Rockin’ With the Chili Peppers

I spent some time tonight writing a commentary on my experiences with the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I was younger. I say that like I’m old, but skipping work for concerts seems like a lifetime ago.

I won’t bore you with all the stories of mayhem; backdoor crashing, wristband making, concussions, “just in case” cigarettes and debt-building concert tours; (unless you ask me to).

What I will share, is that these were some of the happiest days of my life…so far. They are a band I followed since I was eight. And it became much easier to have access to shows and special events while I lived in Southern California after I graduated high school. I was foolish with money, spent time with some weird people and looked up to musicians who did a lot of drugs. I did not condone the drug use, but I did find solace in the music and theirs became a soundtrack to many years of solid memories and friendships.

Some people hate them, some people love them and I’m not here to debate that. I used to try but really, what is the point of trying to convince someone to alter their taste? I personally have a connection to them, which is that I feel happy when I hear them. My hips rock to Flea’s bass and my feet tap to Chad’s drums. I can’t resist singing along, even when the lyrics don’t make logical sense and no matter who is playing guitar, there is a hauntingly soulful sound on most tracks that just make me…happy.

I’ve posted a shot of me when I was 18. I just moved to San Diego and went up to Los Angeles for a charity event that the Peppers would be playing at. I snuck into the celebrity-only area and met the band for the first time. I’m smiling so hard that I look scary in this picture, while Anthony was in the middle of asking my photographer when to smile. My words to him did not make sense that night, and it was the first and only time in my life I was wordless…imagine that. I stood there in my leather pants and platinum hair and grinned for what felt like days. What a doofus, I think now. But what naive joy there is to be that young and happy without a care in the world.

Dance like Nobody’s Watching, Even Though They Are?

Even models trip. And then an entire article about it gets posted on dailymail.co.uk. Whether you're cool or not, no one is safe.

When I was little girl, I was paranoid that other people would see every little thing I did.  What I wore mattered and the fact that my cartwheels were not perfect actually bothered me as I tumbled across our front yard.  I remember helping my Dad to wash his car one day and he said;

“Shannon, you only think people are watching you.  You’re going through a stage where you feel like you’re on display and everyone will take interest or critique what you do.  They aren’t watching, because they are too busy worrying about the same thing; themselves.”

Although I didn’t record this epic conversation to quote it perfectly, that is what he said.  He told me about when he was younger and how he thought that everyone had something to say about what he said or did; even strangers.  He was right, I did go through that phase, but so was everyone else.

In high school, if I tripped on my own chucks, did I not feel the need to recover and look back at the floor like it assaulted me?  I even see adults do that today.  Who gave that floor the right to trip me?  It must be a defense mechanism, in which we place blame on some inanimate object so we don’t look like a fool.  So silly.  So what if we trip up, who hasn’t?  And will worrying about what people think of my slip-up make my life any better in the process?  Certainly not.

I’d like to think those sort of things don’t matter as much to me anymore.  But there is a flaw in my Dad’s grand plan of growing up.  Yes, I did eventually realize that my mundane life is not tabloid fodder but he also did not anticipate the age of the internet, cell phones and YouTube.  Just when you think it is safe to screw up, we find a world around us that is quick to document it for the world to see, in the form of pictures and video, whether you’re famous or not.  Stupid mistakes can end up on your boss’s Facebook page before Monday morning’s meeting and Grandma will never respect you again.  Luckily I’m just still tripping on my feet and nothing too embarrassing is going on over here, but boy am I glad I got my bearings before I realized what the future would hold.

Tattoos Are Permanent

The title is an obvious statement and one which people often don’t keep in mind when getting a tattoo.  The worst is seeing “trendy” tattoos and waiting for an entire generation to have a less than appealing version of it as we age.  As someone with two tattoos, both small but one in an obvious place, getting more is something that makes me both very cautious and very eager.

One of the biggest parts of being a creative writer is expressing who you are.  It is very easy to perfect our niche and allow details to shine through our written works that tell who we are.  People like labeling things, and even ourselves, though many try to dismiss that notion.  Tattoos are a version of that, like putting a permanent sticker on your car, but knowing it’s the car you drive for life.  Also don’t forget that you’re never getting out of that car.  People will judge you on your “decorations” and often decide where to fit you in terms of opportunities that arise.

