We here at Glorious Noise sometimes get criticized for being a little too male-focused. It’s a sad state of affairs to realize we’re not alone in this respect. So when our special guest contributor from New York City, Kristy Eldredge, sends something our way, we get very excited about it. And not just because she’s not a guy. She’s a great fucking writer with a lot of passion, and that’s what we’re all about.
In her latest feature, Kristy raises the question of what to do when you come face to face with one of your heroes. Have you had a similar experience? Check out her article and then let us know!
My Thurston Moore Encounter
I don’t know if we’ve talked on this site in the past about the issue of celebrity encounters. Like whether you go up to someone you admire, who’s famous, or just let them cruise around your environment freely, pursued only by furtive glances, even though you love and may have analyzed their work to such an extent that a conversation with you would be pretty rewarding, minus your slavish, stuttering hero-worship that would probably ruin everything.
Recently, I was burned by a celebrity encounter I’d rather not describe in detail. Suffice it to say Michael Imperioli, who plays Christopher on The Sopranos, didn’t seem too thrilled to give me an autograph in Union Square in New York. I don’t normally approach famous people for their autographs, but Michael Imperioli had been making eye contact with me, I was in the throes of an obsession with The Sopranos, and I was fooled by what I mistook for encouragement on his part. But the encounter was so chilling I vowed never to bother a famous person again. Never try to talk to one, never tell them what they mean to you, never pierce their bubble.
But who do I see while I’m waiting for a subway last week but Thurston Moore! At least I think it’s Thurston. He looks kind of shabby, with run-down old sneakers you wouldn’t normally see on a famous person, but he definitely has that mop of hair and an old cordurory plaid jacket – a real Thurston look. But what made me think it probably wasn’t Thurston was he seemed to be returning my interest. We were waiting for the L train and as it pulled up, I walked down the platform a ways to get into a different car, giving Thurston room, letting Thurston not feel persecuted. But he followed me, and sat opposite me. He even looked at me directly, like he would talk if I wanted to.
First I thought: Maybe Thurston and Kim have broken up (ridiculous) or maybe – far more likely – this isn’t really Thurston Moore. It’s someone who trades on looking so much like Thurston Moore that women will come up to him in the subway, start conversations, and even fall for him because of an associative glamour. I buried myself in a book, relieved I hadn’t fallen for the fake-Thurston-Moore.
But four days later I saw the same person in St. Marks Books. He was reading the music magazines. I thought, Ah, it’s the Thurston Impersonator! He’s even reading the big feature on Sonic Youth that Wire has this month. I scanned his frame, thinking that he wasn’t quite tall enough to be Thurston. Again, I was relieved I hadn’t accosted him on the subway. Still, it was a strange coincidence to see him again, and reading a feature on Sonic Youth. I saw an employee murmur to a co-worker, “Thurston Moore.” So it was him. And the strange thing is he seemed kind of lonely, the way fake-Thurston-Moore had. But remember Michael Imperioli, I kept telling myself. He seemed friendly, and then he wasn’t. Maybe Thurston’s normal expression is kind of mournful. Maybe he’s not looking around for some friendly, Sonic Youth-obsessed person to talk to.
But of all the celebrities you might risk talking to, wouldn’t Thurston be the most approachable? (So went my celebrity-addled mind.) He’d be nice, he’d engage in a dialogue! I could tell him I learned his song “Unwind” from Washing Machine! I could tell him how much Sonic Youth’s music starting from Daydream Nation meant to me! (Even though I know real musicistas would say they were with Sonic Youth from the start – but not me, I always get on the bus with groups just as they release their sell-out albums.) Anyway, just to tell Thurston what a huge impact his band has had, on me and on many people I know, and how brilliantly they captured moments of churning, haunted, or defiant feelings with their lyrics and their gorgeous, weird-tuned melodies – wouldn’t that be worth bothering him for?
