Friday, November 27, 2015

Mozter Mash 2015

For weeks I'd been planning Moz-themed costume for the Mozter Mash-a show featuring The Sweet and Tender Hooligans at the Alpine Village in Torrance. We were encouraged to come up with something Morrissey/Smiths related to wear because it was on Halloween. My default costume was simply to wear a head lamp and turn it on, claiming to be A Light That Never Goes Out, but I worried (and rightly) that the light would really annoy people. So I was determined to come up with something better.

I DID finally come up with an idea. And then once I got everything I needed I thought of all these other ideas. For example, I thought if I had some buxom friends they could be "some girls" and for obvious reasons, I could be "others." My other ideas were perfect for a guy: a blushing Caligula, an 18th pale descendant, etc. 

It's true I WAS looking forward to dressing up, but also I was looking forward to a great show with the Hooligans and hanging out with my fellow Breakfast Champions and seeing what costume ideas they came up with.

I went with Maya this time. She was dressed as the gypsy palm reader from Ouija Board, Vanessa was a girl racer, Conor was a young Moz, Chris was a Rusholme Ruffian and his girlfriend, Laura, was Black Eyed Susan.  Oh yeah, and I was my own creation-Wonderful Woman. Basically, a wonder woman with Wonderful Woman on my cape. 
Vanessa, Connor, Me and Maya

Chris and Laura
The thing that disappointed me was the lack of community spirit in dressing in a Moz-themed costume by most of the crowd. It was like they just slapped on any old thing because it was a costume. No thought behind it to make it more interesting in a Morrissey way. Which made me kind of sad. Here I was all into it and it was just our little group. Okay, the coolest group around but yeah, just our group.

There WERE other Breakfast Champions there in costume and they looked fantastic, but they were not dressed in a Moz theme.

But I speak too much of aesthetics! What about the show? Well, may I say that the set list was to die for? Not only was it to die for, but there was a Souxie and the Banshees tribute band that opened and Jose sang Interlude with the lead singer from Happy Haus, Rose. By the way, they were fantastic! Highly recommended.

Click link below to see video of "Interlude" duet.

1. Suedehead
2. Maladjusted
3. You're the One for Me, Fatty
4. Boxers
5. Jack the Ripper
6. Irish Blood, English Heart
7. First of the Gang to Die
8. I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
9. Still Ill
10. Kiss Me  A Lot
11. Cemetry Gates
12. Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others
13. I Want the One I Can't Have
14. Hairdresser on Fire
15. Paint a Vulgar Picture
16. A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours
17. November Spawned a Monster
18. This Charming Man
19. Jeane
20. The Boy with a Thorn in His Side
21. Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before
22. Everyday Is Like Sunday
23. Sweet and Tender Hooligan
24. Sunny
25. Bigmouth Strikes Again
Encore: There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

Seriously, could there be a more comprehensive set list in existence? 

If you click the link below you can see video of Jose singing "Kiss Me A Lot" in Spanish, which I think, is quite natural for this song. 

"Kiss Me A Lot" Spanish

If you read my blog regularly, then you KNOW how much I love to see The Sweet and Tender Hooligans. I can't say enough about how much fun it is to see them.

Hey, there are a few shows coming up:

Romanos Concert Lounge in Riverside, CA, December 5
Anaheim House of Blues, Anaheim, CA, January 9, 2016
The Casbah, San Diego, CA, January 16, 2016

So if you are in the area, you really need to go!

The Halloween show was so much fun, just sharing the time with good friends and singing along is so memorable. But The Hooligans are extra special and I look forward to next year's Mozter Mash.  I already know what I am  going to be -if it happens!!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Moz Olympics

Maya, Mason, Me at FYF featuring the Great Moz
There is something undeniably special about being in the same room with him. Sharing the same space with Morrissey that makes you grateful to be alive at this moment in time. Not that you wish you lived in a different era, but watching him perform, sing, you KNOW you are somewhere special-you are living in a special time.

San Diego, August 20
Before we went to the San Diego show, my husband, Roland, looked at some reviews of the venue-The Observatory North Park. He mentioned that it had some pretty bad reviews regarding the staff and the sound. Now, Roland is particularly interested in the sound as he has experience in the field of sound engineering and he teaches a high school course on music production. So we were concerned but hopeful.

