New York City
The following is a true tale of my unwitting social media downfall. It is said that writing can be cathartic. Journey with me as I attempt to exorcise my disappointment.
Taste The Pain
I am no longer able to listen to The Red Hot Chili Peppers. If their songs come on at a party, I ask the host to skip the track. If a Chili Peppers song comes on my car radio, I quickly flip the dial. While I have not purged the Chili Peppers from my iTunes library, it has been many years since I played any of their tracks.
The Brothers Cup
Living in New York, it is a given that you will at some point encounter a celebrity. Not a maybe circumstance, but a definite. The established protocol is either pretend to not see your favorite entertainer, or if there is interaction, smile and nod politely while not impeding their egress. Well, this used to be the protocol, before the ubiquity of mobiles.
These days, your favorite entertainer, author, politician, or criminal is inundated block-by-block with photograph requests. New York, the pinnacle province of anonymity has morphed into a privacy invasion nightmare for the famous. No longer can a simple random meeting be limited to a greeting, compliment and well wish; now, the bold-faced name is asked to stop for a selfie.
One Hot Minute
To clarify, I do not write this lamenting the presumed inconvenience to a producer accosted by their consumer who wants to relay an accolade. What I rue is that due to the ubiquity of mobiles, the volume of requests makes artists less likely to engage with fans. Here are the folks I have met (or accosted) in New York prior to the era of mobile selfie madness:
Steve Buscemi, Bill Clinton, Alan Cumming, Billy Crudup, Will Forte, Al Franken, Jim Gaffigan, Corey Glover, Steve Harvey, Leon, Adriana Lima, Miranda Kerr, Doutzen Krous, Marissa Miller, Jerry O'Connell, Sarah Jessica Parker, Liev Schreiber, David Schwimmer, Robin Thicke, Sullivan Stapleton, Eamonn Walker, Owen Wilson, and Naomi Watts
I have interacted with some of these people on multiple occasions. And, with the exception of Corey Glover and Adriana Lima, I did not ask any of them to pose with me.
Over the years, my wife told me several times it was odd I had never seen Kiedis. Whenever I mentioned being a fan, she would say (unmoved, New Yorker style) that she had seen him many times. I believed her, but attributed her sightings to being old school to the neighborhood, and that there was no way he would saunter around now.
If You Want Me To Stay
Low and behold, it was early on a Saturday morning, before the Super Bowl. I had just left my favorite New York City zen spot, and was en route to a haircut. The street was mostly empty, with a few tourists (?) mall walking (side by side, taking up too much space) ahead of me. A man wearing a battered jacket emblazoned with "San Francisco" and a cool dragon passed me. He shot the tourists (?) an annoyed look for blocking the sidewalk, and squeezed past them. There was something about the man's gait, hat, and mustache that made me walk faster to catch up with him.
When I reached the corner to wait for the light change, I turned my head and was looking eye-to-eye with Anthony Kiedis. His face. The new mustache. Color me gobsmacked, it was him.
Granted, this will perhaps sound bizarre (and hopefully, not too obsessive). A few months before bumping into Anthony Kiedis, I read his autobiography. I read it on a whim, and was immensely entertained by its candor and content. After reading his book, with my wife's regular Kiedis sightings in mind, I had mapped out what to say if I ever saw him on the street:
"Mr. Kiedis, I read your book. I have to tell you two quick stories please. I am from Kentucky, so I got a big kick out of your Kentucky Girl story. Hilarious. Also, I was once in a bar in Sweden, and everyone there sang along to "Other Side." It was surreal and indelible.
I have a favor to ask please. Not for social media, but to hang in my home... can I take a photo with you please?"
Yeah, that is what I envisioned saying.... but, here is what actually happened:
"Wow. I am a huge fan."
"Anthony, this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Can I take a photo with you please?"
He sighed, shook his head, and said, "I don't do it." He then jogged across the street away from me.
Color me...crushed...during the Super Bowl the next day, and many years thereafter. Imagine one of your favorite rock stars treating you like the dork you are. Scarred forever.
Fight Like A Brave
While I will never know, I will always wonder had I not requested a photo, if I would have had a brief conversation with Anthony Kiedis.
It's tough to do, but always strive to forget the multi-megapixel, super-fast, super-cool connected device in your pocket. Be present and enjoy your moments, capturing a mental memory sans device. Experiences can still be unforgettable, even without a selfie.