FAMOUS ENCOUNTERS - Part II 4/30/2020
(Issue #3 of Eclectic Arts)
Here we go in no particular order:
CONTINUING WITH BANDS (non Eclectic Arts stuff)
*Cannibal Corpse (circa 2003 or so)
The first time I saw CC was in 2001 down in Portland. I then saw them in 2002 up here in Seattle WA at the Graceland (El Corazon). The lot due south of the club was a boarded up former business that hadn't been open in months. My friend parked his car there. When we came out after the show it had been towed. The beat up old tow company signs had an address so we hoofed it over to the east side of the Space Needle only to find out the company had moved to West Seattle (?!). We got a cab and got his car back.
The next time CC was in town, at the same club, we stayed afterward to meet the guys. Paul (drummer) was inside the club and I thanked him after he signed my CD booklet. He then said, "no, thank YOU".
I distinctly remember waiting around with some other fans for Corpsegrinder (vocals) outside. He said, "give me ten minutes and I swear I'll be back out". He headed onto the tour bus and true to his word - a few minutes later he came back out and kicked it with the fans. I told him that the last time my friend and I saw CC it cost us $300. He said, "whaaaat"? I then explained the tow situation and he made a disgusted face and said something like, "those fuckers - that fuckin blows". I got a photo with him (pre cell phone days) and so did my friend.
I looked around and saw Alex (bass) talking shop with fans about gear and such by the door. I went over and said a few things to him and he signed my booklet as well.
Jack (guitar) was roaming around outside and I had run into him during one of the openers sets. He signed my booklet and we talked a bit about guitar. Pat had friends he went to meet up with (having lived here before) so I never did meet him.
CC has a rabid following and one of the reasons besides the music are the guys. They could not be more down to earth. They are fans just like the rest of us and it shows.
I did a lengthy phone interview with Alex and it was over an hour long. We just talked shop after awhile and it was great. The transcription of that interview is on the Eclectic Arts blog.
*Thin Lizzy (2001 I believe - I still had hair hah)
The band was playing the Showbox (at The Market) as a tribute to Phil Lynott. John Sykes (guitar/vocals), Scott Gorham (guitar), Marco Mendoza (bass), and Tommy Aldridge (drums).
My friend and I waited outside by the tour bus with some other fans. Marco stopped and talked with fans. I honestly don't remember seeing Scott at all. He may have snuck onto the bus directly after the gig or maybe he was somewhere else. Eventually John Sykes came out. He was answering questions at random when I asked if I could get a photo. He had his black Les Paul with him, which was kind of odd but still cool. Right when my friend took the picture some fan asked John a question so he looked that way. Thus the photo I have isn't the best. John was alright.
Tommy Aldridge was a butt. People wanted to talk with him, get an autograph, but he scowled at the fans and walked straight onto the bus. Now maybe he was having a bad night - who knows? But I've read other encounters with him and none have been pleasant, including Lips from Anvil had some choice words about him in their documentary.
*Vixen (1988 or so)
Vixen were scheduled to do an in store signing at the Lynnwood Fred Meyer Music Market. Instead of bringing my CD insert, I wanted to track down a poster. So, I went looking all over my usual haunts in the U-District and other parts of Seattle. Eventually I found one with all four-band members from their debut album.
When I got to Fred Meyer, I don't remember how long the line was - I don't think it was very long but I could be wrong. All I remember was that two of the members were there - Share (bass) and Jan (founder/guitarist). And they had a stack of posters to sign too (for purchase) - the exact same one I looked all over Seattle for earlier. Aargh! lol Both ladies were very friendly and they asked if I was going to the show that night (opening for Bad Company at the Paramount). I said no I wasn't but I hoped to see them at a future show as a headliner.
I remember random customers walking by, especially guys, asking who is that and many making disparaging remarks about their looks which was really uncalled for.
*Barry Manilow (2001/2002 or so)
This public signing was in the afternoon before Barry's show at the Paramount in support of his album, "Here At The Mayflower" which I had tickets to go to. My mom and I were on the fence about going to this signing - knowing we'd have to wait in a long line, etc. I learned a great lesson from this event.
The signing was at the Ballard Fred Meyer. We decided to get there like 15 minutes early figuring if we meet him, cool, if we don't, no biggie. The line was long as expected. After waiting in the line for a good hour the manager came out and cut off the line - only a few people in front of us. He said if you want to get a photo of him from afar you could go inside. They had him set up at an elevated table to the right when you walked in the store. It was kind of dark back there but we could see him but we never met him.
From that point forward I told myself either go to these events plenty early or don't go at all. I still adhere to that to this day.
*Robert Cray (1987 in-store signing at Tower Records Bellevue)
I had been to Bumbershoot the day before (Labor Day weekend) and saw Robert play at the coliseum (Key Arena). They mentioned after the show that he would be doing a signing at the Tower Records in Bellevue. The first day of my senior year of high school was also the same day. I remember I left school a little early to get over to Tower Records on 8th not knowing how long the line would/could be.
