I paid forty dollars to watch a dude talk.
Sounds absurd when I put it into that context doesn't it? Come to think of it, it's ridiculous. At least, that's what the fiscal conservative inside of me says. Now, let's rephrase this very broad statement and get a wee bit more specific. I paid forty dollars to watch Trent Reznor be interviewed. Suddenly this seems like a very reasonable price to pay, doesn't it? (Well, if you're me).
It was like the good old days as I got to the NY Times Center on Friday Night. There was already a significant line for the 8:15 p.m. scheduled interview at 5:30 in the evening. Nine Inch Nails fans are willing to wait in the harshest conditions just to take a gander at Trent Reznor, no music, just the man himself. I thought I was being unreasonable by getting there when I did, but once again I discovered that as "psychotic" a Nine Inch Nails fan as I deem myself, I am relatively sane comparatively. That being said, sitting in line chatting with fellow fans was actually one of the highlights of the evening for me. Everyone was friendly, receptive, and enthusiastic. There was also a certain level of maturity I hadn't previously encountered when it comes to NIN fans. I'm left with the impression that now that Nine Inch Nails has "retired" in a sense, with Trent having gotten married, having a child, etc. that a large portion of his fans got inspired to do the same, followed suit, and grew up a little themselves. It was a nice way to feel before the big event.
When we filed into the cozy little semi-circular theater with its deep red velvety seats, dim lighting, and softly lit stage, I saw two black and chrome chairs slightly angled towards each other with a small modern geometric table between them, 2 glasses and 2 bottles of water perched atop it. As I took all this in, we noted that there were several "reserved" seating areas, and, at first glance we all felt a little disappointed at how far back our vantage point was going to be. Right before I sat in the middle of the auditorium with everyone else who filed in before me, a young man said loudly next to me, "Wait a minute, the first three rows in the front are FREE!" I dashed forward before my very own thoughts could catch up with me an echo of "Save me a seat!" rang in my ears from my line buddy Anna. I darted and managed to secure two seats- front row. Holy mother of God.
The two black and chrome seats sat sentinel before me like ominous soldiers standing guard between me and the unknown. The stage's cream colored wooden floor guided my eyes around the scenery. I glanced at two video screens- left and right, a large overhanging projection screen, and a glass backed wall covered in vinyl number "10" graphics, with a wintry NYC landscape beyond it. After taking these elements in, my eyes inevitably returned to those ominously empty black and chrome chairs. The one on the right faced my seat directly. "I could be in Trent's direct view if he sits there." I thought to myself. My mind froze, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, and a flutter in my heart. The man I've idolized for what seems like eons was about to sit and talk about his expansive career, only a mere 10 or so feet away from me... so simple, yet so mind bending.
A woman from the NY Times stepped out of a door and moved towards a podium to give an introduction. I am excited, but the anticipatory flutterings in my body seemed oddly numb. I couldn't muster up the same kind of energy I'd get at a Nine Inch Nails show- though I suppose that's no surprise. This is just the man behind the curtain, no spectacle. As the woman finishes her intro, there is a brief pause, time slows significantly down... then the anticipatory bubble bursts, and a tall hidden panel door swings open and the well-known critic Jon Pareles and the man himself, Trent Reznor make their way across the stage and towards the chairs.
Trent was wearing a well tailored satin finish dark navy blue suit, with a crisp black shirt, and an expertly color-coordinated blue speckled tie. The finishing touch was a nice pair of black leather calf high boots with what looked like nu-buck suede laces. I liked the boots best- they harkened back to his earlier days... but I digress.
As they make their approach, my heart does a little jig. Trent's going to be sitting in the right chair. I'm going to be in his direct line of vision. Through the epic din of the crowd's (and my own) cheers, Trent surveys the audience- and- for a millisecond when his eyes reached mine I detected a glimmer of recognition in his eyes. I thought I made it up until a received a meaningful squeeze on my left arm from my friend Anna, indicating excitedly that she noticed it too. I couldn't stop smiling, I couldn't stop staring, I clapped until my hands hurt, and as he took his seat directly in my view I swear I saw a respectful nod towards me as he thanked all of us.
To be continued...