Monday, August 27, 2012

My meeting with John Lennon

It wasn’t a long meeting. But it was memorable.

Winter 1973. I’m an engineer at KABC and KLOS radio in Los Angeles. Essentially I worked as a board op for KLOS. That meant I played the records and commercials. Union rules prohibited the disc jockeys from doing anything other than turning on and off their microphoness. Oh, and they could talk. They got that concession.

It was a cool job. KLOS played what today we call “classic rock.” Album cuts and Layla. I loved the music and the jocks were all terrific dudes. I’m still friends with Jim Ladd, Marc Driscoll, and Dion Jackson from that talented staff.

Occasionally I would have to go across the hall and handle KABC talk shows. That was fun too. Talk radio in those days welcomed different points of view, not just one. Imagine such a concept – a balance of ideas. I know. It was crazy.

I’m working one Saturday night on KLOS. I’m on my break. It’s about 9:45. The 10:00 KABC talk show host was Elliott Mintz. There was a long hallway at KABC/KLOS that led to the side entrance. I step out of our studio and happen to glance down the hallway. Holy shit! There’s John Lennon and Yoko Ono buzzing to be let in. They were Elliott’s scheduled guests. ( Elliott is still Yoko’s publicist, by the way.)

I duck my head into the KABC control room and say I’ll get them. Then I barrel down the hall and usher them in. I introduce myself and shake hands with them both. Yoko’s handshake is firmer than John’s.

He’s wearing a blue jean shirt and khakis. She’s wearing a huge black fur that must weigh sixty pounds.

I’ve got about twenty seconds alone with John & Yoko as I lead them down this long hall. What do you say to them?

At the time there was a very popular album by the National Lampoon that featured a very funny send-up of John called “Magical Misery Tour.” In that song he’s forever yelling, “I’m a fuckin’ genius!”

I don’t know what possessed me but I say to John, “So… what’s it like being a fuckin’ genius?” Without breaking stride he gives me a big grin and says, “Pretty nice, actually!”

That was it. We arrive at the studio and Elliott takes it from there. I couldn’t even hang back to watch the interview. I was due back at KLOS at 10:00.

But it brings up an interesting question. If you get to meet someone you idolize and you have time to ask him just one thing, what would it be? I’m sure had I known in advance that I would be meeting John I would have prepared something a little less – how should I say it? – obnoxious, but I just had the sense he would take the question in the spirit it was asked and in fact he did.

I didn’t have time to ask Yoko a question. Which is probably good. I don’t think she would have seen the whimsy in “What dead animal is that?”

So there’s my twenty second brush with greatness… and his wife.

Here's "Magical Misery Tour".




48 comments:

The Milner Coupe said...

I was an intern at KHON in Honolulu when I was in high school. One day one of the reporters tells me to come with him to a news conference at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. We walk into a closed restaurant and there's Colonel Parker telling us to hurry up and grab the free concert programs on each seat because in five minutes he's gonna start selling them.

A few minutes late Elvis strolls in and they announce the upcoming Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite concert. Afterward the reporter brought me up to the front and introduced me to Elvis. In a classic cliche moment, I couldn't say a word. As Elvis shook my hand, the reporter had to tell him my name. Elvis was very gracious and signed a program to me. He then thanked me.

To this day I can think of a thousand things I wished I had said, starting with my name.

Johnny said...

I've been in this situation a few times, and I tend to have a sudden mind fart. There are moments when you have the perfect question lined up, and there are moments when you meet your idols. If only those two moments ever happened at the same time.

Still, I've been lucky enough to enjoy some pleasant exchanges with some of my idols: Alan Moore, Jane Espenson, David Simon, Rob Grant.

People I'd still like to meet: Joss Whedon and David Lynch. Came very close with the latter, but it didn't happen in the end.

Mike Barer said...

\that's impressive, John was reputed to be a loose cannon. I would have just said "nice to meet you John, your one of my heroes."
I'm glad that he responded well to your inquiry.

David said...

I was an engineer/board op at WRKO radio in the 1980s, when it was talk and I got to meet many of idols. Some were not great encounters but I'll tell you one that was - the night Jerry Lewis was a guest on the night-time talk show. During a commercial break I ducked into the studio and did the "I'm such a big fan" thing and then, in an effort to connect with one of my favorite entertainers told him this story. I had seen him do a bit in a movie in which he was trying to sneak down a hallway and his shoes squeaked. So he takes off his shoes and starts to tip-toe down the hall, but his feet also squeaked.

