Metatalktail Hour: Brushes with Fame March 17, 2018 5:04 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week, Fizz wants hear about a time you had an encounter with a celebrity or famous person. You may bring your own definition of celebrity! As always, you can talk about whatever's on your mind (except politics).
posted by Eyebrows McGee to MetaFilter-Related at 5:04 PM (201 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

20ish years ago, not long after moving to Southern CA, out to dinner with my visiting parents at Spago in Beverly Hills. I get up to use the restroom. Some guy is doing his business at the urinal next to me. Using proper urinal etiquette, I’m staring straight ahead, so no idea who this is. Another guy yells out something like “I’ve been a huge fan for years!” and the guy at the urinal next to me says, “Thank you, you’re loyal!” in the unmistakable voice of Larry King. He may be a huge star with much wealth and power, but he still had to wait for me to get to finish to get to the paper towel dispenser.
posted by The Gooch at 5:27 PM on March 17 [3 favorites]


In 1997 I was at Disneyland and went on a ride with Marlee Matlin. I didn’t interact with her directly but I do have a photo of the back of her head with her ponytail sticking out of her ball cap. “That’s Marlee Matlin’s ponytail!” I tell people. They are all suitably impressed!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:55 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Total book nerd/history nerd encounter—when I worked at Borders, Brian Lamb (creator of CSPAN and host of Booknotes—I loved that show and watched it religiously each week) was on the board of directors, and used to visit stores across the country if he was in the area. One busy Saturday afternoon I was on the phone at the info desk and heard a very familiar voice ask if the manager was on duty. I looked up and my jaw dropped when I saw Brian Lamb standing right in front of me. We visited for a few minutes and he could not have been nicer. By the time he left the store I was working the register— on his way out he waited for me at the end of the counter until I was finished with my customer so he could say a proper goodbye. I floated through the rest of my shift. This happened about 25 years ago and my nerdish self still breaks out in a smile at the memory—in fact, I’m grinning right now.
posted by bookmammal at 6:02 PM on March 17 [8 favorites]


Well, the rule of Metatalktail Hour may be "no politics," but this is DC and I've crossed paths with plenty of people in the political sphere. Most recent was Mike Flynn, who wore a big scowl and a checkered newsie cap and looked like the world's angriest lawn gnome. John Kerry brushed past me on his way to a towncar, also with a big scowl on his face. Seen plenty of other people in the political-ish sphere around town, elected or no (Liz Warren, Evan McMullin, Madeleine Albright, Al Sharpton, Chris Matthew, Trent Lott, Michael Steele), but the most exciting was when I saw John Lewis puttering around downtown at lunchtime and got to stop and shake his hand. He was really nice, and took the time to talk to me! He totally didn't have to!
posted by duffell at 6:03 PM on March 17 [9 favorites]


Back when I still smoked, I was approached by a guy asking for a light outside a restaurant in the East Village. I lit his cigarette and then he kind of ambled half-heartedly away, being followed at a courteous distance by what I’m assuming was his own driver in a town car. It was a lovely evening for walking, after all. I recognized him immediately when he first approached and kept it together while lighting his cigarette, but my inner SNL superfan was yelling “it’s Chris Kattan!! Holy shit it’s Chris Kattan!! Holy shit holy shit holy shit!!!!”. There were no witnesses and no one I told seemed to care very much, but to me it was so cool!
posted by stellaluna at 6:07 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


Early 80's, we (myself, my first husband, his brother, my brother, and their dates) were leaving the Richfield Coliseum (Ohio) after a kick ass Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert. We're in the midst of a crowd, crossing the parking area, when we hear people shouting and cheering. My brother, who is a bit ahead of the rest of us, starts bellowing "Bruce, Bruce" and the crowd surges forward, toward a string of limos crawling along in front of us. We are pushed apart, and I am struggling to stay on my feet, when I come up against one of the limos. People are pushing into me from behind, I'm pinned to the rear of the car. I lean down, peering through the tinted windows, and there, in sweaty glory, is Bruce and Clarence Clemons. I wave and they are laughing and wave back.

Kind of a perfect end to a really great night, but as I peel away from the car, I realize that my shirt is soaked, and there are rivulets of breastmilk on the window..I had birthed my son six weeks earlier, and had missed a few feedings...
posted by LaBellaStella at 6:12 PM on March 17 [31 favorites]


Our family has had a lot of random encounters with athletes. The one I enjoyed the most was Cecil Fielder, baseball player/slugger for the Detroit Tigers. He used to get his clothes cleaned at our dry-cleaners back when we lived in Dallas, Texas. He was a nice guy. The one time he left $1800 in cash in the breast pocket of a sports coat. My dad found it and did the right thing and returned it to him. He was surprised, he didn't know he had lost that much money. We were all kinds of amazed, to be the type of person who doesn't notice when they've misplaced $1800, wish we had those kinds of problems. Then again, maybe not. His family invited us to a Mrs. America pageant, something we didn't know existed up until we were invited. I had a crush on her when I was younger. And that's one of my favourite memories and brushes with some fame.
posted by Fizz at 6:20 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Many, many years ago, I was visiting DC, and killing time on the mall while I waited for my ex to get off work so I could brave the Metro back to Northern VA. I was amblng along the Potomac when someone bumps into me, and the voice of God says,"Oh, pardon me." I look up to see a shining white linen suit toped by the smiling visage of Morgan Freeman's face topped by mirrored sunglasses. I smile right back and said something extremely witty like, "Oh, that's fine, have a nice afternoon."

My ex, of course, didn't believe me (who would?), but the the evening news showed that Mr. Freeman had made an appearance at the Jefferson Memorial in support of somehing or another, and the she was forced to admit I wasn't totally bonkers.

I've met a lot of people who are maybe more famous, and had much more satisfying tales to relate about those encounters, but I like this story because everyone I tell it to smiles, because, upon the reveal, they slowly mouth the words and hear inside their head, the same voice I heard.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:26 PM on March 17 [15 favorites]


In October of 2012 I was getting on a plane at Logan airport when over the intercom I heard “Mr. Romney, please come to the front of the airplane.” I jokingly said to my wife, “he must be back in coach with the 47%.”

As soon as I said it I looked up and there, staring daggers at me, is Tagg Romney. I looked at him and chuckled.

I regularly ride the elevator with Michael Dukakis. He’s really short and super friendly. One time he had a really bad bloody nose. I have also ridden an elevator with Steven Tyler. He looks exactly like Steven Tyler.

I know the family of the late Hollywood actor Frachot Tone, who was in the original film Mutiny on the Bounty. They have a scale model of the ship given to Franchot by Joan Crawford. It’s pretty cool.
posted by bondcliff at 6:26 PM on March 17 [11 favorites]


When I was little, a scene in "Uncle Buck" was filmed down the street from my house, so the whole production came to my street for a week or so, and John Candy's hair and makeup trailer was parked in front of my house. My best friend and I waited outside his trailer after school on the day we heard he was going to be on set, we were the only two people there, and he was! He came out and he was very nice and he signed autographs for us, and his bodyguard was also very nice.

A lot of the Bulls lived in the area during the Jordan-Pippen era, so you'd see them around town now and then (Steve Kerr frequented my favorite deli). My mom met Michael Jordan in a White Hen (it's like a 7-11) buying potato chips and Diet Coke in 1984 or 85, she was next to him in line, and she says, "And this really tall guy was standing next to me and I looked up -- up -- up -- and I said, 'Are you Michael Jordan?'" (in this really small faint voice) "And he said, 'Yes ma'am, I am.' And I scrambled in my purse and found my strawberry shortcake recipe and said, 'Would you sign this for my son?'" I WAS IN THE CAR OUTSIDE I AM STILL KINDA MAD SHE MADE ME WAIT IN THE CAR. (But also I was like 6 or 7 so I knew he was really good because my dad had told me but I don't think I knew enough to understand what that meant.)

Scottie Pippen came in to the boutique toy store where I worked one time, when I was in high school, and it was like MASS FUCKIN' HYSTERIA, poorly concealed under everyone acting hyper normal and trying to pretend like he was just a regular guy and we were not all freaking the hell out because SCOTTIE PIPPEN WAS IN OUR STORE! (He was buying a fancy model train set-up for one of his kids, IIRC; we sold the scale model stuff, not the toy stuff.) I do vividly recall other customers coming around the corner of an aisle and seeing Pippen at the train counter looking at a catalog with the manager, doing a doubletake, and stepping back in a panic, and then getting all wide-eyed and grinning, and then putting on their "yes this is very normal I am in a store with Scottie Pippen everything is normal" face. (This was during the six-peat, they were bigger than Oprah.)

Dennis Rodman got his hair done at my mall (dyed all crazy, you'll recall), and hoards of little boys would go RACING down the mall when they heard he was there. And he was kind of a fearsome looking guy -- big and tattooed and pierced before that was very common, with a reputation as a tough guy -- but these little kids just worshipped him, and he was so nice to them, he would stay for an hour after his haircut so he could talk to every kid who wanted to talk to him, let them touch his (freshly-dyed) hair, practice phantom jump-shots with them, shake hands with their moms, tell their moms what polite/smart/funny kids they had, etc etc etc. He was just lovely, and he really seemed to love being around kids. I know he was (is!) really troubled, he had a lot of bad shit happen in his life and he's made a lot of mistakes, but goofing around with kids seemed to make him really happy, and he was so endlessly kind to them. I'm always sad when I see him in the news for being a dingbat about North Korea or getting arrested or whatever.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:31 PM on March 17 [30 favorites]


Also, the barber shop right next door to our dry-cleaners was the barber shop where the majority of the black football players on the Dallas Cowboys would get their hair cut. Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Nate Newton, Alvin Harper, and a few others I cannot recall, those were just some of the more prominent members of the team. I have a t-shirt signed someplace that has half of the 92-93 Cowboys signatures on it. I was really into football in my youth, so this was a big deal to me. They were all super chill about signing autographs. Emmitt Smith shot a local television commercial in that barber shop.
posted by Fizz at 6:33 PM on March 17


A few years ago I was at a church service and at the end when everyone was stacking chairs and saying goodbye one of my friends pointed out that the guy in the back with the sunglasses was Shad (the former host of Radio Q on the CBC). My friend and I decided that it would be better if perhaps we didn't Fangirl him.

In non-celebrity news, this morning the tv at the gym was playing Rise of the Silver Surfer, a film that I did not know existed until this morning. Have you seen this movie? Jessica Alba's superpower is allegedly invisibility, but I can only assume that the filmakers meant this to be ironic, because nearly 30 minutes into the film she uses it to cover a zit. She then goes on to save some people from a helicopter crash, but not by becoming invisible. I don't know what happened after that because my 45 minutes were up. So all day I have been Annoyed Feminist.

Here is a picture of my cat being a goof.
posted by janepanic at 6:36 PM on March 17 [8 favorites]


My brother, then-boyfriend, and I were semi-stalked by Vince Vaughn during a weekend in New Orleans once. He bummed a cigarette from my brother at the airport, then he showed up at a club we went to the next night, then we saw him again at a breakfast place. He played it cool and pretended not to recognize us, though.
posted by lazuli at 6:36 PM on March 17 [14 favorites]


I was at a housewares show promoting my book. One booth over was Sarah, Duchess of York, promoting ... something. I don’t remember what, to be honest. I just know that at some point, someone told me to go over to her booth and have my picture taken with her. And take my book!