We arrived in San Diego and parked across the street from the venue. I always feel this pang in my stomach when I see a line. Like maybe I should be in line, but I decided to just focus on food and then we ran into Stephanie. We found a vegan Mexican place just around the corner called Ranchos Cocina so we had a meal and some margaritas. It was good but I had trouble relaxing. I guess I wanted to get to the show. We were probably secretly hoping Morrissey would be in there for his pre-show meal. 

We arrived at the venue at 7 and they had opened the doors. Roland bee-lined it for a spot behind the sound man. Hot tip: that's the BEST place to hear. Lucky for us, it also had the best view. 

Stephanie and Roland didn't seem bothered about not having a beer but I wanted to have a beer. The bar is connected to the venue but you are not allowed INTO the venue with alcohol. I did not realize this and I had the biggest can of Modelo and I didn't really want ALL of it for fear I'd have to miss part of the show to use the restroom. So I guzzled as much as I could and then I ran into Jose and Christine. Then we ran into Jenevieve and her friend, Monica. So I had help drinking my beer. 

Jose, Me, Christine and Jenevieve
We had such a great view of Morrissey and I can say with honesty that it did not matter where you stood in line, you still would have had a chance to get up front. We were happy where we were. And I guess apart from our view, the thing that really struck me about that night was the set list. 

Here it is: 

  1. Suedehead
  2. Alma Matters
  3. Staircase at the University
  4. Ganglord
  5. Speedway
  6. Kiss Me A Lot
  7. World Peace is None of Your Business
  8. Let The Right One Slip In (Last performed live in 19912)
  9. Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before
  10. What She Said
  11. The Bullfighter Dies
  12. Now My Heart Is Full
  13. Will Never Marry
  14. I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
  15. Istanbul
  16. I Will See You In Far Off Places
  17. Meat Is Murder
  18. Encore: Everyday Is Like Sunday
The video accompanying "Ganglord" was quite violent and shocking. However, abuse of authority is an important theme to Morrissey and this was made evident. I could not watch all of it, especially violence committed against animals,  but from what I did see, it left a powerful impression.

Christine and I were a bit shocked at the audience's subdued reaction to "Let The Right One Slip In" (last performed live in 1992). Morrissey even seemed perhaps surprised when he said it was a hit in Sweden. Our guess was that it was a younger crowd closer to the front. The crowd around us was a little uptight too.  

I think our little group, Jenevieve, her friend, Veronica, Stephanie, Jose, Chrsitine, Mason, me, and Roland were more animated than the crowd at the front. Part of it may also be that people like to take video which makes them stand more still for recording purposes. When you are behind the camera, you are not as able to be fully in the moment. There is literally a barrier between you and the performer. 

The reviews about the sound and the staff at The Observatory North Park were wrong. I can only say from our vantage point the sound was great. Also, the staff was polite butI was not one of the people perhaps trying to get on the stage.

FYF Fest, Los Angeles, August 23
I really don't like festivals that much but when I was offered a ticket to FYF Festival I did not turn it down. It was VERY last minute but after the San Diego show, I REALLY was addicted again and was happy to go.

As much as I love Morrissey, I just did NOT want to wait in front of the main stage for hours to see him up close. I had just seen him in San Diego and had a perfect view so I wasn't bothered. I basically drove there, parked and walked to the main stage (which was far, let me tell you). 

I ran into breakfast champions, Maya, Mason, Keith and Jen. Maya and I tried to be brave enough to deal with being in the thick of the crowd but the smell of people who had been sweating all day and drinking all day in the hot sun was more than we could bear. We ended up standing on the side and we ran into Danica and her friends there.

They changed up the rhythm to "First of the Gang" so it sounded kind of country. This inspired Danica and I to do the doe-see-doe square dance style. I guess the good thing about a festival is there are so many weirdos its unlikely anyone will call you out if you act like a complete nut job.