"I spent the next week trying to make my feet squeaked" I told him.

But he didn't smile at the story. He got real intense and looked at me in the eyes and, like school teacher, asked "And do you know why that was funny?"

I was caught totally off-balance. "Uh... I didn't know there'd be a quiz." I blurted out.

Still no smile, but an interesting discourse on how HE never broke character but Berle and Hope and others would have done so, thus ruining the comedy.

I was glad the break was almost over, so I had an excuse to retreat to the control room. It was still one of my favorite moments in radio, actually talking to (or, being talked to) by one of my idols.

DaveLou said...

I have several cuts from this National Lampoon LP on my iPod and listen to them regularly, 39 years after the fact.

Jimmy Durante Pip said...

Calling the effen M's games, you're on a bit of a continuing Misery Tour yourself, tho the magic seems to happen for the opponents. Son of a BITCH!!

Ane said...

My "met-celebrity-I-admire-couldn't-get-a-word-out-episode" was actually with Bebe Neuwirth. It was in NYC last summer. Even though I was mute as a turtle she was very nice and signed a photo for me.

Max Clarke said...

I'd ask the star this question:

Was there somebody you always wanted to meet, who you finally got to meet? What was that like?

Assuming I have more than Ken's 20 seconds with John Lennon, this question might open things up. Most stars are fans of somebody.

Whenever I've met a big name, everything kind of goes silent in my head. I used to listen a lot to the audio of the movie "Body Heat" on my iPod. It's so well done, I don't need the video to enjoy the film. Same with my collection of Cheers episodes, audio only.

So I finally met William Hurt in an out-of-the-blue moment. He played Ned Racine in "Body Heat," but what did I say?

"Loved you in Spielberg's A.I."

William Hurt suddenly said he was late for something and had to leave. He actually did have to rejoin a meeting, but that didn't make it better.

That robot kid in "A.I." was smarter than me with William Hurt.

Rock Golf said...

About 20 years ago, I had to take my aunt to the airport. There, checking himself in, was Bo Diddley. Bo. Freakin'. Diddley. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame original class inductee. I'm just standing there with my jaw at chest level.
And for the life of me I can't think of his name. But, thank you stupid brain, I remember his birth name is Elias McDaniel.
Of course I can't even get that out.
Nonetheless, he sees me, eyes wide as dinner plates, smiles and say "How ya doin'?"
I sputter out "I saw you at Live Aid with.." and my brain fails me again!
"George Thorogood", Bo helpfully completes.
"Yeah!" as if he would get it wrong.
"Take care now," he say and heads off to board.

Ane said...

Where's a "like"-button when you need one? ;-)

Oliver said...

My wife and I were on vacation in Budapest, Hungary, when one night we discovered Kelsey Grammer dining in the very same restaurant. I was such a big "Frasier" fan then, I couldn' help myself but going over there and say hello - but after I said, how sad I was, "Frasier" had come to an end, I froze and couldn't think of anything to ask. So HE asked ME something: "Did that already air in Germany?" Which it didn't, so I said no, but did not really want to explain I downloaded it from the internet... Well, I still got a picture of that meeting, and in that, everybody can clearly see I was out of my depths. Which is why I hide it very carefuly.

LA Nuts book (Joe Dungan) said...

Ken,

Once again, you've proven that your life is much cooler than mine. To wit:

My latest brush with famous people came...

LAST NIGHT.

I had occasion to meet my possible future congressman, Brad Sherman. All I could think to ask him was why Congress doesn't accomplish anything.

He graciously rambled for two minutes. I don't remember a word of it, and it was just 14 hours ago. The only other time I've ever had a conversation with someone who used so many words to say so little was several years ago when I met...

...Congressman Howard Berman -- who's running against Sherman this November for the same seat in a redrawn congressional district.

I hope to start having celebrity run-ins someday that don't leave me confused.

Phil said...

I worked at SNL in the 80's, ending with the Eddie Murphy cast and starting with Billy Crystal cast. I was a lowly researcher, apprentice writer. Ringo was the guest one week and it was my job to walk him in and up in the elevator. At 10am on a wed. for the first meeting, there were still fans waiting to see him. I walked him past and gently took his arm. He pulled it away - of course, he'd been man handled enough in his life. I was 23. As we're going up the elevator we're all pretty quiet, and I'm feeling I overstepped, so being quiet and feeling stupid and somewhat awestruck that I'm with a fab 4 when he says casually. "I'm just a person." His graciousness broke the ice as I walked him to the office. That was my moment.

