Sunday, March 31, 2013

Seasick Yet Still Docked

Bonnie posing for MozStickerProject assignment (she IS alive)
I've been struggling for the past few days trying to think what the hell to write about. Here is the situation:
1. Morrissey was too sick to continue his tour-all US dates were cancelled as well as his performance in Mexico City.
2. Morrissey appeared in an interview on a Mexican radio show in which he explained how very disappointed he was and how he was "cautioned" not to perform anymore.
3. He was photographed at an Irish football game with his cousin Robbie Keane.
4. It was announced on True-To-You that Morrissey will be performing in seven Mexican cities in June and in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Chile in July.
5. The Hollywood High show is going to be released on DVD.

So, that's Morrissey news for the past few weeks or so. Of course, it was heart-breaking when he had to cancel the rest of the tour. We were so set for Las Vegas, but I think most fans were understanding of the health problem. We would not want Morrissey to do something that would make him feel worse down the road or cause a more serious issue. 

And to tell you the truth, I think he felt horribly about it. On his website, he left the following message:

"It takes a lifetime to find the right words, and at the moment I haven't got them. I've been a colossal pain where this continuously unpredictable illness is concerned, and now the physical limits have been reached.The tour had, in fact, been fantastic for all of us-a new slice of life full of concentrated power. The audiences everywhere have given so much, although I know that neither of us will ever receive our due. I hope this isn't the end and I hope there will be other chances minus the heavy burden of illness.Knots of grief today, but full of resolve for tomorrow." Morrissey, March 16, Mexico

Something to look forward to
At this moment, I am happy he is planning to tour again yet sad that its not as likely that I will be able to see him unless one of the cities he plays is Tijuana.

I have lots of things going on in my home life at the moment. Raising two teenagers and a nine year old is a challenge, teaching is a challenge, and I don't have time for any more challenges. Part of my fascination with Morrissey probably is a means of mental escape. But not all of it. And now that I am not planning to see him currently, it forces me to look at these things more closely. And I don't want to, to be truthful.

I suppose a positive to come out of this is that, to me at least, it seems like the Twitterdilly friendships are strengthening through Twitter (duh) and MorrisseysWorldChat. Its a wierd time trying to transition from the news over the month and adjust our minds.

Like many other fans, I find myself keeping occupied by attending Smiths/Morrissey-related events. This I shall do, and write about as it seems fit. (Truely my life IS without Morrissey at the moment!)

On a side note, probably the best thing that I heard at school all week was a student who said, "Ms. Willoughby, I bought my first Smiths album. Its the one with 'There is a Light That Never Goes Out'."

Ah, to fall in love again!




Sunday, March 10, 2013

Always True Part 2: Hollywood High School

Morrissey in the shadows of Hollywood High
Something unusual happened to me Saturday morning. I can only compare the feeling to that which you might feel after you've gone out on a date and you had such a good time you KNOW you are going out again. And you can't wait. You wake up smiling, eager for what the day will bring. In my case I KNEW I was going to see Morrissey again.

The sun was shining quite literally, and figuratively.

I just felt like crap. 

Perhaps it was excitement from the night before, perhaps it was dehydration, perhaps there was something extra in the beer I had at The Staples Center. Perhaps it was because I'm approaching fifty. I don't know but it was tough to get out of bed. 

My mom babysat for us since Roland was coming to this gig. He is not as big a fan but he knew this was going to be a great show and he was excited as well. Besides, we got to go out together which isn't so common. Before we left he said, "You are in charge since you seem to know how to have more fun than I've ever had at a concert." I have said in the past that Roland is much nicer than I am. He is a perpetual rule follower. In pop music terms he is the Paul McCartney and I am the John Lennon in the relationship. So that was a big step for him.

Luckily, Jasmine (@Morrizzy) and Johnny (@johnnyinacoma) arrived at Hollywood High early since the seating was either orchestra (pit) or balcony (upstairs). Other than that, there was no assigned seating so it was important to get a good spot in line, therefore a good seat in the venue. They held us a place in line with Angie (@vulgermkala) and @jimi_james and his nine year old son, Devan. 