But what about sounding like an idiot and embarrassing myself in St. Marks Books? My ex-boyfriend browsed close by, oblivious to Thurston’s presence. If he noticed him, he wouldn’t be excited, either. His position is that Sonic Youth are just part of a continuum of pop music, with no different a cultural impact than someone like Hall and Oates. He’d be embarrassed for me if I started gushing to Thurston Moore. And what about my own recent lesson with Michael Imperioli? Hadn’t I learned anything about the New York celebrity vibe? So I stared fixedly at the book I was reading, ignoring Thurston till, a while later, I glanced up to see him loping over to the Sci-Fi section near the exit. After a brief browse there, he left.
But it felt all wrong. I was still convinced that Thurston was somehow lonely and was looking for people who wanted to talk about Sonic Youth. As we left the store, I told my ex-boyfriend about the sighting, saying I thought Thurston had looked sad, and perhaps lonely. I said maybe the mood of the city after September 11 was making him melancholy. My ex-boyfriend snorted at the idea of attributing any particular emotions to Thurston. Sometimes it’s jarring to come up against the non-celebrity-obsessed mindset, especially when you’ve just been feverishly reading the body language of a celebrity who’s of great significance to you. But the irony is, it’s the non-celebrity-obsessed person who would probably be able to engage more authentically with the celebrity.
And the question is, do celebrities have any interest in hearing from their public in person, or is it just one big drag for them to be approached by strangers? Does anyone else have stories/thoughts to share on this? Click here to discuss…
Kristy Eldredge is a freelance writer living in New York City and seems to get obsessive about indie-rock stars. Read her previous GLONO piece about the band Quasi.
37 thoughts on “Close Encounters of the Punk Kind”
I “met” Johnny Marr when I was 18 or 19 after a The The show in Royal Oak, Michigan. We left during the encore and ran around to the back of venue by the bus. When they came out, I had JM sign my tour book, but I couldn’t even talk — I was so star-struck. I almost peed my pants, I think. I was a complete and total babbling idiot. Since then, I haven’t really approached too many “stars” because I know I’m a dork. That’s what’s so great about email…
As just about anyone who has met me knows, I once met Johnny Marr of the Smiths. Jake Brown and I went to see the The when Johnny was playing with the band. It was the The vs. the World tour in 1990 or ’91. We got there way too early and walked around for awhile. Jake ended up buying a guitar we later found out was a 1958 or so Gibson ES 125, but that’s neither her nor there…We met some girls at the show who shmoozed security. We were told to cut through a side door after the last song, but before the encore and wait. We did and sure enough old Johnny Marr came strolling through. Sadly, nobody crowded around the other members of the band, including the lead singer and brains of the The, Matt Johnson. But hey, they weren’t in the Smiths. Jake and I stood there and Johnny came to us and mumbled something in a Mancunian accent that only members of great Brit rock bands can understand. We got some autographs and Johnny left. Jake went nuts and ran screaming down the street like a lunatic.Next time I’ll tell you how we met Shaun Rider (another Manchester export, what is it with that city?) of the Happy Mondays who gave us what looked to be a cry for help…
Recently at Laurie’s Planet of Sound, I saw Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche ordering John Cale cds. I had just seen him and Tweedy the night before at the Hideout, and I didn’t want to seem like a stalker, so I didn’t say anything to him. That previous night at the Hideout, our man D. Phillips talked to Jeff Tweedy about Jonathan Richman. I considered patting his back and covertly sticking a Glorious Noise sticker to him, but I decided against it.
Sadly, I’ve never met anyone I’d consider a hero… Certainly no Johnny Marr to my D. Phillips, but I’ve met some that were close. Like John Avila (Oingo Boingo’s bass player), behind the State Theatre in Royal Oak. He signed his autograph “Thanks for fish – John Avila.” And Les Claypool said he had a t-shirt just like the one I wore when I met him (it had a fish on it) – that was neat, but it’s not like meeting Bonham. That’s far less likely to happen.Jake – that doesn’t sound like you – you should’ve stickered him. That’d be a riot.
