Essays, opinions and rants

Sundance: A Prequel

Sundance: A Prequel


The news coverage has been alarming. Everything sounds dire. Locals are quoted saying they’re stockpiling groceries and holing up in their homes or leaving the area entirely. They’re using the word Armageddon

It starts tomorrow. 

My heart races (in a stressed out way, not an excited way) when people bring it up, as in “No, we can’t get together until it’s over, it’s too crazy!” “Local tickets go on sale tomorrow!” or “What are you going to see?” or “How are you going to deal?” 

As if we had any idea how we’re going to deal. We’re Sundance virgins. We don’t know jack about how we’re going to deal. You could apparently teach a college course on navigating it.

We’re reading up (in the newspaper, not the Sundance festival web site, which is as byzantine as college admissions were before the universal application). We’re also listening to the word on the street, soaking up locals’ tips and scoops, not because that will elevate us to the savvy camp so much as just save us from disaster.

There is little going on around here that can’t be blamed on Sundance, it seems. Last night at the grocery store there were no gallons of our preferred brand of 2 % milk and I instantly assumed it was due to Sundance. All those Los Angeles types probably rolling in and insisting on vats of hot chocolate to  go with the snowy landscape or something. (Though I would have guessed they’d prefer fat-free.)

Then I thought I was being ridiculous. Then my neighbor texted that her husband went to the store today and it was “a BIG mistake.” He must not have found any milk either.

There is much worry/hand-wringing/resignation about Sundance traffic. There are more police on patrols; I saw them pull over someone with California plates today. Giant ominous black electronic message boards have sprung up around town, flashing the no-nonsense “PEAK TRAFFIC EVENT.”

Not to jump the shark, or whatever Hollywood industry insiders are saying this season, but this is one area where we cannot be scared. We moved here from Boston, people. Every hour of every day in every direction on I-93 in Massachusetts is a less-sexy version of Sundance traffic. Or so I assume. We’ll see. 

In a subject closer to my heart, the restaurants are completely full during the festival – all of them at all times on all days. I know this because friends and relatives are coming to visit over the next couple of weeks, and a normal thing to do is go out to eat. Which we would totally do in normal times. We’ve been advised, however, not to attempt this during Sundance, and so we shall cook instead, if there is any food left at the grocery store.

Inconveniences aside, the festival not only fattens the Park City tax coffers as heartily as Harvey Weinstein loads up his lawyers’ bank accounts, it also apparently is filled with fun and excitement and kickass cinematic art.

Indeed plenty of it sounds fabulous: My next door neighbor sat next to Selma Hayak at a movie at the high school last year. My daughter’s friends have regaled her with tales of spotting celebs on the sidewalks downtown, although they apparently were engaging in activities that just got legalized last November for medicinal purposes only, so that’s a conversation. 

Another neighbor told of jackpots hit at the festival’s live music venue; I think Sting popped by unannounced to entertain the troops. That would obviously be worth drinking the wrong brand of milk and sitting in traffic for a long freaking time. 

We’re bracing ourselves. And to be honest, I’m fantasizing about some best-case scenarios.

I wouldn’t ask anyone for an autograph; that just seems of another era. Nor would I snap photos of anyone. That too is just…unspecial. I would, however, request a photo WITH someone. Not just anyone. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. They are the only ones. 

Well, actually Robert Redford would be rather an honor, but I’d only deserve it if we had had some sort of in-depth exchange about environmental issues first and I had acquitted myself knowledgeably.

I do not know what is going to happen with Sundanceaggedon. You may not hear from me again. Or you may see a photo of me on Main Street, beaming, my arm thrown around my new friend Jimmy Page.

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