Sometimes the best decisions in life are spontaneous ones

Devout follower(s) of the Weinblog (hi mom!) know that I am a live music junkie, with a particular fondness towards music festivals.

I’ve said it many times, but if you’re ever feeling a bit disenchanted with the world, or are even beginning to lose faith in humanity for whatever reason — attend a music festival. Because your faith will be restored.

I know a lot happened over the weekend, between LeBron James earning the city of Cleveland its first major sports title in 52 years; developments in exactly what happened in the Orlando nightclub nine days ago; and even more recent news about GOP senators blocking gun control legislation; but I have the whole week to get to that.

Today I want to recap my weekend. Because it was a great one.

I have attended the Firefly Music Festival three years in a row. It’s basically become the premier music festival on the East Coast. Recent headliners have included the Foo Fighters, Paul McCartney and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others.

This year’s headliners of Kings of Leon, Florence + the Machine and Mumford & Sons was quite tempting, but various circumstances led me to decide not to attend this year — despite the fact that I had free tickets waiting for me at will call via my old job.

One of those mitigating circumstances was the fact that I was seeing Mumford & Sons that Friday night at a different venue, in Forest Hills, Queens. Which I went to and enjoyed.

But sometime during that night I had a thought. What if I woke up early enough, hopped in my car, made the three-plus hour drive to Dover and spent the day there? I had nothing better to do. Might as well see some free music with my free ticket. I had friends there I could meet up with, and although I had no place to sleep, it was something to worry about later.

Cut to the next morning, 7:30 a.m., I’m awake, lying in bed, contemplating it over one more time. By 8:45, I was on the road. By 1 p.m., I was at a Chic-Fil-A drive-thru in Delaware. Some 40 minutes later, I was taking a selfie in front of one of Firefly’s seven stages.

Throughout the gorgeous, sunny day, I saw several great bands, talked to many people I had never met before, and enjoyed the privileges that my free media ticket allowed me — not only free entry, but access to the VIP areas and Super VIP areas, which contained an open bar and free massages. Ayoo!

But I didn’t realize how convenient the timing was. What happened in Orlando hurt. I haven’t felt completely right since that day. I also mentioned how disappointed I felt with how some people in the country were reacting to it.

Well, spending the day in the woodlands at Firefly, surrounded by tens of thousands of people simply enjoying life amongst their friends and a whole bunch of live music, you’d never know that there is any hate that exists at all in this country.

It was a beautiful reminder of how wonderful we can be when we’re all together and simply living in the moment.

And just when I thought the day couldn’t get more perfect, I decided during my drive home overnight to listen to exclusively Taylor Swift on my iPod. It amounted to 43 songs in a row. And you’re damn right I sang my heart out.

The culminating memory was the piece of advice I received from my friend that Friday afternoon, who I’d potentially be meeting at Firefly, when I shared with him my spontaneous idea to drive down to meet him the following day.

“Don’t think, just do.”

Take that one to the bank, kids.


…Blackbird singing in the dead of night…

I spent the last few days attending my third Firefly Music Festival in Delaware, which was highlighted by a two-and-a-half hour set by the world’s most recognizable living Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney himself, who delivered a performance I’ll remember my entire life.

But we’ll get to that in a minute. Other things appeared to have happened in the world in my five day hiatus; some amusing, some mildly interesting, and some tragic.

Of course we have to start with the Charleston church shooting last Wednesday, in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in which nine people died at the hands of a racist, white supremacist. It’s one of the United States’ oldest black churches and is steeped in the history of the civil rights movements. And last week, it was targeted in an act of national terrorism.

It’s sad that whenever we discuss national incidents involving race, we can never say that it’s the “culmination.” Because Charleston churchanother terrible thing always seems to happen shortly after. It’s hard to believe that something worse than this can happen anytime soon, but how can you blame any one right now for being extra cynical and expecting the worst?

