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brushes with greatness


Like when I was leaving the depeche mode concert and I saw the lead singer of Nitzer Ebb. I tapped his shoulder, and after I shook his hand I said, “I just wanted to say that you’re awesome.” What a stupid thing to say. His response was, "Uh, well, thanks." But at least I shook his hand.

When we were driving down Lake Shore Drive, it was December 23rd, and I saw a limo with the license plate, "Governor 1." I said to drive next to the limo, and there was Jim Edgar, talking on a phone in the back. It was only after we passed when I realized that I was wearing a red baseball cap with reindeer antlers and bells on it. I was so embarrassed.

Or when I met this soap opera star from Days of our Lives, he was signing autographs, his name on the show was Shane. There was this fat 40-year-old woman from Tolono, Illinois, standing in line and screaming every time she thought she saw a glimpse of him. He signed a newspaper clipping of mine, then took a picture with me. My mother thinks that in the photo we look like we’re on our honeymoon.

And in the first grade, when the weatherman Harry Volkman, from channel Two News, came to our school, and I met him because I made him a card that said, “Columbus discovered America in fourteen ninety-two, and I discovered a weatherman when I discovered you.”

Or like when I was almost in a band that opened for the Smashing Pumpkins. I sang with this band, but couldn’t work with them because I lived out of town. I guess that’s not a good one, since I didn’t meet the Pumpkins or anything. But at least I saw the show.

And I photographed the lead singer of REM. It was September, I was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt when everyone else was wearing denim jackets. Michael Stipe was walking through a forest preserve, with a flock of people around him. I couldn’t get to him, but I wanted a photo, so I looked ahead and saw an empty picnic table. I ran, sprung up on top of it, and started shooting. He looked up at me, and waved. Later, when he was about to leave, I got real close, took more pictures. I was right next to him.

Or when I talked to the lead singer of King Missile after their show at the Metro. Told him it was a good show, he thanked me, and then I said they should have played “Gary and Melissa.” “Yeah, we keep forgetting that one,” he said. Then he looked over at the t-shirt stand, pointed kind of blankly, then said, “You know, we’d make a lot of money... if we had t-shirts.” I laughed, but then I tried to walk away.

Like when Joe took me to the engineering open house and his wooden bridge won first place for holding the most weight. Or when Lorrie brought me to the darkroom and showed me how to dodge and burn a print. Or Brigit. Or Bobby. Or Pat.

And when I won the American Legion Award in the eighth grade. Or when I published my first book. Or when I sang at the coffeehouse and everyone actually applauded. Or at the end of counseling at the retreat weekend “Operation Snowball” and I got a note from a participant thanking me for caring so much. Or when I felt happy.


the DMJ Art Connection CD

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