Breakfast champs at FYF
Visalia Fox Theater, August 29
It's a 4 hour drive from the OC to Visalia. Four hours of driving on a very boring highway. Just fields and fields. But I knew the drive was going to be worth it. This was the final show on Morrissey's brief Southern/Northern California mini tour.

All the people I know had General Admission seats that basically meant they were standing near the stage. My seat was in the next section. So, when the security guy was helping someone find their seat, I just walked past him and made it to where Mason, Keith, Jen, Rodney and the Battis sisters were. It was the right side of the stage where Jesse Tobias and Gustavo are situated on the stage.

Marquee in Visalia
In all my experiences sneaking up to the front, this was the closest I ever got to Morrissey. And I guess even better than just being at the front was it was the very first time I was surrounded by my friends. I don't think I had too many Moz friends a few years ago.

When Moz was singing and came close to the audience, we held out our hands and he touched Rodney and his wife's hands. I was next to them. It could have been me but it was not to be. Yet, when he was singing "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" and he looked down, I think we looked each other in the eye for a brief moment as we sang the words, "I still love you, only slightly, only slightly less than I used to, my love." Only, Morrissey sang, "Only slightly MORE than I used to.". I'm sure for him, it was nothing, utterly forgettable, but for me it was something.

Lucky to have such a great view
Still, he sings "Meat Is Murder" at nearly every concert (although he did not on the 2nd San Diego show), and although people often avoided looking at the video of animals losing their lives in slaughter houses projected on the backdrop, he did not give up because it is his passion, his cause. When he sang, "Do you care?" in the middle of that song, I found it very moving because I could sense that although he has sung this countless times and he can see an element of disinterest, he perseveres. 

The evening ended with a gathering of Breakfast Champions at a small bar down the street from the Visalia Fox Theater. Vanessa, Mel, Stacy, Stephanie (from San Jose), Mason, Amy Battis, Rodney and Belinda (from LA). We pretty much took over the bar with our Morrissey and Smiths music and danced the rest of the night away. People stared and we let them stare because it's not like any other love.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

An Interesting Drug (or How We Celebrate Morrissey's Birthday in Southern California)

Friday's arrival was welcome. Very welcome. Morrissey's birthday is a holiday to a solid Moz fan.

For whatever reason, my last class of the day turned out to be the longest. It was probably because it was something I had been anticipating all week long and now that it was dangerously close to being the time when I could actually celebrate, it just seemed to be forever until the bell would ring.

That. And the disciplinary problems I NEVER have were making it longer than ever.

Obviously,  the bell finally rang and I drove home, quickly took a shower and put on my new dress. And then hopped in the car towing my make up to my friend, Angela's salon in Newport Beach. 

I just needed her to blow my hair straight because my hair is actually wavy (and occasionally troublesome, you may recall) and it just looks better (I think) when it is blown straight. And what the hell? It was Morrissey's birthday. I needed to look good even if he was all the way in Australia and couldn't see me.

She did a great job as usual and I had decided to put my make up on at her salon so I wouldn't have to think about it later and could just focus on my friends who came to my house. So I did my make up but goofed on the eye liner so Angela asked Steven, who is a hairdresser at another salon in her complex and a great make up artist, if he could fix my mistake.

"Honey, you've got blue eye shadow all over your NOSE! Just sit down and let me fix it."

The thing about Steven is he makes it sound like you are useless but he secretly enjoys transforming you. So, I let him go to town.

Once I made it home, (Breakfast Champion) Chris and Stephanie were waiting and we hung out for awhile before we took an Uber cab to Anaheim House of Blues to see The Sweet and Tender Hooligans.

About the time we hit really bad traffic, I realized that I had left my ticket at home. But in the modern age, that should not be something to worry about-unless you are ME.

When we arrived and gone through security, it was apparent that the bar code was never going to upload from the email on my smart phone. I spend an agonizing 15 minutes starting to get all whiney and worried before the guy scanning tickets finally "scanned" my phone although I could not see a ticket, and he said, "Have a great time."

Me, Chris and Stephanie bee-lined it for the bar. After I downed a shot of tequila I looked down upon Downtown Disney from the upstairs bar. Happy that I was not alone and sad and stressed out that I missed the Hooligans.

