We hadn’t come to Santiago for Santiago per se. Two of us were there to see a familiar face from a prior time and place, while the other two were Lollapaloozas. Bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Arcade Fire, The Wailers, New Order and Nine Inch Nails headlined that year, expelling artists like Phoenix and Vampire Weekend to the ranks of “rest of the line-up”.
One day, we were sitting on a warm slope of Santa Lucia hill when Vampire Weekend’s lead singer Ezra passed by.
“Hey Ezra,” one of my friends shouted at the unsuspecting guy, shuffling up the hill with his book, “see you tomorrow!“
“On Sunday,” was all he replied into the Friday air.
That Sunday, the four of us outfitted ourselves with whisky flasks we meant to smuggle into the festival. But the flasks were not the only contraband – so were two of us. Tickets were expensive, so. The other two were to sneak us in, which, in theory, was as easy as this: Friends A and B would enter, friend A would take off the wristband inside, Friend B would come back out with it. It worked just fine. For one of us. The one who wasn’t me. Waiting my turn, I waited in vain. The Lollapalooza had swallowed all three of them.
None of us had functioning phones, so I had to take matters into my own hands. I tried to assess the inside situation from the outside: were they not allowed to keep going in and out? Would they try a different gate? Would they be able to forget about me and enjoy the show? They had paid top dollar and of course I would have wanted that for them. Just not for me. What, what, what would they do, and why didn’t they do it? I learned later that the security guys had tightened the bracelets the second time around – to the point of no-taking-offzies – and that my friends had tried again at a different gate and this and that. But for now, well then, I kept running circles in my head until my feet mimicked the loop and led me around the vast O'Higgins Park, in which the festival was cooking. I could hear it sizzling.
"Naturally, Kant's principals on intention are noble, intact, and upright, while mine were lazy at best. Pragmatically speaking though, it was more of a no harm, no foul situation and this factual utilitarian reality was more convenient for me that day."
Looking for an opportune spot to hop the fence, I had time to consider the moral implications and consequences of my wrongdoing in the making. It was a massive music festival that made wealthy people wealthier, so my moral compass read “good to go.” It was a tiny, youthful misconduct at worst and didn’t call for a profound reassessment of my ethics. I was broke for all the right reasons and I deserved a little music.
No one would lose a dime with two more ears listening. And most of the people on stage had probably snuck into one venue or another at some point in their lives. A little voice, which sounded an awful lot like Kant, echoed through my head, softly but relentlessly:
“What if everybody did this… did this…… did this?” Philosophical quicksand.
“That would be a funny scene,” was all I had.
Naturally, Kant's principals on intention are noble, intact, and upright, while mine were lazy at best. Pragmatically speaking though, it was more of a no harm, no foul situation and this factual utilitarian reality was more convenient for me that day.
A couple of people seemed to think like me, or had their own moral justification, or simply didn’t care. One group of juveniles had a particularly noteworthy approach to get in: one of them, a small one, jumped on his skateboard, ducked and clung to an official car that was allowed through one of the gates. The operation was executed as though it had been planned for months, and the coup was beautiful and perfect. Almost. Seconds later, the kid got kicked out by security – literally. The outcry this caused was unified and loud and getting louder until both sides ended up more outraged than the other. Led into combat by high-ranking members on both sides of the fence, a severe crossfire with stones ensued. I got caught in the middle, as innocent bystanders do. High time to take off and work on my own strategy.
My best shot was a section of the fence along the far side of the park that offered a bunch of opportunities all bundled up: some cars parked right next to the fence made for the perfect springboard, and an official security uniform casually sitting by a tree without any human inside of it promised cover. My plan was solid and had a movie-like quality: jump the fence, run to the tree, throw on the vest, blend in. But all was shattered when a whole group of guards decided on that very spot for their lunch break. Some hours into the struggle by then, I resigned.
While I slowly trudged back towards the metro station, I heard Vampire Weekend play Oxford Comma, reminding me of my days at the art gallery in Lima. I plopped onto the nearest piece of sidewalk and sucked in the tune with some sips of Whiskey. To be sure, I got more than what I paid for.
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