The drive to Hollywood was far less crazy than I thought it would be, so we arrived around 5:45. We thought that the earliest we would be able to get our tickets from Will Call would be 6. But such was not the case. We were in line for a few hours. It was in line we discovered that the event was being shot for a DVD release possibly. 

We entertained ourselves in line with our enthusiasm. Of course, this was the first time I had met Angie or @jim_james. I felt a little shy as I always do when I first meet people but both Angie and @jimi_james were fun and easy to talk to, as you may recall, Angie was the one who gave Moz the ring from The Blue Rose Society. She also has a lot of Morrissey tattoos and whenever a photographer came by she said, "Morrissey tattoos right here." So, as you could imagine, Angie was not hard to talk to. She is what they call the life of the party. Devan (nine year old) was extremely excited since he had been at the Staples Center on Friday and was eager to see Morrissey yet again-this time he knew he'd be closer.

After a quick pizza at a nearby pizza place, the line began to move. The line outside Hollywood High now stretched at least three blocks. Here is a picture of us with a balloon we wrote on as members of the Blue Rose Society. 

While in line, we saw a young girl who was about sixteen but she was as tall as my nine-year old son, Oliver. She was carrying a portrait of Morrissey she had drawn herself and wanted desperately to give it to him. She had been waiting in line since noon but security would not let her in because her grandfather had purchased her ticket and you could not get in if you did not have the ID and credit card that was used to purchase tickets. This poor girl was crying so sadly trying to get her grandfather to come and help her out. I felt so badly and could not think of any way I could have helped her. Perhaps I could have given her my ticket, but she ended up getting in after her grandfather came to clear the ticket with will call.
Me, Jasmine, Angie, James and Devan

I had decided to try and bring my digital SLR camera into the show. I had wrapped it into my sweater and put it in my bag along with two lenses. The one on the camera was a telephoto lens. I figured the worse that could happen would be that I would have to walk the camera back into the car which was parked nearby. 

When we got to the bag check I ended up having to come clean with security after she asked me to shake my sweater out. I just said, "I can't do that because it will break my camera. I was just trying to keep it safe here."

She said, "It isn't exactly a point and shoot camera."

They ended up letting me take the camera in after all though since I think they just couldn't be bothered trying to figure out how to get me back in with a huge line and some anxious people. "Just don't take it out," they said. Sorry but asking me not to take pictures of Morrissey is like asking a fat kid with a jar of cookies not to have any.

Jasmine and Angie were working on getting into the orchestra section even though they had balcony like me. I know they would have taken me with them in but Roland was in the balcony and the last time he went with me in San Diego I basically left him on his own while I got into the pit. I just thought it might be bad form to just invite him along and leave him, plus I had my camera and I wanted to take pictures since I had such a great view from my balcony seat.

I oddly did not envy Jasmine and Angie once they got in and waved from the pit up to me. I waved and just was grateful for the ability to sit in a seat and still see well. 

Kristeen Young is the opening act. I think she has an amazing voice, fashion sense and artistic integrity. I enjoyed her performance as I usually do and I think playing in a smaller venue was good for her. It felt like it was pretty supportive. You have to bear in mind the enormity of her task. She has to entertain people who are basically not there to see her. I've said before that she is kind of a cross between Kate Bush and Bjork. Very different and esoteric.

Then it was time for Morrissey-almost. Russell Brand was in charge of the introduction and eloquently said he was there for the same reason that we all were-because he is a big fan. Also he basically said that there are no stars like him. He's like a Garbo or a Bette Davis. He also referred to him as Lord Mudslide before Moz came out. 

I can't probably effectively convey the contrast between the show at The Staples Center and compare it to the intimacy of the gig at Hollywood High. It felt like we were a closer family. I felt like people were just so happy to see Morrissey and see him feeling well and happy that that happiness infected the entire audience. We knew this was a special night. 

