Steely Dan performed at Coachella on Friday (and will again next week), and Donald Fagen has offered to chronicle his experiences in several installations of a tour diary. The following are his words, untouched and unedited:
Monday, April 13
Back in L.A., a day off, after playing the Pearl Theater in Vegas, a fun show.
I forgot what a trip this hotel is in Beverly Hills. After shaking off the usual morning melancholia, I found my way down to the pool for 15 minutes of pathetic exercise. The day was very bright, the sun was hot. I'm sitting there when I see these two swank-looking, twenty-something girls attempting to convince a pool area employee to let them sit in a couple of lounge chairs even though they've already checked out. They're English, it sounds like, but there's something not quite legit about them. The pool person says fine but they have to talk to the manager. They settle in and take out their phones and sunblock and magazines and so on.
From their look and the way they were dressed, I figure that they're probably escorts who were working in the hotel last night and decided they'd try to spend the afternoon among the affluent, tanned exec types, although most of them had their wives and kids in tow. After a while this manager shows up, an immaculate, good-looking guy in an expensive gray suit and blue tie. He's wearing a security earpiece with a coiled wire snaking into his collar. The two chicks argued with this guy for, like, 15 minutes, being really aggressive. But the manager really knew how to deal with the situation, he was cool as the frozen lattes they serve there, pleasant, smiling, never betraying any sort of emotion. Finally, the girls had to give in and slunk off towards the exit, humiliated. His technique was really impressive.
I did feel a bit sorry for them because, no matter if I'm a bona fide guest, even if the staff knows me, I feel there's always a chance that any minute the authorities will realize I don't belong and toss me out. Can you believe I'm almost 70 and still that paranoid? There must be plenty of nerdy Jersey Jews who have developed a strong sense of entitlement but I guess I'll never get to that.
The whole episode was like a scene from one of the late Elmore Leonard's novels. Once, when I was thinking of writing a piece about the women characters in Elmore's books, I got to talk to "Dutch" on the phone. He wasn't too willing to expand on the subject, but he sure was cool. At the end of the conversation, I asked him if he at least thought my ideas were in the ballpark. Dutch paused a moment and said: "Well… yeah!"
Tomorrow and Wednesday: gigs in Pasa Robles and Santa Barbara and then back to Coachella on Friday for another exciting opportunity to win over the youth of America.