Smiths Convention 97 stories
Stories by: Scott / Despair / Michael / Torr / Melinda / scottyeddie / Chris / Emily / U of Washington online daily
Pictures by: Angela / Torr

Post I

That fake wire news release was not too far off-base. WHat I mean is that we raised too much ruckus and repeatedly been warned to quiet down by the management. They threatened to call the police on us. It went well and quietly after we dispatched the crowd of 40+ people to other rooms. But then Shirley and I were lured into singing a few mellow Smiths tunes by Mike (?) with his acoustic guitar. When we got into a spirited rendition of "Jeane" we got the last call from the manager ordering us to check out in five minutes with no refund. The couple in the suite below us were complaining. As they got into their black porshe the woman scowled at me and seemed to mutter, "Thanks for the noisy evening." I was about to respond, "The pleasure, the privilege was mine" but I was in a hurry and wasn't quite sure if she was actually addressing me.

We did serve Marie-Lu's. I can't remember who ate the brie with the cookies, but he found it shocking to his palate.

I heard Mike and Andy didn't go to the Viper Room after all. ANother rumour has it that Veruca Salt played a secret gig at the Viper Room. Someone from the Sweet and Tender Hooligans camp was telling me that they went drinking with Mike and Andy on Friday night at a club called the Palace. BTW the Sweet & Tender Hooligans were enormously entertaining to watch. I thought I was watching Morrissey all over again circa 1992. But the weird thing was that they played only Smiths tunes while the singer incorporated more solo Morrissey moves and looks. He was constantly tearing up his shirts and getting new ones to put on. At one point he wore gold lame'. I have to say the singer does it very well. The stage invaders were fun to watch. Richard Blade got up and hugged on Jose' (Moz). Also saw Rodney Bingenheimer there. I thought he was some 45 year old woman from the back at first. KROQ handed out some free SMiths stickers that looks like it takes the bckground from theLouder than Bombs picture of the steps. If you snip off the KROQ logo, it looks very dandy.

The ask and answer period with Mike and Andy was enjoyable. My friend Alex (and Xtine's) asked the first or second question of Andy Rourke, "Were you wearing any underwear during those photoshoots for the Queen Is Dead album?" His pants were so tight, she didn't need to ask. But he kindly obliged and admitted no. Mike told a funny story about realizing how great the Smiths were. He said he was bursting for the loo when the crowd was chanting for the encore. Well, it's better if someone can relate it more verbatim than I can. Andy stilll didn't get a haircut. I think he claimed that he couldn't afford one! Some rude bastard in the crowd yelled, "What happened to your hair?" Mike started to play the intro to the Queen Is Dead, and then joked, "Well, obviously that was a bit from Girlfriend in a Coma." Some of the more naive convention attendee's looked perplexed and questioned, "Huh? THat was Girlfriend in a Coma?"

The Ask table was in a very stuffy room full of vendors hawking posters, videos, rarities, and also a PETA information table. I think THrill came by and scowled at me, but I wasn't kind sure if that was her. She had blonde hair, sort of long or shoulder-length. I didn't bother since no one came by to set our table on fire. It was great meeting the Askers and also people who were interested in subscribing. WIR won Miss Congeniality by welcoming so many people with sincerity and enthusiasm. Bella was our gorgeous diva stretched out on our table like it was a grand piano. Scott Krajewki came up to me and looked at me sort of expectantly. I guessed, "You must be Scott!"

THe convention started off about an hour and a half late. I only saw part of the screenings of the SMiths at the Hacienda where Johnny sings back up on the Hand that Rocks the Cradle. THere's backstage footage and footage identifying the people who worked for the SMiths behind the scenes, from soundman (a woman actually!) to the one who takes care of t-shirts. I couldn't make out a single word said in the backstage footage. Idiot people kept taking flash photos in the darkened screening room. They're only going to get a photo of a large , white screen. Then some girl came in the back midway through and accidently leaned on the wall switches to the lights. When the lgihts came on, a couple hundred people turned around and stared at her. She was so mortified. It was rather humorous.

I didn't really pay attention to the auction. I didn't care to wait in line for an autograph from Mike and Andy. No one from Ask won the raffle to dinner with Mike and Andy plus the gold disc, but Alex knows someone who did and so she gets to be a dinner guest and have dinner with them.

During the dance -- which was NOT "flower-filled" -- there was a gorgeous, tall double for Morrissey. I knew him. I met him a couple of years ago at a party in San Francisco for the release of Southpaw Grammar. He came over and said hello at our Ask table. Anyway, Tom was really cutting up the rug with his Mozzesque moves. But his friends, Dallow and Spicer, wierded me out and kept harassing me to let them come to the Ask party.

We did not sing the Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty intro. (Chris!) But lots of photos were taken, and Angela (Slugmeister) came in with a camera (super 8?) during the afterparty and shoved a mic in our mute faces. Duh, huh huh huh. I'm a deaf mute. Now you can see how charming, hideous, pretty, or unusual we look.

THe Comtesse was wearing the same Smiths t-shirt I was wearing except the background was a different kind of gray--heather--while mine was bluish. It's da "bum" picture for the cover of Hand in Glove. Good thing we didn't go to the same highschool or we would've been mortal enemies for wearing the same prom dress! Hah hah hah! Anyway, you have excellent sartorial taste, Comtesse (Typhoid Mary)! But I don't understand the people who wore No Doubt or Greenday t-shirts at the convention. Were they making an ironic statement or just asking to be taunted?