Why not, right? So I did.

And that is why I have a photo of Fergie and me together smiling and holding a copy of “Will It Waffle?”
posted by veggieboy at 6:56 PM on March 17 [44 favorites]


I'm not sure if this counts but here goes. My final year of law school I did a moot court competition that was held in Newark. We ended up making acquaintances with the team we faced in the finals so the night before the finals we all went out, and one of the guys on the team we faced was the actor who played Sylvester Stallone's kid in Over The Top.

Apparently he also was famous for being on General Hospital since while we were at some tourist trap restaurant in Times Square, more than one person came up to him and got an autograph. We wound up back in Newark closing out a bar located in a bus and train station called "Sidetracks."

Then the next day we beat his team in the final.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:58 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Also, my mother, when she was in her 20s and walking around downtown Chicago, once literally ran into Muhammad Ali. She said she thought she had run into a wall, and that his friend/bodyguard started to get upset with her, but that Ali waved him off and made sure she was ok.

She also thought that she once spent an afternoon with Charles Manson. Some weird charismatic guy with very intense eyes was trying to pick up her and one of her friends and get them to travel with him. She declined. She later found out Manson had been in Chicago at that time.

As those are both family stories that have been repeated many many times, I post them here more because I have fond memories of my mother telling those stories than because I can vouch for their accuracy.
posted by lazuli at 6:58 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


Back in 2002 I ended up at the same craps table with George Carlin and Senator John McCain at The Bellagio in Vegas.
posted by COD at 7:02 PM on March 17 [7 favorites]


In 1963 I'd just moved to Asheville NC. Couldn't work as I was recovering from a medical thing so I found a nice quiet pool hall to go practice in for a few hours. This was a chain trying to make pool more "family friendly," but I didn't care. One afternoon, I was way in the back doing rail shots and this short, dapper, older gentleman drifted back and stood watching me. I glanced at him once but he was harmless so I ignored him. After a bit, he said "may I give you some advice?" I said "sure." He spent about 30 mins. with me, giving me little tips about what to do when. And that's how I got a private lesson from Willie Mosconi.

A really weird brush with fame was in the Roman catacombs in 1956 or so. We were on a tour and so was Rock Hudson and his new bride (forgot her name). She was very gracious and he was polite but nervous. This was before all the stuff started coming out about him and how she was his beard and the hiv etc etc.
posted by MovableBookLady at 7:13 PM on March 17 [10 favorites]


A dozen years ago, I used to work at a high-end antique store, and it specialized in jewellery. I've helped a few well-known people there, but my favourite was Delta Burke. I recognized her, but this was before knowing about her compulsive hoarding issues. She was trying on lots of elaborate Victorian jewellery, and had admired many things but wasn't sold on anything just yet, and finally we hit upon an amazing gold necklace: many tiered with an assortment of stunning coloured lava cameos. She put it on, and with her gorgeous complection and cleavage, it looked just beautiful on her. I told her the price, and she just looked at me, made the "wrap it up" gesture, and said, "Shit piss damn fuck, Mr. McRaney is going to KILL me."
posted by peagood at 7:28 PM on March 17 [10 favorites]


Debbie Harry once scowled at me when she caught me gawking at her from the M23 bus.
posted by mochapickle at 7:30 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


Oh I have lots of these from fancy black tie DC fundraisers. At one, I was seated at a table with an old Spanish guy. We drank a lot and told increasingly dirty jokes in Spanglish. He was apparently getting a kick out of me not knowing who he was. It was Jose Feliciano.

I had dinner with Lewis Black and saw Robin Williams do an amazing speech at a Congressional dinner. I've been at parties with David Spade, Christina Applegate at that guy with the sunglasses from that cop show.

DC actually kind of crawls with celebrities on the fundraiser circuit. Looking back, this sounds somewhat impressive but it's not too uncommon around here.

On the other side of this, I have one of those faces that everyone thinks they know. When people ask "Do I know you?" I always demurely share that they probably recognize me because I'm actually pretty famous. It's fun to watch them try to place me before I let them in on the joke.
posted by kinsey at 7:42 PM on March 17


I did an undergraduate college thesis about a group of disability activists in the city nearest to my school. One day I had plans to interview one of the members of the group, so I called her a little ahead of time to confirm. She said “actually, I can’t do the interview today, group’s going to confront Joe Biden after a town hall and ask if he supports the Community Choice Act. Wanna come?” Of course!
So I go into the city, meet up with a whole crew of activists, and we make our way to the town hall, which is focused on “green collar” job creation. No one mentioned anything disability related at all, and the thing ran way over allotted time so everyone was rushing out at the end. Somehow my group managed to push within a few feet of Biden, give the thirty-second description of the legislation they’re supporting, and ask for a show of support. He turned around, grinned real wide, and said “we ain’t goin’ nowere,” and then scurried away.

The bill died in committee later that spring, and I’m still not entirely sure what Biden meant there.
posted by ActionPopulated at 8:02 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


There was some filming around the building on campus where I got lunch as a grad student. I was with a friend and our curiosity was piqued, so we asked one of the crew for the name of the movie. My friend looked it up on his phone while we were waiting for our order, and told me Shia LaBeouf was one of the cast members.

As we were walking back to lab I noticed a large crowd of people, many with phones out, and so I asked my friend, "Are we looking at anyone famous right now?" He said he didn't think so, and so I went on to state (maybe a bit too loudly) how I'd never seen a single Shia LaBeouf movie and wouldn't be able to recognize him at all.

"Uh, actually he's standing right there."

Oops.
posted by invokeuse at 8:02 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Once I was in an elevator in midtown Manhattan going to a job interview, and a craggy but handsome older man got on the same car and asked me, "Are you an actress?" I said no, a little baffled at why he was asking me that. He said he thought I had a great voice (he must have heard me speaking to the security guard in the lobby reception) and that he was on his way to a recording studio in the building that specialized in doing voiceovers. Apparently he thought I might be on my way to a session there. He then asked me if I recognized his voice, and I did vaguely. He said, "Boar's Head...Pass it on!" and I realized he was the voice of many a commercial I'd seen. Turns out it was actor Joe Sirola, "King of the Voiceovers" himself.

I considered getting into voiceover work after that.

I've also been on the subway with Cynthia Nixon, Chris Noth, John Turturro, Jesse Eisenberg, Bruno Mars, and Grace Coddington. And one time I was so obsessed with petting a complete stranger's cute dog that I didn't realize the stranger was Gerard Butler until I was walking away and someone said, "Hey, that's Gerard Butler!" to their friend.
posted by Fuego at 8:07 PM on March 17 [3 favorites]


Oh, and I forgot that once while I was working the concession stand at one of the bouts for my old roller derby league, I apparently sold Channing Tatum a soda and a candy bar. I had no idea who he was at the time, but Magic Mike XXL is now one of my favorite movies.
posted by Fuego at 8:09 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


When I was 13 my dad took me to a Sarah Vaughan concert and on our way back to the car we saw Burt Reynolds coming out the back door, apparently having visited her backstage. My dad kind of looked like Burt Reynolds back then, or aspired to, and he made a beeline over to ask him for an autograph. Burt looked really thin and drawn and at the time for some reason we thought he was undergoing treatment for cancer, but the internet isn't yielding any confirmation of that now. Admittedly I have a young dog pestering me to play so I haven't done a very thorough search.
posted by HotToddy at 8:14 PM on March 17


In the mid to late '90s, I worked at a parking garage. Once, a guy driving out looked sort of familiar. I said to him, "You know, you look like Kurt Angle." He smiled and said, "I am."
posted by Mister Moofoo at 8:16 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Someone invited me to a thing with John Kerry when I was 18, right after the 2004 election. There weren’t enough seats and they ended up squeezing me in next to Kerry himself. Before he said anything to anyone else, he turned to me and said “hey man! How’s it going?” And started asking me if a played guitar (I did), and chatting about guitar stuff while everyone else sat silently. After a minute or two he said “we should jam sometime, man!” and I was like “OK, John Kerry!”

But we never did. Politicians. Typical!
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:16 PM on March 17 [10 favorites]


"Brush" may be an overstatement, but about 25 years ago I was in a bluegrass band with Bernie Leadon's younger brother (who was no slouch himself on banjo).
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:21 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


I was outside a tiny theatre during the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, waiting for the lobby doors to be unlocked. Among the five or six other people waiting were Tom Waits, Edward Burns, and Moby.

I managed not to embarrass myself that day, but I passed by Roger Ebert at the Cannes film festival a few weeks later and said, too loudly, "Whoa, that's Roger Ebert!" He looked at me as if to say, yes, you dolt, it is I.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:24 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


I once played in a band that opened for Tina Turner. Rudy Giuliani once paused and then pointedly ignored a question I asked him in a scrum of reporters after a vice-presidential debate.
posted by limeonaire at 8:33 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


I sat a few feet away from David Byrne at the San Francisco airport as we were waiting for our (different) flights.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:44 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


This very day I served Julia Roberts some ice cream.
posted by Grandysaur at 8:50 PM on March 17 [18 favorites]


I’ve also hung out drunk with my charmingly tipsy US Senator for a good hour or so, just he, his wife, and a couple friends of mine.
posted by Grandysaur at 8:53 PM on March 17


Celebrity sightings are sort of common in my day-to-day world, even though I'm not in the industry. So instead I'll share this: back before celebrity sightings were common in my world I used to date a guy who looked exactly like Ian Ziering. He got followed around a lot by young giggling girls in the mall. When he was annoying me I'd walk a few feet away from him to "window shop" and then I'd turn and call over to him "Hey Ian, come take a look at this", which really sent the girls into fits. He hated that (and soon learned not to annoy me in public).
posted by vignettist at 8:57 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]


I was once roadie for a band that opened for the Ramones so I got backstage but not really backstage to the room where they were hanging out after the show. At one point the door opened and I hear a whiny "C'mon guys..it's time to leave." Or something like that. One Ramone comes out and the rest closed the door. So Johnny Ramone is then cornered between rabid fan me and a videogame cabinet and I stupidly shook hands with him too long completely dumbfounded repeating variations of "I can't believe this" even though that was why I was there, and "Thank you!' even though I really wanted to meet Dee Dee or Joey.

Me and a girlfriend once split a pitcher of beer or two with Kim Deal at a club. Wish I could remember anything we talked about. We were both smitten with her.
posted by Gotanda at 9:14 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


I once saw Leslie Neilsen at a pool hall in Charleston, WV in the early 2000's...... The Strand, if anyone is familiar with it. He was very,very tall - at least taller than I expected him to be. Man, The Strand had the best burgers and steak fries......we didn't have any interactions..... it's just, who expects Leslie Neilsen to be in Charleston, WV?
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 9:19 PM on March 17


A few years ago I was on a NYC grand jury with an A-list actor. Also a minor CNN reporter. The actor was nice, the juror seated next to him had some good conversations about movies. One day he left his coffee thermos in the break room, so I took it home for safekeeping, returned it the next morning. He said he's always doing that, forgetting it somewhere on set. He sort of resembled some characters he's played, in that he was one of the few people to ask questions and push back a little against the prosecuters stories.
posted by Sophont at 9:32 PM on March 17


1. My SO got completely star struck and tongue-tied when she came home and Ron Glass was sitting at our counter chatting about Buddhism with me.

