Crystal Bernard? Serious? Of course she was irresistible on Happy Days. But I stuck with her in the 80’s during her Love Boat days until she served up the cuteness on It’s A Living. I watched her work the lunch counter at the Nantucket Airport on Wings. I listened to her music and pretended there was nothing wrong with pairing up with Peter Cetera. That should have been the first warning sign. I even downloaded one of her tunes just because I saw her singing it on a Stairmaster during a commercial for a now defunct health club. I suppose my crush should also have been defunct by then, but she had grown as comfortable as an old sweater that’s no longer in style. But I wore that sweater out in public – carrying her music on my iPod, sleeping on my Crystal pillowcase and even using valuable blog space promoting her movies sight unseen. Where was the intervention from my so-called friends? Huh? I’m talking to you guys.
But on October 14, 2006 there appeared the first sign of weakness in the Bernard levee.
Every couple years I find a new artist that knocks the boxers right off my ass. The kind that makes you stop what you’re doing the first time you hear them and immediately put clothes on and go buy their entire back catalogue so you can catch up on everything they’ve done. It was that date I first discovered and listened to a new record called Four on the Floor. It was raw but tight, high energy and hook-laden, and rocked from start to finish under the guidance of the imperfect yet befitting female vocals. Unfortunately, some personal issues took precedence over iTunes about the same time and I didn’t get to rock out as much as I would have liked, so Juliette and the Licks lamentingly gathered a little dust in the mp3 bin of my hard drive for a few months.
Fast forward a year and I’ve returned to my regularly scheduled life, which includes perusing the weekly
I spent most of the week leading up to the show reacquainting myself with the Licks’ two records nearly non-stop. The energy spewing forth from the speakers even allowed me to give up my meth habit, and I can once again use my bathtub for its rightful purpose – making homemade wine coolers. Again, I digress.
On the night of the show, we were all to meet up early at Reggie’s since they have a bar and grill right next to the venue and I can only get people to go out with me if I promise to buy them beers and stuffed jalapenos. I also noted there was a signing at the record store upstairs before the show, but I wasn’t planning on going since I always feel like a dork when I meet somebody famous. I mean, I always feel like a dork, but even more so around people that rock the Richter scale of cool. Juliette fits that bill for me. In case you don’t know or haven’t figured it out by now, the Juliette of whom I speak is also the Oscar nominated actress Juliette Lewis.
I always liked the quirky or twisted roles and movies she chose as an actress – Cape Fear, Kalifornia, Natural Born Killers, Titanic, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Old School – but I was too busy with that other woman Crystal to pursue any further stalking activities. However, as Juliette hit the circuit to promote the latest record I noticed she was way cooler than Crystal Bernard and Peter Cetera put together. Can you believe it? So when Moist Rub said he might go to the signing, I didn’t hesitate to jump on the bandwagon. After all, how often do you get to meet a bitchin’ Oscar nominee rock star without having to pretend to be a lost home healthcare worker and accidentally showing up at their door? Oh, and I was joking about Titanic - just wanted to see if you were paying attention.
Me and the Mrs. got to Reggie’s right on time and checked out the store – that alone was worth the visit. The Licks weren’t there yet – fashionably late, of course – but it gave us the opportunity to frolic amongst the homemade bins of CD’s and LP’s from every genre. It brought back memories of skipping class with Moist Rub to go to Record Swap to pick up vinyl gems like Lydia Lunch’s The Agony is the Ecstasy and the self-titled debut from German metal masters Underdog (Shut Up You Dudes). But I digress. There were about 20 people in line for the signing when the light through yonder window broke and the band showed up. I didn’t have anything for them to sign except for my bony ass so I continued to peruse the store’s offerings while watching the band through a hole I cut in a newspaper to remain inconspicuous. Some observations from my Nancy Drew notebook:
You could have substituted random Republican presidential candidates for the Licks and not many people would have noticed. Most were there to see Juliette and ignored the other Licks like chicken breasts in a steakhouse. I kind of felt bad for them until I realized that they don’t have to wake up every morning at 6 a.m. to work on spreadsheets all day.
The douchebag memorabilia dealers who lined up with their binders of photos for her to sign seemed just one step above paparazzi. You know how when you buy a new car and you finally negotiate your deal with the sales guy and you think you’re done and then they sic the finance guy on you? So after the paparazzi get their pictures, then the memorabilia jags sic themselves on celebs during appearances and try to ruin it for everyone else. However, she appeared accommodating without showing too many obvious signs of displeasure. Just like most of my ex-girlfriends.