Tattoos can be expressive in a “wow” way that exudes a look of glowing awe or a “wow” response that hinders more in a “what were they thinking” way.  Your body décor can be appealing and open doors that a plain person may not access or it’ll shut a door in your face.  There are simply open and closed-minded people, and that’s just the way life is.  I suppose it’s a matter of making sure your body art truly depicts who you are and allows room for the opportunities you seek.

I’m often torn between allowing myself to be expressive and artsy or classic and conservative.  I appreciate the notions of each and I’m not quite sure what I am deep down.  Isn’t it ok to be both when the situation feels right?  Do I have to go all in, or does taking myself out of one stereotypical box make me unique?  When I’m out with friends, I don’t wear a watch.  When I’m at work I do, to avoid the distraction of people staring at the tattoo on my wrist.  I’m not ashamed of it and I still don’t regret getting it, but I’m also aware of the snickers I’ve gotten from corporate higher-ups and I don’t need my potential success sidelined by a decision I made when I was 18.

I also worry about what time does to our bodies.  I have an inkling (get it?) to get another piece done, but I do worry that if I choose the wrong location, that time won’t be so kind.  Maybe the conservative side is hindering the artistic one and I should take more of a chance.  Or maybe like many things in life, such as buying a house or finding your spouse, it’ll come to you and you’ll just know.  Same should probably apply to finding something you want to adorn on your skin forever.  If we can’t wait for that to happen, then at least be prepared for the regret later.

Photo courtesy of sodahead.com

Rock Star Incident of 1998

Perspectives really change with age.  I’m not quite 30, so I’m nervous about how many things I have yet to look back on and shake my head about, but needless to say, it’s funny how time changes things.

I heard the song “Shimmer” by Fuel on the local rock station tonight, WMMR.  I drove along and snickered a bit when I thought about my first “rock star” experience.  I was fifteen and Fuel was in regular rotation on the airwaves at my favorite Modern Rock station, Y100.  RIP.  They were holding a Sonic Session, which was a somewhat regular promotional event in which the station got a popular band to play a mini concert at a local recording studio as they breezed through town for a concert.  One of my best friends at the time won tickets and asked me to go.  If saying “OMG” was popular at that time, I would have said it about 150 times the day leading to and following this event.

I remember it like it was yesterday.  My Mom had been the type to idolize musicians in her youth and met the Bay City Rollers at a similar event when she was that age, so she understood the true excitement to it all.  My Dad on the other hand, was none too pleased about his little girl going into the city on a school night to drool over some guys in a band.  Looking back, it’s fair to say he was right to feel that way.  They both were, really.  Mom won and I went.

There weren’t that many people allowed into the small recording space, but it was pretty exciting as we sat on the floor and watch a band, which was signed to an actual recording label, jamming out in front of us.  The lead singer Brett was barefoot and blonde, and giving the full rock star vibe to the small-time performance.  The show ended and we were allowed to ask for autographs.  Guess who was first in line.

At that very moment, I remember thinking that I didn’t have enough things for the band to sign.  I should have brought posters or bought a second CD in case something happens to this one.  A bundle of excited nerves, I handed over my CD and introduced myself to Brett.  I probably just said my name and nothing else, afraid to throw too many words out there at the same time, in case they got jumbled.  He said it was nice to meet me and then in a quick panic and sheer brilliance, I thought at the time, “Can you sign my shirt too?!”  Of course he did, what a nice guy, to take the time to sign a barely developed girl’s chest.  Then he saw I had a camera and offered to take a picture. O-M-G.  We posed for a picture and then it happened.  He pinched my ass.

Now, if a guy today, even a popular musician did that, although I’d be flattered, I’d have the presence of mind to say, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”  I didn’t.  I glowed.  Since we were just fifteen, my friend’s Mom waited outside for us and I bounced around outside, in the car, at home and for a month following exclaiming “He grabbed my ass, it was awesome!”  I can only imagine what my Dad was thinking.  I clearly looked underage too, all big cheeks and innocence.  And by big cheeks, I mean the ones on my face.

I don’t have children, but I’d be torn about whether or not I’d let them go to something like that.  Experiences like that as a whole, minus the groping, don’t happen often.  It spurred a nearly ten year concert spree that I am currently still paying off, which included hundreds of concerts and memories that always make me smile and that I’d never give back.

(Don’t worry Dad; this experience never turned your little girl into a groupie.)