Chicago Bill said...

Ken,

I am a little late in reading, was traveling the last week. Your Howard Stern / Detroit post really made we think of a question since I had no idea you served some time there.

Are you also familiar, and/or a fan of the Steve Dahl. I have never heard you mention him, but it appears you were all in the same neighborhood for awhile.

Also, sorry I read these posts after the fact you left Chicago, I would have treated you to one of our finest restaraunts after sweeping your Mariners, only great steak and good pasta can comfort.

Thank you, I love your blog, I consider myself one of your newest, best fans. Keep it up, aim straight and talk to you soon.

Chicago Bill

Loosehead said...

Getting a drink at a kiosk in the Magic Kingdom, and waffling on about the mahoosive buffet breakfast I'd had that morning, and that I'd probably never eat again (like that would happen - I'm rather large), and I turned round and there is Meryl Streep behind me in the queue, double Oscar winner, visiting with her family. Of course, I felt like a fool, completely struck dumb, and she was covering a snigger behind her hand (did I mention I'm quite large). Just had time to pluck "Well, perhaps a waffer thin mint" from my memory and say it, then walked back to my wife and kids. I felt so proud.

Johnny said...

Oddly enough, I think I've gotten into weird situations by not being starstruck enough when I've met certain famous people. My instinct is to behave as if it was a normal interaction, but history has taught me otherwise. (I guess Ringo is an exception.)

I can totally understand how it might come across to a famous person though (they're far more interesting to you than you are to them, after all), so I don't begrudge it, but when I forget, it can throw me.

For example, the following happened to me:

I spot Matt Berry outside a tube station in London. I'm a huge fan of his short-lived and little-known show.

"Oh wow! You're Matt Berry!

"Yeah?"

"I'm a big fan!"

I was expecting, "Oh cool. Nice to meet you", but what I got was Matt Berry staring at me, his expression saying: "And?"

I'm pushed off balance because this wasn't what I was expecting and all of a sudden I don't know what to say. I blurt,

"Er, nice to meet you!"

And we part ways, me feeling like an idiot.

In hindsight I've learned that you should always have something to say planned in advance!

Jim S said...

My story is about meeting you Ken. I signed up for your writing class and was the first student in the main room where you lectured. I was wearing my Tigers baseball cap and I wanted to show you that I read your blog faithfully. In fact I first came across it when you predicted the Tigers would win the 2006 World Series. Oh well.

I knew you were a fan of the late great Earnie Harwell, to my mind one of the top three radio baseball announcers. So I said, in my brillance, hey you're the second most famous baseball announcer I've met. You looked at me for a couple of seconds, didn't drive a railroad spike through my forehead, a piece of restraint on your part that I am eternally grateful for, and finally said, you met Earnie, that's great. I then tried to recover my dignity and your respect by asking a couple of what I hoped were actuall germaine and intelligent questions.

I will always be grateful that you actually treated me with courtesy for the remainder of the course. In my head, my statement made sense, but I really should stop basing my life on the question "what would Cliff Claven do?"

E Flatus said...

Who is the guy in the picture with Lennon?

YEKIMI said...

Man, I had totally forgotten that "Magical Misery Tour" piece. I also forgot that I I have all the Natonal Lampoon albums [yes, ALBUMS, not CDs] that were released. Now I have to go dig them out and give them a listen again.

Ed from SFV said...

I was at an In & Out at the open for the day and who saunters in? Sam Elliott.

We were waiting for the food and I just had to ask him (with a smile), "What the hell is banquet beer?" He chuckled and said "Damned if I know, but it sure pays me well."

We went on to have a very nice conversation about his career. He seemed touched that I knew about his early work.

DBenson said...

There's an Oscar Levant story that when he was introduced to Greta Garbo, he said something like "What was the name again?"

This cemented his reputation as a wit, although he later wrote that he was actually so gobsmacked he just sort of blurted that to buy a moment to think.

Max Clarke said...

I once met Carlos Santana. It went well.

I was at Bay Cafe in Marin County in 2007. Carlos and some other fellow came in. Santana was pretty anonymous, but then he stepped near me to get bottled water from the fridge.