The first time I met Ron he was wearing a purple sweatsuit (not a swank tracksuit, an "I don't plan to leave the house today" sweatsuit) and he had his Firefly hair all untied forming into frond-like points. He was tall and slender, and when he spoke I thought "holy shit, it's Sideshow Bob!"

2. I had a job running a follow spot for a live variety show Jason Alexander was producing and directing to support a school in Los Angeles. I was on headset all day, listening to all sorts of interactions that didn't pertain to me. He was unfailingly focused, thoughtful and calm, and he treated everyone with respect and dignity, even the designer he had to fire for gross incompetence. He is nothing like his Seinfeld character.

3. I was a PA on a commercial shoot starring William Shatner. It was for a group of law firms in the Midwest that had set up a common toll-free number that would connect callers to the closet member firm. They were making a commercial that would play in all their local markets. The lead-ins and lead-outs were customized for the individual firms while the bulk of the commercial was the same for all. Then there were buffer segments of different lengths to accommodate differing lengths in the custom segments due to variation in the lengths of the names of the firms ("Jones and Sons" vs "Akopian, Herlihy, Pendragon, Horst and Bibble, Attorneys At Law" for example).

There was one firm name that was a bit of a tongue-twister. It took four or five takes before he got through it. He asked the director how it was. The director was a bit star-struck and he said "That was okay, we can use it." Shatner responded "They're not paying for just okay, this is their brand. Let's get it right. That's why we're here." So they ran it again, and he nailed it.

The buffer pieces had to come in at really specific timings. Before each one the director would read the target length. Shatner was nailing the timing apparently effortlessly. We're talking about "The last one was 4.75 seconds, this one needs to be 4.25 seconds" precision and accuracy. One came in just less than a quarter a second too long. The director said they needed to take a two tenths of a second off it, and on the next take Shatner got it exactly right. He was thoughtful, courteous, respectful and a complete professional.

Something else I never noticed about him in the movies or on TV is that he has a James Earl Jones quality to his vocal apparatus. He has a huge lung capacity and his voice naturally projects without being loud. After lunch I was in the back corner of the soundstage organizing sandbags, about 125 feet from the entrance. Shatner came in chatting with the director and a couple other folks. When the others were speaking I could hear them well enough to identify it as human speech, but when Shatner spoke I could hear every word clearly, as though he was standing right next to me.

4. My mom tried to set my sister up on a date with Ted Bundy.

I have a sister who is 17 years older than me. My mom has always been politically active. When I was a child she was working on some local issues, and one of the people working on whatever the campaign was was this thoughtful, intelligent, handsome young man, about my sister's age. So she tried to set them up on a date.

Neither were interested. I always wondered if the fact that he knew her protected her, since he targeted strangers.

He was not a shy loner who kept to himself. He presented as warm, outgoing and engaged. I don't think my mom ever completely reconciled who he was with who he appeared to be in her mind.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:49 PM on March 17 [22 favorites]


I had chili at the same dive place as Bob Odenkirk, although I didn't want to impose by fangirling at him. Wil Wheaton complimented my shirt while I was getting groceries, which was sweet. Mr. Logical also used to do celebrity-adjacent work, so I was around while he chatted with Sly Stallone (who seemed nice enough, just probably medicated at the time.)

On the political front, I got an award in high school from Mark Foley. In retrospect, that picture creeps me out a bit when I visit my parents, but oh well. Thankfully they didn't get one of the ones with Jeb Bush framed; that was possibly one of the dopiest small talk conversations I've ever been involved with.
posted by tautological at 10:07 PM on March 17


I was working at McDonald's at the end of Haight Street in SF in the mid 70's. My customer was so tall that I felt like I was eye level with his belt buckle. As he left my friend popped in just then to give me a ride home. He said hey do you know who that was? That was Nate the Great. I had no idea who Nate Thurmond was.

About 5 years ago we went to watch the Pebble Beach Pro Am tournament. We saw a crowd of people so we ran over and found Bill Murray walking around in a fenced off area. He walked along the fence where we were all lined up. No one talked to him but we all watched and waited to see what crazy thing he might do. He stopped right in front of me. I was trying to figure out what to say...I'm your biggest fan...Groundhog Day is my favorite movie...Uh, uh, uh...I decided not to say anything. We gazed into each other's eyes for 30 seconds or so. Then he went off to start telling jokes and goofing off.

For a long time I regretted not saying anything to Bill Murray. Now I think the interaction was perfect.
posted by goodsearch at 10:38 PM on March 17 [8 favorites]


My Springsteen story for LaBellaStella because I believe she will appreciate it more than most: 1981, The River tour, at the Horizon Center outside of Chicago. I had already been to several shows on that tour, including back-to-back nights at the relatively small (capacity ~5000) Uptown Theater. However, that night was special because I was standing just a few feet from the stage when he made prolonged eye contact with me during Jungleland. (Bruce, if you're reading this, I had long brown hair and was wearing a blue dress. Remember?)
posted by she's not there at 10:50 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Well, I lived in the same building with Iggy Pop and Bowie in Berlin in the late 70's. Don't know whether that counts as a 'brush' or not.
I met President G.H.W. Bush once at a talk he gave in DC when he was still in the CIA.
I've met VP Pence when he was the Governor of Indiana. He seriously creeped me out.
I saw Sean Connery during the filming of 'The Untouchables'
James Randi had dinner at my house once.
I've crossed paths with William Shatner a couple of times.
I was in an elevator in Chicago when Don King and Mike Tyson got on.
I met Penn & Teller after a show once in Chicago, to get an autograph for my (then) wife.
I've met Al Haynes, the captain of UA flight 232.
posted by pjern at 10:51 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


I was on a business trip and driving my rental car back to O'Hare airport. It was one of those deals where you drive in and drop it off, but you have wait in one of mutliple lines of long cars to give it to the rental person who would check the gas and direct you to your flight. When I dropped mine off, I got out, and the employee walked up to me and said, "Good times." "What?" "Good times." "Oh, okay" (no idea what's going on). "That guy was in Good Times." I turn around, and Jimmie Walker was behind me in the car line returning his vehicle. It was a bit surreal, as the last time I had seen him was watching reruns with my grandma in the 80s.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:54 PM on March 17


I met Benoit Mandelbrot once, at a lecture he gave. Also Barry White while working a shit job in high school. And Bill Gates, professionally. And Bill Joy, professionally. And Jonathan Schwartz, professionally. And Michael Abrash, professionally. Rose from the Poster Children at a record store. John & John from TMBG (and Mike Doherty) in a hotel restaurant.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:57 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]


At comic con one year I was out and about in a corset that I felt exposed a reasonable amount of cleveage but in hindsight that was not the case. When I went to get a poster signed by the Welcome to Night Vale group Dylan Marron was the first at the table. He turned to look at me, then his eyes dropped to my chest, widened, and quickly went back to my face. “Hi” he said “you have amazing (slight pause, as if his brain was screaming at him not to say something)...hair”
posted by lepus at 11:11 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


A few years ago I was swimming at night at Barton Springs. A friend of mine was sitting on the edge of the pool with another guy and called me over to answer the man's questions about the pool. I talked to them both for about an hour while treading water the whole time. I found out the next day that I had been talking to Owen Wilson and I hadn't recognized him.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:35 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


My mom was born and raised in JCPenney's hometown and was a pretty cute preschooler. When her older brother was in high school she was kind of a school mascot. There are pictures of her with the band in a little drum major's uniform, mace and all. At graduation, Mr. Penney was the speaker and handed out the diplomas, and she got to be his assistant. Somebody read off the name, she handed the diploma to him, and he handed it to the proud graduate, shook hands, etc.

When I was about three, we moved from Georgia to San Diego, traveling on the train across the country. My mom was wrangling three kids: 4, 3 and 1. She swears that a very nice man helped entertain us for a while and that it turned out to be Jimmy Stewart.

And I had Clark Gable's nephew as a patient once.

PLUS, I saw Jeff Bridges at a drugstore in Santa Monica once, shopping for kids Valentines with his daughter.

I lived in LA for thirty years and that's as close as I ever got to fame.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:36 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Many years ago the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney was hosting a Lord of the Rings exhibition and I was walking past it with my now-husband and was talking about how much I loved the movies and thank goodness they left out Tom Bombadil, and what a good move that was for the museum and how they'd get all the geeky desperados in through the door.

There was a hairy guy with a beard walking a bit behind us wearing a HIDEOUS shirt, and he was openly laughing at my jokes, particularly when I included myself in the above-mentioned geeky desperado brigade and outright guffawed at my riff on "One Museum to Rule them All".

It crossed my mind "Wouldn't it be funny if that was Peter Jackson?" but I'd seen all the DVD extras and this guy was way too skinny and didn't have glasses. We crossed the street outside the museum and we go right and he goes left and I didn't think anything of it.

Until the next morning when I see the newspaper article about Peter Jackson being in town for the opening of the Lord of the Rings exhibition, and there was a photo of the man himself - shaggy hair, no glasses and wearing a familiar HIDEOUS shirt.

So yeah. I made Peter Jackson laugh.
posted by ninazer0 at 11:48 PM on March 17 [15 favorites]


This won't mean anything except to science fiction fans, but here goes (cutting and pasting one of my comments from a 2013 thread):

'At my first or second sf convention, in the late 1980s or early 1990s, I found a big comfy armchair and chilled out there for a while, watching people go by, trying to work up my nerve to strike up a conversation with a fellow attendee. At one point this guy occupied the armchair across from me. I've never been more glad to be a wallflower because he started calling out unsolicited remarks to various women passing by. Damned if I can remember how the remarks began -- I think they were typical comments about the women's looks -- but they all ended with, "...or I'll kiss ya!" in a jokey-serious invitation-threat kind of tone. His whole presentation repelled me. And fascinated me, this 40ish-50ish guy's demands for unfamiliar women to pay him attention, via... whatthefuck?... kindergarten taunts. I figured he must be overcompensating for being unsuccessful, socially inept, and generally self-loathing.

Then some men came by to fetch him somewhere. I got up too, for a session on getting your writing published. I walked into the room. There he was on the stage, part of the panel. The "...or I'll kiss ya!" guy. Mike Resnick.'
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:02 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I have a LOT of these because I used to be a television program director (that is, the person who buys and schedules the syndicated shows at the station level, not a director of actual programs).

--In my youth, I had a few major brushes with celebs. I grew up in Buffalo and when I was about 6, my best friend's father owned the ambulance service that worked at the football stadium, and took us there on a media day. As her dad introduced us to people, OJ Simpson came over, said hi, and bought us ice creams. That became a big, weird thing in later years, obviously.

When I was a teenager, the commedian Jackie Mason came to our house with his girlfriend. He'd been performing in our suburb and the event-runners told him the audience would be about 50% Jewish, so he tailored his jokes that way, but it was more like 5%, and many of the jokes bombed, but my folks were hysterical. After the evening was over, he made friends with my parents and their friends, and someone joked that he'd like my mother's struedel, and so he invited himself over at 11p and stayed for hours. So, I met Jackie Mason in my pajamas. (Please, spare me the Groucho joke.)

