Thursday, June 09, 2005

Global A-Go-Go

I took a tram/into the fourth dimension

It's been almost 4 years since my favorite celebrity encounter. I'm talking, of course, about the day I met Mr. Joe Strummer:

I was standing literally right next to the photographer. From
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I had known he was coming to my store for a month, at least. I was giddy with anticipation. I was counting the days. Let's face it, it's not every kid who not only gets to meet one of the greatest contributors to punk ever, but also one of his rock idols. I wondered how I was going to behave. Was I going to lose my shit all over, or could I keep it cool? Inquiring minds wanted to know.

The day finally came. A sunny July afternoon. I had the day off. Jen was out of town, visiting family. I took the train down to Belmont to catch the bus down to the store, expecting to just be a regular person. I spotted my friend and former supervisor J on his Vespa at the traffic light. He offered a ride to the store, and I accepted, because you can't really, sanely turn down a ride on a Vespa on a sunny Chicago day. We floated into the store, reeling with anticipation.

The instant we got in, my boss found me. "Do you mind clocking in? We need you to do some crowd control," he said, and added "and you'll have to be stage security." I was already legendary at that store for my ability and glee in yelling at large crowds of people and keeping them in line. On more than one occasion I was called the Drill Sargeant, by both employees and members of the masses I so deftly controlled. I had not, however, done stage security ever, and here I had the opportunity to stand just a few feet away from a punk rock legend and watch him play.

It didn't take a lot of brain power to blurt out "yes" and grab my layard, now with a special Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros addition, right on top.

We took a ride called the Banchoff-Klein mega bottle ride/Well, how we spewed inside, back and forth/In time, mathmatics and pride, inside

The band arrived. We were all pumped. He was hanging out in the back room while the roadies set up the stage and I told everyone to keep it orderly. I can be such a hard-ass when I need to. Finally, it came time for the show. We brought the people in, and I took my spot just inside the stage right stacks. It was the first (and only, thus far) time I have used Hearos. The band took the stage, and proceeded to play. I was speechless. I was awestruck. I was standing 4 feet from Joe Strummer.

At some point, he knocked over his right monitor. I set it straight. He winked his thanks at me. I just about fell over, but I didn't. I kept it together.

After the show, he and the band signed autographs for everyone in attendance. They drank wine and insisted that we play no other music but Jimmy Cliff. They were pleasant, they were nice. They didn't panic when one of the tables broke. Finally, everyone had their autographs signed, and they were on their way home. Joe and the band headed back to my boss' office.

Some of the staff had gathered in back. I stopped in to see if anyone needed anything. That's when Joe asked for weed. Suddenly, several staff members were making several phone calls. They each wanted to be the one to bring Joe Strummer weed.

With another bottle of wine opened, and a joint a-blazin', they started signing autographs for the staff. When my turn came up, I said "Joe, do you think I could get a picture with you?" He was more than happy to oblige. He even offered me a tug on his spliff, which I refused (still kicking myself for that one). I knew that I would actually lose my calm demeanor if I would, so I didn't.

Eventually, it was time for them to go. And it was long since time I got out of there and blew off some steam. I headed across the street to my friend's bar, Raven's. I walked in, ready to burst. My friend, the bartender asked me how I was. I burst: "I've just spent the last 4 hours with Joe fucking Strummer!"

I bounced off walls. I was giddy. Fortunately, I was the only person in the bar. My friends A and T were still across the street, and met me for a drink at Raven's. We decided to get some food, and headed north on Clark Street. Outside Emilio's, the record label rep was spotted us as we were walking, and asked us if we wanted to have drinks with the band. This was not an opportunity to pass up. We instantly agreed.

Just gimme a Tequila, I'll slam it the 4-D way

In we went, and saw our bosses at a booth. They had us sit with them. Joe ordered us margaritas. He insisted we have them. We chatted briefly, then he went for a cigarette at the bar. He then decided it was time to go, and walked out by our table. he grabbed my hand, shook it, and very drunkenly said "you guys fuckin' rock!"

Thankfully, I had already blown off some steam, otherwise I'm certain I would have wet my pants.


Blogger Henry said...

Jealousy. Sincere Jealousy.

Hey, thanks for the birthday card. I think you're the only one who ever marked my birthday by D-Day. I though I was the only one who noticed.


8:27 AM  
Blogger Postmodern Sass said...

Great, great story!!

2:35 PM  

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