John Stewart, who usually reacts to the news of the day by making jokes, had none to make the following day. Instead he delivered an impassioned speech about how America’s threat is not from ISIS, or Al Qaeda, but from ourselves. Definitely watch it.

The shooting sparked the natural debates, on the likes of gun control and race relations in America, but is also ignited one less expected conversation, regarding the Confederate flag.

Much was made about how South Carolina ordered all American flags to be half-staffed, but not the Confederate flag that lies in front of its capitol building. Never mind the fact that the flag can’t be ordered by the governor to be lowered, the conversation instead steered around whether southern states like South Carolina should even be displaying the flag at all, considering its historic ties to slavery.

The question was especially a slippery slope for Republican presidential candidates, until Lindsey Graham, a senator from South Carolina, called for the flag to be removed from the state capitol on Thursday,

As usual, the political satirists said it best. This time it was John Oliver on Sunday night.

But let’s move on to women on money.

I blogged months ago about the online campaign, WomenOn20s, which was aiming to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with a woman.

The U.S. Treasury listened — sort of — by announcing last week that a woman will indeed be placed on currency by the year 2020, but on the $10 bill. 10-dollar-bill

So instead of replacing the unpopular Andrew Jackson, who no one would have minded being eradicated from the $20, we will replace Alexander Hamilton, who was actually our nation’s first Secretary of Treasury.

This is literally the worst of all worlds. People who were angry about this for whatever reason are mad that it’s happening to begin with. Those who were indifferent are irate that we’re losing good ole Alex Hams (that’s what people used to call him, just trust me). And women, meanwhile, have to feel a little disrespected that they were given the most unpopular bill.

No one has ever received a $10 bill on purpose. I think I own more $2 bills than tens. And they don’t even come out of ATMs.

But it’s progress … I guess?

And speaking of women making headlines … Taylor Swift did something. After sending a letter to Apple voicing her unhappiness with the company’s decision to not compensate artists during its “free stream” period it provides to new customers, the company changed course almost immediately after, deciding it will indeed pay up.

In her letter, Taylor said these are not the complaints of a “spoiled, petulant child,” but rather, of all the independent artists who rely on that compensation and are too afraid to risk everything by speaking up against a company like Apple.

If this isn’t further proof that that she should be the one to be put on American money, then I don’t know what is. She’s a multi-platinum selling artist, an award winning lyricist, a role model to all, and now a revolutionary for the music industry.

And she’s dating some douchebag EDM guy.

C’mon Taylor. Just think of bloggers as more literal, less noisy, more introverted DJs. We’re really not that bad of people.

But anyway, let’s get to what you call came here for. Sir Paul.

White it was never really a life goal of mine to see him, I was definitely excited at the prospect of it once Firefly announced he would be headlining one of the nights. That being said, for a festival that comprised mostly contemporary artists for an audience of mostly 20-something year-olds, I wasn’t sure how it would translate.

My friends and I got a decent view of the stage, and … Sir Paul blew away even my most optimistic expectations. Not only did he mix in plenty of classics from both the Beatles and Wings, but he was the most energetic performer I saw all weekend. And he’s 73.

My picture I snapped of Sir Paul at Firefly

My picture I snapped of Sir Paul at Firefly

It was pretty evident he got a rush of excitement to play in front of an audience of people who have never seen him before — an entire new generation of fans.

If anything, the evening proved to me that Sir Paul — and the Beatles — are timeless.

I also couldn’t help but think of my dad, a huge Beatles fan who first saw them at arguably their most famous concert of all time, at Shea Stadium in August of 1965. Who would have ever thought, that almost exactly 50 years later, I would see one of the lead singers of the same band, live in concert, singing the same songs?

It’s one of those rare times that you really appreciate it when life comes full circle.

And it’s the words penned by Sir Paul all of those years ago, like “Let it Be,’ “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” or “Blackbird singing in the dead of night … take these broken wings and learn to fly…” that make you wonder why the events in South Carolina still continue to happen.