We saw Mason almost immediately and had another drink before we hurried down into the pit to catch The Band That Fell to Earth-the Bowie tribute band. I followed Mason and somehow we lost Stephanie and Chris but we go there in time to hear and see the band's rendition of "Fame."

Two girls standing near me, told me, "You are too tall to stand here and we were here first." Maybe it's my age and maybe the protocol for being in the pit has changed but all these years I thought it was a matter of "survival of the fittest." If you want to be in the pit, you might get punched or kicked in the head, maybe the bass player will accidentally hit you with his bass (happened to me once), ANYTHING can happen. I was unaware that it was a "first come, first serve" situation. And I suppose if they had been nicer about it I would have politely moved a bit so they could see better. As it was I just said, "I'm not moving."


Mason, being the gentleman and trying to keep the peace said, "Come over here, its a better view." He was right, it WAS a better view a little further to the side. So I did move. However, I think THEY ended up moving after multiple drunk people made their way through through less politely spilling beer and singing loudly with uncontrolled hand gestures. 

But the band was just sooo good. I love Bowie music and they focused on the glam era of his career. Absolutely amazing and I would LOVE to see them again. I don't know if as many people around me knew Bowie music so well, but some were there just to see/hear The Smiths or Morrissey music and perhaps were not as interested in his influences.

In between bands, Breakfast Champion, Danica arrived. Another fun person to share the evening with. We also located Stephanie and Chris on the opposite side of the stage. Luckily, Chris wears his hair in a point at the front. A high point, like a unicorn. So we could easily spot him.

Then the The Sweet and Tender Hooligans came on with actor and skilled musician, Thomas Lennon (Reno 911, The Odd Couple) as their new guitarist amid cheers in the packed house. If you can envision thousands of people singing their favorite Smiths and Morrissey songs in virtual unison with Jose Maldonado as the choir director, then I guess you are partially there.

Here is the set list:


"I've Changed My Plea to Guilty" was stunningly beautiful with just Mikey Farrell (toured and collaborated with Morrissey 2004-2007) and Jose singing. I simply thought it just couldn't get any better than that.

And then "Kiss Me A Lot." Holy hell!!! It was unbelievable. Jose had the added touch of singing it in Spanish as well. It was just so wonderful! I feel like he was made to sing that song. Honestly.

I remember turning around at some point just to look at the vast number of people assembled and all their voices singing Morrissey's words. I knew in my heart that that ALONE would make Morrissey smile. It just made me that much happier.

After the show, Breakfast Champions assembled at the upstairs bar. It was there I saw Vanessa and we finally met Jenevieve-from San Diego! She was there celebrating her birthday with a group of friends. Jenevieve was right when she said, "I feel like I know you all." 

As usual, I forgot to get our picture with all the Breakfast Champions but here are a few:

Jose with Jenevieve and friends
I've stated before that seeing The Sweet and Tender Hooligans on Morrissey's birthday is kind of like the Morrissey fan's communion. Singing your favorite songs with others who "get" Morrissey-who "get" his lyrics, is simply priceless. You realize you aren't as crazy as you thought for being so wild about Morrissey and IF you are you are not alone.

In fact, being with other fans continued for Morrissey's birthday weekend. And if I can get my act together, I will write about the amazing Morrissey Smiths Night at The Echo. 

Mason, Danica, Vanessa, and me

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Far Off Places (Part Two)

Mozarmy Meet pin 2015
As I entered the Star and Garter pub for the Mozarmy meet, I was handed a Breakfast Champion button and I pinned it on! They were designed by Andy Barnett. He is a regular listener to Breakfast with The Smiths/The World of Morrissey  on and if you have been REALLY lucky you will have heard him make a phone-in request once.

Just like your average Breakfast Champion, The Star and Garter pub has character. It's an old building (1800s) that reminds me a little of the Adams Family house. When I walked in, I felt like I was walking into someone's living room. Just a warm atmosphere. I suppose, the people already there for the meet up, helped to fuel that atmosphere.

