INSANE ADVENTURE

 

The lunatic ravings of the severely disturbed crackpot Showman Lee Kolozsy

 

I had some of the best people for co-workers, I had good equipment, I had top attractions, we were a big hit, we were doing land office business, the success was driving me completely out of my mind…

I felt as though I had lived a madman’s nightmare. It had been a deranged ordeal from beginning to end. The obstacles[1] were various, numerous, and onerous. The one-day shows with long daily moves were murder. It seemed as though the whole thing was an endlessly repetitive psychotic nightmare of franticly setting up, operating madly at full capacity for incessant hours, a frenzy of tearing down, and then driving maniacally for vast distances, only to arrive completely worn out, and obsessively begin the demented cycle all over again.

 

“Lollapalooza ’96”[2] was spread out all around my sideshows. The Lollapaloozers[3] were lining up for my acts. Life couldn’t possibly have been any cooler. Or any crazier.

The event had hired Metallica to play while we worked the sideshows, and the sound level was maddening…

 

The Goth People[4] were fanatically worshipping the Headless Woman. The Giant Rat had made USA Today, and was developing delusions of grandeur.  It wasn’t possible to keep enough film on hand for the snake photo ding at the Giant Snake Show. It was as though the whole world had gone stark raving mad.

 

I was in the Big Apple. Money was rolling in big time. I was on top of the world. I had arrived. I was totally euphoric. Megalomania was beginning to set in…

I had been interviewed by two top New York City newspapers, had my picture taken with my key man for a feature article in Amusement Business Magazine, and the publisher of a major music industry magazine had delivered some great bud gratis.

 

The Ramones[5] had taken to parking their Harleys behind the sideshows and partying with us. They scorned the backstage scene and the tour buses. They thought the Carnies were cooler. They rode their bikes over the moves. Some of the jumps we had a motorized punk band escort. We were playing their home town. This was gonna be so insanely cool…

 

Flying down the pike in the dead of night with the Hell’s Angels information alongside, providing an escort for the Giant Rat, and passing tour buses with rockers glued to the windows, like a presidential motorcade gone mad... 

 

The venue for Lolla in NYC was Downing Stadium on Randall’s Island. The stadium is one of the two things that Randall’s Island is known for. The other is the New York Psychiatric Hospital. An ugly tall monotonous building with row after row of identical barred windows, covering every face of the structure, as it rises to insult the sky. What clinically depressing architecture, you’d have to be completely crazy to check in there.

 

When we first arrived on the sinister island of madness , It towered insanely over our fun, oozing aberration from it’s pores, dead in the middle of the East River, with Spanish Harlem only a psychopathically wild gunshot away,

 

Someone on the stage crew had discovered a body washed up on the banks. The security people immediately became paranoid and went around the bend…

 

The massive music fest was to run two days here. The first day, the place was a madhouse, a lunatic blur of meeting kooky people, talking madly to media, stashing insane amounts of cash, and soaking up the crazed atmosphere. The morning of day two, I was up early, hopped a bus to a Spanish Harlem market for some supplies, and a stack of papers, so I could prove later that I wasn’t hallucinating, or completely delusional, and that all this insanity had actually occurred. 

 

On the return ride, the wacky Lollapaloozers were on their way.

 

The bus was loaded with lunatic Freaks, who were loaded to the point of being unbalanced. Also on the bus was the mental hospital staff. The orderlies seemed maniacally amused, they knew what was up. The nursing staff glared with hostility and demented disapproval, they suspected that something was up.  The psychiatric staff evidently didn’t have a clue or even care what was up. They looked bemused, were distant and withdrawn, practically catatonic, like they were in their own little world, wouldn’t have known the time standing under a clock.

 

Every new venue meant a new color of wristband for entry to the site…

 

With the frantic pace, I hadn’t had time to remove any, and by now I had the entire tour on my arm. Adding the colorful plastic bands was becoming somewhat compulsive. Oddly enough, it caught on, and became a fashion craze. I was the only one who still had the green one from rehearsals in Kansas City.

 

With record crowds and perfect weather, the widespread mass insanity was in full swing,

 

With no move that day, I had actually gotten some rest. I felt great. I had a monumental buzz going and was on the verge of losing touch with reality.

 

The defining moment of the Lollapalooza tour came unexpectedly in a moment of screwball insight that floored me…

 

There I was looking at the main stage at high noon. Rising above and behind the stage structure, the grim reality of the ominous looking mental hospital provided a stark contrast to the freakish festivities below.

 

The enormous crowd was surging in to check the action in the mosh pit[6]. The moshing was heavy and frequently violent with battered and unconscious moshers often having to be carried out. It was getting hot with the noonday sun, and the frenzied stage crew was franticly hosing the deranged dancers in the pit. 

 

A filthy pit of mud smeared, half naked, pierced, and tribal tattooed, scary looking, demonically dancing, raving madmen.

 

Behind and above the massive stage, I could see that each of the countless little barred windows of the looney bin had  little faces looking out of it. From their point of view, the sightlines dictated that they couldn’t see the action on the stage. The stage canopy prevented it. But they had a perfect view of the mosh pit directly in front of the stage.....and the primal tribal ritual taking place.

 

The inmates in the rubber rooms of the wacky factory must think we’re all nuts…

 

I thought to myself, the definition of sanity is largely abstract, and subjective. What with long term sleep deprivation, constant stress, and massive substance abuse, I must certainly be borderline crazy by now. Probably a certifiable wacko. Nonetheless, I was a shining example of rationality and a paragon of mental health, when compared to those around me. The distance separating genius from lunacy can be measured in microns. I was comfortably sandwiched somewhere in the middle.

 

Meanwhile, on the main stage, the Ramones were singing…

 “I want to be sedated”…

 


[1] One example would have been when the organizers informed us, only three days prior to the first event,  that we would need to provide our own power  plants. I went nuts scrambling for generators, figuring out how to load them, and then drove nonstop from Florida to Kansas City Mo. arriving at the last minute to set up and operate  for a long and tiring day. It got progressively tougher from there on.

[2] “Lollapalooza ’96” wildly successful rock music festival summer tour featuring top name bands with attendance at some venues topping one hundred thousand.

[3] “Lollapaloozer” Rock fans who paid $75.00 for a ticket, took three to five days off work to attend the funeral, drove an average of 100 miles, ate in convenience stores, and slept in their cars, or sometimes jail.

[4] “Goth” Persons who express their unique individuality by dressing uniformly alike in the fashion made popular by country singer Johnny Cash.

[5] Legendary Punk Rock Icons

[6] “Mosh Pit” A ballroom dance floor for the mentally ill with violent tendencies. Best enjoyed with hard rock, (Heavy Metal) alcohol, and illegal drugs.

 

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