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The Cody Blog: Fear and Loathing at Sundance

Monday, February 06, 2006

Fear and Loathing at Sundance

One of the very first blog posts I ever wrote was about Hunter S Thompson and Gonzo journalism. I was flattered and jazzed that my agent reviewed this write up as "Fear and Loathing at Sundance". I struggled with what to call this piece...but what the heck.

Getting There
“Cody, you just gotta meet us at Sundance….and the Grammy’s this year – no excuses,” so said a couple buddies of mine after I introduced them over a round of beers at the oldest bar in the US.

Now, I'm from a ski resort town in NM and I do love to ski. But I'm sorta working on overdrive lately with a lot of stuff in the works, along with all the daily writing, a little rock and roll, some tennis, and I once heard about something called a “personal life”. Not to mention that little day job of running a fund which dominates all aspects of my life and all nooks of my mind. Anyway, I pretty much didn't think I'd make it to Sundance. But the fact is that I had quite a few contacts from a couple little ol' companies that I'm invested in that you've probably read me or heard me talking about for the last couple years while they've all but taken over the world.

Dancing in the Sun

So in a last minute frenzy last Thursday, my assistant found me a round trip ticket to Salt Lake, and I headed out on an 8pm flight, arriving to my buddy’s condo at the bottom of Park City Ski Resort at about 2am or so. Up early the next morning for premarket earnings conference calls (hey, like my gramps used to say, no rest for the wicked), and a day of trading from the room. By 3pm Utah time, I’m sitting in the Echols 1300 seat theatre watching the funniest movie I’ve seen in a very long time, “Little Miss Sunshine”. The movie, starring Steve Carell and one of my favorite actors of all time, Alan Arkin (from Catch 22, of course) was reportedly made for $2 million, bought for $10 million. I think it’ll do at least $60 million or so at the domestic box office. I love success stories!

We hit a re-release of one of James Altucher’s favorite movies, “Paris, Texas” at the Pharaoh Theatre next, and though I’ve always thought there’s about 40 minutes of excess footage in that movie, the Godard-esque touch up of the movie is simply a piece of visual art.

That is the last movie I see at Sundance. So we go and meet up with a good friend from a music magazine and have a fantastic filet mignon at a great restaurant. After being told you can’t order a whole bottle of port in Utah by the waitress (we were just kidding her, anyway!) we headed out to a packed dive bar across Main Street. Carrying around these swimming pool-sized beer mugs, my buddies end up spending way too much time and money on a hunting video game in the back. I am trying to carry on a conversation with a 21-year old Goth girl and a 30ish glamour woman from Miami. "Trying" being the operative word, because I can’t keep who said what straight at that point, and finally about 3am, my buddies and I catch a cab and head back to the resort.

Ski by the Sword
Up the next morning at 7am, I work for a while on emails and then my buddies get up and decide they want to watch more movies. I want to hit the slopes, so I throw on my Levi’s, my new ski coat, and walk out the fifty yards to the rental shop at the base of the slopes and am on the chairlift 20 minutes later.

The skiing conditions were great, but not amazing, as there hadn’t been much fresh snow the last few days. Six hours of great skiing later, in which I didn’t break a bone for the 25th time in my life, and I’m chilling with my buds in the outdoor jacuzzi as the snow is coming down hard on top of our heads.

A Night of Whirlwind
A cab to the Sundance awards ceremony, and they’re handing us glasses of champagne as movie stars like Terrence Howard hand out awards to movies like Quinceanera. Afterward we meet up with some of the people running Sundance, and head into the after-awards party. I meet so many interesting people from all facets of the entertainment industry, and we talk about what I call the “content revolution”, about their strategies for that revolution, and whether or not I was single and available to meet a pretty lead singer in an up and coming band.

My agent at CAA has hooked me up with passes to Counting Crows, and we walk right by the lines and head into the concert. (If you’re wondering whether or not I’m pinching myself out of disbelief that this small-town cowboy from New Mexico is living this life, you’d be dead right…)

The concert’s packed, but not uncomfortably so. I see the Miami woman walk by holding hands with a man who’s clearly her boyfriend and I give her a subtle wink of acknowledgment. Next to me is a pretty woman who totally reminds me of an ex is dancing next to me, keeps grinding closer and at one point grabs my hand and snuggles into me. A few minutes later, I excuse myself to go to the bathroom, and when I come back out --- she’s kissing some dude on the floor! I chuckle to myself at the symbolism of the moment and my buddy and I finish up a great Counting Crows concert.

In a cab to a private party that the Sundance party people are throwing, and we end up at the wrong hotel. But that works out well, because we invite two pretty young women that we meet in the hallway to the party which we find out is across the street. They accompany us, and the snow is coming down hard. A few hours of mingling and talking revolution later, and my buddy has disappeared and I walk the two women back to their place. It’s now nearly 5am, and the concierge at the hotel can’t get me a cab to get back to my condo. So I call the women we just met, and they’re like, just come here. They’ve crashed in one double bed and I crash in the other.

Day of Thunder
Up two hours later and I’m off to the slopes to enjoy the two feet of fresh powder that nature has blessed us with. I end up accidentally traversing into a remote area and find virgin territory, and I take off down the mountain. A hundred yards or so down the hill and I lose control, flying head down, and wince as I am about to slam into the ground. Number 25, here I come! Ah, but it’s like 8’ of powder that I land in, and the worst problem I have is digging myself out to the surface. Well, that, and I should have worn something besides Levi’s.

Early afternoon, and I’m saying goodbye to my buddy. My last minute scramble had resulted in me being on the 11:15pm flight arriving in NYC at 5:30am Monday morning, so I’ve got time to kill, and I go back to the jacuzzi. And steam room. And sauna. And get a massage in front of a fireplace. And I’m still pinching myself – Surely this is all just a dream!

Waiting for the shuttle to the airport, I strike up a conversation with the lady from the front desk, whom I’d earlier taken my own Godard-inspired picture of as she smoked a cigarette. She mentions that she has to raise her one and three year olds by herself and I ask why. Her husband had died. And the perspective of the weekend I’d been having comes crashing full onto me, and I struggle not to cry as I hug her goodbye and get into my shuttle.

On the shuttle, a beautiful woman teases me for looking so ragged (man, I was beat!). She's a quasi-Wall Streeter, a classical musician who wants to become a full-time actress....and she’s on the same flight with me. My name comes out, and someone googles me, and now they're jazzed about Jim Cramer, and everyone in the shuttle wants to talk. We get to the airport, and I help her carry what seemed like seven 300-lb bags to the check in, where they told her she’d exceeded the limit. “Oh” I say, “some will come with me.”

Pedal to the metal, people. And I’ll tell you what: I’m still pinching myself. Yup, I’m awake!

Let you know how the Grammy’s go.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

now that's a cody post

2/06/2006 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Billy D said...

Excellent Story


2/06/2006 02:59:00 PM  
Anonymous joeblue3 said...

Sounds like mile-high club to me....

2/07/2006 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Cody Willard said...

Thanks, anon and billy d (Lando?!). Confuses me why this one upset some of my readers...see the new post about that.

Joeblue, no, no mile high club...

2/08/2006 01:22:00 PM  

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