I was in a Mood on the day of the Natick, MA show. Overtired, overwrought and over-worked. “You’re acting really impersonal,” Michael told me on the three hour drive, “which is pretty much the complete antithesis of how you usually are.” He was right. I’m pretty nice most of the time, and if I’m snippy or cranky or just downright bitchy, it’s because I’m having a blood sugar crash, I had a bad day at work or I’m sleep deprived. Or I’m hungover. I’m fairly certain I was all of the above on that day, at least until Michael popped one of our karaoke CDs into the car stereo. His Michael McDonald imitation never ceases to cheer me*. The goofy-ass VERY white dance moves helped a lot, too, but more on car karaoke later.
We found out when we stopped at a rest area to grab snacks about halfway to Natick that Farrah Fawcett had died. Not that it was a huge surprise. Farrah’s been about 75 pounds soaking wet for a while now, and mentally, I think she checked out about 5 years ago. And what a kick in the balls for her. Ryan finally proposes after 30 years of on-again-off-again, and she bites it, what, 48 hours later? It just confirmed my long-held belief that deathbed proposals DO NOT COUNT. Take heed, gentlemen, if you’re thinking about holding out.
Natick is cute. It takes about 3 minutes to walk from one end to the other. The venue, The Center for Arts (TCAN), is not at all what I expected. It’s a small theatre with concrete floors and brick walls, meaning that sound would bounce around all over the place, and oh, did I mention that apparently, Stick Men are loud? I don’t know if that’s come up yet in this blog. Anyway, it looked like it was more suited for chamber music or children’s theatre workshops than noisy prog rock. But that’s the nice thing about the human body. It’s all-natural baffling, so if the venue was to fill to its 290 maximum occupancy, all those soft dudes with long hair would soak up that extraneous noise.
While downstairs in the dressing room, I took advantage of WiFi to surf a little. “Hm,” I thought, as I looked at CNN.com. “Michael Jackson was taken to the hospital after suffering cardiac arrest. Didn’t see that one coming.” A few minutes later, the statuses (statii??) of my friends on Facebook started to say things like, “RIP Michael Jackson,” and “OMG, Jacko died!!!” That’s when I started to suspect something was up. Pat was down in the dressing room with me, and he immediately jumped onto the Drudge Report (don’t even get me started on fucking Drudge, but that’s another blog), which was reporting that according to Hollywood anal-probe TMZ.com, Michael Jackson was, indeed, dead.
Maybe I was supposed to start rending my garments and wailing to the heavens, but honestly, people, I don’t get all choked up over celebs dying anymore. I don’t know them. They’re not my friends. I’ll save my righteous tears for genocide and wholesale inhumane behavior, but I’m not about to start crying over dead famous people. Michael Jackson did not have a huge impact on my life. Yes, I begged my mom to buy me the Thriller album when I was 8 years old. Yes, I enjoyed Off the Wall. Yes, I thought he was a kook and a sad cautionary tale of what can go wrong if your dad is an abusive prick who pushed you into stardom and early adulthood. But Michael didn’t write his own music. Quincy Jones wrote all the good stuff.
But enough about Jacko, except to say that as I was walking down to the corner store during soundcheck to pick up some dirty, sinful cigarettes, some teenager stopped me on the sidewalk and said, “Hey, did you hear that Michael Jackson died?”
I replied, “Yeah, Farrah Fawcett, too.”
I think I laughed all the way back to the venue.
The Natick show sold out. The audience was great, especially the superfan I like to call John 3:16 in the front row. John 3:16 was nice enough to let me sit next to him when I lost my unassigned seat after intermission (there was an actual intermission!!!!), but his constant attempts at banter with Tony, Michael and Pat while they were onstage, not to mention his spastic, personal-space-invading dance moves, made me wonder if I should have just stood in the back. Regardless, it was another outstanding show, and Michael’s and my friend Steph and her boyfriend drove a rental car from Boston to see it, which was a really cool thing for them to do.
Tony, Pat and Robert Frazza, the sound engineer, stayed overnight in Natick. Michael and I were not so lucky. Once again, I had to be back at work the next day, so we schlepped it to NY in the middle of a dark and stormy night, and got stuck in road construction in the process. Thankfully, we still had the Smiths karaoke CDs. Both of us have an inordinate and probably disturbing affection for the Smiths, and when we got our hands on some Smiths and Morrissey karaoke disks last year, we’ve been wearing them out on our machine at home, drunkenly warbling our way through “Shoplifters” and “Suedehead” a hundred billion times. That CD kept us awake during those crucial moments on I-90 where there’s nothing, no one, nothing around for miles, as Morrissey would say in “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish”, proving that no matter where you are, or what you’re doing, or how long it’s been since they broke up, the Smiths will not only save your life, but they’ll live forever. Unlike Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.
Sorry. Too soon?
*Please do not ask Michael to do his Michael McDonald imitation for you. That shit’s all mine, yo!