By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Brought to You by Albertsons
It’s day four, and still no movies. By 11 a.m. a stretch Hummer with flame decals is already cruising Main. Farther up, an R.V. belonging to the Socko energy-drink street team is pacing a group of girls as the guy riding shotgun films them with a video camera. It is the lamest attempt at the guerilla manufacture of street-team “hype” I have ever seen, but that doesn’t stop a half dozen Mormon children in shorts riding razor scooters from following along, desperate to enter the R.V. and presumably experience the patented “Socko lifestyle" — “The Energy You Want While Eliminating Unwanted Carbs.”
By the way: Who knew there were so many different energy drinks? I’ve come across BooKoo (the first energy drink distributed in 24-ounce cans), Piranha Outrageous Orange Pineapple Energy Drink, Rockstar, Red Thunder and plenty of original and sugar-free Red Bull. The Socko R.V. is still in sight when my friend Walter grabs me as he’s being led to a press event at the Miners Club, where Monster Energy’s many brands are being spiked by two Latin American women.
“You look like you need a drink,” one of them says. It’s barely noon.
“Why not?” I say. “What are you serving?”
She mixes some Monster Khaos with lime vodka. It looks and tastes like the ferment of a thousand melted orange Tic Tacs, which is to say delicious.
“What do you call this?”
“What do you want to call it, baby?”
Behind her are the remnants of a sad little complimentary fajita bar — two hot plates with cold beans and peppers surrounded by tortilla crumbs — above which hangs a sign: “BROUGHT TO YOU BY ALBERTSONS.” There’s a band playing. They suck. After one song, I hear something new, which is the sound of one person clapping in a room full of people. I stuff my pockets with freebie Vojo energy mints and Lindt chocolate truffles and then wander outside, drunk.
The Mormon Identity
Here’s how a scene materializes at Sundance. One gleaming blue SUV with tinted windows pulls out of a driveway and stops traffic in the middle of the street. People congregate, believing there’s a celebrity inside. Who can it be? P. Diddy has been spotted in Park City. As have Winona Ryder, Kevin Bacon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael Douglas and Parker Posey. No one knows, but the crowd expands. Cameras come out. More people notice. Panicking, the driver of the SUV tries to move, wedging his vehicle against another. This draws more attention, and everyone’s flocking to get a better look. Like a cyclone emerging from the warm Pacific, the crush of people keeps growing, drawing its strength from the constant flow of pedestrians. In a matter of seconds, a normal street becomes a mob of hundreds. Those without cameras are snapping pictures with cell phones. Of whom, they’re still not sure. It all happens so fast there’s no way that those outside the inner core have any idea what they’re supposed to be so excited about.
In the center of it all is a doughy blond man with a framed camping backpack and a blue shirt that reads:
He is knocking on the tinted window, asking whoever’s inside to roll it down, all the while taking pictures. Someone, presumably the unknown cynosure’s handler, gets out of the SUV and says, “Thank you, that will be enough.” The man’s still taking pictures, smiling and chasing the vehicle as it now starts to move. Eventually the SUV breaks through the crowd, and deposits its passengers less than half a block away.
I CAN’T I’M MORMON follows with his backpack and camera. As the crowd disperses, he remains high on the experience, taking more pictures. I see him chase down one of the professional paparazzi, perhaps to ask for copies of his photos of the incident. He’s across the street, and I want to talk to him. But in the split second that it takes for a delivery van to drive up Main between us, the Mormon disappears without a trace. And I mean fast, like The Bourne Identity. The paparazzo is suddenly alone, and the street returns to normal, as if none of it ever happened.
The Seventh Chamber
My carefully developed strategy for Sundance nightlife: If I see a line, I get in it. It’s served me well so far. I’ve seen M. Ward sing, eaten roast duck at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, and gotten some free samples of StriVectin, the new anti-aging tonic first developed as an epidermal regenerator for burn victims. Right now, I’m waiting to get into the San Francisco Film Society party at Buona Vita. When I arrive at the door, I say I’m Brent Hoff and flash my recently acquired third badge, a press pass that carries neither Brent’s nor my name.
Next thing you know, I’m inside with a skewer full of roasted vegetables in my hand, scanning the crowd.