And when I was in college, I interned on a magazine-style local talk show, and when Marc Price (Skippy Handleman on Family Ties) came to perform stand-up, we had him on the show. I had brought in my mother's cinnamon rolls that day and he went crazy over them. He invited me to his show and gave me tickets to see him for free and was much nicer in person than in his stand-up. But I think it was, like Mason, about my mother's baking.

Most of you probably don't remember Steve Allen, but when I was interning on that same show, he was our big guest one morning. The other two interns thought history began in 1980, so they weren't nearly as excited as I was about meeting this icon, so I got to hang out with him. Unfortunately, he fell asleep in the waiting area, and I had to carefully pry his about-to-spill coffee out of his hands and gently wake him.

--I've been kissed in gentlemanly ways by various celebs: Henry Winkler (my syndication sales guy brought him into the small room to close the deal; we spoke a bisell Yiddish to one another, and I have a photo of him kissing me on the cheek) and William Shatner (who kissed my cheek and my hand, in non-icky ways and with consent), though my photos are from before it happened.

--I gave an Advil to Jon Stewart when we were at a meet-and-greet in a noisy bar and he had a pounding headache; my boss, who didn't know who Stewart was (back when his first syndicated late-night show was set to start) tried to fix us up, not realizing that Stewart probably had oodles of hangers-on. My mother considers this my greatest failing, that I offered only an Advil. (Ahem. But she really would have liked being Stewart's MIL.)

--I knocked David Hyde Pierce down with my breasts. Long story, both of us rounding (opposite sides of) a corner too quickly, and after we both apologized to one another, I said, "Thanks for the dance" and he cocked his head, as if in appreciation of the quick line.

--I talked about babies with Jason Alexander (at a TV conference, when everyone was focused on Seinfeld and Louis-Dreyfuss, he was almost hiding by the wall, surprisingly shy, but the sweetest guy!) and Al Roker (at an airport, after a different TV conference) about his baby's sniffles, which he'd mentioned on The Tonight Show a few days prior.

--I've helped some stars with wardrobe troubles. Mark Walberg (the game show guy, not the Boogie Nights guy) was at his first conference and was worried his slacks were too wrinkled); I helped Carmen Electra (who is teeeeeeny) with a ripped hem on her (even teenier) skirt. FWIW, she might have been the nicest female celeb I've ever met.

--Judge Judy (she's tiny, too) was bossy about where we'd stand when we took a picture with her. Dr. Ruth sat at the next table during a dinner and came over to compliment me on my dimples. (Oy.) Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt were both disappointing in their lack of enthusiasm, while the entire cast of Caroline in the City was charming and wanted to hear all about what it was like living in northeast Tennessee, and asked really fun questions. Sadly, Mark Feuerstein wasn't there, or I could have made up for my mother's disappointment in the whole Jon Stewart thing. Also, most of the cast of Living Single was a hoot, laughing at the almost entirely white, middle-aged, mid-western and southern station execs "dancing" but, unfortunately, I didn't get to meet Queen Latifah, as she was already a star and was spared attending the event.

--My strangest celeb meeting (aside from meeting Jackie Mason, in my pajamas, at my own house) was when I was set up to take a photo with Garry Shandling and Jeffrey Tambor, when they were in the midst of The Larry Sanders Show being sold into syndication. Both were in director's chairs with an empty chair in the middle for photo ops. Each was speaking to someone else when I sat down and the camera people were taking a momentary break. Tambor turned to me, and then his face lit up, and he started talking to me animatedly about people we allegedly knew in common, when I had to let him know that I was not "Susan." He was very nice about it, we exchanged a few pleasantries, and then Shandling finished his conversation, turned toward me, and smiled, then really SMILED, and sat up and started talking to me and Tambor leaned over and said, "She's not Susan!" I was sure this was a bit that they were doing to various people, but my syndicator (sales person) whom I'd known a long time swore to me it wasn't.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 12:11 AM on March 18 [15 favorites]


Wil Wheaton was a dick to me.

Some friends were in a sketch comedy troupe with him. I went to a performance, and afterward I went into the lobby to congratulate them. I went over to the group they were standing in which included Wil Wheaton and Chase Masterson (who was in the audience, not in the show). I waited a moment for a lull in the conversation so I could congratulate my friends, then Wheaton suddenly turned to me and said, obviously annoyed, "What do you want?"

I said "I want to tell my friends I enjoyed their show" and I smiled at them, gave them a thumbs-up and turned and walked away.

He seems like a decent guy in general, but when he pulls out his "don't be a dick" rule I admit I give him a mental stink eye.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 12:36 AM on March 18 [9 favorites]


I was on the same flight to Los Angeles as Ed Begley Jr. a couple of years ago, and sat across from him at the gate for about ninety minutes as a couple of delays came up while we waited to board. It seemed as if every single person at our gate or walking past it stopped to talk to him and he was incredibly gracious every single time, even to the slightly drunk gentleman who sat down next to him and held forth for a full twenty minutes about how much he admired his father and how far movies had fallen since Ed Begley's day.

Somehow, as different people in that corner of the waiting area were drawn into the conversation, it came out that another passenger worked at his daughter's university and had helped her navigate a problem of some kind. Ed Begley Jr. became so excited upon learning this that he called his daughter on his cell phone to say "Guess who I just met?", had her say "hello," and shook the man's hand and thanked him a few times after that.

There were so many people trying to chat with him that I don't regret not saying anything at all. Just watching all of this unfold was like a master class of some kind in making people feel seen and heard. I did text a friend to tell her about it while all of this was happening, though, to which she replied: "Is he wearing his dress eyebrows?"
posted by Anita Bath at 12:58 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


we have a few of these in our family for one weird reason or another....

In 1990, while we were living in the Caribbean, there was a tennis tournament hosted in one of the island resorts so my dad and little brother went to watch. While walking around the resort between matches my brother noticed a young girl with a bunch of rackets in her bag looking a bit lost. He went over to help and that's how he ended up escorting Jennifer Capriati around for the day.

Another time we were visiting family during the Copa America tournament in Ecuador, and after the tournament finished, our cousin, who worked for the airport, got us into the VIP lounge and the day was spent hanging out and watching matches with the departing brazilian national team and, more importantly, Pele.

Here in Denmark, my friend was part of the stunt and stage fighters that would perform during the premiere of "Return of the King" in Copenhagen and I was invited to come along. So I managed to spend the evening with the visiting cast and the danish royal family.
posted by alchemist at 1:33 AM on March 18


I've posted this in another thread in the past, but: when I was in high school, Yo-Yo Ma played a concert in the college town where I grew up. Many years before that, he had played once with my dad when my dad was a baby conductor and Yo-Yo was an even baby-er soloist; on the strength of this, my dad took me backstage after the show, did the "Good concert, you probably don't remember me, but..." thing, and added "This is my daughter, she plays the cello too." Yo-Yo Ma gave me a big warm smile and a handshake and said "Good to meet you!" like he really meant it. I've been very fond of him since.
(although, sorry Yo-Yo, he is not actually my favorite cello soloist. That would be Steven Isserlis, with whom my closest thing to a personal interaction is that he liked something I @-ed him on Twitter.)
posted by huimangm at 2:27 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I have never had any brushes with fame. A number of combs, yes. But no brushes.

~~~

Houston in the late 1970s was unreal great for a country music fan. (And Texas music also, and there is a huge difference but I don't think the internet has enough room for me to say all I'd want to say about that. So I won't.) I saw everybody you'd ever want to see and those I saw at Gilley's were just a few feet away. George Jones was both late and drunk, just as you'd expect. And a fantastic show, also, just as you'd expect. Seeing Jerry Lee Lewis perform truly a joy, he was fantastic, an unreal entertainer. I didn't see him at Gilley's but instead at some other tacky little club and pretty much right next to him as he banged on the keys.
(Quickly now -- what do Mickey Gilley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Jimmy Swaggert have in common? Give up? They're family, first cousins, they hail from a bitty Louisiana town named Ferriday, if I recall correctly they all had the same piano teacher.)

There was a john just back of the stage at Gilley's, it had these urinals that were just metal troughs, I'm standing there taking a leak alongside Gilley, I'm like "Oh, boy, get to piss with the stars!" or some such, we had a laugh. I thanked him for the music, he was graceful. I told him I'd seen him in Chicago a few years before, he remembered the tour and the venue and who else was on the bill -- I know one performer was Billy "Crash" Craddock, who'd had a string of hit country singles and we were really looking fwd to his set but damned if he didn't come out as an Elvis impersonator, dressed and acted like a moron. Anyways, Gilley was often at the club, he was a really good guy, made a point of staying in a bitty tract house in Pasadena Texas though he could have pretty much lived wherever he wanted, but what he wanted was to stay himself.

So I got to take a leak alongside Mickey Gilley.

~~~~~

Later in Houston, early 80s and on from there, I wasn't going to clubs anymore because it'd become a bad idea for me to be in clubs for a couple of years, till I caught my balance. (I keep wondering whenever I *will* catch my balance. Or if I will. You're going to want to hang tight to your balance, it's elusive as hell if ever it sneaks off.) So I wasn't going to clubs because reasons and then I moved Kathy* in with me, and then she moved out, and I was sortof pained, like shattered etc, and a friend knew someone who went to this lecture series on Sunday nights at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church and I went, and here's this John Bradshaw guy talking about the Scott Peck book The Road Less Traveled which in time became a book I tried to inhabit, tried to incorporate its concepts/precepts/etc. And I became a regular at that Sunday night lecture series.
*She was the second Kathy with a K who left me heartbroke and acheful. I've made a point of not having a third Kathy with a K.

I know that a lot of ppl think Bradshaw was pretty cheesy and probably they're right. But he saved my ass. He never had an original idea in his life but he was able to collate others ideas and present them well. Yeah, I know, I know -- inner child, ha ha ha ha ha, codependence -- oh boy, what a load of crap, how 80s can we get ha ha ha ha ha! Totally lame. But he introduced me to Pia Mellody (her books and the ideas in those books) (I did end up meeting her, she came into Houston for a weekend workshop -- she's remarkably warm in person, she's got these great eyes.) and even if I got nothing else, getting an understanding of what Pia Mellody was doing and is doing has been incredibly important in my life.

But I got a lot more than just an introduction to Pia Mellody's ideas from Bradshaw. I sortof put it this way: he didn't give me even one answer. But he gave me the questions. And that's where it's at, in my opinion and in my experience -- anyone tries to answer the questions for you is full of shit, and you'd do well to get away from them. It's the questions, is where it's at.

So anyways, different ppl have different styles, different ways of communicating; Bradshaw was a shotgun sort of guy, just spraying ideas all over the place*. He was a person with a photographic memory, which I still find amazing -- anything he read he owned for the rest of his life. And he could understand things at a glance that take me years of reflection to grok. Hell of a guy.
*I tend to learn best from ppl who put things together teleologically, lay one idea down and then build on that with the next idea, rinse/repeat. That's why The Road Less Traveled was such a good book for me -- Peck is nothing if not teleological.