In regards to the celebrity vibe phenonemen and demi god idealist vision quandry of MR moore in nyc, I think it is fair to assume that when sy preached ‘kill yr. idols with sonic death, tell nothing but the truth’ they meant that any flirtation, however minute it is as worth its weight, even engorged in fictious disbelief is necessary in the cosmic allowance. The circumstance of the double encounter seems definately akin to skinning preconcieved notions (whatever they are)and giving to emotional experience. One could even postulate sc-fi as a fundamentalist response to uncomfortable confrontations. The endless possibilities, however entrenched in wonder or shell shock do not seem arduosly inhuman if the chi feelings are relatively mutual. I almost met thurston moore in 96, but they were about as far from nyc as possible in the us in bellingham, wa, I was about 14 at the time and very impressionable, however as he saw us from afar moving his child in one arm, beer in the other the look to us just reminded me of a father, and when my friend yelled you rock, his thank you response just seemed to move through the small crowd we were in and I felt warm and confused. In 2000 I walk right by Kim Gordon in seattle, wondered how I’d fair in her presence, I ended up just staring her down when she looked at me as I was speechless. I felt foolish for a while wondering if id made an impression. I guess the main thing I can ascertain is there are 6 billion souls living on planet earth, each unique. And when people find themselves near each other, for whatever reason, there and the feelings are interestingly mutual, there usually is hidden real truth. As Lee says so aptly, ‘There is a reason for everything that becomes conscious of being, today we look up and can see.’ Stretch yr bus fare it may take you where you want to be.
Well, I’m assuming we can’t generalize every celebrity into one category. I’m sure there are those that despise adoring fans, I’m sure there are those that love only the lovely members of the opposite/same sex depending on their tastes, and there are those that enjoy just having a chat about the weather with an individual of similar mindset whether they be a fan or not. I can’t imagine that anyone who has reached the ranks of mega-stardom really enjoys the drooling gaga fan much anymore, although it must be a blast to experience while they’re on their way up.I’ve always thought that, given the chance, I’d buy Jon Spencer an Old Style and talk to him about the best place to eat in Memphis. In reality, I’d be way less cool and likely spill a beer on his leather pants and offer to let him punch me in the gut for pennance.I suppose that’s rock & roll.
Well, besides the night I met Johnny Loftus(hahahaha), I don’t frequently encounter “celebrities.” Most of the people who reach celebrity status in my mind, aren’t really celebrities because nobody else has heard of them…there was the time I met Stephin Merritt from the Magnetic Fields, but I’m saving that one for an article I’m going to submit to Jake one of these days…but a recent “celebrity” story: I went to see one of my absolute favorite bands in the world, the Trembling Blue Stars, at Schubas. After having had a bottle of free wine at Harmony Grill beforehand and a free shot of Whiskey from the bartender, I spotted the band hanging out during the opening act (oh yeah, this was also after Erin and I were impersonating their British accents while waiting in line)…so, I thought it would be a good idea to let Bob, the singer/songwriter/backbone of the band, know how much his music meant to me…So, I cornered him at the back of Schubas, and according to Erin, I gushed for about 20 minutes about the many break-ups his music had gotten me through and how I couldn’t believe he still writes songs about his ex-girlfriend of 7 years ago, and how beautiful and amazing his lyrics are (and probably how sexy I think he is), meanwhile the rest of the band and Erin are standing around laughing at me…so, yeah, I always think that if I have the opportunity to meet someone who’s music has meant a lot to me, I would be cool, have a conversation about the weather or something else not related to their music, but I seem to get caught up in the “celebrity” status and act like an idiot anyway…I think Kristy’s best point was that it takes someone who doesn’t give a shit about their music or who they are to have any real conversation with them. But at least I didn’t go screaming down the street!
