Monday, November 24, 2008

How I almost came full circle with Alanis Morrissette

Back in 95/96/97, while it might be hard to believe it now, Alanis Morissette was all the rage. She was packaged to us as crossing pop and rock lines and coming off with some credibility. While I never classed her as rock, I thought she was alright in small doses and still maintain that You Oughta Know is pretty awesome (while still being slightly gay), and certainly not just because Flea and Dave Navarro played on it. Considering what a tool Dave Navarro has proved himself to be, I would say, in spite of it.

There was definitely some serious Alanis Morissette Kool-Aid being passed around, even in countries that don't have Kool-Aid (click here and scroll down to "Drinking The Kool-Aid" if you don't know what I'm going on about) as many people lapped her up without question, not knowing about her debut release, tucked away in the used record stores of Canada with a tracks entitled Oh Yeah! and Party Boy. The machine foisting the new Alanis on us did all they could to suppress that history to deliver us this "genuine" article of edgy pop/rock female angst. Perhaps it was refreshing to see a strong female in music who wasn't crying on stage and showing her breasts (see: Courtney Love) which made her so appealing at the time.

The Early Alanis she and her label didn't want you to know about. From 1991, the Canadian only release, 'Alanis' for which she was known as "the Debbie Gibson of Canada".

My sister, not uncharacteristically for her, was overwhelmingly swept up in the Alanis epidemic sweeping the globe. There was one wretched song of hers called Head Over Feet for which Rebecca was excited there was a video at which point I was introduced to it. While the song made me feel like I'd swallowed a blow fly, both incidents leading to eagerness to get it out of me, my sister was just beaming and I could see this song really got to her in a deep way, so in a rare feat of strength, I kept my opinion about her music taste to myself.

Alanis on one of my favourite shows, 'You Can't Do That On Television'. I wanted to be on that show SO BAD so I hated her even more once I learned she had been on it. And here she is standing next to, I think, Alistaire, whom I had a big crush on. Grrrr!

Alanis toured Australia in early 1997, I believe and of course Rebecca had to go. Taking a leaf out of my play book, she arrived at the venue over 7 hours before the doors opened to ensure her spot at the front which she did indeed secure. I trained her well. After the show, which she was just glowing from, Agatha, Mark and I picked her up for some follow-up stalking. It's not as sinister as it sounds, it's just easier to call it that. For us, the night isn't over with after the lights go up after the band leaves the stage. No. That's just the intermission. We grabbed Rebecca and positioned the car for a car chase to lead us to Alanis' hotel. I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but I can tell you that while a car chase from such a large arena is tough, we pulled it off. We followed the van containing Alanis to the Hyatt on Russell St, where it disappeared into an underground parking garage. We parked on the street and waited in the lobby for Alanis to come down.

While we were there, we bumped into some other people from our band chasing scene. We knew them from our rock bands, so we were surprised to see them there. I think they just enjoyed the thrill of the chase which was the only reason Ag and I were interested anyway. Not sure why Mark came along, though he did own Jagged Little Pill. There were only six or seven of us waiting and we managed to talk to some of the people in Alanis' band including a young Taylor Hawkins, the now famous cross-dressing drummer of the Foo Fighters. Finally, Alanis came down and headed for the bar. We called out to her, but she just walked by with her posse and ignored us. This was back before we knew hotel bars allowed anyone off the street come in and drink, so we felt like we were getting away with something by sitting in the lobby. You can do so much more with confidence in your actions!

Since we knew she was right there, finally, we decided to send the big fan in. We sent a giddy Rebecca into the bar with Mark along for back up. The rest of us waited outside. With just two people going in, there was no great fan assault, especially since those of use remaining weren't really fans. We waited just a little bit and they were back out again looking tense. What had happened? Rebecca went up to her and asked her for an autograph and was met with the reply "I'm busy." She was just sitting back and chatting with her friends and resting on her man, with just enough time to completely break the heart of a 17-year-old.

We were all in shock. Ag and I had done this so many times and had never been met with this kind of response. If she was being mobbed, we'd understand. But there was just two people, one of whom never opened his mouth, and she just couldn't be bothered. It was official: Alanis Morrisette was a complete fucking bitch. Mark seemed angry, while Rebecca was just sad. I felt so bad for her. Upon reporting this story to my mother, a new fury flared up. Our mother was outraged that she didn't have the time for one of the people who helped put her up where she was. To rub salt in the wound, on the same night, there was a special on TV about Alanis where she stated how she always has time for her fans. LIAR.

Years went by but that incident continued to sting my mother, even long after my sister was over it. Any talk of fans and celebrity would lead to my mother's blood boiling and saying "I always think of that Alanis Morissey (sic). Couldn't even give Rebecca an autograph. Who does she think she is? She wouldn't be where she was if not for people like that. If I ever saw her, I'd give her an earful." I kid you not, this came up numerous times for years, and certainly within the last year, so that makes over 10 years of Alanis loathing and fantasy scolding from my mother. I can't tell you how much she longed for this seemingly impossible day when she could stick it to Alanis and tell her was a bad person she was. The venom was as strong this year as it was 11 years ago.

Alanis' first single from her follow up to 'Jagged Little Pill' was 'Thank U' for which the video received universal acclaim for its grossness.

Which brings me to Houston last month. I was there for a work trip and lucky enough to be put up at the Four Seasons. My co-workers and I agreed to meet in the lobby for dinner at 6:30 which I was promptly ready for. As I walked around from the elevator to head into the lobby, I happened to glance up at the check-in desk. And there she was. It was Alanis Morissette. Was it...? No, I was projecting. As I was the first from my party down, I plonked myself down on a fancy chair and observed this woman consuming me. Upon some deeper examination and the fact that the people she was with looking like crew type people, I was convinced. Yes. It was her. I later checked her tour dates and she indeed was playing Houston that night in a venue considerably smaller than the one she played the night she snubbed my sister.

So there before me was the big chance my mother had waited for. The ridiculous chance she talked about but would obviously never, ever be realised was there right before me. For my family honour, I had to get up and say something...

But I couldn't.

I was paralysed. I knew my mother could have done it, but I was too weak, and terrified of humiliation that I just couldn't. Alanis and her crew walked to the elevators and she was gone. My chance was gone. I felt like such a failure to my family.

The Four Seasons lobby where nothing took place. I didn't snap this to document my failure, I just googled for it.

I spoke to my mum a couple of days later and prefaced my story with "I did, or rather didn't do something for which you will never forgive me." I told her what had happened and as predicted she flipped out. "You know I'm such a forgiving person...but I dunno about this." (she was being playful) She couldn't believe my luck and that I had blown it. She wasn't really mad at me, but she was bitterly disappointed. She the proceeded to tell me what she would have said, much along the lines of what I said before. "Of course she would have pretended like it didn't bother her and it rolled off her back, but she would have heard it and it would have RUINED HER DAY!" she emphatically concluded. She chuckled that she may find it her heart to forgive me some day. I still may regret this for the rest of my life.

The next call was to my sister who was extremely shocked, but clearly this burden had been carried all these years by our mother, not her. She concluded the conversation with "Thanks for letting me..." I thought she was going to say "know", but instead I was met with "down." Ouch! It was all good natured, but still, the disappointment in me was apparent.

So I didn't have the balls when I had the chance, but since that miserable wench probably sits around googling her own name to find out how fewer people care about her with each passing day, I can only hope that she will stumble upon this to receive her official "Fuck you!" from my family, not that my dear, sweet mother would ever say that, but that's totally what she means.

Just put a fucking sock in it, bitch.

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