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I don’t want to sound like a drooling fanatic, but this afternoon, if you were to attach a GPS transmitter to me and then attach another one to Smashing Pumpkins Zeus Billy Corgan, then monitor both on a GPS screen, my dot and Billy Corgan’s dot would have been about three feet apart. Excuse me now, while I go hide in the corner and giggle.
As you may remember, Cinema Blend reported last week that Corgan and Pumpkins kit smasher Jimmy Chamberlin would make an appearance outside of the Guitar center in Hollywood, to receive the honor of squishing their hands into the cement on the Hollywood RockWalk. This is the sidewalk that is festooned with the hand prints of famous musicians from Led Zeppelin to ZZ Top, and is the musical equivalent to the one for actors that adorns the entrance to Mann’s Chinese Theatre. Needless to say, stoked was I.
Not quite sure of what to expect (my imagination conjured the image of a chaotic war scene of lights and 40,000 mobbing rubberneckers, as well as the scene of 12 guys hanging out on one side of a velvet rope), I left my house and got there around 11:45, 15 minutes before the festivities were due to crash down. The scene was bustling, but not in a way that would make you think the Smashing Pumpkins are still extremely popular. Because, basically, they’re not. Even at their prime, they were still hailed mostly by music critics and a minority of alternative/goth outcasts who were willing to listen beyond Corgan’s craggy vocal style. The jock/frat crowd was never completely involved, and their Big Dumb Rock tastes weren’t really addressed until Zeitgeist, which is, uh, not the best album. This translated Wednesday afternoon to a large but motley-looking crowd of longhairs, hipsters and sad kids with tattoos, but no over-the-top production. Sorry, Billy.
Adding a note of hilarity was the event security, whose goal was to keep regular people with cameras from standing near the press photographers. I managed to find a nice gap in the crowd through which to point my small handheld camera, when I was approached by a Ray Ban-sporting guard who asked if I was with the press. “Yes,” I said, instantly repping Cinema Blend. “Do you have a press pass?” he asked. “Do I need one?” I asked back. This conversation was heading for a brick wall, but I couldn’t do much to stop it.
Back with the crowd packed in on the sidewalk, I looked around for interesting things to shoot. A guy next to me looked like The Dude. A guy behind me had no nose. I didn’t videotape him, because that would have been rude. Finally the announcements started, the accolades were given, the donation was made, and Corgan and Chamberlin made their appearance amid a swell of “whooing.” Chamberlin took the mic first, but stood without saying anything for long enough that people started chuckling. He looked somewhat out of it, speaking quietly and looking rather worried. I wonder how I’d feel accepting band recognition with two members not on speaking terms.
Billy himself said some words next, mostly about how he’s used to people hating the band and throwing things at them, mentioning that in the past he’s thought he wanted to be in different bands, “like Led Zeppelin,” and thanking everyone for understanding the part of him that he didn’t understand. It seemed like he was trying to tell us he didn’t know why his band was getting an award, but we let it go and gave him some more “whoos” anyway.
Next came the hands in the cement, and the “look this way, Billy, over here, Billy,” after which he and Jimmy made some rounds shaking hands. Torn between wanting to get a good shot of Corgan and wanting to shake hands with Corgan, I ended up simultaneously reaching forward, squawking awkwardly, touching nothing and filming the back of some girl’s head. What resulted is the video below, which is still sweet.
After the festivities came the funniest part of all, in the form of the cement handprints being displayed under the watchful guard of Mr. Smith from The Matrix. I took a video of him guarding the handprints, which I will link to in the future from this article. I then went home and did other things, which were less fun than hanging out with Billy Corgan.
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