I said, "You look a lot like Carlos Santana," and he said he was. Very soft-spoken, low key, gracious. I mentioned the album "Caravanserai," with the excellent "Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation." He said thanks.

One of the young women behind the counter, Ashley, asked if she could have his autograph. Carlos replied, "Only if I can have yours." He then drew his name on a sheet of paper. It was artistic, the way he created his name, more expansive than calligraphy. When one of the women mentioned a medallion Carlos was wearing around his neck, he removed it so the ladies could examine it. A real gentleman.

When I met the Bay Cafe owner, Curtis, also a musician, he said he was even more impressed by the fellow with Santana. Curtis said that guy was the record producer who made the Santana album "Supernatural." When he got the Grammy, Carlos thanked him for it.

Uncle Mike said...

A week ago, I was in the Five Guys that just opened on 42nd Street in New York, having just watched Arsenal open the new English soccer season. I was wearing my 1971 (iconic season for them) retro shirt, and an English voice behind me wants to talk about them. Decent enough man, looks vaguely familiar, then I figure out he looks like Piers Morgan.

Now, from seeing him on TV and Twitter, Piers is not one of my favorite people, in spite of sharing a team we support. But this could-be Piers couldn't have been nicer, and he did know his stuff. But he was with his wife and baby daughter, so I figured he didn't want to be bothered. Besides, Piers tapes his show in L.A., right?

Well, according to his Twitter feed, he was in New York that weekend. And his Wikipedia entry's section on his personal life matches the family: Wife, baby daughter (and three older kids from his first marriage). So it probably was him.

So there's someone I would not have chosen to meet, and he turned out all right.

Tom Quigley said...

Sometimes just saying ANYTHING becomes a problem, let alone thinking of a question to ask.

I was managing a small audience one time at a Wednesday rehearsal of HOME IMPROVEMENT that the producers would always bring in to gauge the response to the script as it stood at that point in the week. This particular week, Jenny McCarthy happened to be the guest star, and as the rehearsal audience was allowed to be seated down on the stage, I found myself about 6 feet away from her as she watched a run-through of a scene that she wasn't appearing in. Suddenly she looked over my way and I thought to myself "OK, eye contact! Great! This is my chance -- Playmate of the Year, gorgeous woman, have to say something to her!" Not even thinking that she'd probably ignore any gesture I made, I waved her over to where I was standing -- and she started to head in my direction. Now, within the space of maybe a second and a half, I started to think "Oh, shit! What am I going to say that she may even think is worth responding to?" When she reached me, our faces weren't more than 10 inches apart -- and she never blinked those unbelievable blue eyes -- and all I could babble was something about how I had worked on another show with her former costar on her NBC sitcom, and she smiled, responded, and gave me a friendly pat on the back.

After the rehearsal when I had released the audience, I saw her sitting on a bench near the main entrance at Disney Studios, evidently waiting for a ride (found out later she had just broken up with her boyfriend/manager, with whom she had been living), but figured I had already shot my chance of even becoming an acquaintance -- or maybe even giving her a ride home that day.

Jenny, if you're out there listening -- call me if you ever need some wheels!

gottacook said...

I was 16 when I bought National Lampoon's LP Radio Dinner at a college bookstore while touring campuses. Tony Hendra (then a Lampoon editor) does the voice of "fookin' genius" John, with Melissa Manchester on piano and as the voice of Yoko at the end.

I've heard that all the words spewed by John are verbatim excerpts from the early 1971 Rolling Stone interview "Lennon Remembers," which is easily found online (www.rollingstone.com/music/news/lennon-remembers-part-one-19710121). This is probably true; for example, it didn't take me long to locate "I'm as sensitive as shit" in the interview.

The screams at the end are probably intended to represent the Primal Scream therapy that John had recently undergone, as noted in the interview.

Oh, for the days of audio-only satire. (This LP and the National Lampoon Radio Hour of 1974-75 were the sprout from which Christopher Guest's career grew, among others, but radio and LPs don't exist any longer as potential training grounds for such talents. And the Lampoon itself slowly ceased to be funny sometime during the Ford administration, but that's another story - told from Hendra's point of view in his book Going Too Far.)

Anonymous said...

Side by side with Andy Garcia waiting for service at the popcorn counter -- some movie theater in SF Valley, I tell him I so enjoy his work, and he returned the compliment. This was awhile back, as I was referring to his improv on Monday nights in the Comedy Store Mainroom. I was just starting out Monday nights in the Original Room, so it meant a lot.

