Chicago has always been a glamorous city, but recently it’s become even more so with the increase of Hollywood celebrities taking up temporary summer residence here. Whether it’s Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston filming downtown on Michigan Avenue, or Ashton Kutcher shopping at Banana Republic in a Chicago-suburb mall, the Windy City slowly but surely seems to be turning into Los Angeles. And because the common Chicago people are not as used to daily celebrity sightings, it’s a big deal when you see a Hollywood actor around here. What I don’t get are the people that go fanatic when they see someone from the cast of the MTV’s Real World or Inferno. I’ve been mistaken for Tina from Inferno about twenty times these past two weeks. WTF?
We all fantasize about being a celebrity. Getting the free designer shit delivered to your penthouse door, barking orders at someone to fetch you a non-fat soy milk decaf latte with a double shot of espresso (only to take one sip and throw it out claiming it tastes the way sweaty balls smell), never having to wait in line, getting the studio to send you an Audi as a bonus, drinking for free and strolling into the VIP section any time, having drop-dead sexy creatures of the opposite sex waiting around every corner to bang you, whatever. It’s really what most of us fantasize through during class—because daydreaming of being a celebrity has a higher rated value of attention than determining the deep underlying characterization of Pip from Great Expectations. Unless of course you’re referring to the movie version, imagining what it must have been like for Gwyneth Paltrow to do a nude scene with Ethan Hawke. Fantasy overload.
“We're sitting in the back of Howie's tour bus when he suddenly slammed down a handle of Jim Beam and said, ‘Here, chug this and make out with each other…then show us your tits.'”
But back to celebrity sightings. The past two weeks I’ve been face to face with more famous people than I’ll probably ever meet again. All of these celebrity sightings have been with the Dillon sisters, who are two of the best friends I’ll ever have. A couple of weeks ago we went down to Milwaukee for Summerfest, where were proceeded to get wasted on five dollar champagne cocktails and then fight our way to the front of the stage where Gavin DeGraw was performing. This is where I discovered people are idiots and will believe anything they tell you. I mentioned casually to one girl in the crowd that Gavin was my college roommate’s cousin, and that we got separated in the crowd and I was looking for her. To which the girl replied, “OMIGOD HAVE YOU MET HIM YET?” I said, “No, but I’m trying, can I get through?” “OMIGOD OF COURSE!” Which wouldn’t have been so pathetic if she was thirteen, not forty.
Howie Day was also at Summerfest. Two weeks ago I had no idea who this guy was. Today I can confidently tell you he’s an asshole. An asshole with no talent, bad hair, and a crappy tour bus. I Googled the guy when I got home so I could write this article about him, but most of the websites were just shrines of him thrown together by a bunch of teenage girls who like to pretend they’re going to meet him backstage at a concert and he’s going to John Mayerify them with his acoustic guitar playing. What I’d really like to see is some chick start a site that just has in big black lettering, “ASSHOLE” written across it…and maybe a picture of him being raped by an accordion playing clown with big, floppy shoes.
So the three of us stumble across this tour bus on our way out from the bar and Jan and I go charging immediately after it. Let me make it clear that we thought it was Gavin DeGraw inside—and I don’t know much about him either except that he sings the One Tree Hill theme song. But it was important to Jan to meet him, so it became important to me to throw myself at the door of the bus. A spiky-haired guy emerged, looking at us calmly as we hunched over panting. The conversation was priceless.
Simonne: Is this Gavin DeGraw’s bus?
Howie Day: No it’s Howie Day’s.
Simonne: Oh. Sad. We thought it was DeGraw’s. Who are you?
Howie Day: Howie Day.
Sorry I wasn’t star struck Howie, but my supply of girlie screams and giggles are reserved for real celebrities, like Bon Jovi, and U2. Hell, if the situation had presented itself, I would have rather gone on Bryan Adams’ tour bus than Howie Day’s. At least Canadians have manners. So the three of us are sitting in the back of his tour bus when he suddenly slammed down a handle of Jim Beam and said, “Here, chug this and make out with each other…then show us your tits.” For a moment we didn’t know if he was joking, but when his manager (and poorly-fashioned Mohawk friend I can only imagine was his back-up vocalist) eyed the three of us eagerly, we knew they were somewhat serious. We refused, and Howie blurted out, “Ok, get naked or get the fuck off my bus.” Then he began making himself a peanut butter sandwich. More sober and appalled than drunk and intrigued, the three of us filed off the bus chanting “Howie Day’s an asshole.”