Helen sent me over this way to share one of my several stories about close encounters (sometimes too close) with various musical personalities. I’ve been having a mighty tough time deciding which one to share, but I’ve decided to go with the most personal one. Back in 1995, when Helen and I were both getting more into the indiepop scene, we fell in love with a band called Holiday. Shortly after “discovering” Holiday, I had emailed the indiepop list to see if someone could tape the Magnetic Fields vinyl catalogue for me (at the time I had not yet acquired a record player). I received a very nice mail from Matt at Yale, offering to tape the 7″s for me. Of course, being to complete sucker for intellect that I am, I could only think about how some guy at Yale was going to make me a tape. In return, I was supposed to make him a tape of music that I liked, so I thought that I’d be really cool and put a song by Holiday on the tape. Then he’d really think that I was hip! Fortunatly, before actually getting around to making the tape, I discovered that my Matt from Yale was actually in Holiday. I didn’t put the song on the tape, but I felt like I had won the lottery. Matt from Holiday (a big celebrity in my mind) was making me a tape! That was in the spring of 1995. Round about October (after spending the summer lusting after a guy who I had never met and had no idea what he was like or what he looked like) the news came out that Holiday was going to be playing in Chapel Hill. I counted down the days and spend hours getting ready for the show. Our friend Gary’s band was opening for Holiday, so we got to the Local 506 a bit early so that we could get Gary to introduce us to the band. When we walked in, Gary asked us if we had met the boys from Holiday yet. Right at that moment a rather cute blond boy turned around from playing Dig-Dug and walked over to us. He introduced himself as Matt, and I introduced myself as Emily. Then, to my complete shock, he said, “Yeah, I know, I really liked the tape you made me. We have it in our van with us.” I was in love. It totally freaked me out. This story acutally continues on and on for much longer than anyone other than my best friends are willing to put up with. To make it shorter, we actually ended up “dating” as much as is possible when one half of the couple is in a band that is on tour. Then Holiday broke up, Matt died his hair a really frightening black color, and things sort of fell apart. We still keep in touch, though. But, I learned far too much about what happens when you date someone in a band, and I don’t think that I could ever do that again.
actually meeting thurston made me never want to meet any of my musicial heros again.as a ‘zine writer i met sy when we followed their EVOL tour for a couple of dates. they were a fun grand interview. it was like talking to a few of your favorite friends about all the things you really dig. which were music, record collecting & guitars.when they played here during the sister tour, we connected w/sy again. thurston in particular seemed like he didn’t want to deal w/us, as if he’d talked to one to many college radio ‘zine writer. (which is something i completely understand.) it made me question why we treat these folks as “different” & made me not try to make contact w/my heros again. btw, kim was totally cool during our second meeting, and steve has always been. i’ve talked to him everytime $2 guitar comes thru.in general i think someone like thurston meets far more than his fair share of sonic enthuasiasts & that may color his treatment of his core fan base.
The way you wrote this article, Kristy, is really cool- the way you expressed your feelings about meeting Thurston had me, and probably everyone, following right along. I also liked your point about only non-fans really being to converse with celebrities.Now, I don’t know anything about Thurston Moore’s personality, but I guess based on the liner notes in Sister, I wouldn’t expect him to talk warmly with you, I would expect him to have his defenses. Those liner notes in Sister include a fake interview from a 13-year old zine writer named Cubby. The interview seems to lampoon a small army of teenage ‘zine writers calling up Thurston and Kim at home and digging way too far into their privacy. If I was you and I saw Thurston there in that bookstore I’d probably try to lighten the moment with humor. “Hey, do you work here?” Or go browse the mags next to him and start humming Teenage Riot.Yeah, right, if I thought of it.
Or trap him in an elevator like they did to Sting on SNL years agao. Remember? Everyone who got on the elevator started to sing “Roxanne” right in his face. I imagine that happens a fair amount to old Sting. Better than being Bobby McFerrin. Egad!
LOL, Derek! I thought of that SNL sketch too.Kristy, I think I would have at least smiled a “hello” to Thurston during that scenario on the train and taken it from there.I’m never too shy to approach a “celeb” and talk/gush about their work/music. Depends on the time & place tho’. Most recently, one of the coolest guys I’ve met is Conrad Keely. He’s demon on stage and an awesome sweetheart one-on-one.[I think I might be a little too awe-struck to approach Johnny Loftus, however.]
