Who's The Fool?


I'm the fool.  (Furthermore, I live on a hill...think about that.)  Why? Because for the 31 years (including the 2020 Covid virtual one) I've been coming to The Fest For Beatles Fans. (I've actually been to 33 fests.  In my younger years, I went to the ones in Los Angeles [nightmare and not because of the fest, but because of an airline strike] and Chicago)  For the majority of those years, I've been coming with my husband.  (He "proposed" in our hotel room, but that's another LONG story.)  In the "beginning" I enjoyed the convention.  There were great guests, friends (oh, the wonderful friends I have made) and music.  However, for over a decade my husband has been running the video room, which changes things.  Instead of enjoying the show, he is running it and for better or worse (where have I heard that phrase before?), I am by his side (for the most part).  Working the fest is very different than attending.  It's exhausting and I'm just a help mate.  

For the past month or so, I've watched as my husband worked to set up a video show.  The video room is NOT just about videos (although you think it WOULD be).  There are guests who come in to speak; authors talking about their books and others.  (The really "big name" guests appear in the huge ballroom.)  With many rooms and events going on at the same time, the fest requires meticulous planning.  I've seen (but mostly heard) that planning going on.  It's intense, as everything is mapped out.  Just when it is all set, a monkey wrench will get thrown in...again and again and again. (Yes, that's a reference to a McCartney song from one of my favorite albums.)  This year, those wrenches kept coming up to the last minute.  (Which is why you can't trust the show's program...it's probably only about 75% correct.)  It's been very stressful for my husband and the others (you know who you are)  who have dedicated their time to making the show work.  (It needs to be pointed out that NONE of these "staff" members are paid.  They are volunteers who put in more hours than one could imagine and often get more crap than anyone should.)

Most fest workers, hosts, guest, and attendees move around the hotel.  There are three floors of "fun."  I say most because my husband (and by extension me) is "stuck" at the video room table.  He needs to make sure things are running smoothly.  There is no back up for him; no one to cover.  While I am free to roam, I rarely do.  There are problems to solve. (No matter how good the Pro Sho team that sets up the audio visual equipment is, and they ARE good, something ALWAYS goes wrong.)  There are questions to answer ("where is the video room?")  It can be a constant flurry that requires his attention.  How can I just walk away?

There are times when I DO have to walk away...because if I don't I will FREEZE to death.  The temperature on the 3rd floor (which is the main floor) of the Hyatt is comparable to a walk in freezer, sometimes complimented with hurricane force winds.  You think I am kidding?  I am NOT. I have learned to wear several layers.  I've worn my winter coat sitting inside and taken it off when I go OUTSIDE.  (When the sun is out, it is LOVELY here.  The hotel is right by the water and a perfect place to get away from the chaos inside.  However, while it is warm outside as I write this, it is also raining.)  For 3+ years we have asked the staff to turn off the air/turn up the heat.  We get promises, but no action.  (Just like how we asked for another table for outside the video room from several different Hyatt staff and never got anything.  Note, we took matters into our own hands, which is basically what you have to do at ANY hotel the fest has been at.  If you need something, you need to work it out on your own because it is rare that you get any assistance from the venue.)  I have been known to go up to the room for a half an hour just to get warm.  (The temperature in the room can actually be pleasantly adjusted.)

Getting to the room can be a challenge as well.  Thankfully the hotel has 4 elevators (the defunct Meadowland Crowne Plaza/Empire Hilton [whatever they called it] had only 2, of which only one worked...the service elevator was our saving grace), but your hotel key is required to get to your floor.  You'd think that once you scanned your key, it would automatically take you to the correct floor, but no...You scan your key (and hope that it "takes") and then have to push the floor button...and hope that it all works out.  I understand the rationale behind having a key to get to your floor (especially during busy conventions), but there has got to be a better way than scanning and praying that it works.  (The fact that the "scan" is only on one side of the elevator is challenging too when the elevator is full of bodies.)

The view from the room is what sells it. (I won't talk about the "view" from the defunct Crowne Plaza/ Empire...the words I would use to describe it would be too harrowing.) You are looking out over the river to NYC. The shower water is hot. (Which is much needed after being in the freezer.)  The amenities are "typical."  Although if you're looking for shampoo, you won't find it in our room (although there is conditioner) or if you're looking for soap, you won't find it in my friend's room (although there was body wash).  I would expect better from a hotel that costs $300+ a night.  (Maybe I'm showing my age here?)

Despite all these complaints, I do this year after year.  Do I do it out of love for my husband?  Yes.  Do I do it out of love of the friends that only get to see this one time  a year?  Yes.  Am I a fool?  I'll let you make that call.  Or maybe you should wait until next year, when the fest moves to Queens (TWA Hotel) in February.  (Superbowl weekend to be exact.)  To quote another Brit (and not a Beatle):  "And maybe then they'll know What kind of fool I am"



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