So again, kind of strange in a very GOOD way to see familiar faces that I had NEVER physically met. Just a familiar picture I had seen from a Twitter avatar. Or someone asked, "What is your Twitter handle?" And then I responded and they said, "Oh. Yeah. Nice to meet you." 

One of the first people I spoke to was Stefan Krix. Yes, I had met him at the pub the night before, yes, he was on the tour bus but I hadn't really had the chance to chat about much until then. I learned that he is from the Ruhr part of Germany and it probably took him quite a number of hours to get to Manchester. When he described where he was from, an industrial town, I could see (and he admitted) it was similar in some ways to Manchester. Maybe that is  one reason why he could relate so well to The Smiths and Morrissey.

I also chatted briefly with Adrianna. Maybe I should have been embarrassed when I noted that her best friend looks kind of like John Cryer during the Duckie years (Pretty in Pink). I probably wisely didn't mention the numerous times I had discussed Duckie and a teenage lust, and admiration for him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with other female Breakfast Champions. 

 In addition to faraway faces, we saw some from California, Mel Hidalgo and her partner were there and although we had never met back home, it was a treat to chat a bit with someone from Los Angeles and who was sharing in this new experience.

I brought my digital SLR camera with me to England for this trip in the hopes that I would be taking many high quality pictures. And the thing is, I got some great shots, but I think you really have to decide if you want to take pictures or socialize and be involved. Taking a lot of photos requires a bit of distance. You aren't as involved. But I wanted to socialize AND take pictures which basically meant that I was never any one place for very long. And I forgot to take my own picture with some great people when I had the chance.

Once sufficient time had passed meeting and greeting, things got started upstairs. The entertainment began with a brilliant dialogue between "cardboard Morrissey" (created by Andy Barnett, voice by Jose Maldonado) and Julie Hamill, followed by a wonderful, intimate acoustic set by Jose. 

After that, people were dancing and milling about. I went downstairs to get another drink and see what Stephanie was up to. While there, I got a good shot of Jose and Julie.

I think Jose was getting ready to perform with the Mozarmy house band-James Barton, Owen Burns, Conor MacCloughlin and Andrew Parisi was playing drums, of course. I was fortunate enough to be in the right place when Julie introduced me to Andrew and we chatted  awhile before they went on stage. He was a very down to earth kind of person. Very real. I was struck by the fact that he truly loves Morrissey's music. I didn't get the impression that he just played with Morrissey and that's as far as it went.  He's a fan.

After Julie told Andrew that it was time to go on and perform, she introduced me to Simon Wolstencroft. I bought a copy of his book,You Can Drum But You Can't Hide)  and we chatted a bit before and after signing it. He talked openly about his brief time playing with The Smiths and his time in the Manchester music scene during the 80s and 90s. He had a lot of fascinating stories to tell and much of it is included in his book. Just like Andrew Parisi it was clear that he too, is fan of Morrissey's music and lyrics. 

I suddenly realized I was missing Jose and the Mozarmy band playing so I ran up the stairs. I missed some of the set. But it was obvious to me they had taken the audience by storm and it was amazing to watch. A guy who I had overheard at the start of the evening say, "I hate cover bands." was dancing and singing and yelling for more in between songs. You COULD say it was the beer but I maintain that it was the music combined with Jose's stellar performance.

I'd be lying to you if I didn't admit to you that Jose was the star of the show. It's a privilege to be among the audience who has no idea really what to expect. Then to see them transform right before my very eyes. 

In between songs they even chanted "Morrissey, Morrissey, Morrissey!" 

So, what exactly does Jose do that makes his performance so damned special, you may ask? I could describe how he dances like Morrissey, how he has his moves down pat, I could also tell you that he puts in his own artful interpretation,I could tell you how much he actually sounds like Morrissey, I could tell you all those things that I am sure I have stated before in other posts. But one thing is most undeniable and that is Jose's passion for Morrissey's words and his love for the music are embodied in every move and song on the stage. I can't say it better than that.  

That love and passion is given to the audience who welcome it with open arms. It was special to be in a room blasting Morrissey's words in the land where it all began, echoing through those "streets where he was raised" from a man who is from my part of the world-in Los Angeles, and expertly sharing that connection we feel.