Ended up I did a tremendous amount of work on his home; they'd lived there over 20 years and John didn't know a hammer from a nail, and if you live in a house a long time and don't know how to repair things it just gets to be too much. And I can pretty much repair anything, and I did so -- they thought I was a magician. Imagine you've got a kitchen drawer that's totally trashed, barely opens and when you do open it everything falls apart and on the floor and you want to slit your wrists etc -- I'm your man. Supposing your house is old and has real old style locks with those pretty glass knobs on all of the inner doors and they're all jammed up and painted over because the painters are lazy mopes and the locks of course don't work because of being jammed with paint and years without graphite and who knows where the key is for this room or that one -- I'm your man, all of the locks now are glistening, with keys for every door that locked, the brass shined on the outer doors. The mirror in the john is cracked -- not anymore. All the windows in the Florida room are a big mess, many of them cracked and need replaced and all of them needing the old glazing compound removed and new glazing compound on every window and "Holy shit! Look at this! It's all straight and pretty now!" I'm your man.

They paid me well, and he and his wife gave me their friendship, and I needed both of those. Got to where they wanted me to stay in their house when they traveled, and it's in a great part of Houston, real close to the museums (my churches) and real close to The Jung Center, which always had interesting people staggering about and often great art, to boot, and this great library. And there were these amazing oak trees lining the streets, it's just gorgeous, it was fun even to just take a walk in the neighborhood, me and Rusty, The Wonder Dog palling around, if palling is a word, and even if it isn't.
Rusty was the best pal you could have, she never gave a damn about *any* questions other than "Do you wanna take a ride?" or "Hey, you want a treat?" Rusty was considerably smarter than I in that regard -- what's more important than a ride in the pickup, head out the window, wearing her big, festive Rusty, The Wonder Dog smile, her eyes alive and merry? Who doesn't want a treat? Let go with all this questions crap, let's head out for a walk already...

And friends started seeing me on tv, I'd was in the audience in Bradshaw's first couple of tv series, they'd pan the crowd and land on me, because they had good taste, presumably. So anyways, here's my friends, there they'd be, in their underpants, getting ready for church or what-have-you and there I was, bigger than Dallas, right there on their tv screen, scratching myself. Fame!