I had never been to an in-store signing if I remember correctly. I figured there'd be a line like what I had seen on TV or on video. I got there and there was one woman standing outside. I went inside to ask where the line was for the signing. The worker pointed to the lady outside. So I went and stood there behind her - number two in line. She was odd, nerdy, and probably in her late 20's. I was trying to keep to myself - that's how I was back then. The workers had some used promo posters and gave one to each of us for waiting which was nice of them. Eventually a few more people showed up - like maybe 12 of us. Yeah, that was it.
The lady in front wanted me to take photos of her getting her stuff signed. Not a photo with the band, just the goings on as she went through the line.
All four guys showed up and walked over to the table. The lady went and got her stuff signed. I went next. I think I said something - maybe not - who knows. I got my album, poster, and t-shirt signed (I have all three still).
The guys were in good spirits but Robert looked uncomfortable. Turns out he's a pretty shy guy - compared to Richard Cousins who's super extroverted.
When I went outside the lady wanted to get my information so she could bring copies of the photos to my high school. I said no. She was weird and she kind of creeped me out to be honest.
Overall a good memory and experience with the band - minus the picture lady.
*Vienna Teng (Bumbershoot - 2009)
The first time I saw Vienna perform was at Bumbershoot. There was a fan wedding proposal on stage and I was just floored with her performance. There was an artist signing after the show so I waited around. Eventually she and her two band mates came out. Alex was eating tortilla chips or something and Vienna was as nice as could be. Incredibly intellectual but never in a snobby kind of way, I've mentioned before that she made me feel stupid when I interviewed her just because she's so intelligent. And again - it's not on purpose - she as gracious as they come - but some bulbs are just brighter than others.
*Anvil (Bumbershoot - 2009)
The very next night I went back to Bumbershoot to see Anvil. They were riding a new found high after the release of their documentary and the crowd that turned up confirmed it. The band did an artist signing after and all three guys were there. Rob was cool until I mentioned him about doing a drum solo then he clammed up. Lips was Lips - loud and appreciative. Glenn their then bassist was cool, too. I have a photo with those guys around here somewhere.
*Clive Barker (author, director, screenwriter, artist - best known for Hellraiser - this is circa 1988 or so).
I met Clive on two different occasions. The first was at a signing at Tower Books in Seattle (off of Mercer across from the Seattle Center - not the old, old location). I remember when I got there the line was literally around the entire inside of the store - all along the walls. Where I was in the line was not far from the employee room. I had never been to a book signing before so I was excited.
When it started Clive came out of the employee room and he was like a few fans away from me. People clapped and cheered much like at a concert. What I loved about the set up was that they had it where each fan got there moment with Clive. As you neared the table there was a cut off. An employee let one fan up at a time. I got like 5 things signed too, which is kind of unheard of these days. I got two books and three comic books signed. When it was my turn, I walked up to his table, shook his hand, mumbled some nerd loving shit to him about Hellraiser, and he asked me questions, which I thought was cool. Once done, I left beaming. It was a great experience.
The second time I met him was at Golden Age Collectibles in Pike Place Market. Back then I never traveled downtown - ever. So, I remember getting lost trying to get to the place and not knowing where to park. I don't remember much about the second signing other than there were less fans there but I got two things signed - my Hellraiser one-sheet movie poster which still hangs on my wall and my Lord Of Illusions laserdisc - which I still own.
Clive was great both times and he was definitely an influence on my own writing.
*Andrew Vachss (author, lawyer, child rights advocate - circa 1995 or so)
Speaking of author signings - Andrew Vachss also did a signing at the same Tower Books in Seattle. I had purchased his book, "Another Chance To Get It Right" which was a children's book about abuse. I saw him interviewed on Oprah and I went out and bought the book. I had used it in my classroom (I used to be a teacher) a few times so I was going to mention that to him at the signing.
The line of fans wasn't too long if memory serves. What I do remember is that the fan directly in front of me said something to Andrew that pissed him off. The fan wasn't trying to upset him but I think he was name dropping, asking Andrew if he knew so and so and what he thought of him/her. I remember after trying to be nice to the fan, Andrew got fed up and said something like, "look - so and so is a jerk, alright?". The fan looked taken aback and walked away.
I was thinking, "great - now Andrew's in a bad mood", because I was next in line. I got up there and shook his hand. I told him about being a teacher and using the book in my classroom. He closed his eyes as he said, "yes!" - and he was really glad that a teacher was using his book as a tool - which is what he had hoped for. He thanked me and signed another book I had and a few comic books he had written. Thankfully my experience was better than the guy in front of me. And I still have that book, too.
*Walt Morey (author of Gentle Ben - circa 1980 give or take)
I really remember nothing about this other than Walt Morey came to my elementary school and talked with us at an assembly. I had read "Gentle Ben" so I brought my copy to get it signed. As he was walking out or something, I went up to him to get his signature. I still have that signed book, too.