After scrambling to clean up and check out, I took Torr back to LAX, then dropped off Roy and Vu at the train station. I raced back to school, making up a good bs line to cover up the tragic fact that I failed to get any reading done this weekend.

Post II

Anyway, here's the first of the closest-to-coherent report I'll make about the convention:

The Question and Answer Session with Mike and Andy --

The official video might do a better job of accurately recording this event, but I prefer it my way (Lost Highway). Quite by accident I wandered into the main hall of the convention center to claim the free Smiths stickers KROQ was supplying. A minute later Richard Blade came to the stage and introduced Andy and Mike. The roar of the audience was immense. And the spectacle enhanced by hundreds of camera flashes going off at their initial appearance was truly dazzling. I knew my pictures would turn out crap, so I didn't bother taking a picture. Many people were audibly surprised at Andy's hair. I was hoping he'd get a haircut but no such luck. Early on in the session, some rude ass yelled, "What happened to your hair?" at Andy. There were some boos and nervous tittering at that.

I was off to the side of the stage next to several Askers. At one point I wanted to hoist Mozmonger on my shoulders so she could get a better view.

If you entered the convention earlier, when you received the program sheet there were also some question cards you could fill out if you wanted to ask Mike and Andy something. Richard Blade said that they would also be taking questions from the audience, but that didn't happen as I recall. For those of you who don't know, Richard Blade is a d.j. at KROQ. He maintains a quasi-English accent, but I think he's really Australian. He did mention that some of the convention-goers had come from as far as Canada to attend (but what about Marco who came from Italy by way of Wyoming?).

Alex's question to Andy was among the first: Were you wearing any underwear during the Queen Is Dead photo sessions? No.

Richard Blade asked his own question of them: Were the Smiths really a rock 'n' roll band (what he probably wanted to get at was did the Smiths party backstage and shag the groupies)? And is Morrissey's asexuality and celibacy just an image? Bad questions! AAAANNN! Mike gamely responded that of course they were a rock band. Duh! But he understood what Blade was asking and explained that though the band wasn't some Bon Jovi kind of band (or some such stereotypical decadent rock shit), they did like to work hard and play hard. Mike and Andy have made no secret of their use and enjoyment of certain droogs in the past. And I don't remember how he answered the question about Morrissey's sexual image except to effectively say nothing meaningful about it. And after all the fuss Richard Blade made to say that this question and response was "off the record" and "we'll wait until the red recording light on the camera goes off"!

Richard Blade also used his position to bolster his radio station by asking a leading question that was meant to get Mike and Andy to agree that the small but instrumental support they got in America was due to commercial modern rock stations like KROQ and Live 105 which he named specifically. Mike responded that the Smiths really made it on their own without the usual machinations of the industry and gave credit to the "grassroots" fans and also specifically to college radio! Right on! I was standing next to some cohorts in college radio -- Mark and Jen. We raised a cheer. Bands like the Smiths and REM have to acknowledge that college radio gave them genuine support and earliest airplay in the 80s. Mike strongly appealed to the audience by praising them as the true grassroots fans who made the Smiths what they were. It's rather strange as one can tell by the youth of most of the convention goers that they were more likely influenced by eMpTyV and commercial radio stations than by "grassroots" introductions. And so Blade's self-congratulatory query isn't so wrongheaded. I am not being down on youthful Smiths/Morrissey fans, but I think many of them miss the context of Smiths fandom and the phenomenal success of an indie band in the 80s.

Another memorable question/answer was one that asked them if they had a favorite or particularly memorable show. They really couldn't come up with just one. Mike, certainly the more vocal of the two, shared two funny memories. He described a lacklustre audience in Pittsburgh (?). He said the people were like picnicing and just talking to each other during their performance as if the Smiths were just there for background music. He said he felt like their playing was intruding upon the audience's conversations and that maybe he should hush up his playing! The way Mike related this was very charming and ironic. The other story is better if I don't tell it as I'm sure to make a funny story dull. It's the one where he starts off by recalling how he was "burstin' for the loo" at the encore. Someone else care to recount this one?

Someone asked the inevitable "Will the Smiths reunite?" Obviously not. Mike explained that all what was needed to be said and played was done. I guess they meant it was time to move on. They expressed that they're proud of their work and involvement, but there's no need to parade around a corpse.

Andy talked some about his band Delicious which includes the drummer (?) from the Happy Mondays. I heard the song on the Loveline appearance and didn't think it was that great. But this is because its Happy Mondays influence is very apparent, and I don't like the Happy Mondays. It's a proficient song, but it's hard to appreciate when one thinks of the Smiths. This song was played at the conclusion of the Q/A session. After the song, instead of coming back to field more questions from the audience, Mike and Andy were absent for a while.

Then it was announced that a line for Mike and Andy autographs would start immediately in the far corner up against the back wall opposite the stage. There was a frantic rush to the wall and the corner. I recall with sympathy and amusement a poor, lone security guy panicking as this rush of people came at him. He held up his arms, a walkie-talkie in one hand, and his eyes grew as wide as a Matt Groening cartoon character. For over an hour, the line did not even advance because Mike and Andy did not show up to sign just then. Once I secured a good spot in line for a friend, I went on my way to see the screenings of the special video of the Smiths' early performances plus backstage footage.