Mike Schryver said...

I met comic Joel Hodgson at a meet-and-greet after a show a couple of years ago, and I'm a huge fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
I wanted to convey that I'd enjoyed his work even before MST3K, and said, I really liked your standup act from the days when you would go on SNL.
He said very slowly, "That was a long time ago," in a voice that implied he didn't enjoy being reminded how long ago that was.
I resolved after that to mainly refer to current projects when I meet performers.

Michael Fox said...

I used to work for a Public Television Station out of Nebraska-Omaha. One of the interviews they did during that time was with Carl Bernstein. He was very cordial throughout the interview and even from behind the camera I was impressed by him. This was before the name of Deep Throat was made known and the host asked him, jokingly, who it was. He politely refused. A class act.

Dave Creek said...

I joined a news crew from the TV newsroom where I worked as they interviewed William Shatner at the Kentucky State Fair about 18 or so years ago. He was riding horses in competition.

Despite his reputation, he couldn't have been more gracious. We were shooting the interview at the horse barns at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds and he even stood up and walked over to one of his horses and spoke about what magnificent beasts they were, and all that. I was impressed that Shatner was doing shtick for a local station camera!

After the interview, I asked him to autograph the press kit folder from STAR TREK IV, and he did so without hesitation. Maybe we got him on a good day, but I saw no sign of the Shatner some people seem to hate.

cityslkrz said...

I live in New York City, so run into celebrities all the time. And EVERY time I'm struck dumb. To be fair, it's always random, I'm thinking of something else entirely, and then BAM, there's [insert famous person here] right in front of me. I'd love a go-to comment other than "I'm a huge fan". You know, something that won't make me feel like a complete moron. Hence my stymied conversation with Ken at the book signing.

Breadbaker said...

Bill Nye, when he was on Almost Live! in Seattle, used to have a character named "Speed Walker." I was in the Kingdome once, and for some reason I started saying "Speed Walker." Out loud. And I looked up and there was Bill Nye. I was so embarrassed I speed walked away.

YEKIMI said...

I think I've told this before...anyways, friend who lived in NYC and worked on Wall Street in the mid-1990s was getting married, I was in the wedding party. After the wedding they went on their honeymoon, all of us who had come in for the wedding decided to go sight seeing. We're on a subway, most of my friends were gabbing about something I wasn't interested in so I was looking around the subway car. I saw a guy wearing a ball cap and it was pulled down low. I looked at him just as he looked up and he looked familiar and I mouthed the words "Ethan Hawke?". He just put a finger to his lips, as in saying "Shhhhhh!" and went back to looking down at the floor so I didn't say anything to my friends. A couple of stops later, he got up to get off, turned and smiled at me and gave me a thumbs up and walked off. As the doors closed I turned to my friends and said "Ethan Hawke just got off the subway!" Since I was about the only movie geek there, most of them went "Who's Ethan Hawke?" At least I knew who he was!

Mr. First Nighter said...

Only some of you will get this. In about 1975, there was a big comic convention at a Miami Beach hotel. A friend and I really wanted to meet Neal Adams (one of the biggest illustrators in comics), so we bought a big cake and thought we'd ask him to come to the hotel coffeeshop for dessert. We called his room and invited him down for coffee and dessert. Sure, he said, and do you mind if I bring along Jack Kirby?

Seattle Radio Guy said...

April of 1991 and I am a young account executive at a Seattle radio station that happened to be owned by one Gene Autry. Mr. Autry, of course, also owned the California Angels and was in town to watch his Angels take on the Mariners to open the '91 season. All the station employees and our spouses/guests were invited into the station manager's office one at a time for a brief introduction to Mr. Autry and to have a photo taken.

I can't remember what I said or what Mr. Autry said, but as soon as we were out of the office my wife said, "That old man just stared at my boobs the whole time we were in there!"

David Schwartz said...

Tom Lehrer! I was living in Santa Cruz in the 1970's when I was a teenager and at the time Tom Lehrer taught a musical comedy class up at UCSC. Every week or two they'd put on a full musical in the classroom (they'd memorize the songs but read the dialogue) and invite friends, family, people from the community, etc. to watch the performances. So, I found myself sitting in room of about 25 or 30 people watching students perform "How to Succeed in Business" or some other Broadway play (I'm not 100% sure, but think it was "How to Succeed in Business"). And Tom Lehrer is playing the piano during all of the musical numbers!