John Bradshaw gave me the questions that are worth asking. For that, I am damn sure grateful.

~~~~~

Austin. You can't step out the door without running into musicians, some of them washed. As others upthread have noted, you run into someone famous for this or for that you kind of want to let them be about their day. If I say anything it's usually to thank them for the music, pretty casual, and that doesn't seem to step over any lines.

I found this kitten outside on a cold, cold Christmas Eve, he was cold and filthy and awfully skinny and boy oh boy did he love to eat! He slept like the dead once he was clean and warm and fed. I named him Carpet Cat because his fur was white and luxuriant, he'd lay out on his back to be scratched and it was like a rug there, I thought to use him to carpet the hallway but then reconsidered, and instead I put up a craiglist ad about Carpet Cat, with some pics and the back story. Some woman calls me, I go to her house, there's 47 million guitars laid about -- Shawn Colvin looking for a kitty. It didn't work out, Carpet Cat was a psycho terrorist with her cat, but it gave me a little story here. Ended up he was with this woman that totally loved him -- happy ending.

Robert Plant lived here for a while, I said thanx once and then let it ride, let the poor guy eat his eggs, right? Yes, yes, his voice the soundtrack of my youth but leave him be.

If I was in any 12 step program I couldn't say anything to you about it, of course, what with that whole anonymity bit.. But I have heard that there are some meetings in town that are just overrun with musicians and artists and drummers of various description, packs of them, platoons of them, herds of them, they're there in force, they're there in droves, or maybe they just drove there, I'm not certain.

I was at an Austin City Limits taping, Jerry Jeff Walker was singing this great song --
Yeah, I like my women just a tad on the trashy side
I like them sweet, like em with a heart of gold
Yeah I like em brassy I like em wrestln' bold
They say opposites attract nah I don't agree
I want a woman just as tacky as me
Yeah I like my women just a tad on the trashy side

and I told the guy standing next to me that it's such a fun song, and he says "You want to meet the guy who wrote it?" and he introduced me to Chris Wall. So that was fun.

I met Lucinda Williams but it was just in passing, much to my disappointment, a handshake and then she's gone -- it's a goddamn tragedy. Ray Wylie Hubbard is just as friendly as you'd think from listening to his records, I've met him a number of times, just at his shows here around town.

I met Ann Richards once, at some event or other. I was at that time working for a state regulatory agency as a computer programmer so she was of course my boss, and I walked up to her and said "Hey, I work for you." Now she was one hell of a person -- she looked me dead in the eye, and she looked deep, too, her handshake was like getting your hand caught in a car door. She was something.

I'd love it to meet Willie Nelson. Just to shake his hand, just to thank him for all the happiness. Though I knew nothing about him it was his voice that was the siren, the call, the homing signal for Texas. He's not young, he had to cancel a bunch of shows last month after a bout with the flu. I honestly do not believe that people understand what it will be when Willie passes from the scene -- Willie is like the sun here in Texas, he's ever present, he's been performing since before I was born, I think that it's taken for granted that he'll be here tomorrow. It's going to hurt like hell when that sun sets. I sure would like to meet him beforehand, and thank him.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:41 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


I met Benoit Mandelbrot once, at a lecture he gave.

Did he tell you the "B." in Benoit B. Mandelbrot stands for Benoit B. Mandelbrot?

ALSO ALSO I forgot my best brush with fame. A few years ago, my then-boss invited me to the meeting of his professional group, the Association for Managers of Innovation. The meeting was in Greensboro, NC and we were all staying in the same hotel. The first morning of the meeting I went down to the hotel restaurant early and sat in our group's designated area, where I was joined by an older gentleman in our group. He introduced himself as "Joe," and we talked for about 20 minutes, and he was really nice and funny and incredibly insightful, and we just had a lovely conversation. THAT NIGHT our group had a scheduled outing at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. The museum building formerly housed the Woolworth's where the "Greensboro Four" (four Black students from North Carolina A&T) held their famous sit-in at the whites-only lunch counter. We did a tour of the museum, and afterward, "Joe" went up to the mic to share some reflections, and "Joe" was actually JOE MCNEIL, one of the Greensboro Four!
posted by duffell at 3:49 AM on March 18 [6 favorites]


I literally brushed against Ed Asner's suit sleeve when he spoke at our high school.
posted by mdonley at 4:46 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Just last night, we were in row 2 settling in for Derek DelGaudio’s “In & Of Itself’ when my husband commented on the fellow “who probably gets bothered all the time because he looks so much like John Cleese”. Uh huh. Funnily enough, husband had selected the card reading “I AM: the last one to know”.
posted by ersatzkat at 5:16 AM on March 18


This is off the topic of celebrities, but:

I’d appreciate it if mefites keep me in their thoughts this week. On Monday March 26, there is going to be a hearing at my university which will determine whether the university considers the man who raped me to be responsible for his actions. I’m preparing for the hearing this week, and I can use all the good vibes I can get.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:34 AM on March 18 [122 favorites]


Probably everyone who's lived in Cambridge for some time has encountered the late Prof Hawking at some point, but I specifically remember once holding the door for him when he was coming in to the Department for Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics. A Brief History of Time was a huge influence on me when I started doing maths so it made a big impression to see him in person at that time.
Also at Cambridge, the SF society invited Terry Pratchett to speak and as I helped to organise it, I got to join him for dinner. He was a great guest and incredibly funny and charming in person. SF fandom was a pretty small community in any case, so I met a bunch of people that way - Brian Aldiss, Diana Wynne Jones, and Robert Sheckley for instance.
posted by crocomancer at 5:35 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


On not previewing: I hope it goes well at the hearing Ocherdraco
posted by crocomancer at 5:36 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I was a DJ and radio person in the 80's and had more than many brushes with fame, but one of my favorite stories is from my dearly departed father in law, who was a world class connector of people and who pretty much knew everyone.

He was friends with the founder of the Steinbeck Center and was invited to a fundraising dinner one night. I asked him how the dinner was, and I heard all about the marvelous food and the marvelous people. I was basically mmm-hmmming my way through the conversation.

Then he said that it was the most extraordinary thing: as it was a black tie event, people were super fancy and he was very disappointed at the very polite young man sitting next to him, who was some sort of singer, and said seatmate was wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. He said they sat though the dinner making small talk and he wondered if I knew the man, since he was from NJ (my FIL had that distinctly old-money worldview that the "right people" all knew each other, and therefore assumed that since this man was from NJ and I had lived there, clearly we would have met in social situations).

So I decided to play along and asked my FIL to tell me more about dude from NJ. He said the man was very smart and interesting, but he wasn't wearing black tie. In fact, he was a scruffy little man.

"Dad, I get he's scruffy. What was his NAME?"

My FIL replied, "Oh, it was Bruce. Bruce Something. He sang about the ghost of Tom Joad."

And I essentially screeched into the phone, "You sat next to Bruce Springsteen at dinner?"

My FIL replied, "Is that a big deal?"
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:38 AM on March 18 [17 favorites]


Almost 10 years ago, my band was in NYC for a private 40th birthday party at The Wooly, a speakeasy/event space that I guess is no longer open in the basement of the Woolworth Building. We heard a rumor that Michael Stipe was in attendance at the bar in an adjoining room. Put it out of our minds, yeah, whatever.

"It's The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" was on the set list as an audible call, just to throw in for fun at some point. So we played that. After the gig, while we were out on the sidewalk loading gear into our van, Michael Stipe walked out the front door and right by us and I got a nod of acknowledgement.
posted by emelenjr at 5:50 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


ocherdraco—sending strength and positive vibes to you— and a hug/hand squeeze/arm around the shoulder if you want it.
posted by bookmammal at 5:52 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Lollapalooza, age 15: I met Eddie Vedder, Al Jourgenson, and most of the Chili Peppers. Pretty neat for a very awkward teenage girl who carried a book around with her even at a festival.

Lots of musicians back in my club going days. Zach Galifinakis met me and my friend once to hear our half-assed pitch for an indie film.
posted by Kitteh at 5:52 AM on March 18


In 1988 I sold all the remaining half-rotten asparagus we were desperately trying to get rid of at the produce stand in Pike Place Market to Linda Evans, who thought it looked fantastic.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:07 AM on March 18 [6 favorites]


My partner last night: "Oh, hey! The MetaTalkTail thing is posted."

Me: "Oh yeah, I saw. I commented."

[He pauses to read.]

Him: "I knew it would be Fergie!"

This is from the guy who knows all my stories backward and forward and for whom I hold very few if any surprises.

Honestly, I would have been a little worried if he didn't call it. This confirms he's been listening.
posted by veggieboy at 6:18 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


We're friends with Jill Stein's son, so we've bumped in to her at parties a few times. (Back when we were younger our friends used to invite their parents to ragers all the time and it boggled my mind, but that's another conversation.)

We were on a flight from Newark to London with Matt Damon a few years ago. He did not want to be noticed - ball cap way down over his face, sitting first row window seat in first class. We were sitting near the front of the coach cabin so we saw him when he got up to use the bathroom. They let him board about 20 minutes before anyone else at Newark and had a whole cadre of attendants at Heathrow, but still had to wait by the carousel for his luggage like the rest of us schlubs which tickled me for some reason.

I grew up in a fairly affluent town in South Jersey (we were decidedly not), and a lot of Philadelphia sports players lived in the area. A Flyer (don't remember who) rented our house when we relocated to Germany while his mansion was being built. I went to high school with kids of a few notables (Ron Jaworski's son being the biggest name, I guess?) but not really being in to sports it never meant much to me.

The topic of famous alumni came up a few weeks ago, and while my high school is fairly boring (except for Kelly Ripa, I guess), the inventor of the Salisbury Steak is a graduate from my college. They don't advertise that one for some reason, but he's my new favorite alum (previous favorite - George Ferris).
posted by backseatpilot at 6:23 AM on March 18


When I was in college I took a day trip for my Intro to Art History to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After lunch a bunch of us went out to the steps to sit and people watch before going back in, and we noticed a television production spread out in front of the museum and long the one street. They seemed to be filming in a building catycorner to the museum entrance with the trailers in front of the museum.

Just as we were going to go back inside, Jerry Orbach exited a trailer, walking a tiny dog on a leash. He lit a cigarette and took her to the corner where they stood watching the chaos of production. People didn't even bat an eye, just walked around him like a river around a rock.

We headed back in feeling like someone had magically arranged a perfect NYC visit for us.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 6:27 AM on March 18


Good thoughts, ocherdraco!

Oh, I just remembered. Allen Ginsberg also did a reading of Howl at the college and then went out to the bar with a bunch of us. He was in turns angry, exasperated, and sad about everything.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 6:36 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Ooh, I have a good one. I was in San Sebastian in May 2009 (I think it was 2009) with my parents and walking through a deserted square, we saw this guy, all by himself, looking at a tourist map, the kind you get at a tourist information office, obviously trying to get his bearings.

Whoa, said my dad, that guy looks just like Neil Young! Oh my god, you’re right!, I said. We thought nothing else of it until we were leaving the city and passed a huge poster advertising Neil Young in concert, that very night.

And that’s the story about how I almost met Neil Young, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 6:45 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


At this point in my life I know or have hung out with a rather large amount of random electronic or experimental musicians. A lot of these folks are fairly close friends or friends of friends and it feels weird to name drop them, so I won't. I sit down with some of these folks for dinner at Thanksgiving almost every year. Some are fairly well known and famous as far as electronic music goes. (IE, world tours, headlining, major record sales.)

One person who is less immediate friend and more random industry contact is Robert Henke, who is one of the original founders and developers of Ableton Live, an installation/audio artist and member/founder of Monolake and other recording projects. I've spent hours with him at a couple of local conference/festival things I like to volunteer at, either standing outside smoking or working behind the scenes. (Back when I still smoked, I was the only person smoking euro style handrolls around him and I was his immediate best friend at the festival.)

The first year we met at one of these festivals I totally spaced out on the fact that this guy invented Ableton Live, and I kept stumping him with random production questions during panels and classes. Which he loved. I remember putting it together in hindsight later and I get a kick out of remembering his obviously delighted expressions when I'd stump him with another question and he'd have to say "I don't know!" about software he helped design and produce.

And I mentioned this in the Fiona Apple thread, but I spent Friday night hanging out with the drummer from a rather famous band, and he's just this local nerdy and charming guy, and members of famous bands are actually pretty common in my town because I live in a town full of musicians and seriously committed music nerds.

And this is something I've become very comfortable with, which is being able to hang out and talk shop and bullshit with "celebrity" musicians without a single drop of self consciousness or nervousness or fanaticism. I've now been back stage and working at hundreds of venues, and the only real magic behind the curtains is a fuckton of hard work, insomnia and weird sleep schedules. Musicians in general tend to be pretty humble, nerdy and much less interested in being worshiped than people think they are. And, well, the egomaniac-style rock stars hold no interest to me because they don't like to shoot the shit, nerd out or talk shop.


Another random celebrity I've meet was Earnest Borgnine. My mom had won some makeover contest on a talk show in LA. While they were filming the segments, I was stuck in a green room with him. It took me a few minutes to recognize him in person, and then I said "Heeey, you're that guy from Airwolf and..." and he said "Yep! That's me!" and he was obviously waiting for me to place him and react, and was probably enjoying the fact that I wasn't a screaming fan or something.

He waggled his eyebrows a lot. Seemed like a very nice fellow and laughed easily.


However, this is my real claim to fame: Apparently I've peed on Marie Osmond, so I've got that going for me.

I was maybe 2 years old and my mom had dragged me to a local concert venue and meet and greet. Where I was placed - screaming in terror - in her lap for a photo op in some very black back stage room that was, for some inexplicable reason, decorated with hundreds of stuffed animal toys propped up around Marie Osmond.

I remember being utterly terrified of her mask-like stage/celebrity makeup and the enormous pile of stuffed animals. I also vaguely remember people freaking out immediately after I was placed in Marie's lap, which was probably about the time I had the piss scared right out of me.