“This is so old… why do you even have this?” (I’ve heard that before…)
She was super cool to the real fans there to meet her and took the time to talk, pose for pictures, and personalize the signings.
JL (to a fan presenting a CD insert): Do you want me to personalize it?
Nervous Fan: Yes.
longer than expected pause…
JL (very politely): Okay, can you tell me who you want it made out to?
The line was dwindling down and Moist Rub wasn’t around so I decided to jump in to get a picture. The chick in front of me had something signed then handed me her camera to take a picture of her and Juliette. I, of course, like most people in that situation, turned into a blithering idiot caveman that had never seen a camera before.
“Ack! What is this strange device?? How do I work it?”
“You press the button the top right just like every other camera that’s been manufactured since the invention of photography by George Eastman in 1888, dumbass.”
“But of course! Smile and say ‘Bite me!’”
Finally it was my turn and I froze like Cindy Brady on Quiz the Kids. Not really. I told her I didn’t have anything to sign (I decided to keep my bony ass rightfully in my Wranglers) but asked if I could just get a picture. She turned and got right in my face, stared directly in my eyes and said, “You look really familiar…” I told her that she looked familiar, too, but she ignored my witty reply and kept staring. It felt like 10 minutes, but it was probably just a few seconds. After she convinced herself that I didn’t look familiar in a bad way, like an ex-boyfriend or a stalker or a multi-level marketer, she obviously became quite smitten with me. [“True, I talk of dream/Which are the children of an idle brain/Begot of nothing but vain fantasy.”] The Mrs. had coincidentally heard her do a radio interview earlier that day and fed me some good information, including a couple of her favorite words of the moment. I had her at “wild antics”. Before I knew it, she was posing for the picture with her arm around me and suddenly I was no longer lame. The Crystal curse was lifted and I was filled with Lick love and enlightenment. I thanked her and told the band I was looking forward to a muscular show, another adjective she had touted on the radio earlier that day.
As we walked off and looked at the picture, it was awesome – she totally rocked it, Elmer Fudd hat and all. However, I had decided to close my eyes when the shutter snapped. Son of a bitch. Fortunately there were only a couple people in line behind us so I hopped back in the queue and was up again a few minutes later to resolve our first star-crossed meeting.
“If I look familiar this time it’s because I just got a picture a few minutes ago but I had my eyes closed so do you mind doing it again?”
Without hesitation she again popped up next to me, struck another totally different but rockin’ pose and we nailed it. We would become American Gothic for the next generation. I thanked her again, told the band that the new record totally rocks (although one of them looked suspiciously like Mitt Romney), and then I made a hasty retreat before she had the opportunity to ask me back to the bus for tea. My wife had been accommodating, even encouraging, up to this point so I didn’t want to push my luck.
After dinner back at the bar and grill with Moist Rub and Stiv, which was probably just as good as tea with Juliette, we made our way to the music club. We missed Scissors For Lefty, but I found their name annoying so didn’t feel too bad about missing them. Suffrajett was just getting ready to start – the sound was reminiscent of the dirty, fuzzy germ-ridden teddy bear that your kid just won’t let go of. I loved the show, but it didn’t leave me with a burning desire to weigh down my iPod with any of their tunes. But I’d see them live again and a couple tunes I’ve been listening to online are starting to grow on me. A lot.
Mrs. F’er (to Suffrajett’s singer at the merch booth): You rock, man!
Simi from Suffrajett: No, you rock!
The Licks finally came out and delivered, but you can’t get the sound from a story in a magazine or a blog post. But I’ll try. Take some riffs from KISS in the 70’s and throw in some female vocals and energy from The Gits in the early 90’s, and then add a costume or two from Zayra Alvarez and you’d be pretty close. The live show is muscular, just as she promises, and the band is solid all around.
Just like basketball players want to be rappers, and rappers want to be basketball players, it seems that actors want to be rock stars. In most cases, it results in tragedies like Mandy Moore, Bruce Willis, Don Johnson, Eddie Murphy, Keanu Reeves and Russell Crowe. But don’t discount Juliette – just consider her a rock star that did some acting to cover the bills before hitting the road. It paid better than waiting tables so don’t hold it against her. Instead, go buy a CD. Check out a show. You’ll be way cooler for doing so.
How fares my Juliette? That I ask again;
For nothing can be ill, if she be well.
Sorry, Crystal, there’s a new Indian Princess in town.