Tag Archives: Morrissey

It was 20 years ago today…

13 Jun

On this day 20 years ago I was sitting on a folding chair on a tennis court wearing a cardboard hat. It was commencement weekend at UCLA and after a hard fought five years I was being released out in to the wild with a newly minted degree in American Literature & Culture. This was a new major that popped up the year before and I jumped on the chance to avoid having to take that final Chaucer class. The ceremony was long, a little boring and they didn’t call out individual graduates just majors. Being a newly introduced category we were skipped over when the different departments were being called out. The woman next to me immediately burst in to tears about it and asked if this means we weren’t graduating. We tried to assure her everything was going to be alright but a few minutes later she broke free from our row and went running to the podium to tell them we had been overlooked. Her actions made me immediately think maybe I hadn’t chosen the right major but it was too late to change that now. What can you do with a degree in American Literature & Culture? Turns out it’s not a highly in demand field of study and it was basically go be a teacher or take your bachelors and find something completely unrelated but still requiring a degree. I wouldn’t necessarily tell someone not to study literature, I had a great time but I would ask them what their end plan was and to set expectations that they are not likely going to need to call on what they’ve learned about post modernism prose in their day to day life.

As I sat on the tennis court with my mortar board shielding out a bit of the late afternoon sunshine I thought about my early days on campus when I found out the tennis center had an elevator that would take you to the top of the stadium and out on to the road by the dorms. UCLA is built on hills and if you lived in the dorms you can genuinely use the phrase “I had to walk to school uphill both ways”. Everyone living in the dorms had impressive leg muscles.

UCLA was never on my horizon for schools, I always thought a kid like me was better suited for UC Berkeley or the Claremont colleges. After a visit to Berkeley I knew it wasn’t the place for me, Claremont seemed like a nice fit but was far too expensive. I had a modest stack of acceptance letters and UCLA was somewhere in the middle of the pack. At some point I just thought it was the easiest option and at least it was a place that had a name that people recognized. My sister went to a small private school in upstate New York the following year and to this day when she tells people where she went to college they ask if its “teller school for Wells Fargo”.  UCLA was geographically close to where I grew up but my only visit prior to Orientation Week was the ill fated Morrissey show at Pauley Pavilion a year before – which was at night and ended up in a riot.

UCLA Hat

I went on to love my time at UCLA and I spent most of my five years working at the Cooperage in the student union and the concession stand at Pauley. The 90s were a spectacular time to be there – the sports teams were on a hot streak, bands would come through campus some times and the Taco Bell on campus offered a 99 cent 7 layer burrito that would sustain you most of the day. At the restaurant I learned how to chop lettuce correctly, use a Hobart machine to make hundreds of pounds of pizza dough, why you should always turn the slicer off when you clean it (it wasn’t my hand that was sliced open, I’m not that misguided), how to change out soda syrup, how to wrap a giant burrito without splitting the tortilla and the fine art of patience in customer service. The Coop was open to anyone and we had our fair share of weirdos coming through the door like the guy who wanted his chicken strips fried again, the customer that came in looking like he was on an ancient trek across a frozen tundra complete with plastic flocked bunny banks hanging off of his walking stick like they were his fresh kill and finally the man that always wanted his change in dimes. If you tried to hand that customer any coin outside of a dime he would toss it back at you rather forcefully. Learning how to deal with these difficult customers was the greatest skill I took away from my time on campus.

So my suggestion to anyone thinking about pursuing a degree in the arts? Go for it but make sure you get a job on campus that will teach you how to handle the world outside of North Campus.

 

 

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High Wind Advisory

13 Apr

Heading out in a few minutes for yet another Coachella. This is an annual tradition that has only been broken once when I skipped the festival in 2015 and went to Shaky Knees in Atlanta with a friend that really needed to stay a bit more local that year. I really love this weekend, it’s an amazing time with friends and most of us are seasoned veterans with excellent fest survival skills. The first time I went to Indio for this magic weekend was during the inaugural festival in 1999. We had all heard about this new thing happening in a city we had never heard of but I was on the fence about going. There were many reasons to go along with Morrissey being on the bill and one of our friends spinning in the DJ tent. That friend connected us with the guest list and we packed our bags and headed out picking up a $50 (with fees!) ticket for the friend we threw in the car that morning and with a belly full of Del Taco we stepped on to the polo field for the first time. That first year was a sparsely attended event, the polo field seemed massive and many parts of the field were completely dark. The grass was a perfect shade of green and felt wonderful beneath my feet, apartment dwellers miss things like having a lawn. Food vendors were a mix of local groups and some restaurants that made the trek to the desert, I chose to buy a cheeseburger from the Boy Scouts for my dinner that night. I took my burger and walked back across the field and found a quiet spot a few hundred feet back from the main stage and listened to Moz sing about meat being murder while the grease from this burger slid down my arm.

