Newsletter 048 – October 13, 2023
Disclaimer: This newsletter and the three that will follow it were written in advance. This was done to allow me to focus on tasks I have to complete before I can publish my next books (Flood and Fire and Jagged Man).
This is a continuation of the previous “rambling” newsletter, about some of the people I came into contact with while working as a security guard at The Summit entertainment complex in Houston. We’re still on basketball players. Some observations.
Shaq has huge hands. Karl Malone always talked to himself while he bounced the ball before taking free throws. It looked almost like a ritual chant. I asked him one night what he was saying. He just said, “Different stuff.” Matt Bullard was a practical joker. He tied a rookie’s shoelaces together during a game, so the rookie fell down when he tried to exit the court. Two of the nicest people who ever worked in the NBA (in my opinion) were Scotty Brooks (a guard for the Rockets) and Jerry Burrell (Turbo, the Rockets’ mascot). Both are genuinely nice individuals, and both have amazing work ethics. I also worked during the Comets WNBA games, and a few of the Aeros hockey games, not really meeting any of them but did enjoy watching the games whenever I was stationed inside the arena.
What I really loved doing, though, was working concerts. I almost kept Jimmy Page from entering The Summit. In the mid-1990s, he and Robert Plant did a reunion tour in support of their “No Quarter” album. A guy showed up at the loading dock entrance where I was stationed and said he was Jimmy Page. He seemed very drunk (…or something), and didn’t look anything like the image of Page I had in my mind. He was also shorter than I was, which didn’t seem right. Rock musicians have always seemed like giants to me, maybe because of all of the shots of them from below the stage, and this guy was average height so I thought he was trying to bluff his way into the arena. Other people have tried to get in the building that way too (a teenage white kid tried to convince me he was Shabba Ranks one night). Well, Jimmy didn’t have a tour badge, so I told him he couldn’t come in. He was very insistent, and kept trying to get around me. I was just about to call for help when his manager showed up with an All Access pass, so I let them through.
Chuck D, of the rap group Public Enemy, is short, maybe 5’8.” I thought Alanis Morrisette and Sade were both a little taller than he was. Speaking of Sade, I had to crawl under the stage and drag a guy out from under there during her concert. He said he “just wanted to be close to her” (well, who wouldn’t, but his ticket didn’t include “under the stage” privileges).
Working the entrance to the mosh pit for a Nine Inch Nails concert was …interesting. Admittance to the pit was only for people who had a special wristband. I seem to remember the wristband was also age-based, maybe 18-and-over. Periodically, people in the crowd (without wristbands) would charge one of the pit entrances en masse, and we had to hold them back. One young kid was charging toward the pit, thinking he could rush past me, but he suddenly stopped dead when he realized I was his drama teacher. “Oops, sorry, Mr. Sirois.”
A small group of people (about a dozen) won a prize from a local radio station to come in before a Billy Joel concert and hear his warmup session. I was assigned to them (to make sure they went back outside after the warmup was over), so we all sat in the front row and watched and listened to him take forty-five minutes to run through 30-seconds or so of every rock and roll song he could think of. I started writing them down at one point, and counted about forty of them before he was through. He would periodically shout out a theme, “Songs that have the word tongue in them,” “songs by the Monkees,” “songs by Herman’s Hermits,” “Twist songs,” etc.
By and large, though, almost all of the celebrities I met were very nice, just regular people who had extraordinary occupations. I’ll mention a few more of them in a briefer newsletter next time.
See you then,
[“The celebrity is a person known for his well-knownness,” Daniel Joseph Boorstin,
The Image, 1962.]
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