Category Archives: Celebrity Watching

Backstage with Guns N’ Roses is like… Hebrew School?

Rock stars and I don’t often mingle in the same circles.

So when I recently found myself unexpectedly snacking on organic blueberries with Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal — and being treated to an impromptu acoustic performance of the Israeli national anthem — you could not wipe the permanent smirk off my face. More on the relevance of the Jewish “Star Spangled Banner” later…

At the Hard Rock Las Vegas, I honestly thought I was disqualified to be invited backstage because:

1. I am not an attractive 22-year-old woman (and never will be).

2. I do not have ANY pole-dancing skills.

Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose and guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal at the 2013 Rocklahoma Festival in Oklahoma, roughly a year before I was invited to sample the GNR cheese-and-crackers platter. (Photo by Ilya Mirman)

Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose and guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal at the 2013 Rocklahoma Festival in Oklahoma, roughly a year before I was invited to sample the GNR cheese-and-crackers platter. (Photo by Ilya Mirman)

Take a look at the blurry action shot below taken at the GNR concert on June 7. If you squint long enough, you’ll see two bikini-clad women dangling from poles and two bikini-clad women who prefer to dance on the ground (how odd). This is the narrow demographic I expected to exclusively see backstage.

Welcome to the Neon Jungle -- The 2014 Guns N' Roses "Residency" at the Hard Rock Las Vegas. (Photo by Ilya Mirman)

Welcome to the Neon Jungle — The 2014 Guns N’ Roses “Residency” at the Hard Rock Las Vegas. (Photo by Ilya Mirman)

Although there were no shortage of traditional female groupies at the pre-concert party, I also met a bunch of guys with no ulterior motive beyond a souvenir photo or a classic Chris Farley moment.

Bumblefoot shattered one of the classic rock-and-roll stereotypes. Instead of choosing his guests by their breasts, he picked people he thought would be interesting conversationalists. (In a similar shocking development, check out this Guardian story about how “Rock Stars Don’t Trash Hotels Anymore.)

Sharing the couch with me and my friend Ilya was the owner of a local tattoo parlor, the founder of a new crowdsourcing website for indie artists, and the former drummer of The Cult.

What did we talk about?  Mostly burgers, inspired by an earlier visit that day to the controversial Heart Attack Grill, where everything is cooked in lard to increase the shock (and caloric) value. Keeping kosher, I won’t eat lard, but also would avoid it no matter what for obvious health reasons. Bumblefoot, a strict follower of the Paleo Diet, provocatively countered that lard “may actually be healthier than we think.” (I’m not buying it.) And he shared his fascination with IN-N-OUT Burger — a chain with locations only in the Western U.S. — inviting us to join him there later after the show.

SO HOW DID I WIND UP BACKSTAGE? Continue reading

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David Ortiz Ate Here: Confessions of a Grown-Up Red Sox Fanboy

Read "I Am a Red Sox Fanboy," my opinion column for CNN.com, by double clicking Dustin Pedroia's beard.

Read “I Am a Red Sox Fanboy,” my column for CNN.com, by double clicking Dustin Pedroia’s beard.

Journalism has brought me close up with political leaders, CEOs, inventors, scientists, actors, musicians and even Squiggy from “Laverne & Shirley” fame.

But only baseball players can make me feel 12 years old again.

Timed for the World Series, I wrote a fun column for CNN.com about the thrill of spotting Red Sox players out of uniform — without the help of baseball cards.

Here’s a sneak peek:

“Is baseball hothead David Price right? Are the millions of us who never pitched beyond Little League just a bunch of starstruck wannabes?

During the American League Divisional Series, the Tampa Bay Rays star lashed out at the media after giving up seven earned runs in seven innings. “Nice questions, nerds!” he hissed at reporters. Then Price got mean. On Twitter, he called Sports Illustrated scribe Tom Verducci a nerd who wasn’t even a water boy in high school.” He stopped there, passing up the temptation to mock Verducci’s prom date or how much he can bench press.

Price’s snotty attitude exists for one reason. Many of my fellow baseball nuts DO think players are cooler than the rest of us. The fact is, no matter how successful we may be in our professional lives, many of us would instantly trade in our careers for a (your team here) uniform.”

Oddly, a tongue-in-cheek column like this has attracted some angry comments directed at Boston and Bostonians. I know writers are advised to NEVER read the anonymous comments beneath their stories, but I always touch the Third Rail.

Check out my column, “I am a Red Sox Fanboy,” and please share it with fellow baseball fans. Even though it’s focused on the Sox, you really could fill in the blanks with players from your favorite team — or characters from any celebrity watching endeavor for that matter.

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