Now I think Tom Lehrer is the greatest musical satirist EVER, and I thought this at that time as well, so I'm desperately trying to think of something clever to say to him... and nothing's coming to me.

So giving up on that notion, I just walk over to him during a break and ask him, "How long have you been playing the piano?" And he says something vague, like "A really long time," and I respond with, "Oh, so you were playing in the womb?" At the time, I thought this was a pretty witty response. Unfortunately, there was no laugh. No chuckle, nothing! I slinked back to my seat and hoped if I ever met him again he wouldn't remember! :-)

I still cringe whenever I think of it!

Oh well... clearly not all attempted witticisms are tinged with greatness!

Storm said...

Having attended Comic Con for 25 years, I've met dozens of famous folk over the years, though many of them might be "famous" only to fellow nerds. All sorts of people come to Con, sometimes just to hang out like any other nerd. Almost ever single interaction, however brief, has been pleasant, if not awesome.

Strangest Comic Con Memory: Con of '84, I'm looking at some comics at a booth, when I hear a familiar voice speaking to another seller nearby. I look at him, and he looks familar, but I can't place it. So I ask him, "Excuse me, do I know you? You seem familiar to me....?" He smiled and said "I have one of those faces", and went back to what he was doing. I walked away, and was mobbed by my friends, saying "Omigod, what did David Carradine say to you?! He NEVER talks to anyone!"

Happiest Con Memory: the Ramones showing up rather randomly at Con'91. They were in town on tour and just showed up. I was outside having a cigarette, looked over at them walking up and said "That poor son of a bitch looks just like Joey Ramone... Holy crap, that IS Joey Ramone!" He couldn't have been sweeter, so tall and gangly. I was Riff Randalling all over him.

Worst Con Celeb (I use the term loosely) Moment: Con of '99, I was walking through the Dealer's Room, stylin' and profilin' in my Klingon gear, when I notice Kathy Griffin about to walk by. Without trying to stop her or hassle her in any way, I smiled and said "Oh! Hey, girl!" And she looked at me like I was shit on her shoe, just sneered at me. So (paraphrasing Brody in "Mallrats"), I turned to her and hollered, "What, you think that just 'cause a bitch wears a rubber forehead she WON'T START SOME SHIT?!?" She walked MUCH faster, and disappeared. Hey, don't mess with a broad in Klingon drag, is all I'm sayin'.

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

Roger Owen Green said...

Mine was with Randy Newman in the Poughkeepsie train station. Nothing. Rats.

Johnny Walker said...

Haha! Great stories there, Storm. Why on earth was Kathy Griffin at Comicon anyway?

dougR said...

This is going WAY back--Bruce Springsteen, before the big "Born to Run" tour, was doing warmup shows at the Carlton Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, and my girlfriend's sister's best friend, who worked at a chain steak house called Rosy O'Grady's near Ft. Monmouth, was dating Bruce at the time. So a bunch of us got comped to see Bruce and the band, center orch. seats, in a (relatively) tiny venue. After the show, a bunch of us headed back to Rosie OG's to wait for the girlfriend to get off shift, and Bruce shows up, sits down in a booth with a couple of guys, and a few of us join him. Bruce and another guy are talking offhandedly about old movies, I've just witnessed one of the legendary Bruce shows and am euphorically floating far above my pitiful existence, and couldn't say a word. (if I HAD opened my mouth, nothing but babble would have come out.) In its own way, it was a perfect moment.

Carol said...

Met Malcolm McDowell at a Monster Mania convention and he was amazingly nice to me, and let me babble at him for several minutes, even though I wasn't buying an autograph.

Also met the third Doctor, Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen in '83. He commented that he liked my hat. I was thrilled. He was very kind, as was Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith)

Patrick Stewart signed autographs outside of the theatre when he was doing The Scottish Play and graciously accepted the key chain I gave him with the logo of my community Shakespeare company on it.

So...yeah...

Jeffrey Mark said...

