On May 25, 2022

The experience of a lifetime

By Dom Cioffi

I told my wife and son this past Christmas that all my presents were going to revolve around experiences; there would be no physical gifts. So, on Christmas morning, instead of finding boxes wrapped under the tree, they both found a bevy of envelopes tucked inside the branches.

Inside each envelope was a single 8.5”x11” piece of paper with a date, time, and location and an accompanying picture of the experience. For instance, one of my son’s envelopes had a picture of a Ferrari 488 GTB supercar racing around a track. His experience, which will be happening in November, has him test driving this exact vehicle at a NASCAR-sanctioned speedway.

Inside one of my wife’s envelopes was a sketch created by the street artist Banksy, who she has always found intriguing. In a few months, we’ll be visiting a traveling show that features his life’s work.

They each received several envelopes with a variety of fun and interesting experiences that we would do together and separately. I also slid one envelope into the tree addressed to me. I handed it to my wife and explained that, while the gift was largely self-indulgent, I wanted her to join me on the experience.

She gingerly opened the envelope, obviously concerned about what I was roping her into, and slowly scanned the paper. Her eyes lit up as she turned and smiled, knowing that I had just made a plan to knock off a long-awaited bucket list item.

The paper she was holding had the date “May 21, 2022.” Below the date was a picture of a smiling Paul McCartney standing onstage holding his famous Hofner bass. I had waited my entire life and now I was finally going to see a Beatle in concert.

I have always loved going to concerts. There’s something about live music that hits me deeply, whether it’s seeing some guy in the corner of a dingy bar or joining thousands of people in a stadium to see a world class act.

My first concerts were at the local municipal park when, during the summer months, a variety of bands would perform under a covered gazebo. Families would show up with blankets and picnic baskets while the kids would run around chasing each other — all while the bands serenaded the audience into the evening.

During middle school, I would catch touring bands who made local stops when the fair was in town. These were generally acts that had seen better days but were still plugging away on the road.

I saw my first major act when I was in high school, and that one experience whetted my appetite for the rest of my life. My friends and I went to see the Scorpions and after everyone rushed the stage, we found ourselves in the front row. The warm-up act was a little-known band named Bon Jovi, whose lead singer had rockstar written all over him.

I was hooked.

For the next 20 years, I saw every band that I could, from little known blues trios to major acts like the Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Petty.

But in all that time, I never saw a Beatle.

The Beatles occupy hallowed ground for me for several reasons. First, I learned to play guitar to their songs. Second, their influence on modern music is wildly profound. And last, but most important, if you forced me to pick my favorite band of all time, I would have to default to the Beatles. I deeply love and appreciate many bands, but the Beatles have influenced and inspired me the most.

So, I splurged and bought my wife and I two tickets in the 15th row to see Paul McCartney. And last Saturday night, as the sun set over a massive stadium filled with 40,000 people, I saw a Beatle. Paul was everything I hoped for and more and proved that, while nearly 80 years old, he could still put on a memorable show.

Unfortunately, this week’s feature, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” was anything but memorable.

Starring Nicolas Cage, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” looked to be a minefield of laughs with its campy storyline and self-absorbed star portraying himself. However, what initially appeared to be a unique and curious plot, quickly dissipated into a contrived, often misguided tale of overindulgence.

Ultimately, this film was not a total loss and, in fact, had numerous funny moments that saved it from the cinematic dumpster. It simply didn’t meet the high expectations I had for it.

A rocky “C+” for “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” (currently playing in theaters but streaming online soon).

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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