Here is the set list: 
Alma Matters
Ouija Board, Ouija Board
Irish Blood, English Heart
You Have Killed Me
November Spawned a Monster
You're the One For Me, Fatty
Still Ill
People Are the Same Everywhere
Asleep (a capella during Speedway)
That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
Meat is Murder
Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want
To Give (The Reason I Live)
Everyday is Like Sunday
I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Action Is My Middle Name
Let Me Kiss You
The Boy With the Thorn in His Side

Mic Whipping
There was not a bad seat in the house. We could all see Morrissey's expressions and the musical skills of the band. I guess you could say it was like we were at Russell's house in the living room-just a bit bigger than that and with some great lighting. You could not get such a great view in a larger venue like the Staples Center unless you were hung from the ceiling to almost eye level with the band. I would not recommend that! 

At one point he asked, "Where are we all going after this?" Someone yelled, "The Cat and Fiddle!" I know full well everyone there and their dog probably showed up there. Except Morrissey. 

He saw Devan in the audience sitting on his dad's shoulders and asked him his name. "Devan."
Security: "Devan."

I doubt I can adequately give the night justice but I can say that I was in heaven. Taking "illegal" pictures and singing along WITH Morrissey to his songs. I felt like he put his heart and soul into every line.Many people will find this hard to accept, but Morrissey exuded happiness and positivism. I know the media like to refer to him as "the pope of mope" blah blah blah, but if you are a true fan you most likely see the other side- his humor and wit.

When "Meat is Murder" came up and the video of "Meet Your Meat" I looked around to see what people were doing. A lot of people were still standing and some of course looked down. I do! I don't eat meat so I feel okay with that.
 However, I think just by looking around that some people in the audience were moved by it and were really paying attention to the suffering we put animals through. If you can't look you MUST know that there is something wrong with it. It is an incredibly powerful song that has changed many lives-mostly the lives of animals!

Meat is Murder
The encore was "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side." During this song, Morrissey picked up Devan from the crowd, took him by the hand to one end of the stage and carried him back to his dad. I think this had to be amazingly special to him and his dad, a Blue Rose Society member and big time fan. I got the impression that attending Morrissey concerts with dad was kind of a rite of passage. He looked a bit shocked and shy but happy. Of course this was amid Oohs and Aaahs from the audience. It just solidified the love between Morrissey and his fans. Again, it was this feeling that nobody understand us but we get it. We get what Morrissey is about.( Well, at least we think we do).
Moz and Devan

Just as the previous night had ended, we parted ways with our friends without too much of a good-bye and made our way to our car. No, we did not end up at the Cat and Fiddle. We hit the freeway and went back to the OC and quite eagerly tucked ourselves in bed. 

Next show: Las Vegas, April 20.

On a side note: Morrissey had to postpone a show in San Francisco due to his illness. Hoping he gets well soon! 

More Pictures from Hollywood High

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Always True Part 1: Staples Center

Morrissey Listening to Words of Love and Loyalty
The life of a rock star is tough, especially if you are NOT a rock star.

 What a weekend! It began at the Staples Center in Los Angeles (or Moz Angeles as they say), and ended Saturday night at Hollywood High in the auditorium. I have spent Sunday and part of today, Monday, recovering from the excitement and the exertion from all of it.

I found school quite difficult to live through on Friday. Don't get me wrong. Despite complaining a bit I love my students. And since I have thus far failed at becoming a writer, I feel like teaching is the next best thing. Still, the golden lights of the performance world sometimes lures us into the night life. Thus, was my passion on Friday.

The Drive
I was on the freeway singing to Patti Smith (Horses) at 4:30 and arrived around 6 at the Staples Center which is pretty good for a Friday night. I parked the car, and quickly found my friend Jasmine (@Morrizzy) waiting first in line. I realized my dozen of red roses was not going to make it into the venue so I quickly wrapped them into my Smiths sweater after decimating the stems. If you did not know, the roses were for Morrissey. I feel naked if I don't have at least one to bring with me to his performances. Of course, blue roses would have been better (Blue Rose Society) but they are not easy to get last minute and hey, red is better than dead!

