Beer and Loafing in Zooropa

My Day at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies
14-15 March 2005

Remember that big to-do about George Bush paying Armstrong Williams for some positive "coverage"?

Well, I'm not going to comment on that here, but I will say this: the media outlets need to do some kind of reference checking on the people they hire and how they spend their money as well.

Let me explain.

In the unpleasantly cramped and extremely crowded press room I sat next to a guy from the Associated Press and he happily, proudly described himself to me as a sportsman and he had no idea who the people were that were being celebrated tonight. Onto the stage come two people, not inductees, but simply two rock and roll performers, a woman and a man ranking Legend status, who came to the press room to express their support for the Rock Hall and its work. A very nice gesture indeed. They didn't have to go back there to see us, which made it all the more extra, extra special that they did.

He asks me who those two are. I tell him.

What are their names? He asks again. I tell him again.

He looks up at the stage, befuddled, perplexed. By this time I've deducted he must be borderline retarded, as he once again asks, "Huh? What are their names?"


Dumb ass. Associated Press, I've noticed many errors in your reports and, after this embarrassment, I now have to say it: you need to hire better writers and photographers. I thought journalists, particularly photojournalists, were open-minded, well-rounded individuals. Maybe that's just a reflection of my idealistic, halcyon days at the J-school back in Boulder. That guy (so otherwise utterly forgettable I forgot his name) was a total turd.

Sitting next to Mr. AP was a guy at the totally opposite end of the spectrum: Ron Galella. He's the real deal. So much so that, rather inexplicably, he became the only photographer ever to have been issued a restraining order to prevent him from photographing Jackie O. When he told me that, I recalled hearing a story about such a guy while watching a documentary some time ago (hey now, a lot of information passes between these eyes and ears, so cut me some slack on the details).

It was very cool to meet the man. I explained to him that I had come all this way from Denver, at my own expense, just for the opportunity to witness quasi-firsthand, U2's induction and be a part of the coverage. The AP guy scoffed at the notion. Ron said he did the very same thing when he was starting out, making it happen by paying his own way, including trips to Europe, then selling his photos.

Shortly after that, the dumb butt from AP went off to the sidelines, a better position for his bench-warming cheeks.
Let me back up and also tell you a little about the red carpet experience. It was simply a chaotic cattle call of talent from various rankings in the celebrity totem pole and the poor (although very hot) VH1 interns got some undue grief over things totally outside of their control (like U2 opting out of the red carpet for whatever reason).
A couple very astute and highly observant photojournalists standing next to me commented on how it was so warm in the tent covering the red carpet, but so gosh darn chilly outside. It was up to me, the kid from "out of town," to direct their gaze upward, toward the glowing red heat lamps. We're kinda like Arby's sandwiches, ya see?

Ah. Photojournalists. What an eye-opener of an experience. They say rock stars are temperamental, but I met some "photogs" with some serious personality defects. Many of them are definitely elitist. Should they be called "divarazzi"? I like to think of myself as "rockarazzi" because I like photographing my rock heroes on the stage, in action, but not scoping out their private lives like the seedy underbelly of photojournalists, the paparazzi.

There was even an interesting "us versus them" riff vocalized by the photographers. Since U2 didn't walk the red carpet, the complained that "once again" fans got better access since apparently they did still go through the front door, but side-stepped the carpet. Hmmm. As a fan, I've often-times thought the press had too much access at the expense of the fans. That is one more reason why I choose to partake in both.

Anyway, this one blonde woman, let's just say she could stand to lose a couple pounds, smile more, and talk a helluva lot less, nearly picked fights with a couple people. At one point she took it to the hilt and put it out there that she was not a woman with which this other particular woman would want to fight. Something about breaking off her flashbulb and breaking her arms. Blah, blah, blah.

She was the same one who scorned us "newbies" hailing from Colorado and Wisconsin. I don't know. Maybe she's really just a weeping willow who's afraid of sharing her heart with people.

But, honey, get rid of the dumb ass from AP and all the other clusterfucks who were put there to give them something to cover that night, then we'd have plenty of room for those of us with the passion to be there.

Let me also take a jab at Chrissie Hynde. I liked her before this night, now I think she's mostly a bitch with serious delusions of being a loser. Maybe she hates the media, but her chat with us at the end of her induction as part of The Pretenders left me cold, particularly some snide comment about "Ohio 2, Ireland 1." Piss off baby. You're not competing and, if you were, my boyz from the north side of Dublin, Ireland, could easily tackle you and anybody else from the north side of Dublin, Ohio. (For the record, Bono was very gracious toward The Pretenders at every turn and even commented, in his own humorous way, that he wished they were Irish.)

Maybe Chrissie should look into a second career as a photojournalist. She has the right attitude for it.

On the flip side to that, I also have to say I never cared for Ice-T before tonight. But tonight, the man displayed wit, good humor, good attitude, and loads of style. Let me say that again: Loads of style. Not garish, over-the-top gangster-rap fashion, but high-class, fine style. His suit? While looking at my full-size pictures, I noticed a very nice black-on-black pattern. Tasteful, detailed, and noticeable only after a closer look. Congrats, Ice-T. You're now a part of my posse.

I'll finish off these notes with this thought: I got worked up a bit about this opportunity. It was huge and I was starting to develop a fear of blowing it. However, I avoided my very own and not-so-private Apocalypse Now, got a rave review from my editor, and got the full story out there before the competition.

That's right, the story. I was there to write about my band's induction and take photos.

Sure, a picture can tell a story and a picture is worth a thousand words. Even so, based on my experience of this night, the knowledge (or lack thereof) on display, the language I heard, the attitudes, and so forth, emanating not from the rockers, but the photographing press, I bet ya those folks couldn't write what I wrote - they don't know my band the way I know my band - and we got pretty darn comparable photographs.

Check out my photos here: Mattopia.
And check out VH1's (inferior) set here: VH1. You'll need to follow the link then select the "Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 2005 Red Carpet" link.

Mattopia 2, Divarazzi 1.

OK. OK. Here's the last bit for now, a quote from my editor, "Pardon my French, but you're a bad ass."

I have indeed finally arrived. I've been called a bad ass and it was for all the right reasons this time!

More later...

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