Friday, March 19, 2004

...and then, Courtney Love went bananas.

By this time, most of you have probably heard the news that Courtney Love was arrested in New York City this week for whacking a guy over the head with a microphone stand. But what you probably didn't know was that she did this at my band UncleFucker's cd release party. Or that the whacking also involved a Telecaster?

All this started out innocently enough as we were preparing for the big CD release gig at Plaid, this oh-so-hip club on E. 13th, between Broadway and 4th Avenue. I was downtown searching for green body paint (our theme for the evening was St. Paddy's Day Green, and my plan was to wear green body paint, a cape made of a green bath towel, and too-tight whitey-tighties) when Izzy gave me a call. "Check your email man, I just updated the bulletin. Turns out Courtney Love is playing this week and will be putting in a surprise appearance at our gig!"

"No way," I replied, "That's NUTS!! Is it still free?"
"Yeah, so far as I know," said Grizzly. "Look, I gotta go..."
We hung up, and as soon as I got a chance I checked my email. Sure enough, there was Izzy's message:

Courtney Love and UncleFucker tonight!!!

So, it turns out that Courtney Love is such an UncleFucker fan that she muscled her way on to our bill tonight at Plaid!

This was confirmed this morning by Plaid's promoters and I don't know what time she is planning on going on and I didn't book the bitch myself so don't call me back with a million and four questions. But as far as I am told, this is definetly all true. If you have any other questions call Plaid directly at 212 677 5772.

We welcome Courtney with open arms 'cause there is nothing cooler and more punk than killing your rockstar husband and getting away with it!

See you tonight fools! And have a happy ST Paddy's day!

Slick Dick Grizzly

Well... this was going to be an adventure, I muttered, as I paid for my body paint.

The rest of the day was spent shuttling our amps and instruments over to Plaid. Plaid is a pretty big room; I believe the capacity is about 1000 people. We started setting up our amps, and got through soundcheck pretty quickly.

So where to begin? How about we start with the fact that almost everyone in upper management at Plaid was some kind of uber-hipster wannabe, looking like they just stepped out of some Kenneth Cole or Calvin Klein ad? Everyone had really cool hair, especially this one guy that was going so far out of his way to look like that Owen Wilson guy from "The Big Bounce" (which I understood was a big blowjob). His hair was so prettily tousled, and his clothes accentuated his skeletal frame. There was some woman dressed up in a bright green cocktail dress, looking like for all the world like Miss Yvonne from Pee-Wee's Playhouse. These two, and an entourage of other beautiful people kept going in an out of the management office, emerging ever more coked up each time. Owen Wilson-boy's eyes were rolling in his head, and if I had grabbed him by his feet and held him horizontal, I probably could have used his teeth to saw enough wood to build a deck in my backyard. You could practically hear the enamel getting ground down every time these self-important yutzes walked by.

I worked in the restaurant/ bar industry for a long time, and I can tell you from experience that one of the most obnoxious things on earth is a coked-out staff. They think they're being really efficient and industrious, but all they really manage is to be repetive, rude, and contradictory all at the same time. And we had a dozen of 'em at Plaid. "Where should I put my cases?" "Put it here, no wait put it there, oh who cares, i'm too busy to deal with this shit...." We ended up moving piles of gear at least three times before management decided on an appropriate storage area.

This is about when we found out that our free event was costing $20.00 at the door. Courtney's "surprise" appearance wasn't. To Plaid's credit, after some negotiation, they agreed to sort out our fans from Courtney's and grant them free admission.

Other than the chaos surrounding management, the night went smoothly enough. The opening bands, Alabama Black Snake and The Giraffes, were great (I'd provide a link for ABS but none exists yet). The Giraffes in particular kicked my ass. Very Mudhoney, and deliciously slobbery drums combined with a bass that just didn't quit. I'm listening to "I'll Be Your Daddy" (on the MP3s sample page, and I have to pause to pump my fist and make devil signs. We got on stage in time, and for a band that had only 3 practices the weekend before the show (after a 3 month hiatus) we were remarkably tight.

It was after we got offstage that things began to get wacky. The management was in the backstage area (itself nothing more than a hallway leading to a service exit and a flight of stairs leading to a basement kitchen) attending to Courtney Love. Courtney herself was sitting on the stairs discussing her setlist with one of her bandmates. She was slurring her words and rambling. I peeked around the corner, and we made eye contact for a second; her bleached hair looked like she'd just escaped the tornado to Oz, and she must have stolen her eyes from the Sammy Davis Junior Museum. I had been tempted to ask for an autograph (I'm a dork like that), but thought the better of it and melted into the wall. "We're nah na not gonna play that one," I heard Courtney mumbling. "Cus cus she'sh not that gr great a shinger, y know she'ss alwaysh flat."

Apparenly, management had forgotten that we'd agreed to let Courtney's band use our gear, because no less than four different hipsters approached me about our amps and guitars. One guy asked me twice. I was explaining to him that everything was taken care of, when Courtney lurched around the corner and spilled herslef onto some guy. "This.. this is the guy," she slobbered. She looked like Simpsons character. "Courtney, time to play," someone yelled, and she whirled toward the stage, almost tripping over her own feet. I followed the circus out into the music room. I can't say I'm much very interested in Courtney Love's style of music, so after a song or two, I gravitated through the doors into the front bar.

