June 10, 2002 (New York City, Korn, The Hammerstein Ballroom)

(WARNING … THIS POST IS MASSIVE. IT’S ALSO VERY TRUE. ONE OF THE BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE.)

The night before, I sent an email to Peter Katsis at The Firm Management (Korn’s management, now named Prospect Park) for a free show at the Hammerstein Ballroom. It was sort of a CD release party for “Untouchables.” They played four new songs, I think, that night, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Joe showed up to my place about ten-thirty. Of course, he was supposed to be there an hour before that, but we were running on “Joe Time.” (Come to think of it, we were almost always on “Joe Time” — about an hour behind.

Starting on the road, we were getting pumped up for the show by listening to a leaked copy of “Untouchables.” No worries, Epic/Immortal, I also purchased a copy. Two of them, actually, as because Joe snuck away with my first one.

Everything was going fine and dandy on I-290 and I-84, but once we got to I-91, it was quite a different story. Somehow, someway, a bee got into the car. I didn’t know of it first hand, I found out when Joe took off his hat and starting swiping at what I thought was air. Surprisingly, he wasn’t swerving much; he just looked like a complete fucking psychopath swiping his hat at the air.

“What the fuck are you doing,” I asked with a touch of uncertainty.

“There’s a fucking bee attacking me,” he said sounding frustrated and still swatting his hat. “Got ya, fucker!” he screamed victoriously before pulling off to the shoulder.

“What are you doing?”

“I am looking for the fucker.”

“Fair enough.”

Joe swung the door wide open — seemingly oblivious to the 18-wheelers flying past him at 70-plus-mph. The car shook every time a truck whizzed by.

He couldn’t find it in the drivers side floor or the middle console so he went to the back door on the drivers side. He threw that door open with as much disregard as he did the drivers’ side front door. Trucks and cars whizzed by us — still making the car shake.

I was so stunned I was still sitting in the passengers seat.

“Do you see it back there?” I asked.

“Yep, I got the fucker.”

“All right. So, get back in and let’s get moving again. We’ve still got about two hours left with traffic.”

“All right.”

It was about two minutes before traffic was clear and we were finally able to get back on 91 and keep driving.

About a mile up the road we see a blue 18-wheeler stop just short of a bumper as traffic was at at stand-still. The truck wouldn’t move again until the car was about forty yards in front and he could charge forward before again stopping just short of the car. We were right next to the truck witnessing this. Joe made it a point to get ahead of the car that was in front of the truck in hopes of not having to encounter anything.

As traffic cleared, Joe made his way to the middle lane, passed to cars in the right lane, and maneuvered back over. As he maneuvered left-to-right, the blue 18-wheeler decided to do the opposite — going into the far left lane to pass the car he was tailgating. Full rig, mind you. Joe watched the whole thing from his side mirror and was flabbergasted.

“Holy shit, yo,” he exclaimed, “that dude must be late for his delivery or something. He’s weaving in and out of traffic like he’s driving this car (a mid-90s black Toyota Corolla).

I situated my body kind of sideways to get a good view of the situation — it was like a train wreck; I couldn’t look away.

I saw the truck come to a stop inches from the car to our left. It was almost as if the truck driver was challenging the car in front of him or begging it to get out of the fucking way. I echoed Joe’s sentiments.

“Fuck, yo, that dude’s nuts. What the fuck is he on?”

“Endless possibilities on that one, bro,” Joe responded. “Who fucking knows what truckers these days take.”

Traffic was at a stand-still again, and Joe made a move about four cars ahead. It didn’t matter, though, as it seemed like this fucking blue 18-wheeler was on a mission. A few maneuvers later, it was stopping a dime short of us in the far left lane. Adrenalin kicked in for Joe and his breath quickened as he looked for a way to get far from the truck.

“We gotta just get away from this fucking truck, guy,” Joe said sounding a bit exasperated. “I don’t fucking trust him.”

He saw the opening to the middle lane about a minute later. It was barely big enough for us to move into; the kind of hole  a New York City cab driver would be proud to  move in and take with such grace. From there, it was the far right lane — where the traffic was actually moving — and Joe weaved in and out of the middle and far-right lanes getting as far away from the truck as possible.