I didn’t even know what the fuck song this guy sang. I had to have a very hungover Jamie sing “Collide” to me in her smoker’s morning voice the next day and it still didn’t sound familiar. Seriously, I didn’t think you got to treat your fans like that unless you’re actually making records that don’t double as toilet paper. The only thing I want to fucking collide is his peanut butter sandwich and my ass crack and make him smile while he eats it.
The other night we went to this bar where Jeremy Piven was promoting Entourage. Piven showed up with his parents, who own the theater I am trying to take classes at in the fall. My mom was like, “Make small talk with her when you meet her, maybe she’ll knock a hundred bucks off the tuition.” Yeah mom, and maybe if I offer to have sex with her son she’ll give me private lessons for free. It’ll be a barter system, just like the real Los Angeles. Well, naturally, that comment fell on unappreciative ears, and really, when you have like two seconds to meet a celebrity, what can you say so that they will take notice of you? Congratulations? Well done? I love you? You’re inspiring? Jeremy Piven walked right past of and all Jan and I could do was stare and smile. Jamie on the other hand congratulated him on his Emmy nomination and he stopped to thank her. While waiting for him to leave the VIP section after the show was over I formulated this quick one liner that had the potential to get his attention, but when he passed us again, all that left my lips were the words “toothpaste.” He smiled at me sympathetically and continued on his way. Toothpaste. Four years of performance intensive classes and the only thing I could utter was toothpaste. Well done.
So of course the press was at this event too. You know, real quality journalism like US Weekly and Star magazine. Two female employees from Star were refused into VIP because they weren’t on the list, to which they told the nice security lady that they’d be getting bad press on the event and hoped she was happy with herself. Yeah I’m sure now we’ll all race to the grocery checkout counter to grab the latest edition of Star with the headline, “Bar Rejects Girls with Notepads and Expensive Cameras.” You know, the one right below the second headline stating “Michael Jackson Gives Birth to Hairy Alien Baby,” and Photoshopped pictures of a baboon in a diaper riding a tricycle. Quality.
Ever wonder what a celebrity would say to you if you just happened to be at the right place at the right time and the right bar? Is Vince Vaughn really going to come up to you and strike up a conversation? And even then what is he really going to say? “Hello ladies, I’ve noticed you’ve been sitting at the bar for five hours casually pretending not to notice me sitting over here in VIP. I hope you enjoyed your time trying to ‘eye-fuck’ me [which by the way was in this article before he said the line on Wedding Crashers] from across the bar. Unfortunately I was unable to return your eye-fucking proposition because I have already been eye-fucked about twenty million times today by half of the Chicago land area, but really I want to extend my congratulations on your stamina. Five hours. Wow. I applaud you. Really, bravo. Now when you leave here I’ll hope you’ll go out and rent one of my earlier movies, maybe Psycho, or Clay Pigeons…I don’t know, surprise yourself. Just make sure I’m in it. Thanks ladies.”
Howie Day’s tour bus wasn’t the only tour bus I threw myself into this past week. G-Unit and Eminem were performing at Budda Lounge which is right across the street from Emmitts, (where they filmed the one Chicago scene in Ocean’s Eleven) and I used their bus for leverage as I drunkenly attempted to hail down a cab. So the fact that touching the tour bus has made me a celebrity amongst my urban music listening cousins has made Sunday dinners with the family a little more bearable.
Eventually, you want to meet someone with talent. The other day I met this girl who can play “If you want my body and you think I’m sexy” on the freaking bagpipes. Now granted, I don’t know if Chicago can financially capitalize on this unique talent, I do know it's a lot more fun to watch at a bar than waiting around hoping that your friend of a friend of a brother’s coworker at Ralph Lauren who heard Jennifer Aniston mention that she might show up at this bar tonight was right.