I am posting a few numbers I recorded that evening to give you the sense of what it was like to be there that special night.

If you really want a better set of video to watch, I'd highly recommend The Mozarmy YouTube page. "Asleep" with Conor playing keys was just beautiful, very emotional. "Staircase at the University" was another that really stood out but I just didn't get video.

During the Mozarmy band performance, at one point I noticed a guy behind me that looked like Matthew Whitehouse from the band The Heartbreaks (who opened for Morrissey during his 2011 tour ?). We made eye contact and he smiled and I smiled. Then I said to him, "You look like the guy from The Heartbreaks."

"I AM the guy from The Heartbreaks. I'm Matthew Whitehouse."


We laughed and I acted all star struck which is unlike me.I remembered all these weird facts like that they are from Morecombe, for example. I told him he was unusual-looking (in a good way). Then,  I walked away but I kept looking behind me and he smiled and I laughed and he laughed and it seemed like the joking was mutual, but I kind of think he must have wished he'd never made eye contact. Honestly. I think I looked at him more than would be considered normal.

I even dragged him over to meet Jose after his performance-even though he'd already met Jose. I think it was at the "I Love you, man" stage of the evening. 

As I tell this part of the story, I feel compelled to assume the fetal position and put a blanket over my head. If Matthew Whitehouse never goes to another Mozarmy Meet or Manchester, for that matter, it's probably my fault.

After the live music (and Matthew Whitehouse had left), the DJ played more and more of our favorite songs and dancing and merriment continued. Donna Bishop (from Manchester and another favorite Breakfast Champion) was there and was dancing in full force the entire night.

 I went downstairs and was getting ready to leave when I saw Julie and she said, "We need to have a dance." So we went back upstairs and when I turned around Julie was nowhere. She obviously was stopped on the way up for a chat with someone or other. So I danced with two lovely young men, George and Chris. I saw other people I know, like Vanessa and Euan and I danced with them briefly but just a mass of dancing people. Fun dancing people!

Stephanie and I had to fly home that day so I said a quick "Good Night" and walked out the door of The Star and Garter feeling happy that I was so lucky to be there. I guess next year I can get that dance with Julie.

In addition to a wonderful night had by all the sold out event raised quite a lot of money to help keep The Star and Garter going!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Far Off Places (Part One)

Mozarmy Meet poster

It's been a week since I attended the Mozarmy Meet in Manchester and I am simply overwhelmed with what I want to write about. In which case it is probably best to start at the beginning.

Firstly, I was exceedingly lucky to have someone to travel with. My friend, Stephanie, was even more excited than I was. This is hard to believe but she had never been to England before so it made it even more fun for me because she was so into it.

 We landed in Manchester on Thursday evening after a short layover in London. It took about 11-12 hours so we were pretty exhausted but giddy with excitement. We booked our own flat through Airbnb and we had to wait a bit to check in. We were lucky enough to be staying in a cool little area with small restaurants and bars close by. We went to a bar called Gorilla and had dinner and beer. Stephanie and I both felt quite welcomed there and wanted to return but we just never had the time. Great food and service there. 

Our flat was wonderful. If you have never booked a room through Airbnb, I really can't praise it enough. Basically, you are living in an apartment or house for less or close to the price of a hotel. Having a kitchen enables you to save so much on food. Also, you aren't confined to a small room with beds and a bathroom. You have space to hang out and relax. That's exactly what Stephanie and I did that first night. As you may have guessed, we fell right to sleep which worked out well as it was already 10 by the time we crashed. This was a positive in fighting jet lag as we were likely to wake up in the morning and jump right into UK time.

I did not bring any running gear with me because my idea was to do a lot of walking. So Friday morning Stephanie and I set out early to see some of the sights in Manchester. We started walking the wrong way towards the University of Manchester. But then received some help from the visitor's center at the University and we walked toward the Central Library, thinking that perhaps that might be where Morrissey's mum worked. 

It's actually an incredible building with beautiful stained glass windows and lovely ceilings rooms. We checked out the main study as well as the music room. We could not have asked for a sunnier day and the interior of the library was made more vibrant simply by the sun shining through.

