(Originally published June 23, 2010)
MY FRIEND DAVE is a human rabbit’s foot: extremely lucky, and soft and fuzzy to the touch. I’d keep him on my keychain if I had big enough pockets.
Like me, Dave is also from Darien, CT, and came to LA two weeks ago for an internship. Upon arrival, he won a radio contest for a free copy of The Cure’s Disintegration. Then he found a cheap package deal for his whole family for an upcoming Dodgers/Yankees game. In between, he got us into an Ozzy Osbourne concert for $11.00.
I’m telling you, he’s a horseshoe wrapped in four-leaf clovers.
Last week I got a text from Dave asking if I wanted to go to Amoeba Records in Hollywood – the world’s best record store – to see Ozzy.
As it turned out, Ozzy wasn’t playing at Amoeba. He was there to sign copies of his new album for the first 600 people in line, all of whom would get a pass to see him that night at the House of Blues on Sunset. We got there late but made the cut. One of the employees wrangling the line told us the turnout was less than expected.
“Maybe because it’s Father’s Day,” I said.
“I’d bring my Dad to see Ozzy,” Dave said.
“My dad’s dead,” she said.
We were in line behind a short guy in a straw fedora and a bowling short who looked just like Jimmy Pardo. It may have been, but I didn’t ask, because I couldn’t remember his name at the time. Dave said, “famous people don’t wait in line for stuff like this.” I countered that if I, a former fan of his, couldn’t remember his name after standing behind him for hours, he’s not that famous.
Behind us were two girls, a giggly Asian in an Ozzy t-shirt and a fat goth with a black Chihuahua on a spiked leash and collar. The Chihuahua looked like a print model for a “Hot Topic for Dogs” catalog (like its owner). God knows why these two were friends. The Asian girl was enthusiastic about everything and the goth girl would shoot her down again and again:
“I wonder who’s going to be in Ozzy’s backing band!”
“Probably just some no-name guys.”
“Remember when Zakk Wylde was in the band?!”
“I never considered him a real member of the group.”
I watched the dog’s Chihuahua prance excitedly in circles near Pardo’s legs. Its owner put her purse on the ground and let it root around inside. The giggly Asian girl said, “What’s he doing in there?”
“He found food.”
Indeed, there were loose pretzels at the bottom of the purse. I don’t know if they were hers or the Chihuahua’s; I could easily picture either party sticking their nose in and hunting for snacks.
The line started moving and soon we were inside. We bought Ozzy’s new album, Scream, then headed back outside to a separate, much longer line.
While we waited, I studied the CD. The first track is “Let it Die,” followed by the single, “Let Me Hear You Scream.” I imagined the entire track listing rewritten as phrases beginning with “let.” For example, the third track “Soul Sucker” would become “Let Me Suck Your Soul.”
Ozzy’s road crew came out and laid down the rules: “Have your CD jackets out. No pictures. Don’t try to talk to him…” Minutes later, one of the first fans leaving the signing walked past us in line, all pissed off: “Man, I tried to talk to Ozzy and he totally wanted to talk to me but his stupid people got in the way.”
Behind us, Fat Goth and Giggles had a discussion:
“That’s too bad about Ozzy! I wish his people would let him talk to us!”
“Wake up. Ozzy doesn’t care. Rock stars do not care about you.”
“No, man! A lot of them do! If we saw The Deftones, they’d sign our stuff and talk to us.”
“Yeah, because The Deftones suck.”
All of this astounded me. You realize our only hope of reaching the front of this line is that the people in front of us don’t waste time trying to talk to Ozzy, right? Whether or not you do, shut the hell up.
Once inside, the path to Ozzy snaked through the reggae section. My only issue with the rules they had (what would I have to talk to Ozzy about, anyway?) was that he would only sign his own album. I imagined pulling Bob Marley’s Legend off the rack and having him sign that. I could even smudge “Ozzy” to look like “Ziggy,” Bob Marley’s son. Then I could go on EBay and auction off a copy of Legend signed by Ziggy… Osbourne.
We reached the front. A red carpet was set up before a long folding table where Ozzy and his crew all sat on beanbag chairs. He signed CD after CD using the hand with “Ozzy” tattooed on the knuckles. After each one, he’d looked up briefly and smile.
Let me tell you, the real reason Ozzy has all the tattoos, thee black clothes and dark makeup, the nickname “Prince of Darkness,” is that he wouldn’t be taken seriously otherwise. He has kind eyes and a smile that lights up a room. No kidding.
Actually, that seems to be the norm with most of these shock rocker types…
Iggy Pop was raised by school teachers, and recently “an established journey of classical scholarship, Classics Ireland, chose to publish Pop’s musings on the applicability of Edward Gibson’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to the modern world.”
Marylin Manson enjoys watercolor painting.
Alice Cooper is both witty and socially-conscious. He’s a born again Christian, an avid golfer, and a registered Republican (to many, this does make him evil).
But back to Ozzy…
When he finally took the stage later that night, he was a joy to behind. I’ve never seen a grown man more visibly happy. Smiling, jumping around, and clapping his hands the whole time, he only used three distinct phrases the whole night:
1. “I love you guys.”
2. “God bless you all.”
3. “I can’t fucking hear you.”
#3 was either a showmanship trick or the result of long term sustained hearing damage. Or both. I pity the audience facing an artist whose hearing is fully gone. “I can’t hear you. Guys, I can’t hear you. Seriously, I cannot hear you.” (I wonder how Beethoven handled crowd work.)
The only other bit of Ozzy “banter” involved him taking a huge bucket of water and dousing fans in the front row. That’s one way to stop people from trying to record concerts on their cell phones.
The music itself? Fantastic. Even though the concert was meant to promote the new album, Ozzy knew nobody gave a shit. He played the hits. And even though his band mates probably were “no-name guys,” they rocked, and had huge hair that looked like it was being constantly blown around by giant fans.
After the show, Sunday, my ears rang all through Monday, and the album came out Tuesday. I hope for my new best friend Ozzy’s sake it does well. I did my part.
Related, I Googled “Ozzy Osbourne” and found this gem from an LA Times Blog Article:
[Ozzy wants to have his genome sequenced because he] hopes that it may help explain why he’s held up so well despite decades of drug and alcohol use and the famous bat-biting incident.
Also, from Britain’s Sunday Times:
“It’s no joke. Ozzy Osbourne really is our new health columnist. Given his colourful medical history, the Black Sabbath star considers himself an expert on all things medical, as anyone who’s abused his body for 40 years and been declared dead twice has the right to. Now, he wants you to learn from his mistakes.
(I hope he calls himself “Dr. Ozz.”)
I don’t know how living a lifestyle that would kill most people gives you the authority to guide others, but Ozzy’s just a lucky guy, like someone else I know and love. God bless you, Dave. Dave? I can’t fucking hear you.