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An old guy goes to Neon Desert 2018


Well, I did it. I finally went to Neon Desert. I had tickets last year and for one reason or another ended up selling them about a week before the show to a woman who wanted them for her teenage daughter. This year, I had an almost-teen of my own to take. It turns out he was not the only teenager there.

In fact, I believe every teenager in El Paso was there if my count was correct.

This had three effects; 1.) I felt especially old (I’m 37), 2.) I was able to see very well no matter where I stood (I’m over six feet), 3.) My wife and I got our alcohol – which we badly needed – very quickly (there were no lines).

My son has been to Vegas. He watches a butt-load of horror movies, thanks to me. He listens to only the best hip-hop, thanks to his awesome-ass Dad. I say all of this to point out that I’m not a prude. It’s a music festival, I knew what was coming.

On the way in, we were greeted by two women in bikini tops and thongs – perhaps some of the only festival-goers older than me. It was hot outside; I guess this made sense. But why was the top black and the bottom silver? I pointed out to my son that these women in their haste to wear as little as possible forgot to match their underwear to the bra.

As a father, I took this as a teaching opportunity.

“When you get older son if she hasn’t taken the time to match the carpet to the drapes while going out on the first date or to a music festival… you move along,” I said, as fatherly as I could while he watched butt cheeks bounce down the road in front of us. “In fact, if you see the carpet on the first date… move along.” Maybe I used the carpet and drapes metaphor for the wrong items.

I didn’t take the time to expound on the virtues of hardwood flooring. Maybe next Neon Desert.

Fashion faux pas by guys at Neon Desert were a dime a dozen; not just because of the heat. Then again, I might just be a crotchety old man at this point. I just feel like after a half a lifetime of dressing, I’ve got it going on by now. (By the way, I wore stone-washed jean shorts, a purple Prince t-shirt and white Jordan’s – I got no less than four compliments on the shirt and 20 or so on the light-up earrings that I put on when the sun went down).

Here is a list of what every guy was wearing, in order of most seen to… well, most seen.

  • Throwback jersey’s (especially Allen Iverson Denver Nuggets jerseys)
  • Waaaaayyy too small throwback jersey’s on husky guys (I can say that I’m husky myself)
  • Crappy tennis shoes with throwback jerseys
  • Khaki shorts that are too small
  • Ripped up and mismatched socks
  • Mesh tank tops

Seriously guys. I’m not as offended that what’s considered a “throwback” jersey are jersey’s of guys that I was watching play when I was the age that you are right now while you’re wearing the freaking jersey, as I am at the fact that you all clearly bought the exact same Ali-Express/Wish/Geek jersey in bulk and coordinated wearing it together to the same freaking music festival thinking that somehow the thousands of beautiful young women there would particularly like your brand of extra tight, washed out jersey with really tight khaki shorts and stretched out, “used to be white socks” with whatever brand of shoes you paid way too much for at Belk’s with no logo that want to be Vans or maybe Polo?

But, I digress.

I almost feel like I shouldn’t have put mesh tank tops on there. At least those guys did something different – or tried to. I’m serious, y’all. If there were 10,000 guys there, there were 8,000 throwbacks.

At least get some throwback shoes. A throwback chain. Something that actually costs money. A $30 jersey from China isn’t impressive. A pair of Jordan XI’s, that’s a different story. It was another good lesson for the kiddo, though.

“There’s trying to dress like you have money, then there’s dressing like you know you have money,” I explained. “There’s stuntin’, then there’s stuntin’ like your Daddy.”

Then I started crip walking and was surrounded by women and poppin’ bottles of Dom right as Lil’ Wayne came out to join me, making it rain all over the place.

OK, that last part didn’t happen, but… he was the one who said, “stuntin’ like my Daddy” originally, so in my head that song was about me.

Speaking of classic Lil’ Wayne songs… holy crap! Who would have thought that Lil’ Wayne would throw out every classic song that he’s ever done, starting with “Go DJ”? I can make fun of the young crowd at Neon Desert a lot, but where I have to respect them immensely is in their respect for every artist there. The crowd for Lil’ Wayne was massive, covering more than two city blocks – to the amazement of the rapper himself – and the crowd knew every word to the 14-year-old record.

Speaking of Lil’ Wayne, another fatherly lesson came out of the reaction of the rapper to the people of El Paso. Weezy stopped the show at one point to marvel at the size of the crowd and thank everyone for coming out to see him. The reaction was clearly genuine and not just lip service.

“If you ever reach a level of fame like that, you have to always appreciate the people who got you there,” I told my son. “And always be amazed at the position you’re in.”

Who am I kidding? I’m just hoping the little turd leaves my house someday.

Oh well, I’ll remember when I get to the top.

I tried not to point out the fact that Tunechi was smoking a blunt on stage. You know, he’s kind of a hero to the kid, being a rapper and all. But, then again, weed was EVERYWHERE at Neon Desert. I want to give a big shout out to the El Paso Police for being really cool. I did not see one arrest, despite the fact that there were numerous people smoking within sight of officers. The police truly were at the show to protect people from a major incident and on several occasions to help people who were injured or sick.

That being said, my son definitely knows the smell of weed now. It used to always be “it smells like a skunk out here” or “it smells like pinecones and dirt.” Not anymore. Thanks to Neon Desert, my son knows exactly what several different strains of weed smells like and can probably identify the difference between Indica and Sativa by smell at this point.

Well, so much for that “skunk” that was living in our backyard. I’m gonna have to pretend I got rid of it now.

Still, I wouldn’t change a thing. The artists were amazing. Safety and hydration were clear priorities for the people who put on the show. Wait, did that sound too old of me? Anyway, Neon Desert may be a lot less fun in six months when I’m teaching high school and running into my students – but, at least I can pull the guys aside and tell them to buy a real friggin’ jersey and some decent sneakers… then crip walk away and make it rain!

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Jason Green, Contributor
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An old guy goes to Neon Desert 2018