We quickly made our way to be first in line on the floor level. I just wanted to know what my seat was like. I had floor seating but it was not at the very front so I was just curious. As we waited we could hear the sound check and it was "How Soon is Now?" which made my excitement even more palpable. Once the security let us in, I found my seat which was pretty far back and I realized that after people filled in the floor, it would not be easy to see anything. There was a security check for the Floor 1, which was just in front of my section. I just thought I'd have to give it time. I sat there contemplating things with my heart racing with excitement and realized I should get a beer. What the hell!

After getting my beer I ran into Johnny (@johnnyinacoma) and Mauricio (I don't know his Twitter name-which is kind of ironic). We looked over the merchandise and I ended up getting a shirt with Morrissey and the cat on his head on a stamp. Then also, I purchased a Morrissey bracelet. 

 Johnny, Mauricio, and I decided to walk around just to get a feel for what was going on and we stopped again for a beer. It was then I realized that I did not have my ticket. I could easily envision someone wandering into my section on the floor seating. Grrr. But following Johnny and Mauricio's advice I asked security person who eventually located my lost ticket. That was a huge relief. Security had found it on the floor! I was very grateful.

Go Veggie
Also, it was a huge night for PETA people and other animal rights advocates as The Staples Center was meat-free as per Morrissey's request. I heard that there were some vendors upstairs selling food with meat but McDonald's was closed and that in itself was HUGE. Morrissey scored BIG points this weekend!!

The Performances
I met some Morrissey fans I had not met before including Roy's Keith (FB) and then we went in since Patti was up. I ran into the K/Crystals in my section about two rows ahead of me. We said hi and it was then that I heard Patti begin her set. I couldn't believe how close she was and how few people were at the stage. I quickly said, "See you later," and made a bee line to the stage forgetting, ignoring, and passing security. I was up at the stage. I was so excited, I waved to Patti and she waved back!!! I was over the moon. I can't even begin to put words into how much I admire Patti Smith. I read a book she wrote (Just Kids) about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe (photographer) and her voice is still with me. I just could NOT believe it!

I like the way Patti takes a swig of water and spits it out on the stage. Its just so punk rock! 

I was actually losing my ability to breathe! I kept smiling looking around, really relishing the time. I cannot find her set list so I apologize but I sang along to "Because the Night" (which was dedicated to Fred "Sonic" Smith on what would have been their anniversary), "People Have the Power," and "Gloria" among many others. Perhaps I looked the fool to her but I was over the moon! 

Quietly, ever so quietly, I began to realize that I had done a difficult thing in such an easy way. Security began to slowly move people to either side of Patti at the rail and it was then I lost my key spot, dead center. It sucked because we (the people in the audience and near the stage), were just singing our hearts out and all of a sudden her audience is being parted like Moses parted the Red Sea. She was brilliant but all I remember of her departing song was trying to hang onto my great spot at the front rail.

Then security began to check for pink bracelets which meant you were in the first few rows. If you did not have a bracelet, they told you to go back in a rather rude manner. Afraid they'd ask to see my ticket, I tried to hide. I made temporary friends with a German lady named Anita and a rockabilly guy and his girlfriend who complemented my style. In fact, they told me they'd hide me from security, and they tried but a gruff woman basically pushed me back where I joined the other people who had "illegally" entered the border of Section 1. 

While the music videos of various artists such as Nico, Shocking Blue and the New York Dolls were playing, I moved to the far right side of the stage (my right) and sat in an empty seat about two rows from the front. I bided my time until the lights went out and Morrissey and his band appeared. Then I somewhat clumsily climbed over chairs to get to the rail finally losing my balance on the last one, but regained my footing just in time for the first song.

