Monday, September 6, 2010
When You Can't Have The Real Thing
Last night we took Vaughn down to the Oregon State Fairgrounds to go see Raul Rojas, the Michael Jackson impersonator for the Michael Jackson Laser Dance Spectacular show. The cost was $15 a person plus fair admission and I briefly debated not going in order to save some cash but given that this would be the pinnacle to date of Vaughn's MJ obsession, I really felt like I had to see it. Plus, I love the Fair and try and make it every year.
That morning I got up to check the website to confirm when and where to get our tickets and was horrified to see the price on the tickets had DOUBLED! There was no indication they were going to double the price the day of the show. Plus, I saw that the fair box office closed at 5pm. We hadn't planned on getting there so early since the show didn't start until 9pm but I figured this would just give us extra fair time.
On the drive down we hit massive traffic and it became clear there was no way we were going to make it in time for the 5:00 box office closing. I checked my phone to figure out what our other options were and, upon closer reading, realized that the box office at the Fair was only open Monday through Friday. We'd have to go somewhere else regardless.
We pulled into the parking lot of the Red Lion Hotel referenced as a box office on the Fair website and Vaughn and I sat in the car while Jacob went in to get our tickets. He came out ticketless about ten minutes later. Ticketless because the guy working at the Red Lion desk had forgotten his computer password. Technology only gets you so far.
We drove on to a Safeway that had been identified by our password amnesia stricken clerk as the next best option. Here Jacob was able to get our tickets but not before being told by the clerk, "You know, I have to tell you, these tickets are $33 a piece with the service charge. Yesterday they were $15. The show is an hour. You still want 'em?" Yes. Yes we did.
I found Jacob over at the deli counter buying putrid egg roles and a package of Nutter Butters for dinner. He suggested that we smuggle in wine. This was the best idea I had heard so far this evening. As we poured the bottle of wine into two empty juice containers in the parking lot we explained to Vaughn that mommy and daddy were being thrifty.
The Fair is still one of my most favorite activities. I love being able to pet not one but fifty pigs and I absolutely think it is great that a place still exists for folks to show off their canning and quilting skills. There was a replica of the Taj Majal built out of match sticks by a man in his nineties. Were it not for the Fair, who would see it save those lucky few nursing home residents?
After several hours of wandering through glass blowing demonstrations, old cars, pan flute Peruvian bands, and "exotic" black and white photos of really ancient Taipei elders smoking pipes, it was time to find the show.
I was disheartened to see that the show was going to be outside - it was already pretty cold. But I figured that we could huddle together and, if all else failed, I still had a solid half a bottle of wine (I have to mention that while Jacob had suggested we buy the wine, he failed to drink ANY of it; making if feel less like a devious little scheme we had hatched together and more like another night of Mommy Sad Sack).
We got really great seats up front. I figured that, unlike a real Michael Jackson show, at least there was a decent chance this one would start on time. Looking around I noticed two things: first, it was clear we were the only people here who probably spent over $100 on these tickets (which, by the way, we found out later that we could buy at any time at the Fair) and second, there were a whole lot of adults in Michael Jackson tee shirts. There was one woman in a sparkly glove holding a sign that said, "We Miss You Michael!!!! RIP". She was accompanied by a man wearing a nice, but clearly homemade knockoff of one Micheal's gold military style jackets. Who were these people that came to Salem, Oregon to publicly mourn and celebrate Michael Jackson?
The show was a mix of entertaining and cheesey. The performances by Rojas and his four backup dancers were pretty good and Rojas himself made an impressive MJ. Let's face it, considering the multi-million dollar productions that Michael Jackson concerts were anything is going to fall a little flat and having four backup dancers in track jackets pretend to be snapping pictures with low end digital cameras while a Latino MJ lip-syncs "Leave Me Alone" is going to require more than a little imagination to get to pseudo-Jackson status. Still, the crowd was willing to suspend belief and so were we. What was disappointing, however, was the filler. The whole first act was us sitting there listening to "Ben" being piped in over the loudspeakers. Then there was a lengthy video of old concert footage from the tour in China accompanied by a dramatic voiceover which I honestly can't remember any of the gist of. The middle of the concert had a terrible laser light show that included a large neon woman walking, a credit card being taken out of a wallet and dollar signs. Laser light show technology is so old and painful I almost expected to see a laser Pac Man being chased by a laser ghost. The Fair had provided us 3-D glasses for no apparent reason since there was nothing in 3-D and all the glasses really did was create a head crushing display of rainbows. We left during the finale which was just the backup dancers and about 20 random people ranging from age six to maybe 19 dancing in line. There was one featured kid of about 12 dancing in the front of the stage who was clearly selected for his ability to dance like Michael Jackson and while he was talented, I couldn't shake the thought that I was paying about $10 to see him dance when I've got a pretty good Moonwalker at home.