I was in the middle of my second pint when I saw a phalanx of 6 New York policemen march across the floor and toward the stage. Oh great, I thought. One of the managers just probably got popped for cocaine. "Hey Katy, what's up?" I called as I saw Katy walk by. "Dude, Courtney Love went nuts and hit someone, I think!"
"What? No way!"
"Yeah, and I think it was with Alabama Black Snake's guitar!"
"Holy shit!," I said and went to go take a look. I bumped right away into a very distraught Chris Tarbell, ABS's guitar player. He was cradling a broken Telecaster. His broken Telecaster. "Dude, what the fuck happened" I asked him.
"Man, she fucking smashed my guitar, that fucking bitch!
Actually, it's not fair for me to try to recap what Chris said, when he can speak so eloquently for himself. Here's what he emailed me:

I have never been a big fan of Hole or Courtney Love and have always been suspicious of her success as being the result of her marriage to Kurt Cobain rather than her talent. Regardless of that, my band being fairly new and unknown, I was really excited that we had the opportunity to open up a show headlined by Love.

Right before Courtney and her band went on, people from the club and Love's entourage were frantically pleading with someone from one of the other bands to loan them a guitar to play. They asked me, and hesitantly I agreed to loan them my guitar. I specifically remember one woman named Peggy, who I believe is one of the owners or managers of Plaid, saying that I had a "good heart" for loaning my guitar and that if they
"break a string or anything, they'll take care of it." Yeah, right. Anyway, me being a little gullible and star struck by the fact that a famous rock star was going to be playing my guitar on stage, [I] was kind of siked, if not slightly worried that something might happen to my guitar. But I figured my worries were probably unfounded.

I couldn't see that well from where i was standing, actually the other guitarist in my band had a really good view of what happened, but Courtney never even played a
note on my guitar that her people had been begging so hard to borrow. She
strapped it on, plugged it in, and then said something like "I don't fuckin' feel
like playing guitar tonight" and then just dropped it on the stage. I was so pissed. The later in the set, after she threw a mic stand into the audience, splitting that poor guy's crowd. I looked on in shock and horror as my guitar was held high above the crowd by a sea of hands grabbing for it. One of Plaid's employees pushed through the crowd trying to retrieve it for me , but it ended up back on the stage.

As the set ended, and Courtney was coming off the stage I pushed frantically through through the crowd to try and get to her, screaming obscenities at her and ready to kill. She didn't hear me I don't think, and I was intercepted by Lyle Derek, her porducer of events for New York. He was like "No, no, no, just chill out man, don't worry we'll take care of it. Don't scream at courtney. You have to understand she's had a hard life
and been through a lot lately. We'll compensate you, how much do you want
for your guitar?" My guitar is worth $1000 and it was really fucked up, so I told him I needed $1000. He promised he'd take care of it, but I know now that he was full of shit. And what the fuck, Courtney Love has had a hard life? Fuck that bitch, I have a hard life too. I can barely pay my bills every month and I'm a struggling musician in local rock band who can't afford to just go out and buy a new guitar. She can afford any guitar she wants, whenever she wants.

In any event, almost a week later, I have still not received compensation for my broken guitar. I was not able to meet face to face with Courtney's manager, and she (Janet Billig Rich) has not returned my polite message I left on her office voicemail. Lyle Derek
turned out to be a worthless pee-on who promised me compensation but then the next day told me I should just "sell my guitar on e-bay" because I'd probably make more money that way, and that what happened was "just rock'n roll and you're going hurt your band by making a big deal out of this." What a piece of shit that guy is. Chris Whittemeyer, Courtney's guitar tech, who I spoke with over the phone and who at first seemed as though he could help me out, mysteriously stopped returning my calls. He was mad at me because I "didn't go through the right channels" in order to get
compensated for my broke instrument. I got my guitar repaired instead of contacting him right away. He claimed he could have had my guitar fixed for free at a local Fender authorized repair shop, or immediately had a brand new guitar shipped from Fender to me. The thing is, how the fuck was I supposed to know that? I didn't even know who this guys was until days after the incident. Shouldn't Courtney's manager have put me in touch with him right away and settled the situation? The two things that upset me
the most about this whole situation are that:

1) Courtney lack of respect for another musician's instrument. I don't care how big of a rock star she thinks she is, there's no excuse for behavior like that, and it's certainly not "rock 'n roll" in my book to behave like that.

2) The fact that no one from Courtney's management or the club came to me as soon my guitar was broken and attempted to rectify the situation. Why should I have had to run around for days making phone calls and trying to track down people to help me when the bruden was on them to come to me? I loaned them my guitar at their request, therefore it was their fucking responsibility to deal with the outcome of that.

So now, I am left with a repair bill I can't afford to pay, and a guitar that is fixed, but will never be the same again. For the record, the neck was bowed and had to be replaced, the tone know was completely broken off and had to be replaced, the pick up switch was missing the tip and had to be replaced, the internal electronics were fucked up and had to be tweaked, and there are three large dents/ paint chips in the body that not able to
fully be filled in. The only thing I can say is, what comes around, goes around.
Payback is a bitch, Courtney.

Indeed. Courtney was led away in cuffs.