Transmissions Year End Edition: Endings and Resurrections
In the last of our three-part end-of-year TRANSMISSIONS column, Jordan Richman wraps 2021 in California with a Ye concert and a trip to “the hotel from The Shining.” As plans are derailed left and right by Covid-19, a spirit of resurrection nonetheless permeates the events leading into 2022.
From Florida I head to New York for 48 hours to do an interview for the next issue of Modern Matter. After that I’m headed back west for Kanye West’s concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. I arrive with my bestie Jonas. The security confiscate my favorite Stevie CBD cigarettes and lighter, but my bottle of Ritz spritz is permitted. We head up to our box in what they’re calling “the tower.” Standing around inside, I make small talk with Michèle Lamy and stare at her grill while I eat the catered tacos with the one unafflicted side of my mouth. I find friends from Yeezy and Balenciaga. We take our seats as the concert begins. Pierre from Yeezy – who is behind the concert’s “powered by Balenciaga” merch – accidentally spills a margarita all over me. There’s a giant torch of flames at the top of the stadium as the Sunday Service Choir begins to carol.
Ye – which I keep forgetting is how we must now refer to Kanye West – is excitedly poking his head out from backstage to watch the overture. He’s clearly on a manic upswing as he performs old hits going back to his first album through pastel-colored smoke. Gone are the controversial, post-apocalyptic, Balenciaga-slash-Anne Imhof crossover aesthetics from the summer. In the box, however, it feels like we’ve crossed over and entered the heavens: troubled stars including Marilyn Manson are no longer on stage but beside us there in the sky, communing. Alex Israel suddenly appears – again – and shares a rumor with Bettina Santo Domingo and me that Judy Chicago acted as a “smoke consultant” for the concert. Knowing only Chicago’s vagina ceramics at the time – and not her greater oeuvre that does include pyrotechnics and smoke – I find this detail appropriately absurd. Walking out of the concert, we run into more of Ye’s canceled entourage. This time it’s Dov Charney, who compliments my ‘fit – a dark oversized formal Balenciaga jacket, black Praying “Corinthians” printed shorts, Prada white fur bag, and oversized Balenciaga flip flops I originally copped for Qatar – telling me I’m “the best dressed of the night.”
In the days following the Ye concert, my friends start to go down one by one with Covid-19. A number of people who attended the afterparty fall sick and have their holiday plans halted; a boy I kissed that Saturday and a suite of friends I spent Sunday with at Sunset Tower are all testing positive. It reminds me of Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 – or, as it is colloquially known, the “Farewell” Symphony – which concludes with members of the orchestra departing the stage one by one, each blowing out a candle as they go until the concert hall is dark and silent. One friend deviously posts an Instagram pic of their self-administered antigen test and asks what they should name their baby. I message back telling them to call the baby “Poz.” I myself take test after test, and am only feverishly relieved to be negative.
With everyone sick and the holidays approaching, I finally have a moment of respite to schedule my wisdom tooth extraction. The procedure takes place at a dentist’s office in the Bonaventure Hotel: the John Portman-designed brutalist complex featured in science fiction films such as Interstellar, Escape from LA, and Kathryn Bigelow’s dystopian NYE special Strange Days. I request nitrous but I’m told they don’t have any. The teeth come out surprisingly easily, making the strange but fleeting days of 2021 my only lingering source of “cringe.” Well, that, and maybe all the recycled material in The Matrix Resurrections – which in my view Matrix’ed The Matrix. I decide to confront the horror of another pandemic NYE and ride out the end of the year in Yosemite National Park, in another architectural icon from film: the Ahwahnee Hotel, aka the set model for The Shining.
At midnight, my NYE crew and I set out for a hike with a jug of vodka and JBL speaker. I play Yoko Ono’s “I Love You Earth” as the six of us form a cuddle puddle in the snow and watch shooting stars. Later, back in the haunted lodge, we lay inside the enormous fireplace. Jon Rafman gives us his best Jack Nicholson impression of “Here’s Johnny” from The Shining. Every time I hear the elevator “ding” in the distance I imagine the room filling with blood.
Having avoided the “Redrum,” however, I text back and forth with my editor the next morning. She asks me if I had any big revelations on the trip. I tell her, “for 2022, we must not kill the part of us that is cringe. We must kill the part that cringes.”
TRANSMISSIONS is a communicable and speculative sociological research column by JORDAN RICHMAN, who will continue to traverse the globe – immersing himself into perceived moments of relevance to mine the fields of fashion and culture, extracting thoughts, encounters, and foreshadowings – in 2022. Keep your eyes on 032c.com for next year’s installments.