Finally, at about one o’clock, we were on I-95 about to enter the outskirts of New York City.  We traveled for about an hour in the city, mostly because we didn’t know exactly where the Hammerstein was. I knew it was near Madison Square Garden, but wasn’t sure how close — or far — it was.

Reluctantly, we pulled into a gas station and I asked for directions from the Dominican attendant in Spanish. (As it turns out, my fellow Dominican had just been to the Hammerstein Ballroom for a boxing match the week before.) Actually, he graciously gave us directions to the nearest parking lot to the Hammerstein.

It was a three-block walk to the Ballroom from the lot. The line wasn’t too deep — after all it was two-fifteen — so we walked past in search of lunch. We found a two-story Burger King — and they say things are bigger in Texas, pfft — and sauntered upstairs to have lunch.

We took our time and leisurely made our way to the line — which was only twenty people deep — for the show.

“Sweet,” I thought to myself, “we’re going to be right up against the barricade.”

I glanced at my watch, it was three-forty-five. We wouldn’t be let into the venue until eight. Joe commented — more than once, might I add — at the size of the E.M. Loew’s movie theater across the street. Also remarking that if we had got to the venue earlier, he would’ve loved to walk a few blocks over to see Madison Square Garden. I just gave him a look.

His response?

“Shut up, Jorge.”

We both laughed pretty hard. I was turning when I saw her — the girl in the green and yellow sun dress. Drop. Dead. Fucking. Gorgeous. I elbowed him and said, “Five o’clock.” He knew I wasn’t referring to the actual time. He nonchalantly turned around, stretching his back before he turned back around. His eyes were as wide as saucers.

“Holy fuck, she’s fucking gorgeous,” he said.

“Mmhmm.”

She was walking down the line accompanied by some guy holding a video camera. They were asking people questions and then moving on pretty quickly.

She was five feet tall, maybe five-one. Her body was tanned and toned. Her brunette hair fell just below her shoulders. She had amazing hazel eyes. And she was headed our way.

“Hey, guys,” she said sweetly.

“Hey,” I replied, trying to sound unimpressed.

“Listen, guys, we’re film students at NYU and we have to shoot a short film. We have the premise, but we’re wondering if the two of you were willing to help.”

“Sure,” I said almost immediately. “What’s the premise?”

“Well,” she said, “I have a Vanilla Coke. I am a news anchor and I will be asking if you’ve heard of the scientist who stole the formula from the past and created V-Coke.”

“That seems reasonable,” I said. “Right, big guy?”

“Of course,” Joe said while he smirked.

“Awesome,” she exclaimed while flashing an angelic smile.

She turned to her partner and leaned in to say something.

There was no script, no planned out lines. She and I — and Joe on the rare occasion — just said the first thing that popped into our heads in the impromptu conversation.

Three minutes later and we were done. She thanked us profusely and let me have the bottle of Vanilla Coke — the only prop used. To this day, unfortunately, I haven’t seen our performance. Nor do I know what kind of grade they received for the project. I hope we helped them get a good grade.

About an hour after Joe and I made our film debut, the box office opened the will call window. I strolled up and requested my tickets. At first, Andrea couldn’t locate them. I explained to her that I was a late addition by management — hoping, somehow, that would help. She left the window and came back with two tickets. It was almost as if she had given me a pot of gold. My eyes lit up as I opened the envelope with my name on it. I had two of the 2,800 free tickets to this show and The Firm was to thank.

Doors opened at eight, and it was a rush to the barricade. Joe and I were lucky enough to get right up against the barricade on Head’s side of the stage. Someone sitting in the mezzanine on the right side somehow was sitting next to an open case of water. I managed to get three — for me, Joe and the couple next to us which was chatting us up. The guy gave me $20 against my wishes. Come to think of it, I don’t think they ever gave us their names. I did find out, however, that this was their first Korn concert. The girl was cute — blond hair, hazel eyes and a killer smile. He stood behind her for three songs and mysteriously disappeared after that. That left Joe and I to watch over her. Nobody involved seemed to mind — in fact, she danced with me during “Freak on a Leash.”

Korn was playing on the eve of the release of its fifth album, “Untouchables.” Four new songs debuted on the set list — which was 15 songs deep.

The show started at nine-ish — Korn never takes the stage on time … ever — with the five behind-the-scene videos of the “Making of Untouchables” that were on the Korn fan site as the opening act to the show.

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