Even at an early age I had the fan boy disease apparently. I blame my mother's side as both she and my uncle (her brother) are the same way.
*James O'Barr (creator of The Crow - early 90's)
I met James on several different occasions back in the early 90's. I was a HUGE fan of the comic book and eventually the first film when it was released. But I became a fan of The Crow back in 1989.
The one memory that sticks out was in 1993 or early 94 - before the first film was released. James did a signing in the U-District at a comic store - Xanadu Comics I believe it was. They had an old TV/VCR combo that was playing a promo interview with film clips of the upcoming film. This was before the internet kids so I was just fucking glued to that TV screen waiting for my turn to meet James and get my comics signed. I couldn't believe I was watching actual advance footage of the film. James was low key and very appreciative of the support. He seemed surprised that I had bought the first issue off the stands and had been keeping up on his work ever since.
When I was done, I talked to the shop about getting a copy of that videotape. I just HAD to have it. They told me no, it was a promotional tape from Kitchen Sink (I think) and it wasn't for sale. I asked them again and they said no.
Undeterred I wrote to Kitchen Sink themselves about the tape, etc. etc. etc. End of the story - I still have an official copy of that promo tape to this day. HAH!
*Sui Fei Fei (Sacramento Monarchs - WNBA)
Like I mentioned in Part I of this series, I was a season ticket holder for the Seattle Storm (WNBA) from 2004 to around 2014. 4th row courtside (the courtside has four rows - first being the most expensive of course so we bought our seats in the 4th row, almost dead center court).
One luxury of having courtside seats is that you have a separate entrance from the other fans and you can also walk on the perimeter of the court to get to your seats. If I had a guest with me that had never been to a game, I always made sure to give them the whole treatment - so we would go down the stairs and walk around the perimeter of the court to get to our seats - usually when the team was doing shoot-around.
Now there are many things I could write here but the one memory that sticks out isn't about a Storm player. It was about a Monarchs player (Sacramento's team). There was a lot of buzz about a player that the Monarchs had signed - Sui Fei Fei - a Chinese small forward that many in her home country called the Michael Jordan of China. She was massively popular in her home country so the buzz traveled over here to the US. It was similar to when the Mariners signed Ichiro - just on a much smaller scale.
There were Chinese fans from local groups that came to that game just to see her play. I already knew she wasn't suited up to play that night but many did not. So, I wasn't sure she had traveled with the team or not. I just hoped she had.
I used my courtside entrance privilege to "sneak" inside Key Arena early. What this really meant was that back then they had a buffet/dinner club before games. I had access to that club as did other fans I think as long as they made a reservation. But courtside fans always had access to it.
Anyway, if you had to use the bathroom from that club, you either had to or could go to the public bathroom just outside the club. I figured I could act like I'm going to eat dinner but instead go look at the court and see if the teams were warming up or not. The teams always warmed up before they headed back to the locker room. Then when the doors were open to Key Arena, they would come back out to warm up again in front of the fans around 7:30 or so (for an 8pm tip off).
I went downstairs to the club area - snuck over to the tunnel to look at the court. I could see the Monarch players warming up but I didn't see Fei Fei anywhere. I thought there was a real possibility that she didn't travel with the team up to Seattle since she wasn't going to play. This was common practice for the WNBA - unlike the NBA that has tons of money to accommodate every player, whether suited up or not, to travel.
I eventually went to my seat when it was "ok" to be down there sitting. No Fei Fei. I was bummed as it looked like I was going to strike out. My last hope was that when the teams took to the floor for their public warm-ups, she would come out.
Well, the team came out at 7:30pm and then I saw her walking in street clothes behind them. I was elated.
Now, this is where in hindsight things were really lax at those game - security wise. I walked over to her as she was standing near the hoop (underneath). Her and Erin Buscher. I said who I was and that I was a big fan. I had a card and something else I bought I remember. I gave that to her. I asked if I could get a photo and keep in mind I had no idea how good or bad her English was. She may not have understood anything I had just said. When I asked for the photo she called out to Erin to come take it. That answered my question about her English.
At some point - either this same meeting or a future one - she signed a Monarchs jersey for me I had bought from their site. And yes - I still have the jersey.
She never did catch on over here and only spent the one season in the WNBA.
Now, why I was able to go right up to her, unescorted, as she stood there during warm ups was really good for me - but in hindsight really bad for the players. What if I was some nut job that was obsessed with her or something. I could of walked right up to her with no one stopping me until it was too late. They never did change this policy. There was always a few cops on hand but they just protected the tunnels that the teams came out from.
On a separate note my mom was able to do something similar by walking up to Lauren Jackson (LJ) after a game (she wasn't playing) and have her sign something. Granted, my mom doesn't look like a threat but still - no fan should be able to do that ever. Maybe the WNBA has changed their policy in recent years. They really should if they haven't for the players protection. You never know when a bald headed Asian might fan boy around a player.
Missed Part I? Read it HERE!
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