I was backstage at the very first Bay Area U2 concert held in the student union building at San Jose State University where I was attending in early 1981. I was watching the opening act, Romeo Void, perform and I look sideways and there is a very young Bono (about 20 at the time) groovin' away. I had only been aware of U2's music a couple of months, but I turned to him and said I really liked the song "I Will Follow." We chit-chatted, I told him I worked in San Francisco radio on the air overnights. He asked me if my station was playing the song; I told him no, we weren't playing it because it doesn't "fit our format." He looked momentarily bummed. He asked if I could sneak it on the air, since my shift was the overnight at, say around 3am. He said something like "nobody's listening anyway." I told a very young Bono I would get royally fired for this. He made some comment and turned and walked away. Of course, he went on to become a multi-billionaire rock God and me...I got my stinkin' BA degree that did diddly for me in my work life. (And toiled the overnight shift for 3 more years until summarily fired.)

Storm said...

Johnny: Dunno; why does that goofy cow do ANYTHING she does? There are all sorts of people there now, famous and common, that don't seem to "belong" at Con. TV and movie companies use it as a huge endless promotional press conference for any and everything they're selling or developing, however slight the comics/sci-fi connection may be. It's sad; I stopped attending in '09. I still go to the after-parties though! (Oh, and a correction; the Ramones came to Con of '90, NOT '91)

Carol: If I met Malcolm McDowell, I would have some kind of breakdown. I LOVE him. Yeah, I'll say it, right here in print on the Interwebz-- "Cat People" is one of my favourite movies. I have my reasons, don't judge me!

Jeffrey Mark: How funny that just a year and a half or so later, my favourite station of ALL time KQAK went "Rock of the 80's" and played them all the time! SF was still stuck in AOR/Classic rock mode then, the New Wave stuff confused them at first.

One more thing; if you do manage to run into/meet a famous person, it often pays to mention not the thing they are currently most known for, but something from their early days (which they're NOT ashamed of!). Case in point; while walking the Dealer's Room at the L.A. Star Wars Celebration in '07, I ran into Daniel Roebuck (Dr. Arzt from "LOST"), just nerding around. So I said to him (very quietly, so as not to draw attention), "Oh, Mr. Roebuck, I don't wanna bother you or anything, but I just had to tell you, you're SO good on LOST, and I'm so happy for all your success, because I've loved you since you were in 'River's Edge'. It's one of my very favourite movies." (It's one of his first, from '87). I was ready to walk away, but his face LIT UP, and he said, "Please, call me Daniel!", and proceeded to tell me 20 minutes worth of behind the scenes stuff on "RE", and when I mentioned enjoying the panel on Universal Monsters he'd done at the previous Comic Con with legendary Monster Fan Forrest J Ackerman, he went of some more about Forry and the old Ackermansion and... Anyway, just THE friendliest, nicest guy EVER, which I'm sure he'd still be if you just mentioned "LOST". But knowing *other* stuff proved I was A Fan. It's been that way with a lot of folks, at least for me; mention something obscure (but not embarrassing!), and they know you're the Real Deal, Neil.

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

Tom said...

In 30-plus years as a newspaper reporter/editor, i have been underpaid, overworked -- and blessed to meet and spent time with a lot of interesting people: Barack Obama, Pete Rose, hanging backstage with Jimmy Buffett, the great George McGovern, Ethel Kennedy, William Bly (strange man), Yogi Berra, Rick Barry, James Doohan, Mike Love, and a lot more. Most were guarded at first, understandably, but pleasant and interesting to speak with once they chose to do so. Except Yogi. Dull. I think his lifelong buddy Joe Garagiola wrote his funny lines.
My baseball idol was/is Willie Mays. My encounter with him, was well ... different.

Tom said...

