I visited LA for the first time recently, a strange thing for a California native. I stayed with a dear friend in West Hollywood who has a lovely, affordable apartment mere blocks from the Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theater. I found the saturation of celebrity culture strange. Celebrity stories are always fun, it’s like talking about the “popular people” in high school- everybody knows them.
Maybe it’s the jaded New Yorker in me, but I walked past the red carpet premier of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” about a month ago with just a shrug and “Yeah, that’s Cameron Diaz.” (Maybe it’s just because I had negative interest in seeing it.) If you spend enough time in New York, you’ll see celebrities. Perhaps shooting their newest blockbuster, perhaps on line at Starbucks. In LA they have hundreds of tours and museums dedicated to celebrity. In New York, we pride ourselves on shrugging our shoulders. That said, everyone has their personal heroes of celebrity status. When you run into one of them, it’s a whole different game of star-struck.
Just ask my friend Sage, yesterday’s Other New York clichés feature! Here, in his own words, is his story:
I used to play STP songs on my guitar and sing them all the time. I wanted to be a rock star so bad, and in STP I found songs that I could actually sing. I love Guns and Roses but I don’t have a voice like Axle. Mine’s lower, sort of around where Scott’s is. He’s got a hell of a grunge blend when he gets up towards tenor notes (I’m a baritone), but I can sorta fake what he does when he sings lower. And he rocks.
Anyway, I was living in the New Yorker Hotel as a student (they have floors that are just for students) and I was in the lobby with my laundry bag. The night before Velvet Revolver, a super band made of member of Guns and Roses and Scott Weiland, had played the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. I had tried, very hard, to lie my way through the door. I talked to everyone who walked out of there trying to convince them to let me have their pass so I could see the show. But the ladies at the door where on to me and even after I obtained a pass (really don’t want to talk about what I had to do to get it) they wouldn’t let me in.
Also important to this story, is that when Scott is rocking out on stage he will on occasion sings into a bull horn. It creates a strange type of sound that (to my knowledge) only he really uses.
So I’m there in the lobby of the New Yorker, bummed because I didn’t get into the show the night before, and thinking about how sweet it would have been, when the elevator doors next to me opened. And a bull-horn emerges.
“Hey,” I thought to myself, “That kind of looks like Scott Weiland’s bull- OH MY @#$#@$ GOD!!!”
Scott Weiland himself stepped out of the elevator. He was staying on the top floor of the New Yorker.
You have to understand. I had hoped and dreamed that I would get to meet him one day. But I never thought it would really happen. This guy was my hero. I have posters on my walls. I had rehearsed a million times over what I would say to him if I ever got the chance. Things like “I cannot explain fully, with just words, what your music has done for me, how it has changed my life.” Or, “I really just need to say thank you, thank you so much. You helped me out so much as a kid.” Or, “Your music is everything I’ve ever wanted to embody.” You know, things of that nature.
Here was the moment. The impossible, unreal moment actually happening. He was about 5 feet away now and the distance was growing.
“Scott!” I called out, dropping my laundry bag.
He stopped. He turned around. And when he saw who was calling his out his name he gave me this look of “Uh, who the @#$% are you?”
I closed the distance between us by levitating. Yep, levitating. I’m sure of it, because if I did take steps I certainly didn’t feel them. My hand out stretched. And he shook it. HE SHOOK IT!!!
Now, for all those times that I had rehearsed this moment, all the things that I wanted, no, needed to say to him, this is all that I could get out of my mouth:
“I- uh. My- My name is Sage… I’m a really big of your work.”
“Oh.” He said, “Thanks.”
There was a really awkward moment and then he turn and walked out of the lobby and got into his car.
I didn’t wash that hand for a week.
It was, and still is one of the top three coolest moments of my life.