 Here is the set list:
"Shoplifters of the World" 
"Irish Blood, English Heart"
"Alma Matters"
"You Have Killed Me"
"You're the One for Me, Fatty"
"Action is My Middle Name"
"That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore"
"I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris"
"Meat is Murder"
"Ouija Board, Ouija Board"
"November Spawned a Monster"
"To Give (the Reason I Live)" Frankie Valli Cover
"How Soon is Now?"
"Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want"
"Everyday is Like Sunday"
"Let Me Kiss You"
"First of the Gang to Die"
"The Boy with the Thorn in His Side"

Hand in (Latex) Glove
I had a dozen red roses with me in the hopes that Morrissey would take one. I had this idea of wearing a blue latex glove on the hand that passed him the rose. Its kind of lame but it was meant to make him notice my hand among the sea of hands grasping for him in the shadows. I also thought that it kind of went with Morrissey's illness theme. But the chasm between the stage and the rail was simply too wide and I was so far on the side near the PA or some large speaker-type thing that I could not reach him. Nor could he reach me or anyone else. The "hand in glove" made no difference. In an attempt at a humorous gesture, I simply put the rose in my teeth and smiled up at him, reaching into the air below him. 

Blue Rose Society Gives Morrissey THE RING!
The highlight for me was when Morrissey gave my friends Jasmine and Angie (who I had not yet met) the mic. She said, "In honor of The Blue Rose Society will you accept this gift?" Morrissey said yes. They gave him a ring that has been traveling around via other Blue Rose Society members. He then asked for the flowers which Jasmine had smuggled in but were now dead. Thinking quickly she handed him her blue rose hair clip. Bear in mind, I could only hear what was going on as could 20,000 people. I just was on the other side of the stage. As soon as "November Spawned a Monster" began Morrissey began tossing Jasmine's blue rose clip in the air to the beat of the music.

During the concert as I faced the excitement of the stage, I looked out among the thousands of people, everyone-even the ones up in the "rafters." I thought that they must have been wondering what it was like to be so close to the stage. I certainly felt lucky! I felt sorry for the folk who didn't get the sensation of feeling like their skin was falling off until all that was left was a skeleton from pure joy and elation.

Morrissey's voice was amazing, stronger than ever, which did not surprise me. He was looking well-not like one who had some serious medical issues for the past few weeks. One fan asked him how he was and he said, "Okay."

 Another thanked him for keeping us sane. He said, "Thank you for keeping me sane."

The chasm between the stage and the floor was so wide, only one guy made it up on the stage. 

The concert went by so fast, and every song was one I loudly sang along with, as did so many people in the arena. It was actually a bit of a communal experience. Everyone around me was pretty cordial and I surely hope the guy in front of me at the rail knew that I did not intentionally repeatedly touch his butt.

I saw a throng of people screaming and gathering around a section as we departed. I heard someone say that it was Quentin Tarentino. I've mentioned my inability to recognize famous people before. I guess I may have known it was him though since he reportedly was wearing an Inglorious Bastards jacket. Wonder if he'll include any Morrissey songs in a film. 

The After Party
I met the K/Crystals by the restroom and we attempted to meet the band as they had done last year in San Diego. Yes, I felt like a stalker. It was kind of awkward but we had fun. Then I grabbed what was left of my roses in one hand and a stick (for protection) in the other and walked to my car. So, yeah, our after party was kind of "high school" but I had more fun than if we'd gone to a bar-although the C/Krystals did end up going to Mal's Bar where Jose (Maldonado) was spinning some records. 

Concert friends are kind of funny because we hang out and experience this great thing together or simply at the same time and then once the concert is over we just leave. Sometimes you don't even say good-bye. But by saying that, I'm not complaining! It simplifies things. You are there for the same reason and its really about the music in the end, isn't it?

I had a long drive home but was filled with excitement for the concert on Saturday. 

Part 2 will be posted soon. Sorry for such a long blog but it was a MEGA MOZ weekend. So much to tell. Also, apart from the Patti Smith photos, they are from my collection I took on Saturday, March 3 at Hollywood High.

Also, for a full explanation and account of The Blue Rose Society, please visit