posted by loquacious at 6:49 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


As a youth in a rural part of Kentucky, we had a small festival celebrating the local heritage. As part of the entertainment for the dinner play, we had a local musician on to play some country standards and get the crowd some energy. Just so happened that this young man named John was getting some buzz, and he played on stage that year. Both nights. Turned out to be John Michael Montgomery.

A few years later, my cousin is having a birthday party on the family farm, guests were getting there, and I was running around helping my aunt with the last few touches of getting food out. Out gets this gentleman from a big truck with his son, nice truck, but farmers that have nicer trucks aren't terribly uncommon. At the end of the day, my aunt asks me how my brush with fame was. I looked at her puzzled. Turns out the nice man in the nice truck happened to be John Michael Montgomery's brother Eddie. One half of Montgomery Gentry, whose son was in my cousin's class at school.
posted by deezil at 6:57 AM on March 18


I’ve met lots of musicians over the years, for various different reasons. I’ve already told some of those stories here, but another one I just thought of - I had finished a one-off session I did with some friends for an XTC tribute compilation, & when I stopped by the studio a couple days later to pick up the masters of the final mixes, Ani DiFranco was there, getting ready to start work on a new album. (This was probably 2002 or 2003?) & the studio owner introduced us & we chatted a bit while he rustled up my tapes. She was, as you might imagine, a perfectly friendly, normal person & was funny, intelligent & insightful. Fortunately, I don’t tend to get too star struck in these situations, as there have been a few & the last thing I want to do is geek out & make someone uncomfortable. I asked her who she was working with, & she said “Oh, Mark just turns the place over to me & I do it all myself.” She literally meant she would run the tape deck, set the mics, the whole ball of wax, solo. Mark was like “She’s awesome!” I get to give her the keys & go home for a week unless something breaks!” He was not wrong - that’s pretty awesome.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:29 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Once I was in the Philadelphia airport changing flights and I noticed that Temple Grandin was standing in the middle of the concourse looking confused and overwhelmed. I knew who she was and I knew that look because I have a daughter on the spectrum and Temple's one of her heroes. Temple asked me if I knew where her gate was and showed me her ticket, and I pointed to the direction for the terminal. She thanked me and headed on her way. I followed from a distance to make sure she got to her gate okay. Almost missed my own flight.

It was awesome to meet her, even if she never learned my name. And I was glad I could help. When I told my daughter she was pretty excited.
posted by Stanczyk at 7:37 AM on March 18 [9 favorites]


Mr. gudrun's cousin works as an extra in New York City, and has done stuff like The Good Wife, Madam Secretary, and Boardwalk Empire. Her most recent claim to fame is that you can see her (the blond on the far right with the tissue in the funeral scene) in this recent Colbert show opening video.
posted by gudrun at 7:44 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Oooh, I just remembered one from my childhood. Our family used to live in an apartment complex many years ago, in Irving (suburb of Dallas, TX). Someone in our complex won concert tickets and a limo ride with Vanilla Ice. This was Vanilla Ice in his heyday, "Ice Ice Baby" era, not hard rock Vanilla Ice. So he pulled up in a limo and word had spread throughout the complex and all of the kids descended on his limo screaming and asking for autographs. I was a pretty shy kid, so I didn't venture close to the limo, I just wanted to see him, so I stood back and watched. It was overwhelming to see people lose their shit in this way. Fandom is something I still don't fully understand, even though I'm occasionally an active participant in that community.
posted by Fizz at 7:51 AM on March 18


I had a job interview this week for which I had to write a profile, with references, of Richard Branson, and then present my findings in the interview. This gave me the absolute rage. In the interview I was all, And another terrible thing about him! I've read two 400-page books about him in the last three days you know! By the way, have I mentioned this terrible thing he did?! Oddly enough, I didn't get the job, which I was fine about. But it may take me a while to recover from having-to-research-Branson outrage.
posted by paduasoy at 7:56 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


And, ocherdraco, best wishes - sending good thoughts and hope you have IRL support.
posted by paduasoy at 7:57 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Hmmmm....I got a lot of these. Rode an elevator with Beyonce once, walked Eddie Falco's dogs for a few years, walked Dave Mathews pup a few times and met him, used to drink in Mike Imperioli's bar, waited on Micheal Mcdonald, Isabella Rossalini, JFK jr many times. Refused to wait on Madonna. Waited on Arthur Miller, Art Spegielman, Niel Gaiman. Art Buchwald, Cronkite. AC/DC and about a dozen WWE guys at a SNL after party. Hung out with Gandolfini at the above mentioned bar. Spent part of 9/11 with Sandra Bernhard. Was asked by Salvador Dali's nephew Jeffery if I wanted to go to Florida and be in porn movies he was making, declined.

I probably have a few more.
posted by vrakatar at 8:16 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I had Molly Meldrum in my cab twice in one night, with pickup and dropoff in four different suburbs, completely by accident.

Lovely man. Good tipper.

I was glad of the opportunity to thank him for having produced The Real Thing, which was like my favourite thing ever for a good long while after hearing it on the radio as a kid. Also really cool to learn how he achieved the phasing effects on that track: mixing signals from two microphones, one of which was being walked around on a long lead.
posted by flabdablet at 8:24 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Thinking of you ocherdraco, sending hugs.
posted by ellieBOA at 8:25 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I had Thanksgiving dinner with Larry "Frank Burns from MASH" Linville once. Met Jello Biafra in the dressing room at the Fillmore at a Reverend Horton Heat show. And a friend and I laughed at the Dell Dude trying desperately to hit on two girls outside of an Indian restaurant on the UES one day after work. I know there are others but those are the ones that always come to mind first.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:06 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I am a not-sports person, but I did play Fantasy Football with then boyfriend for about three years in the uh, early 90s? So I knew a heck of a lot about football for a short time.

I was working at The Nature Company in Palo Alto, California's fancy outdoor mall, when Joe Montana came in with his wife to buy binoculars. I got to hold his gold credit card. They were very nice and we did not make a big deal.

The next one is a bit more obscure. I was at a tire place in Florida, waiting to see if they had a used tire that would fit my car. I wasn't sure if I recognized Darryl Talley - a linebacker for the Buffalo Bills. I was able to glance at his paperwork sitting on the counter and sure enough, Darryl Talley! (Buying pricey Gator Back tires, if you wondered).

I said "wow, Darryl Talley!" (or something equally silly) and told him I thought it was totally unfair that they made him stop wearing his spiderman shirt (He used to have spiderman sleeves showing under his jersey, but the league made him stop.) He was very nice, seemed entertained that I knew about him, and he showed me the spiderman tattoo he got on his upper arm to replace the shirt.
posted by Glinn at 9:17 AM on March 18


I went to a private elementary/Jr. high school (thanks, scholarship) full of the children of entertainment industry people. When I was 11 or 12 I played a hammed-up blowhard politician in a school theatrical production. A little later I was approached by a parent who introduced himself and shook my hand and said he just wanted to say that he loved my performance.

That man...

was Dennis Miller.

This story didn't age well.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:58 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


I'm on record on this very website about being very celeb phobic (I find the whole idea of interacting with famous people stressful, particularly if I'm a fan), but I still have a couple of celeb interactions to my name.

1) When I was a little girl, my dad took us over to shake hands with Johnny Cash in a hotel lobby.

2) I once had a long, weird interaction with Dave Matthews at a backstage meet-n-greet that culminated in him announcing to the room at large, "I just don't understand how there can be war and death and evil in the world when there are also shirts like that," and pointing dramatically to my heavily embroidered peasant blouse.

3) I got to meet Daveed Diggs after an amazing .clipping show and he was very gracious about taking a selfie with me to commemorate the occasion.

4) I'm nodding acquaintances to reasonably good friends with a bunch of pretty famous comic book artists and writers, but fortunately they weren't famous to me when I met them, so they all slipped through my social panic filter.
posted by merriment at 10:32 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I am really enjoying reading all of these— I love the weekend MetaTalkTails!
A quick detour from celebrity chatter—I've got a pot of chili on the stove, biscuits in the oven, basketball on TV, and a lovely cat snuggled up against me on the couch. Things are good right now.
posted by bookmammal at 11:05 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


And tell your stories to your loved ones!
Our family will forever wonder how our dad got Johnnie Cochran’s business card.
posted by calgirl at 11:27 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


I have an awesome list ^_^
Very first was Walt Morey in elementary school, who had a special talk with me and one other student. He was one of the people who contributed to inspiring me to follow my heart. Two birds with one stone: the other student he spoke with, a childhood friend, now works at 20th Century Fox Animation – you've definitely seen her work.

So many musicians I've lost count... and that means musicians I've spoken with one-on-one. (Not "just" seen in concert, I don't count those.) Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and Ellis Marsalis. Had master classes with Wynton and Ellis which remain among my favorite memories ever. Joshua Redman and Bob Mintzer as well. I also know most of the members of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies (no comment...).

My classical saxophone professor studied directly under Marcel Mule in Paris and told me many wonderful stories. As a musician in Oregon, I myself was regionally (PacNW and CA) known and gave more than a few autographs ^_^ To this day I carry the memory of two young women who traveled to our university expressly to meet me and say how much they'd been encouraged to go as far as they could in music, because they'd seen me win competitions no woman had won before. (yeah, i did that ^_^)

A couple friends are internationally famous but don't want to name them or allude to what they do as it's super-recognizable.

Yet another friend is a founding director of a cutting-edge cancer research institute and is one of my personal heroes.

One of my uncles is an ambassador.

I got to interview the director of Médecins sans frontières a few years ago.

And of course my personal favorite: I founded the very first catblog way back in 2001, and thus was privy to the very first cat to post captioned photos on the web, Le Chat Malo. disclaimer as always: had to close his blog since the traffic and comments pushed my server into can't-afford-it territory, and I never thought nor wanted to think of cats as money makers, so yeah, made nothing off that.
posted by fraula at 11:45 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Quick, someone take away my True Oregonian© qualification, I nearly forgot meeting Ken Kesey. He tells told riotous stories in person.
posted by fraula at 11:52 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I thought of a few more. I held George Clinton's hand at a meet-and-greet at Vintage Vinyl. Cheetah Chrome nodded at me when I walked by before a little show at Off Broadway. I gave Bob Pollard a high five after a Boston Spaceships set at The Firebird. At Matador at 21, I failed to recognize Lee Ranaldo and didn't let him get in line ahead of me for merch—after waiting a minute, he just went up to the counter and cut the line entirely. In the dark on the floor during a set, I also stepped on the toes of Chris Brokaw from Come. Our group ended up eating dinner catty-corner from Yo La Tengo at Lotus of Siam. We kept spotting various musicians and celebs throughout the Palms that weekend, including Smokin' Joe Frazier being pushed across the casino floor in a wheelchair and Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino at the buffet (yeah, OK, we're getting kinda D-list there). I've also been a journalist or journalist-adjacent my whole career; one of the cooler things I've gotten to do was be interviewed by Gwen Ifill at a town hall. I've also interviewed comedian Bill Chott.
posted by limeonaire at 12:10 PM on March 18


Back when I was a rather young and working in a chain bookstore at a mall, Ed Muskie came in and I sold him books. I also sold books to Stephen King and his family. when I owned a bookstore I osld books to Robert B. Parker, with whom I chatted, and there's a bookstore in one of his books that sounds familiar. When Carolyn Chute was an overnight sensation, we held a reading and CNN covered it; one of the staff's dad was a reporter.
posted by theora55 at 12:13 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I got nothin' for run-ins with famous people, but I did discover something curious today. I was watching clips of last night's Saturday Night Live. When I was a kid in the 70s I would watch this show while babysitting, and because I was very young and unsophisticated I didn't get a lot of the jokes. Now, I'm old and it's come full circle -- because I have made myself largely current-pop-culture ignorant, I don't get a lot of the jokes.
posted by JanetLand at 12:23 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


In summer of 2010, I was preparing to move to the UK to do my PhD in Linguistics at York. I was only meant to be in Boston for a week or so, before flying over. However, the first of many visa disasters meant that I was in limbo-land for another several weeks while I sorted things out. During that time I bounced around on several MeFite's couches (thank you all so much!) and then to my friend's place on Martha's Vineyard.

During my time on the island, there was a Film Festival. The main star/host was Matthew Modine, who I was (and still am) a HUGE fan of. I was wandering around Edgartown one day and I see him on the street, walking toward me.

I exclaimed, "You're Matthew Modine! Nice to meet you!" He was there with his partner and the three of us somehow got to talking and walking a bit. They were so, so lovely.

They asked me what I was doing there on the Island — I looked a bit out of place as the Islanders tend to fall into easily identifiable social groups. I explained that I was waiting for my visa to come through, as I was moving to England to do my PhD.

He then proceeded to give me advice about living in the North. He said England will be wet and rainy and grey and oppressive, and I will be trapped indoors under the weight of it all. But from that, I will do the best, most creative writing of my life. That's its gift, its beauty.

I thought about that advice a lot. It carried me through some pretty grey days. It was like he believed I could do it, before I'd even started. I needed that. Thanks, Matthew Modine!
posted by iamkimiam at 12:42 PM on March 18 [26 favorites]


I was at a Smashing Pumpkins gig in Sendai, Japan and Keanu Reeves was in the row (yep was ALL SEATING) right behind us and said helllloooooo in a very deep voice. (His band was playing the same place next night). Chandrasonic from Asian Dub Foundation asked me for directions at a festival in Japan, where Ian Brown gave me stinkeye for no reason.
I interviewed hungover poet John Hegley for the university magazine, I have more connections to mass murderer Harold Shipman than I'd like, I met Goldie from Blue Peter! when I was tiny. Okay scraping the barrel.
Probably doesn't count as a brush but I went to a Douglas Adams reading at Waterstones and was too shy to get Mostly Harmless signed so my mum went. Would KILL to time travel back and redo that.
posted by runincircles at 12:44 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Posted here before:

So I'm 21 years old. I'm working for a company called Aurea. It's an Italian gold jewelry company. Probably still around now.

Anyway. I was just out of high school and working at a cool place. They had a computer. It was more down than working. What it did was produce paperwork that I filed.

