zach and says "young man you need to start acting more like an idol"... I shake may head. Zach is the WRONG person to come at like that. He already has an easily flared attitude and the past few hours of tight line, umbrella showers and "northern hospitality" (an oxymoron) have not fostered his best mood. Only the frequent little bit of singing we have done has soothed this savage beast. So Zach looks at the old lady with the famed black neck roll and "I'm sorry, and how should an idol act?" The lady trying to get smart says "You're here triyng out, you tell me..." Not missing a beat Zach (who was educated at about the most-respected institution in the nation) replies "Oh no no, see you obviously no how an idol is supposed to act because you told me I should act like one, so PLEASE educate me cus apparently I don't know!" The grandmothers stumble for a comeback is quelled by the mother and daughter who say "Grandmother don't waste your time, there is no use talking to him." Zach looks at me shaking my head and the other people trying hard not to laugh at the old lady, and says "I'm not starting, anything she feels a need to talk to me." We spectators smile and nod while trying not to laugh at the old woman still trying to muster an impossibly smarter comeback. Check and mate. The line-attendant waves us on into the bag check, which I and Alejandro pass through quickly cus we had no bags. Zach soon joins us in line. Shortly after we are ushered into the the entrance and pick up audition rules, the coveted wristband of admittance and a ticket.
We go find our seat according to our tickets in time to hear the latter half of an assistant producer telling us basically what was on the rules sheets we just picked up as well as answering crowd questions, etc. Among the interesting information is finding out that we were in the first three sections. Then we head back to the car just before noon.

So we do the early morning thing all over again and get there about 6:30AM. Only this time we get to go straight to our seats. As an extra little burn we notice that they are still admitting people today. No line or anything, just walk in and get ur wristband, rules, and ticket. It's ok though, we're still among the first three sections. Zach had tried out two years ago and heard the words that haunted him until this year, "Individuals like you make this hard to say, but we have already picked the people we want in this year." Then the producer looked to his constituents and agreed. So this year that won't be the problem. However we are still concerned that they are looking for a white male singer, since there has yet to be a white male winner.
In the meantime, we are joking around and singing. Most of the people our age are from Berkelee College of music. We chill at our seats cracking jokes from "Meet The Browns" (a Tyler Perry play - think Black families and Black baptist churches). The two young ladies in front of us joins in and we all are laughing and having a good time. Zach takes trips to the bathroom from time to time and really lets out there, apparently his vocals impressed some folks whose raised eyebrows and nods signify their respect he tells us. It starts raining again so we head up to the concessions area, but most of the stands are closed so it's just a place to chill from the rain. We practice a bit but mostly rest our voices. I practiced the day before so I'm cool, a little nervous but confident. We sit in some random chairs and watch the area fill more as the rain heavies. There really isn't anyone that worries us. It's more sad than inspiring. I'm sure there are people we hadn't seen yet, but still... You had your Aguilera/Mariah wannabes who made sure to have one hand up signifying their attempt at vocal runs/trills. Then rest were some sort of Carrie Underwood blend in all shapes and sizes. No Tamyra Grays or Fonzells really, again more sad than relieving. I would say the guys looked better than the girls, but I didn't hear anyone really.
Eventually our section gets up, we watch as a guy we know goes up. He's there for a long time, but eventually walks to the left. Zach says the guy can REALLY sing, so it's surprising to see him go left. However, the guy is as big as Ruben Studdard, but also like 6'5". Eventually we are up, and rather being split up among the 12 booths of producers, Zach and I are together at the first booth with what seems to be the BOSS. She is a middle-aged woman with a leathery Hollywood tan. Who has a fake smile planted on her face. She watches the people before us and tells them "Thank you but your voices aren't at the level we are looking for Season 5." We are up... the girl next to Zach sings her 30 seconds. She seems shy and stares at the tent ceiling the whole time. Her voice seems to barely reach the 5feet to the producer and PA. Then it's Zach turns, and he smiles and breaks into his 30 seconds a powerful ballad which he entertainingly delivers. Then it's my turn and I laughingly smile then break into Luther Vandross - Superstar... I did it well; about as good as Ruben and well enough to advance. Then the girl after me went she was alright, better than the first girl. "Thank you but your voices aren't at the level we are looking for Season 5", which is apparently the "bye"-line.

As we were leaving, Zach let me know that she was the same woman he had when he tried out two years ago for the first round (he made it to the second round where he heard the "sorry") and that he performed better this time than he did then. So tune in this year and watch with us to see who made it from Boston as well as who they will "guide" the audience into choosing as this year's winner.

Superstar! Peace!

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