Me and (Coachella) 2003
Pre-smartphone; pre-facebook; pre-selfie, selfies
Music Festival was described as “The Best American
Festival” by Rolling Stone Magazine and “Probably
festival in the world” by England’s NME. I have to
The location is idyllic, and the line-up is usually what’s
playing on my iTunes list: a nice combination of new music and old
favorites which have aged just the right amount of time, like vintage
wine. Coachella attracts the brightest stars from the relatively local
city of Hollywood, as well as 75,000 music lovers (every day, for three
days) from all around America, and from all around the world.
Me and Drew Barrymore, 2003
don’t mind waiting
for things, but I’ve never liked standing in line. It feels
I’m being herded, as if I’m a sheep. As I write
today, so far, I have seen two
long lines and walked away. One for coffee, one for pizza. For the
coffee, I found another place with no line that sold good coffee, and
instead of buying the pizza, I bought some groceries and cooked
instead. I don’t wait at a red traffic light in the middle of
night either (please check for traffic first, if you decide to do the
same). It feels wrong to submit to a metal box in the first place, and
even more wrong at 3 am when there’s nobody around.
and Vincent Gallo, 2003
wouldn’t to go to
Disneyland and wait three hours for a three minute ride, and I
wouldn’t stand in line for Coachella.
Call me a brat, but I have never stood in line to get into a bar,
or a party,
and yet, since my teenage years, I have still been to
thousands of clubs, bars and parties. When I was 18 years old, I was a
photographer for a UK house music magazine. They sent me around the
to take photographs at clubs and parties almost every day. It was like
OK magazine, but for the house music scene. I was on every VIP list for
every club, every night. I became quite spoiled.
and Kelly Osbourne, 2003. Notice the uncannily similar attire
I continued to
when I started working at A&A Graphics (now APC), in Buena
also the home of Disneyland. It was hub for clubs, raves and parties in
Southern California. They designed and printed almost
flyers and funded some of the biggest parties themselves, particularly
the desert raves. A&A was a place for promoters to network, and
spread the word about their parties. There were Technics decks
throughout the building, with both designers and DJs spinning records
constantly. Anybody that worked for A&A was on every VIP list,
for every club, every night.
and Ad-Rock (Beastie Boys), 2003
doubled in size over the years. Then it doubled again,
and then again. Now, APC is a much larger company, in a much
building, which they have purchased after years of ever increasing
success is well deserved. A&A may have once been a playground
adults, but only for those that could work hard, and work quickly. The
studio was open 24 hours, 6 days a week, and the presses
ran day and night. They still do. It was as busy at 3 am as it was at 3
pm. There were beds and showers for employees. It was loud, fast and
unforgiving, and I loved every minute of it.
and the taxi driver in this video,
the people at A&A were not typical of a normal company.
were on salary, but designers were independent contractors and got
by the job. If they didn’t produce results they
paid. Designers wouldn’t get another job if they failed to
produce just once, and they wouldn’t get another job if they
didn’t deliver work of an acceptable quality. Designers were
never fired; they were ignored and would eventually leave of their own
accord. For the workers that survived this Darwinian process came the
benefits of being part of a large and dynamic family.
and John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers), 2003
Graphics produced the artwork and printed the marketing materials for
the original Coachella Arts
and Music Festival. Now, APC still produces the marketing
materials, though now there’s a lot more of it,
Coachella became the best and biggest party in the world. The
festival’s popularity also means that there were, and still
countless photographers, film-makers and artists looking to score the
much coveted Coachella photo pass. These people have to compete
with representatives from the best and biggest of the world’s
are also looking to score the same passes.
and Tommy Lee (Mötley Crüe), 2003
my photo pass, thanks to my friend Carlos, head of artist
hospitality for Goldenvoice, producers of the Coachella
festival. He made sure all the artists were accommodated and fed, as
well as fulfilling the riders. A rider is a condition or special
request from the performer. In the case of the Beastie Boys, they
requested a meeting with Vin Diesel, which Carlos was either unable or
unwilling to deliver. I was there when he looked at the request.
“Fuck that,” he said. Carlos was as hard a worker
anybody I’ve met. He had a no-nonsense approach and
and a Blue Man (Blue Man Group), 2003
I was given an
artists’ area pass, a photo pass, a camping
pass, and a vendors’ pass. My arm weighed heavy with
wristbands. I had seen Cameron Diaz a few different times around the
festival, accompanied by Johnny Knoxville. “Dude!
You’re everywhere!“ she exclaimed in the most
tongue possible. “Yes, I’m
omnipresent,” I replied jokingly. “So,
wristbands? I’ve noticed you don’t have this
she teased, and promptly flaunted her wristband in front of my face. It
had Access All Areas
on it. I pulled a frown. Suddenly my wrist band collection
wasn’t as impressive.
don’t know who these people are, but I like them, 2003
I took two
Coachella. I’d recently made the switch to digital, with a
F-707 and a Casio Exilim EX-S2. The Sony was 5 megapixels (respectable
time). The Casio was just 2 megapixels and fit snugly in my pocket.
The Sony had a twisting back, so I could hold it directly above my head
in the pit, with the viewfinder at a right angle, like a
There were fifty other photographers in the same pit, all at the same
competing for space. Most of them, with their SLRs, were frustrated at
only being able to photograph the backs of each other’s
and Johnny Knoxville, 2003
performed well, but the pocketable little Casio was my favorite.
I was able to hold the camera backwards, automatically framing myself
and whoever I was standing next to. The “me and a celebrity”
photograph is a Hollywood tradition, and I had the opportunity to make
a collection. These pictures were taken three months before myspace.com
was launched, one year before facebook, and ten years before the word, “selfie”
was added to the Oxford dictionary. These are images from a time just
before a watershed moment in history, when the selfie would become a
ubiquitous form of expression.