Jaysus, Johnny Loftus (Anus) is the hearthrob of GLONO. MEMOTO: Jake Brown, Editor Glorious NoiseFROM: Derek Phillips, Minister of propaganda.RE: Loftus as Heart throbJake, It seems the chicks have taken a shine to our boy Johnny Anus. I propose we rush posters of Johnny to the printer immediately (proposed image: johnnysmokin.jpg). As Johynny is now a commodity, we must protect our investment and work to cover up past digressions, including the notorious “Thailand Incedent.” I’ll need approval on massive budget to market our boy.Best,DP
when i met thurston, kim, and lee i ‘knew’ i would becuz after playing the warfield here in s.f. the artists usually exit a known back stage door that opens to the street where their buses are parked.knowing ahead of time that i’d most likely run into them, i had planned on what to say, to not come across like a complete star-infatuated geek. i thought of asking them how they liked s.f. compared to n.y.c., how they liked being recent parents as my child was born within months of theirs, stuff like that.so i waited, with about 15 other people, and waited. finally around 1.30 they came out, thurston looked so cool, loping along, so tall. and kim and lee seemed so much shorter than i thought – stage parallax, i guess.all my planning to be ‘normal’ went out the window. my mind froze, i was star-struck up the wazoo. i bumbled something to kim, shook her hand, asked her to sign my ‘goo’ cover (with a red pen i’d brought), which she did. then i introduced myself to thurston, mumbling so badly all i can remember was him saying “What?”. likewise with lee, just gushing the usual junk like “you’re awesome, man!”.how pathetic i was and am.but i thought that thurston was very cool, laid back, and down to earth, and would never give a legitimate fan a hard time about meeting him.
Sam, I think you probably caught Thurston on a bad day. Most interviews I’ve read say he’s friendly and unpretentious, not snooty and sick of interviews. I have the impression Kim is more tired of giving interviews, but I think that’s ’cause she’s been burned by plenty of rock journalists — including women! — who express inexplicable malice towards her. She’s complained about it publicly. Anyway, sorry you had a bad encounter with TM. A friend of mine was treated with great snootiness by Ira of Yo La Tengo — he was hurt and angry and has dissed Yo La ever since. Emily, your story is far too sunny to make me happy, but I’m glad for you, all the same. Madness, you’re right. I should have smiled. Now, what’s the story with Johnny Loftus? Is this a new celebrity I need to become addled by?
oooh, maybe we should auction off a date with Johnny at one of our benefit shows…it would be for a good cause…
oooh, maybe we should auction off a date with Johnny at one of our benefit shows…it would be for a good cause…
Back in my radio days of the mid-90s, I also met Kip Winger. That’s right, of WINGER fame. 1) Kip Winger is a midget. I am only 5’7 and towered over the little fella.2) Kip Winger was a total jackass. He only talked to female fans and had his manager run blocks on any male station staff. He wore very tight, white jeans (what else?) and a blue, fluffy shirt unbuttoned to his very hairy belly. Mind you, this was maybe 1994 and his career was long over thanks to Nirvana. He bitched about it the whole time asking if our station played “real rock” or that whiney shit. Since we were an “alternative rock” station, we leaned heavily on the latter.I have more celeb encounters from the station I’ll share later…
Ah, the ‘Winger Incident’ – I had the (dis)pleasure of being present for that as well. I’ve forgotten much of the evening, no doubt due mostly to the horrifying image of their drummer, who wore nothing but bikini briefs for the show. *shudder*And damn – since when is this site so poular with the ladies? Or with anyone for that matter? Well, either way, welcome to first-nighters.
Kip Winger… smaller than life. When you see a film or photo of a rock and roller, for some reason you imagine that they’re tall. Or at least taller than you. From the Plaster Caster movie, I thought Danny Dollrod would be skinny and real tall. Turns out he’s skinny, and real short. One of my favorites, Matthew Sweet, the record company people just totally pull the wool over your eyes with him. You look at the Girlfriend CD and you think he’s trim, you think he’s a smooth cat. Then you see his show and he looks like someone who plays a lot of Magic cards.