We saw a "Big Wheel" and lots of people shopping, walked through Chinatown a bit and then I made Stephanie stand in front of a street vendor sign that said, "Manchester Tart," then laughed like I was 11 years old. I am not posting it here because that would just be mean.

We rested in the afternoon because our plan was to meet up with Dickie Felton (The Day I Met Morrissey, Morrissey International Airport) and also Ewan and of course, Vanessa and Conor. 

Dickie had the brilliant idea of meeting up at a bar high up high called Cloud 23. It was quite fancy as they served afternoon tea and had fancy beverages. Needless to say, we enjoyed the view and we skipped the tea and went straight for the beverages.

We went to a few more pubs and were joined by more Breakfast Champions before Dickie had to catch the train back to Liverpool. He could not make the meet up on Saturday because he had an important football game to attend the next day. Marine AFC. 

But wow, how wonderful was it to see Dickie and Ewan and Conor again? The banter, the silliness, etc. We kept laughing at the beginning because Dickie couldn't believe we were there, then we started laughing because WE couldn't believe we were there. Its so strange when you see someone out of the context in which you have first known them. But also wonderful and you sense how very lucky you are.

We met up with some fellow Breakfast Champions from everywhere after that. Stefan Krix, Julie Hamill and her sisters, Louise and Rose Ann, Jose Maldonado, Adrianna, Hugh, and Andy Barnett among others. It was indescribable to meet people you "know" but have never actually physically met. And everyone jumped on the dance floor as the DJ under our orders played song after song of The Smiths. 

 Of course, Saturday was a BIG day. This was the day of the Morrissey tour and the day I unwisely decided to wash my hair.

 We discovered that when you plug an American blow dryer into a converter plugged into a UK wall socket, you have yourself a blow torch. That means thoroughly drying your Southern California hair should be done with caution lest you burn your hair or face off. At arms length. For me, it meant partially dried wavy/curly hair. My hair was perfect for the 80's. Not so much for this decade.

Stephanie and I were pleasantly surprised that our tour was basically a van filled with all our friends. Stefan, Andy, and Adrianna were all on this tour. It wasn't hokey like I kind of thought it would be. It was cool because it had all the cool people on it. And when our tour guide blasted The Smiths, we all sang along. 

Of course, it hadn't rained at all until then. And when we took our picture outside Salford Lads Club, suddenly gale force winds and rain began. No hope for my hair at this point. So my iconic Moz fan pic which will live on forever is me and Stephanie with my not-so-great-looking hair. But hey, what can you do?

(I'm so vain I am including the group shot we took because my hair isn't as puffy).

While Salford Lads Club is THE spot, it isn't just a cool exterior. It is also like American equivalent of  a Boys and Girl's Club. They have great sports and outdoor activities available for youth. 

Some other key spots we stopped were The Iron Bridge (which I envisioned as a railway bridge), Strangeway's Prison, the cemetery of "Cemetery Gates," and Morrissey's house on King's Road. 

I guess the best way to explain being at all these places is that it's easy to imagine how Morrissey felt in those lonely early years. We, as fans, most likely get the "outsider" feel, the loner, being different, etc. I guess for me, I imagined him coming home from his horrible school day and walking over the iron bridge to get home, then climbing the stairs, going to his room and putting records on and dancing his cares away. Its important as a person who puts such value in Morrissey's writing and experience to look at his situation and imagine what it was like for him when those things were familiar, his every day. Each crack of the sidewalk was familiar to him. Each car parked on the road, etc.

I decided to continue Part 2 tomorrow. The Mozarmy Meet needs it's own post!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

On the Streets I Ran (or My Second Adventure Running the Los Angeles Marathon)

My Los Angeles Marathon Medals 2014 and 2015

 The Cat
Around 3:00 AM the Saturday before the Los Angeles Marathon,  I was awakened by the sound of my cat barfing. No, I did NOT want to get up to clean because it would wake me up. But I also did not want to accidentally walk in slime when I stumbled out of bed in the morning. So I grumbled and cleaned it up. Then tried to get back to sleep.

It did not work.

In fact, the cat had been sick since Friday afternoon. So, it was clear to me that she needed a visit to the vet. 