The Willie Mays story:
Willie Mays was in a bad mood.
The greatest center fielder of all time was cursing and tossing his chips around while he played craps in Reno that day in 1983. The Harrah's dealers well knew who he was, but that doesn't mean they were enjoying the experience.
Mays was wearing a Giants cap but otherwise was dressed in casual clothing. He wasn't being warm and sunny; he was losing and he was pissed.
This was a decade after Mays had retired following the 1973 World Series, when he stumbled twice in CF for the Mets during a close, interesting series. The A's won it, the second of their three straight titles, and one of the players who idolized Mays, Reggie Jackson, homered in Game 7 and was named the MVP. That matched Reggie's American League MVP award.
The '70s were a rip-roaring, colorful time for baseball, and Mays was absent for most of it after he dominated the 1950s and '60s. He had a terrible final season, as he wrapped up his long career by hitting .211 with 6 homers for the unlikely pennant-winning Mets.
While he rapped out the first hit in the 1973 World Series, his trouble moving and even staying upright relegated him to the bench for the final games.
Mays dearly missed playing. He has said when he worked as a coach he would sometimes leave the bench in mid-game and go home. Watching others play the game that he did so well for so long was agony.
That sense of loss was evident at the casino. Mays was upset and touchy and the dealers, and other players, had to put up with it.
I was a young 21 dealer at the casino then. On a break, I had walked over to the neighboring Cal-Neva to place a small bet on a football game. On my way back to work, I glanced up as I stepped off the curb.
There was WILLIE MAYS! Walking right toward me. The Say-Hey Kid. No. 24. The greatest of all time. The man who made The Catch long before Dwight Clark did for another San Francisco squad.
As a Giants fan, and a baseball fanatic, I had long admired Willie Mays. Of course, that's like saying a person who appreciates art likes Picasso.
I had watched Willie Mays on TV, read cheap paperback biographies and absorbed every piece of newspaper and magazine writing about Mays. And now here he was, a few feet away and walking right toward me.
Now, I didn't know until later that he had just endured a long losing run with the dice. I had no idea that he wasn't happy with Harrah's dealers in our white shirts, black pants and ties. At that moment, he was not inclined to greet a fan, especially one who reminded him of the cash he had just lost.
But I had just one reaction, which still embarrasses me a bit.
I stopped in the middle of the intersection that warm fall Sunday afternoon. I pointed at him and his name jumped from my lips.
"Willie Mays!" I yelled.
He was with a young white woman. I have no idea who she was, but she was also all business, walking briskly with the great ballplayer.
He glared at me and stomped past. Willie Mays was in a lousy mood.
I am mortified I reacted that way. I'm sorry I acted that way. I regret causing him any irritation.
But I'm still glad I saw the great Willie Mays.
Too bad the dice hadn't fallen a different way.

estiv said...

Al Franken, after delivering an extremely intelligent, well informed, deeply insightful, and screamingly funny speech at a political event in 2005, is standing three feet away from me. "You were good," I say. Man, how do I come up with such clever lines...

Pamela Jaye said...

meeting Scott Bakula - it's always expected and there is always a line and things you run thru your head and rule out one by one (that was the first time) things you want to not forgot and sort of don't get to experience the moment (that was the last time) and times when you are behind the girl who is going to read from her notes on her index cards (smart girl!) and times when you are sitting in a classroom with 30 to 60 women and Scott's attention is elsewhere and cause you are a woman, you are talking, as well, and you say something, and he turns and looks at you and mid-sentence, your thought goes right out the window. (I also couldn't answer the question "how long ago?"(did you move to Florida) I did, but it took a minute.

I love the Did you ever meet someone you were a fan of? approach. That's inspired.

And I love what Ken asked John. Great job!

One of the last times I saw Scott I asked him to sign a picture. I hardly ever ask for autographs, as I don't care about someone's signature (unless there's a comment with it).

As I juggled light and dark colored sharpies (black on black is so hard to read) he asked who I wanted it signed to. I must have looked confused, cause he said, "there are 4 people in this, who should I sign it to?"
Finally unconfused, I gathered my brain for a change and replied brightly: "Me."

He said "Pam, right?"

I avoided bouncing up and down on the sidewalk in my happiness and said "Yes." He signed it and went on to the rest of the crowd - big crowd that day, including random tourists. And he was late for the party where the cast was saying farewell to him.

So I was happy. Mostly because the only reason I asked for an autograph that day (other than making myself talk to him, cause otherwise I would have not and would have kicked myself) was because I wanted to know if he knew my name.
I've had a lot of crushes in my life (singers mostly) but Scott is the only one where I actually wanted him to know *me.* (First name was fine.)

The first time I met him and had ruled out everything else I wanted to say, all I was left with was "Hi, I'm Pam, and I'm from Boston."
He had to come up with a reply to that one. I think I was going by the time he did. A friend of mine finally was able to understand it from the video tape someone sent, a couple of months later. I did not ask for an autograph, just a picture. Cause you know, he has to put his arm around you for that. :-)

The next year I said "my goal is to say more than 7 words to you this year." :-) Next to hugs and having my name remembered, the best thing in the world is to make Scott laugh. I'm very happy that one day when I did, someone took a picture.

Pamela Jaye said...

PS - the last time I met Scott I showed him pictures of my pet duck.
I believe he said "ducks are fun."

gabylan said...

his most funny faces!!

http://www.freehotmusic.org/index.php/en/jokes/37-graphicals-jokes/139-john-lennon-funny-faces