Hello, long-time reader, first-time commenter here.It seems like Kristy’s being a bit hard on herself in terms of her celebrity obsession, since it’s clearly not merely based on the fact that TM is famous (to a certain group of people, anyway.) Being carried away by someone for the simple reason that they are widely known commodities seems much worse than being carried away by TM because his music is so fine, fine, superfine. So, her dillemma about how to act with TM seems fundamentally different than d. phillips’ alarming run-in with Kip Winger’s hairy belly. Her story would be same whether we knew who TM was or not, because it depends on her reaction to him only. Whereas, with Kip Winger, it would be a less-interesting story if it were just about “I met an angry man with an unbuttoned shirt.” (Or possibly not….)At least, that’s the way I’m justifying the shame-inducing way I’ve reacted when meeting musical/other heroes.
On a nicer note:Winger’s lead guitarist, Reb Beach, was a hell of a nice guy. He told us about his days as a sandwich guy before Kip Winger and stardom crossed his path. He even made a bunch of us sandwiches with the deli meat we had at the Meet and Greet after the show. Nice guy, Reb.I could drop names all day about folks I met while working at the station or working here at GLONO. And you can bet I will…Next up: Shannon Hoon tries to steal my girl!
At the risk of beating this issue of TM’s character to death, I feel guilty for saying he’s supposed to always be super-friendly — actually, friends have been telling me he has quite a different reputation. But I think it’s probably dependent on mood. I’ve read interviews w/ Stephen Malkmus in which SM is clearly so sick of talking about the music biz that he’s saying any old shit. Like I’ve read him say that he can’t understand John Ashbery’s poems, while in another interview he’ll say Ashbery is one of his favorite writers. I think these people just can’t deal with press after a while. That’s different from the fan issue, though, isn’t it. Derek, aren’t you gonna tell us about talking to Jeff Tweedie? Any casual reader of the site knows he’s your idol, or one of them. Not that I don’t want to hear your Shannon Hoon story. But come on. Shannon Hoon/Jeff Tweedie. Come on.
we want to hear the shannon hoon story derek!
looks like you had the last laugh on Shannon Hoon, man. but i’ll wait for the story
I had recently broken up with a semi-long-term girlfriend and was back in the dating world. I had a part-time job at a Market and a really hot girlie worked in the deli who I wanted to take out. I’d hung out at her place a few times and things were looking pretty good. But to clinch the deal, I decided to bring her as my date to one of the free concerts my station was sponsoring all that summer.Blind Melon were riding high on the popularity of their hit single “No Rain” and the hippy good looks of lead singer Shannon Hoon. It was actually a bit of a coup that the station had them lined up for the free concert series as they were now bona fide stars. But the deal was locked up before the single broke and we had ’em.Naturally, the place was packed. The Melon took the stage and put on a great show, much more rockin’ than I’d expected given the singsong granola strains of “No Rain.” Of course, we watched the show from the VIP balcony and drank loads of free beer. Despite her being able to get her own VIP tickets to the show (the deli also catered the event), she seemed to be diggin’ hanging out with the radio staff.The set ended and the band came up to the VIP section for the mandatory meet and greet. All the girls stood around waiting with a slightly nervous bounce. Finally, Hoon came bounding in. Again, not a tall fellow, maybe a shy taller than me, but athletic and energetic. He talked to each of the girls and took photos and moved on down the line casually. Until he got to us.Michelle, the gal I was with, was a real knock out. Half Japanese (eat your heart out Rivers Cuomo) and talkative as all get-out. Guys looked at her all the time and our boy Shannon was no different. He walked right up to her and asked her name–He didn’t ask any of the other girls. She told him and he looked at me and said, “Is this your girlfriend?” I didn’t know what to say. She wasn’t technically my girlfriend but I sure as fuck didn’t want him to know. He’d bust a move.”Naw,” I said, maintaining a cool I’d cultivated from watching hours of Johnny Marr footage.”Really?” he asked smarmily, looking back at Michelle.Damn, he was getting ready to make his move! Now the jig was up. You cannot compete with rock stardom. I took another big swig of my beer and got ready for his deathblow.”She’s really cute,” slurred Hoon. “Really cute.”With that, Shannon Hoon walked away and left me with a girl so utterly unimpressed with me I was as good as dead. Seems Shannon Hoon beat me on that tip too.