Since I was staying two nights in a hotel for the marathon, it increased a little stress. I had to drive the cat to Costa Mesa, in Orange County, and then drive straight  to LA to pick up my bib and marathon packet. Unfortunately, the added responsibility led to poor packing. That's my excuse anyway.

I took the cat to Newport Harbor Animal Hospital, where they ran tests and took x-rays of the cat's stomach. They decided to keep her over night as I would not be able to pick her up in the evening and Roland was at a water polo tournament with my son, Oliver.

The Hotel
After getting my racing packet,  I made my way to the Omni Hotel to meet up with Stephanie since she was there to cheer me on and to hang out with me.

When I came to the registration counter to check in, the clerk could not find my name in the hotel registration. Palms began to sweat a little.

"Mam, we don't have you registered. Is there any way you registered under a different name? How did you register?" Palms began to sweat a bit more.

I replied, "I booked the hotel on the LA Marathon website months ago."

"Well, you aren't listed."

We tried checking under various lists, names, etc. When there was nothing, I remembered that last year, all the hotels were booked solid. Visions of sidling up next to a homeless person sleeping on the sidewalk on skid row and getting very little to no sleep haunted my anxious mind. I considered the possibility of driving all the way back to Orange County (30+ miles south) and having to wake up at 2 AM in order to be ready and to be able to park in the very crowded Dodger Stadium. 

In any event, the hope of the chance of getting much needed sleep before the marathon, was dwindling.

I started crying. Not weeping loudly, but the stress really got to me. Luckily Stephanie arrived and the supervisor assured me that they would find a room for us for two nights. Mind you, amid all of this a drunk guy had passed out by the elevator and paramedics were called. Just not what I had envisioned for myself the night before the marathon.

The Running Bra
After we checked in many deep breaths, we got cleaned up, took an Uber cab to LA Live and had a delicious Mexican meal. 

Upon our return to the hotel, I decided to lay all my clothes out so that I was ready in the morning. 
It was then that I discovered that I had forgotten my running bra. If you are a woman you understand the importance and you also understand that using your everyday bra just isn't going to be good enough. I considered driving to Orange County to get it. I considered asking Roland to drive from the OC to deliver it. I panicked, I paced. I stressed yet again.

It was 9 PM. That means nothing was open-except Target. 

This was when Stephanie sprang into action. She left the hotel room. "I'll be right back," she said.

5 minutes later she returned and said,." We are going to Target. I've arranged for the courtesy car to take us to the nearest Target."

Done. I might add that Stephanie also arranged for my oatmeal breakfast to be delivered extra early so I could eat before setting off for Dodger Stadium.

26.2 Miles
I slept as soundly as anyone could who has been training for 30 weeks, and who was only just able to decrease their stress level from a 10 to a 5 within the span of 5 hours. 

When I put my contact lenses in, I realized that they were extremely cloudy. I tried cleaning them as best I could but it was useless. I had forgotten to pack extra lenses and my glasses. So I knew I'd just have to deal with the foggy lenses for the duration of the marathon.

So I ran. And I ran. And I ran. I listened to my favorite radio show, Breakfast with the Smiths for two hours. In exactly 6 hours I was at the finish line reaping the rewards of having worked so hard for something. Roland was there. Stephanie was there. I had a medal and probably one of the best feelings of accomplishment. Ever.

The Contact Lenses
The next morning I rose early to leave downtown LA in order to take Oliver to school as it was Monday, but I had the day off to recover. When I put my foggy lenses into my eyes, one of them had torn making it utterly useless to me.

My only option was to drive with one contact lens. 

It was still dark and for part of the time I had to drive with one eye closed. Turning from the 101 freeway to the 5 freeway, I realized it was a mistake. I was tempted to get off the freeway in Boyle Heights because I was convinced I was going to die on the freeway in a fiery ball of metal. But once I was on the 5, I was driving straight so I drove in the far right lane behind slow trucks and cars for 30 miles. I never appreciated the slow cars so much. 

I parked the car and ran upstairs to the front door. 

"Hi Mom! Congratulations!"

And I won.