A lot has changed from that first festival, I’m now far out of the target demographic and I have to pay for my wristband now (big ups to Virgin Megastores for many years of free VIP wristbands).  The crowds are different, social media has come in and the Instagram Girls rule the field for the weekend but it all makes for some great people watching and you know you’ll get your view of the band back in a few minutes when they get the perfect selfie.

Gummy Bears

I’ve had some stellar experiences at the festival, the VIP years are far behind me and I’ll probably never get a photo pass again but I’ll always cherish those memories. Meeting bands wandering around the bars, having Robbie Williams buy me a gin and tonic, walking away from Stuart Murdoch mid interview for my radio show because I wanted to get a picture of Noel Gallagher, blagging a photo pass for Keith because he was wearing a CNN shirt he picked up in NYC and looked like a journalist enabling him to play rock photographer all weekend. What this year will bring besides the winds is unknown but I know we’ll have a great time.

It all comes back to Manchester

20 Mar

This weekend I left sunny Los Angeles to visit my friend Darryl in Toronto. I met Darryl a few years ago while he was working on Pride in Travel (available on Amazon here and features yours truly in chapter 5). It was a chance to head to Opera Bob’s and meet the other members of the Toronto Supporters Club. The global City community can seem small at times and we all seem to know someone in every city. This feeling of camaraderie reminds me of the early 90s Morrissey crowd that followed those early solo tours around the states. There are a few worlds that overlap but this is one case when they did spectacularly. What follows is one of the greatest stories I’ve been a part of in the last few years.

In the fall of 1992 Morrissey came through Los Angeles with his Your Arsenal tour. That was also a monumental year in my life in which I turned 18, had left home to move in to the dorms at UCLA. My friends and I made plans to attend the Hollywood Bowl shows then follow the tour to the Del Mar show because it was a general admission show and you could get to the front if you arrived early enough. We camped out for two days in an unusually rainy Del Mar while rotating out trips for naps and showers at a nearby Motel 6 that we were sharing with no less than eight other fans.  Our efforts paid off and we were rewarded with a few hours smashed up against the barriers while Moz tore through his set. Somewhere during the show someone tossed a flag on stage that Morrissey whipped around for a few seconds before he threw it to the side of the stage. Any rabid fan knows that after the show your main goal is to get whatever you can from the Roadies tearing down the stage. I was the lucky one that grabbed the flag from the stage with a little help from my friends helping me plead to get it thrown down to us. It was a cross of St. George flag – a nice one as well that wasn’t just screen printed but stitched together pieces of nylon. I went skipping back to our car to head home with this new treasure firmly in my grasp.

I hung this flag in my dorm room for a few weeks until the morning I left for New York to catch the last few nights of the tour. I had a free ticket to fly anywhere in the US thanks to my newly acquired AmEx and I could think of no better destination. I traveled with two friends to the city where we had no hotel room booked or tickets to any of the shows! These were no ordinary shows on the tour they were three small club sized shows around New York City and ending the week in Philadelphia at the Tower theatre. That trip is a tale for another time but in the midst of these shows was Thanksgiving when no show would be played and we took our chance to try to meet Moz at his hotel to get a few things signed one of these items being my flag. After hours of waiting at The Mark we were rewarded with a few moments of his time and were told to wait in the lobby. Linder Sterling came back to the lobby to gather up what we had and took it to Morrissey’s room to get signed, she returned 20 minutes later with everything bagged up for us and we ran back though the cold streets to our derelict hotel off of Times Square giddy with our interaction.

I’ve held on to this flag and kept it as the ultimate Morrissey souvenir sure to win all arguments of who has the best object from the era. I haven’t displayed it in many years because I’ve been worried about the flag becoming worn and the autograph fading so it’s been tucked safely inside a box for the last 5 years. Flash to October of last year when I was selling my beloved Vespa LXV to my friend Andy to make room for my Primavera. Andy is also a City fan, member of the supporters club and a MASSIVE Morrissey fan. He had never been to my home and had a bit of a nose around at my memorabilia covering the walls. We got to talking about various items we had and I knew I had to bring out the flag. I couldn’t find it at first and just told him about how great it was. He asked some questions about where I got it and pretty specific details about the flag itself and quickly realized this was the flag he had thrown on stage that Halloween night! I knew I had to find it. A few moments of opening nearly every box in my office I found the folded flag and presented it to Andy. He marveled at seeing this flag he last had in his hands 25 years ago now with the oil crayon inscription of “Bernadette Hoist It High – Morrissey” in the distinctive Moz scrawl across a panel. I was a bit worried he would ask for it back but instead wanted a photo with it and put up a post about it.

