Hey, Mom, Im a Rock Star

On tour with a wildly famous Orange County band

While that's going on, the manager asks me to walk down the hall with him. I'm expecting him to ask me to play some more gigs. I'm completely broadsided. He launches into a tirade about how the band was very disappointed about the "sticker incident." I respond that it was only a joke, and what did they expect, that the label would sign my band and drop them because of a sticker? I could feel him about to launch into another tirade when I realize that, in my boots, I have a good 8 inches and 40 pounds on him, and this normally fierce negotiator is starting to back into the wall. He eventually retreats, but my adrenalin is pumping, and now I'm amped and a little flustered that these turds didn't have the courtesy to tell me this themselves, and have sent this little scumbag to do their dirty work for them.

While waiting for the stage call, I hole up in Saturday Night Live regular Tim Meadows' dressing room. We finally get the call and play the song, and I walk dejectedly offstage. Rosie leaves directly after the show for a dental appointment, so I don't get to meet her, but it's no big deal. I put a Peace Corp. CD into the dressing-room refrigerator of another SNL regular, Chris Kattan. Around midnight, I catch a taxi back to the Paramount. The next day, I'm back home in Costa Mesa.

Jan. 24. What turns out to be my last show, an MTV-sponsored gig up at Big Bear. A Town Car picks me up at 6 a.m. The ride goes fine until we get to the mountain road—the driver feels he has to stomp on either the brake or the accelerator at full pressure, causing rumbling in both my and my wife's stomachs.

MTV is there in full force and has been the entire week, filming mostly teen rip-off groups. That puts us in suitable company. Being a free and somewhat accessible gig, many old friends of the band show up, most of whom have been loyal to the band for more than 10 years but who would nowadays not even rate a guest-list connection, since the band's list is now usually filled up with their new Hollywood friends.

In the van, the drummer doesn't acknowledge my presence. When we get to the stage, I find out why—not only is the keyboard not behind the amps, but it's also barely onstage. They've put bleachers on the stage right behind the band, and I'm behind the bleachers. It's safe to say that my wife gets more camera time than I do, since she's sitting in front of me in the bleachers. Now, I don't mind not getting camera time; I really don't care. What bothers me is the look of pity I get from all the old buddies who are standing backstage with me, also behind the bleachers. They're as incredulous as I am.

This is the final straw. It's freezing cold, the people in the bleachers are jumping up and down, causing my keyboard to sway wildly on the unreinforced stage, and I'm pissed. I start thinking of sabotage. As the songs start, I immediately detune my guitar. As we finish each number, I delete all the song programs that I had meticulously fed into the keyboard—one by one. I figure if they want them back, they can hire somebody to do it.

At the lodge, I manage a sandwich out of yet another deli tray. I ask someone where the bathroom is, and a friend says, "Follow that girl down the stairs." That girl turns out to be Jennifer Love Hewitt, who is accompanied by a large bodyguard. Hewitt sees me trailing her and asks, "Are you going to the bathroom? Well, just follow me." She rolls this around in her skinny little head and adds (with a Rupert Murdoch network-approved giggle) "But only to a point—ha, ha."

We stand around and wait for what seems like hours, while the band engages in some mindless MTV-taped banter with Carson Daly about the artistic merits of an upcoming Backstreet Boys video. When they finish, the singer sheepishly walks over, shakes my hand and, looking down, gives me his patented faux-emotion send-off: "Thanks very much for all you've . . ." as he gets called away by some MTV type. I realize I've just been given the rock & roll equivalent of the Mafia Kiss of Death —thanks but no thanks; you have outlived your usefulness.

On the ride out of Big Bear, the bassist, in the midst of a binge, blares the CD player, stops traffic looking for a beer, throws beers out the window (narrowly missing a CHP officer), and generally acts like a lout.

Jan. 26. Get my check from The Tonight Show. $400. Woo-hoo!
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