Oooooh – good one, DP. That was a crazy night – Shannon was quite cool, what being as stoned as he was and all.Now tell the one about how Moby was supposed to stay at our place in GR – HA!!!! I’d do it, but you’re clearly the more skilled storyteller. I guess that’s why you’re the frontman. (The only story necessary to be told by both of us would be the day we quit the aforementioned market, but that’s not music-related, so someone will just have to get us going at the bar to hear it.)
My life is pretty celebrity-free. The only cool person in the music biz I ever met was Joey Ramone, God rest his soul. I saw him at a club in PA after The Ramones played a set, and he walked past me. I mumbled something about a cool show and Joey said, ‘Yeah thanks’ and kept on walking.Otherwise I’ve met Billy Squire, Bob Seger, Aldo Nova, and hung out in Molly Hatchet’s motor home smoking weed (don’t ask). But none of them were in Joey’s league, of course. Oh, I forgot Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil – he was at a club in VA, but I didn’t actually meet him. Pretty hard to miss that guy in a crowded room…
Being a minor celeb myself, I can say that I actually enjoy it when my fans approach me with a quick complement.Celebs I’ve run into:Oprah Winfrey. I shook her hand on the set of her show. She’s got a grip like Sammy Sosa!Bjork. I stood next to her on a sidewalk in Toronto’s Chinatown back in 1988. The Sugarcubes were playing a bar above a fishmarket. I was too freaked out to even say Hi to her.Billy Bragg. I met Bragg at a CD signing in Ann Arbor back in 1991 at the now defunct School Kids records. In my socialist zeal I planted a copy of my old Newsletter, The Socialist Forum, in his hand and blabbered something about unions in his hear. He signed my copy of Don’t Try This At Home and I was shuffled out the door.Morrissey. I touched the sleave of his cardigan 11 years ago. I also smacked him upside the head with a handfull of flowers at a show at Meadowbrook way back when. He whinced, but kept on singing.Hope Sandoval. I watched her shopping the girlie underwear table at TJ Mack’s once. Jake Brown. Yes, I’ve met the the greatest music critic of our time. I even threw up in his Toyota once. Well, maybe twice.
I think most celebrities who live/play/hang-out in NYC expect to anonymous. I think they prefer to just be treated like everybody else. The cool thing about living in New York is that you come in contact with so many people, and sometimes you have some pretty meaningful moments with complete strangers and it’s perfectly acceptable to move on. Michael Imperioli probably would have been more likely to strike up a conversation with you if you’d said something like, ” Hey, I like your work, but what’s up those shoes?” The thing about what we want out of celebrities is to have a moment with them as equals, but we blow it by gushing. All of us (or at least, some of us) have a person in our past, that one boyfriend or girlfriend that worshipped us. That complimented us on every outfit, every hair-do, every dance move that we did. But was this the person we wanted to be with? NO, we wanted the other one. The one who treated us like shit, who thought they were better than us, who stood us up and two-timed us, THAT’S the person we wanted. It’s kind of like that old saying: You wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have you as a member. When I lived in NYC years ago, I worked at a trendy all-night place called the Empire Diner in Chelsea. We used to get celebs from all over the entertainment spectrum. The staff was mostly made up of sruggling actors/dancers/musicians, and we were all quite bitter at having to wait tables. And we went out of our way to pretty much level the field. No special treatment, no one got seated first, food didn’t come out faster, and no special attempts at conversation (except once, to Gary Oldman, what can I say? I wanted him!) A few of the staff actually went out of their way to be down-right rude, so deep was their resentment. But on several occasions, I’d be walking down the street, and a celebrity would approach me and say, “Oh, Hi, don’t I know you? Have we worked together?” (No, seriously! I’m not lying!) And I would answer, “I waited on you at the Diner.””That’s right, how ya doin’? Blah, blah, blah. Okay, I’ll see ya!”So, you see, in New York, it’s the waiters who are the true celebrities. You made the right move with Thurston Moore, he was probably trying to figure out where he knew YOU from!