Andy Flag 2

There are certain people in my life I feel I was always meant to be friends with but had never been brought together until recently. We all moved in the same circles, knew many of the same people and have shared experiences. It wasn’t until something like your team pulling an impossible victory out in overtime spawning the need to form an official club that you meet these people.

Modern Butts and Vintage Seats

3 Mar

Last night I went to see Morrissey playing a tiny little show at Hollywood High, being a lapsed fan I thought how could I pass up a chance to see someone that once basically ruled my world at such a special place.  I didn’t factor in that the auditorium built decades ago and has along with the rest of the school been designated a historical landmark would still have those tiny little seats!  I’ve always been fortunate enough to be able to fit into seats even if it took a bit of maneuvering but no such luck on these ones. I could sit on the edge or go in kind of at an angle but I was definitely looking forward to when Moz took the stage and the whole crowd stood up.  My feet were starting to fall asleep with the weird angles I had to tuck my legs underneath me while sitting on the edge of the seat during the opener.  I was at least not alone in this, there seemed to be several of my fluffy counterparts around the auditorium with similar challenges!

IMG-20130302-00235

Other than the seating issues it was a good show!  We had extra tickets and sold them to two very young fans that had never seen Morrissey live and even though it was general admission we still found ourselves sitting next to them.  After spending a few hours with them in line waiting to go in it was like we had kind of adopted them and wanted to make sure they had a decent night.  They looked a little bored during most of the show but every bit of Smiths that made it into the set list brought a wave of emotion from them.  I’m sure if it was 20 years ago and Morrissey had broken out a Smiths song during one of his solo shows I would have had a similar reaction.  But as a weary 38 year old that had seen so many shows in the past it just didn’t hit home like it did for these kids.  Just jaded with age I suppose!

I did hit the merch stand last night though and passed up on some of the more interesting offerings with Morrissey being set as a religious icon and settled for a lithograph print of some lyrics from Still Ill and a set of pins.  Being the best ticket scalpers in the world I passed on a pin to the couple we sold the tickets to.  All in all not a bad night out even with the stiff little wooden seats and the anti-meat propaganda break in the middle of the show.

Last of the famous…

11 Oct

I used to be a giant Morrissey fan, I’m still a fan now just not as die hard “the man can do no wrong”.  The Smiths and Morrissey were just always there, taking over everything in my teen years.  As I grew older and started attending more concerts then the obsession grew.  I wasn’t one of those girly girls that went to prom or even wore make up so Dad bought me my first few seats to sold out shows from ticket brokers because he was far too accommodating of a father and would do whatever we asked and hey he was saving all that money on eyeliner and Sharpie for my eyebrows. 

My first trip to New York was to see a bunch of Morrissey shows, four concerts at small venues across the city and in Philadelphia during the Thanksgiving week.  I had a cheap ticket from signing up for an American Express card on campus and set off with two friends to see what we could make happen.  Without tickets or even a place to stay we set off and had an amazing week, we made it in to all of the shows – front and center for every single one thanks to general admission and a stroke of luck at the Philadelphia box office.  We spent Thanksgiving day eating Sbarro then waiting at Morrissey’s hotel to try to meet him.  He finally appeared after hours of us waiting in the cold after being kicked out of the lobby which was understandable as it was small and we were obviously not guests.  He was with Linder and he met with us briefly before he went upstairs, she came back out of the hotel and took all of the things we wanted signed with some notes as to what belonged to who.  She came back with a stack of autographed items all with personal little touches, its where my England “Hoist it high” flag was signed.  We would go on to have many other adventures following Morrissey and other bands around the world but nothing will match the excitement of those first few trips.  I met some of my favorite people ever around these concerts, I’ve lost touch with most of them but when we do run into each other it’s our shared history that brings us right back.  

I still sing along and sometimes dance if I’m in my apartment when a song comes up in the shuffle, admittedly I haven’t bought an album since You Are The Quarry but I”m still aware of what the man is doing.  The blind faith devotion is definitely gone now, I loved the Coachella hissy fit / dry heaving that happened in 2009 and it made me realize that I had really put it all behind me and now it was just a bit of nostalgia to go to one of his shows like going to see The Monkees in Vegas (yes I know Davy is dead and you can’t do this anymore).  Morrissey is starting a new tour soon, I have a ticket for the show in Los Angeles – how could I not go Iggy Pop is opening and it’s over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  I’m sure I’ll run into some old friends, maybe make some new generation fan sulk when they try to “outfan” me.  I suppose this tour is why he went on The Colbert Report.  I’m glad he agreed to do this because this is hands down the greatest Morrissey interview I’ve ever seen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iprVhXuEyg