Fire, Desire, and Stampedes
There’s not a day that goes by, when I’m not on the go. My normal car routine includes putting on my seatbelt, cutting on the radio, and thinking on what needs to be done next. However, the other day was a little different and this is why. As the radio was playing, the DJ mentioned a concert taking place in Chastain Park (the largest public park in Atlanta with fairly comfortable seating), at the end of this month. Forgetting that the park has an amphitheater with seating, my mind jumped to the summer of ….the early 80s (I forgot the exact year.) at the Louisiana fairgrounds. I was in high school, enjoying the summer, waiting to watch Rick James in concert. And despite “Mary Jane” and “Super Freak” being as mature as it really was, I was all in!
The Louisiana Fairgrounds, in the 80s, were NOTHING like Chastain Park, today. The Fairgrounds lacked security and structured seating. In other words, it was flat and dusty.
Because most summer days were spent playing ball and hanging with cousins, I made sure I looked extra special for the concert. I wore an all-white outfit and completed the look with a pair of turquois, cat eye sunglasses. My friends looked just as amazing.
Being that we were there to see Rick James, you can righteously assume that “earthy” aromas were present throughout the entire park. The scent of marijuana was so thick in the air, it attached itself onto us crowd goers.
Rick was soon to hit the stage. To kill time, we pull out our food and began to eat. As we were sitting in our lawn chairs and eating sandwiches, we heard a faint, rumbling noise in the distance. Unsure of what it was and slightly unconcerned, we continued to eat. Seconds later we heard- what sounded to be- a rush of buffalos! I looked up and there were HUNDREDS if not thousands of people running in our direction, approaching us as fast as a ‘76 Mustang. Above the heads of the crowd, all I could see was a cloud of dust…similar to the scene in the movie “The Lion King”.
We dropped our sandwiches and took off [running] in the same direction as the crowd. While in the moment, we didn’t know why the crowd was running or where we were headed to but we were surely headed there– wherever ‘there’ was!
The running stopped, and we returned back to our broken, crushed, and buried lawn chairs. My all-white-attire turned tan. I was dusty, sweating, and hungry.
Still partially in the spirit of music, we stayed. It was Rick James’s turn to get on stage, and the thought of the stampede was no longer on my mind. It was all about the music and summertime fun with the girls!
And would you believe me if I said that there was ANOTHER stampede??? Well, I kid you not! It happened again- for the same reason as the first…gun shots. Mr. James did his best to diffuse the situation, but after participating in another impromptu track meet, I’d had enough. I lost my sandwich, my lawn chair was buried into the Louisiana Fairgrounds, and I was decorated in dust.
I make it to downtown Atlanta laughing hysterically at that 30+ year old memory. And what comes on as I’m about to get out the car? Rick James’ “Fire and Desire”! You gotta love summer.