How true Maggie! That’s a great story! And an interesting perspective on human nature and how it applies to both male-female relationships and celebrity relationships.
I had the great experience to try out for Jason Bonham’s band about 4 years ago. It’s a long story how that came to being. I certainly wasn’t a fan, but I thought it might be a nice jumping point (lame-ass thinking) Of course his dad was a huge influence of mine growing up, and that tended to cloud my judgement. Unfortunately Jason turned out to be quite an idiot, and needless to say, I was not too disappointed when I wasn’t chose to front the band. Still, I got to peruse his dad’s old house, and cruise his old haunts. I’m surprised Jason hasn’t died yet too.
My band opened up for Pavement ’round 95 or 96. Their bass player brought us beer when we announce from stage that the club wasn;t hooking us up. very nice.after the show, we were loitering around the club and i ended up playing pinball with Stephen Malkumus. After a kind of uncomfortable and quiet first round, I told him that I could really see the influence that the Cro-Mags had on Pavement. We had a good chat and joked after that.I think people of any level of “celebrity” feel a lot more comfortable if you treat them like normal people… right?
I saw Billy Corgan about two years ago at the Taste of Chicago. I’m not a big fan of the S.P., but I was still star struck. He was walking behind the security fence with some tall girl wearing a bandana, and some stocky guy. I first saw the back of his head and thought it looked familiar. Then he turned around, probably from my laser like intensity. But then he got into a black jeep. He was looking around a lot, maybe to see if anyone noticed him? But if I was a star, I would take Madonna’s mindset, not that I’m a big fan of hers, but her comments on her critics usually goes along the line of “if you don’t like me you can kiss my ass”. Her confidence kills me, yet I would be starstruck if I seen a senior citizen of music, such as Mick Jagger or the ever cool Joe Strummer.
I met Will Oldham once and he was really cool. We talked about kangaroos (this is in Australia and he’d been walking before the show and seen kangaroos in the flesh! in the wild! he was real excited) and I confessed that I used to joke with my friends that he’d written a song for me, ‘western song for J.LL.’ cos they’re my initials and that was how i wrote them. He told me the song was mine, so now all my palace worshipping friends love my ass. Once I sat on Chris Knox’s foot all night at this show that had to be held in the Cannanes loungeroom in Sydney cos the club had been shut down, so again, Chris Knox fans love my ass! I feel silly for this story but the ass theme got me onto it … Chan Marshall was playing with Jim and Mick from the Dirty Three at this little pub in Sydney. You know those awkward moments when yr waiting outside a public bathroom and yr just dying to go? well I’m waiting and Jim comes out and he’s just done this real stanker and we shared one of those funny toilet moments~! Then I go and I’m just peeing but then I open the door and Chan is waiting there! I think ‘Oh no, she’ll think it’s me’ and I just looked at her and kinda giggled and said ‘that stink is Jim’s not mine’ and she laughed. Anyways, all these encounters were part of my conscious effort to get over my celebrity jitters which i still sufffer pretty bad. i do a radio show too and everytime i have to interview even the most minor celebrities i get nervous. But so many times I’ve regretted not just saying hello to these people i admire cos i was too shy or scared of gushing. but whenever i’ve overcome and spoken to these people they’ve almost always been pretty nice. they’re just people too i guess, i’m always trying to tell myself that.
Met Thurston and Kim 3x before. Was at shows I booked for them and they couldn’t have been more normal and nicer and real. Of course it was out of NYC, so that might have made a difference. Of course I invited a few of their friends like J Mascis to come (so I guess that could have helped!)
I think it’s hard not to do the star-struck, gushing fan vibe, because that’s our connection to these folks. You’re starting at a disadvantage. That said, Mike Watt has got to be one of the coolest, most down-to-earth guys in the world. Very approachable, very appreciative and happy to gab. Angelo Moore of Fishbone looked at me like my head was on fire when I said hi to him. Oh well. One other brush with “minor” celebrity. Hung out with the Untouchables after a show in Santa Cruz on the strength of my girlfriend and her best friend being very cute. Nice guys. They actually acted like it was cool that I was there too.