April 8, 2009

Star-Struck and Leo Lovin’: Behind the Byline

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A few nights ago, as I sat watching Cornell Design League’s 25th Anniversary show, I had two thoughts circulating around my cerebellum. The first: “Wow, if I was anorexic at Cornell, and I wasn’t asked to be in the show, I would be super offended.” But I was also mostly reminiscing to myself about an experience I had last February, when I scored three press passes for the Cornell Daily Sun to cover New York Fashion Week.
Before embarking on the trip, I decided I would only wear sweatpants to the shows, considering that I wanted to make a statement about what fashion means to me. Upon arrival at Bryant Park, I could immediately see that it is a fashion bizarro world, where food is extremely expensive and alcohol is free. I also ran into a girl who went to my high school, Amanda, who (it turns out) is an heiress and was sitting with Nicky Hilton. Apparently being a “Hearst” is like a thing or whatever. And then some tool from Make Me a Supermodel was sitting in my seat, so telling him to shove off was very satisfying – though not as satisfying as standing behind Nigel Barker and making petting motions in the line to get out of the Sass & Bide show.
I’ve had some pretty retardedly ridiculous experiences working my press pass from the Daily Sun. God knows why people let me do the things I did. ’Member that time I spent several years stalking Leonardo DiCaprio and I told you all about it? Well, what I forgot to mention is that I met him sophomore year at the TriBeCa film festival, where he and Kevin Connolly (a.k.a., E from Entourage), and Lukas Haas were promoting a movie. He’s just as hot in real life and rumor is I smoked a blunt with him outside of Clearview Chelsea West – which I neither confirm nor deny because my dad sometimes reads this. I also met Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, and I asked them several questions in an all-Spanish press conference. I was on TV in Spain, wearing sweatpants, being awesome.
As far as the interviews I’ve done, G. Love is the dumbest person I’ve ever spoken with. Actually, upon further reflection, that prize goes to Ben Kweller. Biggest douchebag? Jerry Seinfeld. I wanted to ask him “How does it feel now that everyone knows Larry David was the only one with talent?” But he let his douche flag fly without any goading.
My most awesome conversation: Tokyo Police Club. We were sitting in their tour bus in San Francisco dustbusting and talking about the correct pronunciation of the city Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada for approximately two hours. Then we hung out again later in the summer at Lollapalooza, where they took me onstage with the Cold War Kids who they toured with earlier in the year. Second prize, Damien Kulash from OK Go. We mostly talked about fish sticks and how he got arrested while the rest of his band chilled at Joey Fatone from ’NSync’s house. After I disembarked the tour bus and went on my way, he ran up to me to continue talking about ‘NSync sans creepy asian fangirl who “worked with the Concert Commission” but is really “just very annoying.” You know who you are.
Surreal, how-did-I-get-here moments? Quadruple Tie: Tina Fey, James Mercer of the Shins, Gael Garcia Bernal and Leo DiCaprio. And there was the time that my brother and I finagled our Lollapalooza press passes to the photo pit for the Daft Punk show — 100,000 people behind us and two guys in a triangular spaceship in front. Hi-five, broseph. Good has overcome evil once again.
Surreal, this-is-wasted-on-me moment: Sophomore spring I spoke with John Mayer, whose music I’d never even listened to. Then I was given a photo pass for his show in Syracuse, where I was the only one in the pit with like 15,000 screaming tweens thirsty for my blood behind me. Mayer mistakenly thought I was a fan, because he kept coming over to me and shimmying his guitar in my general direction, probably about a foot away from my head and giving me the eyes. I almost wish I enjoyed that, but my self-respect tells me its better that I didn’t.­
Considering that Girl Talk was here just two days ago, I also reminisced about my winter break of ’07-08. The Sun was randomly selected along with ten or so other college newspapers by the French government’s tourism board to cover Les Transmusicales, a music festival in an airport hangar in Rennes, France. One person could go, all expenses paid, and cover the festival. By default, Jonny Lieberman ’08, then-editor in chief, offered me the opportunity because he knew I had no exams. When I got there, I kicked it with a kid from the University of Wisconson Badger-Herald, a kid from Carnegie Mellon, a kid from USC and a representative from the Finnish version of Rolling Stone. That guy had no idea what he was doing with us, as he told us he interviewed Jennifer Lopez the week before.
The tourism board could not fly me back the same day as everyone else, so they put me up in Paris for a night. When I checked in to my hotel, the concierge, a little Indian man, saw on the reservation that I was a “journalist.” He asked me if I wanted to go to a concert two blocks away, some guy named “Girl Talk.” I said okay. I thought that was it, but as the Indian man followed me and told me about how he was on the French national cricket team, I began to get a little worried. When he bought my ticket, it was one of those, “How did I find myself on a date with a little cricket-playing French-Indian man again?” moments. Then I heard someone shout my name. I didn’t think I knew anyone in Paris, but apparently a girl I was friends with at camp four years previous was studying abroad there and remembered me. We devised an escape plan and danced on the stage with Girl Talk in front of a mostly British crowd of like 100 people.
I learned the most about the apocalypse from John McCrea of CAKE, and talked about AIDS the most with Greg Giraldo. The weirdest place I ever conducted an interview was on I-90 East driving to Boston with Jonny for the Harvard journalism symposium. We bantered with Nick Wheeler of the All-American Rejects and pretended to care what he said back.
Sometimes I wish I still got as star struck as I did when Carolyn Byrne ’09 and I breached the perimeter behind Barton after the Strokes concert in 2006 and gushed all over Fabrizio Moretti and Nick Valensi (the ones we would both like totally marry in a double ceremony presided over by Mick Jagger). This was pre-press pass and probably the best moment of all. As much as I got a lot out of my press pass, there’s nothing quite like sticking it to The Man. That’s what really makes it a rock ‘n roll lifestyle.