Decadence at Altitude: Sundance is Hell

The night begins with an Uber ride with a Bosnian driver who makes unclear conclusions about, “How actors party.” He cannot fathom it and I’m not sure from what angle he’s approaching this conundrum.

I’m wearing a Ralph Lauren oxford button-down and overcoat, a Rugby tie, acid wash Levi jeans and a pair of vintage loafers. As we make small talk, he presses me about my reasons for attending Sundance and I tell him I was shooting a commercial. When I say this, he immediately flips on the dome light, whips around to study me and excitedly says, “Yeah, bro?” while I give slight head nod at the snow plow he’s allowed the car to swerve in the path of. He corrects our trajectory with indifference and goes into a confusing story about meeting Steve Zahn, asking if I know him.

This continues for a while until we arrive at a condo in the mountains above Park City. A production assistant from a previous commercial shoot a few months earlier has invited me here after bumping into one another outside of a screening of a film about a guy who eats eyeballs.

She greets me at the gate with a warm smile, we enter the condo and the second I enter she offers me a beer. I accept the beverage and after some anecdotes we begin the ascent of the wide staircase to the top floor. As I’m trailing behind her, I ruminate on whether or not anyone else is here and what this girls intentions are. The last time–the only other time–we saw each other I was drunkenly inviting her back to my hotel in Portland, Maine after the photo shoot. She politely declined.

When we finally reach the fourth floor landing, she sharply rounds a corner and I hear her disembodied voice say, “Hey…do you guys have clothes on? My friend’s here.”

I raise an eyebrow and slow my approach wondering who exactly did or did not have clothes on. I hear two female voices respond, “No it’s cool, we’re in towels,” at the exact same time I enter their bedroom.

“Hi, I’m Abby. This is Sarah,” a blonde says standing beside her brunette friend. True to their word, they are both in towels.

I take a sip of my beer, smile and extend my hand while quietly humming the first few bars of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite, Waltz. No 2.

After a good 45 minutes of drinking and conversation with no discernible effort for them to cloth themselves, they eventually get ready and beckon an Uber to drive a quarter mile deeper into this Condo Canyon. There is a Diplo concert later, but my festival badge already grants me access. They, on the other hand, have to go to the family house of a record producer who has promised them wristbands for entry. It seems benign enough and potentially worth indulging. I join them.

When we enter, a wine drunk redhead and her bearded thirty-something fiancé greet us. They offer to take our coats and then throw them in a pile on a bench in the foyer. As we press down a long hallway and farther into the mountain home, I notice a furtive elderly asian couple whispering to each other in a side room adorn with World War 2 aviation memorabilia. When we finally arrive in the living room, the bearded man’s Jewish mother introduces herself and welcomes us to her home. In the distance, some 100 yards away in the kitchen, is a lone private chef plating caesar salads. Once again, as had been the case since my mother dropped me off at the steps of that private school in Manhattan in 1989, I’d found myself humoring delusional, rich, white people.

The bearded thirty-something couple give us a tour of the home. I’m trying to get a read on the guy, where I am and who these people are, so I make a quip to to him about the stock market taking a hit and whether or not the price of crude would ever actually hit $16 a barrel. The look of surprise on his face indicates his confusion by this particular negro’s knowledge of finance. When he regains his balance, he reveals he works at a bank and we bullshit about numbers for a while.

Past the walk-in humidor but before the wine cellar, a man who has an Argentinian accent emerges from the steam room only wearing sweatpants that read “COLLEGIATE” on the side. There is nervous laughter from him and the bearded thirty-something couple and then a palpable lack of explanation as we wordlessly continue on the tour. On my right, in the den with a ping pong table, is a guy asleep face first on the couch. Had I possessed a concealed carry permit, I would at this point disengage the safety on my sidearm.

We eventually land back in the den where the passed out guy was and more people emerge from the various rooms to join us without introduction. I begin to put together that some of these people are related while others are simply “strays” that have been welcomed by what I am told is, “a significant hollywood family.” The individual who tells me this finds his way into my Instagram profile and with grave concern says, “Bro, you need to up your followers…”

I glance across at the girl who invited me here who is passing out while her friends try to determine whether or not the blue pill they found is an upper or worm medication for dogs. At this point, I excuse myself into one of the solitary halls of this home and summon an Uber like Jean-Luc Picard reaching out to the Enterprise for emergency transport. When I reach the front door, the wine drunk redhead appears from no where and noticing my coat on says with a wink, “I don’t blame you, I’m only here for the money.”

I hum Shostakovich again.

Originally published at on January 26, 2016.