I believe in keeping it real. Every so often, I like to strip away the veneer that I find myself putting up to the outside world, and showing the real and yes, sometimes painful inside that really is. Usually some event or travel provides the impetus for this. You see, while I always believe in keeping it real, I don’t always do it.
Last night, I slept fitfully. But I did dream, twice. And I dreamed not once but twice of being in South America, meeting Mike Ness at (and his wife and kids) at a Social Distortion show. I was cool, calm and collected in both instances and told him of Punk Outlaw and he was like “yeah man, I love that site”.. my first clue that I was indeed dreaming.
Now why would a grown man, a seemingly successful and semi intelligent man at that, admit this incredibly embarrassing bit of oddball teenage groupie behavior? Why write this down and embarrass yourself dude? Well, I gotta keep it real, it is what it is and I am who I am.
So why this obsession with Social D?
I usually don’t get impressed by celebrities of any stripe. When I produced our TV shows I met many, many celebrities and most of the time, found them to be extremely every day while a small minority were just plain jerks that we laughed at when they left the studio.
I did always get a kick out of meeting some sort of cult celebrity or someone who had special meaning to me as a kid, such as Maria from Sesame Street or the “Cuchi, Cuchi” lady, Charro. I loved that! and they were cool too.
I even once got all flustered when I met a no named boxer named “Tex Cobb” whose claim to fame was that he got his ass beat by George Foreman I think it was and was once in a Vietnam movie. Full Metal Jacket maybe? I didn’t give a rats ass about either of those things, I just saw him at a random party in NYC when I had first moved from Nashville. I knew he also lived in Nashville and I thought he might think it’s cool if I said “hey man, I’m from Nashville too”. He didn’t. He acted like a big shot, probably because my hot girlfriend was with me and he wanted to impress her and make me look like an ass. He did.
And that’s the danger in meeting your “idols” or idolizing anybody. You see how imperfect they are, just incredibly flawed human beings.
Same with Robert Rodriguez, the Texas film director. Anyone who’s worked in independent film or TV appreciates his book “Rebel Without a Crew” and his DIY style. I met him at a Hollywood party. He is tall as hell and he had his trademark cowboy hat on. I went over to him and explained the shows I produced “American Latino TV” and how both me and my production partner were big fans and would be thrilled to have him on the show. Must have come across a little eager cause dude looked like he was going to call security and start screaming “Stalker, stalker”… I gave him my card and gave him some space and said I’d call his publicist (never did).
I also met the very fat, very powerful movie producer Harvey Weinstein of Miramax fame once at the Frida Movie premier and same thing, I pitched him on being on the show. His posse of young staffers were trying their best to intercept my ass and save Harvey from this embarrassing episode I guess. Harvey was alright, he said he didn’t do interviews but that the cast would be happy to. I explained we already had Salma Hyak’s interview but thanked him for his time and went back to the safety of the bar.
In all cases, looking back, I wasn’t really that over eager. I was pretty damned business like (with exception of Tex Cobb) and just really truly wanted them on the shows. I would do anything for my shows, even risk embarrassment from a B or C lists jerk ass celebrity. So often I’d introduce myself to some hack musician or actor no one else has ever heard of, to pitch them being on the show and I’d get the Tex Cobb treatment. Not always mind you, but enough to say “why do I do this?”.
No name “celebrities” have such fragile egos. Just big enough to not know any better. As a TV producer of shows few people have every heard of, I sort of know that feeling. But hell, if anyone wanted to hear what I had to say, invited me to speak at their event, or actually did fawn over me (this did incredibly happen once or twice, usually in LA), I didn’t try to make the person feel like dirt, I tried to make them feel at ease and be cool with them.
Now getting back to Social Distortion. I’ve interviewed NOFX (cool) and Tiger Army (cool) and hung backstage with the Casualties (very cool) and a couple of members of Social D (very cool) but I’ve not yet met Mike Ness. Not surprisingly punk bands in particular tend to be cooler than other “celebrities” like actors and athletes.
Now Social D. has a special place in my heart (pun intended) as this is the band that turned me onto punk in the first place and in a way, did change or at least heavily influence my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t listen to some Social Distortion song, I have almost all their merchandise and go to almost all their area and even some non area shows and this is not an exaggeration for effect.
None of that will help me get an interview with those guys, if anything, that will hurt. To be a true documentarian (is that a word?), you need to be, or at least act with objective detachment. Well, I find that stifling, soulless and impossible, especially in this particular endeavor.
When and if I meet Mr. Ness for real, it will probably be me tittering way nervously about being a big fan, having all their songs, listening every day, and wearing my favorite Social Distortion shirt before I calm down enough to get on with the interview.. I’m not proud of it but that is just me being real.