It was the summer of 1989, and I was biding my time before leaving Billings, Montana, for the renowned academic powerhouse Marquette University in Milwaukee. I was socking away minimum wages for my collegiate experience at Best Sporting Goods, quietly whiling away my afternoons selling rifles, lawn furniture, fly rods, and Weber grills. At best, I was an average salesman, but I spent half my time on the phone arranging … Read more »
My friend Alex was working for the as-yet not officially announced presidential contender John McCain. He hooked me up with an invite to a cocktail party at Bloomberg News to celebrate the release of McCainâ€™s memoir, _Faith of My Fathers._ It was a star-studded affair with luminaries sipping champagne and eating shrimp wrapped in bacon as the author signed books and greeted well-wishers.
As I looked around at my … Read more »
â€œAh, Ray Charlesâ€”it doesnâ€™t get any better, does it?â€
I looked up from a crouch to see who was offering unsolicited opinions on my holiday shopping, assuming I would give a friendly nod and move on down the aisle, when lo and beholdâ€¦
Elvis Costello wasnâ€™t watching the detectives. He was watching me peruse the music DVD selections at the Union Square Virgin Records, and he approved of … Read more »
I met Lauren Hutton in front of my apartment building in Miami Beach, about 15 feet from the spot where, a few years later, Gianni Versace would get shot. She sat with my friend Adam on the coral rock veranda of the Amsterdam Palaceâ€”an edifice with a singular, irreproducible charm that so beguiled Versace that he bought it and reconstructed it from top to bottom.
The fetchingly gap-toothed supermodel … Read more »
Mick Jagger never "pissed in my refrigerator":http://www.smithmag.net/brushes_with_fame/story.php?did=50, but I did take a shower with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1981 on Venice Beach. I almost shot a handgun with Sylvester Stallone in Hollywood the same year, but a bad drinking problem got me dismissed from that scene.
Angela Bowie cooked me breakfast once. I got into a fistfight with the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls. Boy George told me … Read more »
I was coming into a hotel the other day, and who should I run into checking in at the front desk but that Earl guy from _My Name Is Earl._ I nodded to him, and then I stood there waiting for the elevator.
But I noticed that that Earl guy kept staring at me. What, is he waiting for me to acknowledge him? I wondered. To ask, â€œHey, arenâ€™t … Read more »
A few years before they hit the big time singing the theme to _The L Word_ and getting their own off-Broadway show, the ladies of "Betty":http://www.hellobetty.com/ were musicians playing clubs and touring. Iâ€™d been to a few shows and enjoyed their music a lot. One winter night during the holiday season, I was in a nearly empty train car with my family on our way to Brooklyn when I saw … Read more »
A couple of years ago, after an improv class at the _Upright Citizens Brigade,_ some of my fellow improvisers and I went to a nearby watering hole for grub and imbibements.
One of my friends was talking about how his wife's friend Jessica was in town auditioning for some Broadway play, and let on that she would be stopping by. When she came in to meet us, imagine my … Read more »
I lived in Duluth, Minnesota, for a while in the late '90s and used to go to a bar in an area near the bridge that separated the city and the island on Lake Superior. I canâ€™t remember any names now, but I was in there and I saw Jack Nicholson!
He was there with his agent and some studio guys scouting for a movie (the one with Diane … Read more »
The "Magic Castle":http://www.magiccastle.com/, atop a hillside overlooking Hollywood, is a mecca for professional and amateur magicians, as well for as those guestsâ€”itâ€™s members onlyâ€”who are fascinated by sleight of hand. (How _do_ they do it?)
This is especially true in the small rooms, where itâ€™s harder for magicians to disguise the trick. So I consider these practitioners even more skilled than David Copperfield, with his pyrotechnics and the backstage … Read more »
I was in Thailand when I got a frantic email from my friend, a photographer I had met on a press junket a few years earlier, about signing a release form. She said she didnâ€™t think I had ever signed it for photos she took of me floating in the Dead Sea off the coast of Jordan.
Since she was in such a panic about it, I signed. I … Read more »
I was in a bar in New York about six years ago with several friends who had all traveled with me from San Francisco. We were sending off a buddy of ours who had decided to join the Peace Corps and as a result were terribly drunk, as we had been barhopping for several hours all over town.
One of the gang spotted Janeane Garofalo in a corner, quietly … Read more »
In the mid-â€™80s and early â€™90s, I worked as a journeyman vocalist, doing gigs that ranged from musical theater, to cabaret, to corporate and family parties, to nightclubs. One of the wildest was being in the chorus of _Rick & Rubyâ€™s Senior Prom,_ an improvisational parody of high school in the â€™50s.
Another player and I were assigned to go out and buy condoms to distribute to prom-goers as … Read more »
When I was 12 years old, I had a wicked crush on the late Michael Landon. When I was 26 and working for CBS in New York, I happened to be alone in an elevator with him. I was so stoked that I had to tell him how I once adored him.
He replied, â€œBut now youâ€™re older and wiser.â€
I said, â€œNo, just older.â€
When we … Read more »
I was stuck in a driveway off Sunset Boulevard, my right-turn light blinking timidly. A naturally cautious driver, I scooted out one inch at a time, watching as car after car flew past. Just when I felt the bleakest, when Los Angeles felt the most cruel, a brand-new bright red sports car came to a full stop, its driver waving me ahead of him and into the lane with a … Read more »
So Iâ€™m standing at the counter saying good-bye to my friends Mary and Primo. It is the last day of the season, and Iâ€™m making my final purchase at their general store, which wonâ€™t reopen until spring. I look at the man next to me, and it takes only a half second for me to realize that it is Jim Belushi.
I can feel my heart race, my head … Read more »
When I was 18, I had a fortunate encounter with the Zappa family. Before I knew it, I was hanging out with Diva, who was the youngest and the same age as I was. We would hang out every dayâ€”because we got along so wellâ€”and it wasnâ€™t uncommon for people to stop her in the middle of a purchase and ask her if she was related the late Frank Zappa.
Read more »
We were enjoying my friend's dad's skybox tickets for the Wizards vs. Celtics game this weekend. Neither team seemed to want to win, and nobody in the stadium seemed to care much about the contest. Everybody was glued to the TV to see the result of the Redskins game.
And then, the door opened. Where there is usually a silhouette and a backlight, there was total darkness. A shadow … Read more »
You might call this a Brush by Fame, or a Fame Whiff (as in completely missing the target).
In the late '90s, I had just moved to New York and started working at _Jane_ magazine. Jane Pratt, the editor, used to have a quasi-famous birthday-party bash (she may still, for all I know). Being a lowly copy editor, I didnâ€™t have the casual access to the glitterati that most … Read more »
At a party on the deck of my flat, I was talking with a Japanese woman who mentioned she was in a band. â€œReally? Which band?â€ I asked. â€œBuffalo Daughter,â€ she said.
Freaking out that I was talking to Sugar, I impolitely pointed at her and stuttered, "You're...you're...you're the lead guitarist, right?!" It was then that I smothered her with praise, telling her how much I admired the fact … Read more »
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