It was in the "diamond district" 45th Street and 5th Ave.

On my lunch break I'd light up a small joint, usually some kind of weird rainbow paper that tasted like strawberry or something. And more than likely with an name like Panama, or Thai or gold or something.

Then I'd walk to a place called, if I remember correctly, Panacea. It was a health food store nearby. I'd be stoned and then get something really healthy to eat. It usually had sprouts in it.

So one day I'm a bit buzzed on my lunch break. I'm walking to the health food store and who do I see? Fucking John Lennon and Yoko.

Walking toward me. Hugging and stuff. Me I'm wearing a cheap blue suit and a tie. But I am stoned. But I KNOW WHO THEY ARE.

I freeze in my tracks. I'm just shocked.

And as they walk up to me John Lennon smiles and throws me a peace sign. You know, the two fingers and Yoko throws me a kiss.

And I stand there. Mouth open. Fucking stunned.

And Lennon nods and they walk by.

And I'm frozen in a moment that I will remember forever.

When I finally get to the health food store I tell the guy at the counter the story and he's all like, "Yeah they come here all the time."

And I go back to work and tell the story and NOBODY BELIEVES ME.

But it's fucking true!

posted by Splunge at 12:57 PM on March 18 [11 favorites]


I realize that my shirt is soaked, and there are rivulets of breastmilk on the window

Bruce does that to a lot of people.
posted by pracowity at 1:14 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I thought of a few more. I held George Clinton's hand at a meet-and-greet at Vintage Vinyl.

Oh, crap, you reminded me of one!

I got to smoke up with Clinton and the P-funk outside of Neumo's a few years ago. (I can't remember if it was P-funk or parliament or what iteration, but Clinton and crew.)

Because I forgot my ID and couldn't get in. Which was fine by me because it was so damn loud in there you could hear it just fine outside, and so hot that they had to keep the door open so I could just stand outside where they used to park touring vans and watch for free after selling my ticket. Which I then spent on coffee and stealthy street beers.

Anyway, Clinton and the band went on a break, and apparently I didn't notice because I was talking to someone and distracted by rolling up a measly little one while. And since it's a break there's suddenly a lot more people outside smoking and it's getting crowded. I get it done and light it and hand it to whoever I was talking to when someone taps me on the shoulder.

And it's Clinton himself and he's asking "Hey, you wanna hit this?" and holding out a truly gigantic joint, his giant colorful head and braids and dreads just wreathed and steaming in smoke and all heavy, wild grins.

"Hell yes I do!". And yeah, it was really good stuff. Very tasty. And we just smoked. I mean, what the hell am I going to do, go squee or nerd out about dub or something? Hell no. I've got no questions, I can't tell him anything he hasn't heard yet and and I have no fears or doubts, either. For one rare moment in my weird-ass life, happily I've got nothing. The Funk is alive and I'm briefly in the presence of the Mothership and it's all good, and he knows I know he knows and I'm down. There was just nothing that needed to be said.

After the show my friends were deeply concerned that I must have had an awful time standing around outside not able to get in. Oh, yes, yes, just horrible, standing out here where it's not too loud or too hot, the beers are cheaper and I can still see the stage and hear it just fine AND SMOKING WITH CLINTON AND THE BAND OMFG YOU GUYS. Such a horrible time. Just awful.

This is still my preferred way to experience Neumo's, even if I paid to get in. They don't open that door as much these days, though, and I might have something to do with that.

There may be other moments like this that I don't remember for, well, obvious reasons. I've ended up at lot of random house parties and stuff. Back in my early raver/club days in LA it wasn't uncommon to end up at daytime after parties at pretty tony places up in Hollywood Hills or the canyons and stuff.

I know for example Will.I.Am used to go to the Club What? illicit afterhours weekly I used to go to in Hollywood all the time. Which I don't really care about, it's just curious. I wouldn't have been able to recognize him back then, though, because he was just some raver kid like the rest of us.
posted by loquacious at 1:52 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


I managed not to embarrass myself that day, but I passed by Roger Ebert at the Cannes film festival a few weeks later and said, too loudly, "Whoa, that's Roger Ebert!"

In the mid-90s, while waiting in the cab line outside O'Hare, I idly looked up and, indeed, spotted Roger Ebert going by. I think I was more struck by how much luggage he had.

My family has a couple of unusual early-20th c. celebrity connections. One is to the human calculator Salo Finkelstein, to whom we may or may not be related (he certainly thought he was, and everyone else in my mother's family thought he was, but my genealogist mother hasn't been able to find the link). The other is to Houdini via my cousin Harry Soref (who probably qualifies as some sort of famous person in his own right--that is, if you've ever bought a lock).
posted by thomas j wise at 1:54 PM on March 18


Oh, yes, star academics! When I was at UC Irvine as an undergraduate, I used to see Jacques Derrida toddling around campus smoking his pipe (he was surprisingly tiny). And while working at the Seminary Co-Op at the University of Chicago, I occasionally got to sell books to famous folks, like Martha Nussbaum.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:56 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


I went to college with Amy Poehler and once photographed the dress rehearsal of a theater show she was in, a task for which she thanked me.
I shook hands with Bill and Hillary Clinton at the Belmont Stakes.
Most recently, I passed designer Robert Verdi on the sidewalk.
posted by xo at 2:47 PM on March 18


I live in an area of London just south of Waterloo, which was incredibly cheap when I moved in twenty years ago, but not now. So my neighbourhood includes the South Bank Centre and the Tate Modern and all that. I ought to spot famous people all the time, and I suppose I do - Graham Norton walking his dogs (I think he lives around here somewhere), or Stephen Hawking getting a taxi outside the hotel on St Martin's Lane - what a palaver, that was, I can tell you. I saw Paul McCartney and his chums in the Royal Festival Hall bar before a Magma show in 2000. I don't know if Heather was there, but if she was that probably explains why she divorced him. They did the whole Theusz Hamtaahk trilogy. It's an acquired taste. Maybe one a year, though, which proves I'm incredibly unobservant, as the place must be crawling with celebrities. None of them I would describe as encounters, exactly.

On the other hand, I do encounter a lot of people who are top creators in their field, but as their field is children's books, no one would have heard of them. I didn't get to meet Maurice Sendak. I'm still a bit bitter about that. I exchanged trivia with Martin Handford once, twenty years ago, at a work party.

On the mysterious third hand, I play guitar for a singer called Philip Jeays, and performed with him at some of Robin Ince's Godless Carols shows at the Bloomsbury Theatre. It was an amazing experience, but a bit unnerving for me, as the green room was full of people I recognised, and I had to keep sending signls to myself to say "You do not actually know any of these people". So I was weirdly antisocial, even more than usual. I'm really not the best in social situations, at least if I have to remain sober enough to operate on stage, and often not even then.

Anyway, after the show I'm hanging around Phil, who's chatting to Robin and Barry Cryer and another person, who might have been Phil Jupitus but might not, and I suspect I was looking very uncomfortable. A very tall gentleman came over and shook me by the hand and said "Hello, I'm Robyn", and I didn't know what to do. It was Robyn Hitchcock, who must have noticed me looking uncomfortable and did what he could to help. I'd like to say we then had a long chat and everything was fabulous, but I suspect I lapsed even further into creepy monosyllabic weirdohood. Which is a shame, as I was an enormous Robyn Hitchcock fan, and I was hugely starstruck and touched that he said hello. Long story short, he's a god, is Robyn Hitchcock.
posted by Grangousier at 2:47 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I know of zero interations or brushes with anyone approaching the status of celebrity.

Does that make me famous, or what?
posted by mightshould at 2:58 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


A tall story and a short story:

I went to see Type O Negative in concert in 1997. In between the first two opening bands my friend and I went out back to smoke. We joined a small group of other smokers by the back door.
Then Peter Steele came out and joined us. He lit my cigarette for me. My friend Josh wasn't fazed at all and chatted him up, but I was tongue-tied. He was wearing head-to-toe leather - it was Iowa, in July...and he smelled like sweat and hot leather. Man, he stunk. He was also enormous. Not just tall (6'8", I think?) but large in general. It was like standing next to an ox. Anyway, we finished our cigarettes and we went back in. It was a great show.

When I was in grad school I worked at a coffeeshop. One afternoon, a black Lexus SUV double-parked out front and Billie Joe Armstrong got out. He came in, ordered a small latte, didn't tip, and left. He was shorter than I thought he would be (5'6", I think?) and he looked kind of like a really old little kid. Maybe like a little kid dressed up in old person makeup.
posted by Elly Vortex at 3:08 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


When I was in middle school I was sitting on my friend’s porch complaining about having to write a really long paper (probably five whole pages) to my friend and her aunt (Pauline Kael).

I was working late one night in lab when I remembered that there was a lunar eclipse so I wandered out into the courtyard/parking lot and a couple of people were leaving a lecture and that’s how I got to watch a lunar eclipse with Leonard Hayflick (Hayflick limit).

I got to hang out with Martha Stewart at work for a couple of hours. She was touring the gardens and was quite enjoyable to walk with - she was interested and asked actual questions about plants.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:24 PM on March 18


So, I worked at this cheesy "resort motel" on Lake Pend Oreille in 1992. One day I pick up the phone and this awful voice proclaims "I have a faaaabulous acting career and calling from Maliboooo" I wanted to reach through the phone and punch this guy's face. I had no idea who Ben Stein was. He stayed with us a couple times that year. I was assigned to him because I guess he was a big-shot and we got along OK, and his "fabulous career" schtick was actually sort of funny in a self-deprecating way. His "my aaaangel from heeeaaven" kid was a fucking brat. I didn't come to hate his rotten guts until years later.

I hooked up Kevin Bacon's VCR, and protected his family from the gaggle of girls on staff -- it doesn't take six of you to deliver a room-service cheeseburger. Kevin and his family were very nice folks.

The place had a truly horrific 1977 Mercury limosine. Filthy, tended to break down whenever whereever. Besides shuttling Mr Steeeeiiiin to and from Spokane, once I had to pick up Roseanne Barr at the airport and take her to some countryside place in N Idaho. Shortly into our trip she proclaims "this CAR is a PIECE of JUNK!" to which I could only shoot her a look in the rearview mirror and proclaim "YOU'RE telling ME?" My reward was a genuine trademark cackle. So yeah, I made Roseanne laugh. There was a bit of idle chat and more bitching about the car. I just pretended she wasn't famous and prayed the car would keep running until she was out it.

I met Danny Elfman after an Oingo Boingo show, 1982-ish. I offered to help the crew offload after the show in exchange for an autograph on my LP cover, and they accepted. Here's this little guy curled up fetal-position in a huge overstuffed chair in a tiny room behind a bar, and I swear he looked scared to death, being interviewed by some college radio guy. I got my autograph and split, the vibe was weird.
posted by wallabear at 4:18 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


I used to work at Tulane University. One day I was crossing the street (St Charles) to the streetcar and walked out in front of some sweaty looking jogger. He gave me a mean look, and I thought "that dude looks a lot like a skeletal Mr Clean"

A second later I realized it was James Carville.
posted by mostly vowels at 4:30 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Does John Scalzi count as someone famous?
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:52 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


Once at my home bar in New Orleans I was feeling fancy on my birthday. It was a night for a tiny hat with a tiny veil on it, you know that feeling. A few drinks in and I was picking somgs on the jukebox when someone next to me said ‘I just wanted to tell you you look good‘ and I turned and it was Laurence Fishburne.

I have no game, so I said ‘thank you, it’s my birthday‘ and sloshed back into the booth with my friends.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 5:09 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Oooh! Forgot one.

Following blockbuster disaster flicks in the '70's, Irwin Allen produced an absolute dog for TV called "Fire!". It was filmed in my little high-school town, and starred Ernest Borgnine. We wandered over to a set one day just to check it out. We're hanging out and things are slow, and this guy I recognize comes wandering over. Nicest guy, really friendly. He's chatting away about sets & stuff and what's going on.

Because it's the '70's and I'm a cool 16 year old kid, I whip out a smoke & light 'er up.

EERIE silence descends. Ernest Borgnine turns to me and puts on his trademark murder face, gets in real close and whispers, "You put that out RIGHT NOW." Dude literally turned my blood to ice.

I've always had immense respect for Mr Borgnine.
posted by wallabear at 5:11 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Waited on Merv Griffin, Callista Flockhart, A.E. Hotchner. Walked Richard Serra's dogs. Bumped into Harvey Kietel a bunch in Tribecca while doing the dogwalker gig. And this from the Lost in Space thread a while back:

Fond memoery dept. calling: In late 97/early 98 I was working at a Venetian straunt on 53rd street or so. I was told one night I'd be having a PX ten top, everything had to go perfect, etc. I was new-ish to the place so this was also a step forward in trust on their part.

Anyway I greet the table and start taking a cocktail order, and get around to the guest of honor and he cocks his head a bit (but I still can't see his face, I'm standing right behind him) and barks out "I'll have a Tahnquery and tonic with a splahsh of Dubonnet" and in spite of myself I said "Dr. Smith!" It was just before the 98 movie came out, I think the whole starring cast was there. But it was the first "celeb" I can remember waiting on in NYC, and I used to watch reruns on channel 56 or 25 or 38 in central Mass. as a kid. Dr. Smith was very real to me and I'm so glad I had the chance to bring him that drink.


There are more, I'll try to remember.
posted by vrakatar at 5:20 PM on March 18


I have so many of these, it’s hard to recall them all.

Briefly, my ska band in high school took Rankin Roger (English Beat) on a tour of our home town after stalking his tour bus after a show. Lived in a house where Primus played before they blew up. Also Michael Franti (while in the Beatnigs before Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisey and Spearhead) played there. Used to run into members of Camper Van Beethoven all the the time in Santa Cruz, typically late at night in a place like Denny’s. Patrick Stewart was a regular patron of Shakespeare Santa Cruz Festival where a number of my good friends worked so I attended numerous parties and social events with him. Jello Biafra took a French fry off my plate at a diner in the Castro after I told him I was a huge fan. My first semester at med school, I flew home to California seated next to Ronnie Lott (pro bowl free safety of the multiple super bowl winning 49ers of the mid 80s) — he was weirdly and persistently complementary of young people going into medicine. When I lived in DC, there were many political celebrity sightings: Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Bill Maher holding court at the Old Ebbets Grill. I had a friend who was a school teacher at Sidwell Friends and saw Chelsea Clinton several times while driving my friend home. Dave Matthews currently lives in my neighborhood and goes to my gym and I see him so frequently I try not to note it because he is so obviously trying to be a normal Seattle husband/father guy. My niece is in the same 2nd grade class as Amy Adams’ daughter in L.A. and I’ve made small talk with her at a Laser Tag place where my niece was having her birthday party. I tried on hats with Tom Petty at Meyer the Hatter in New Orleans when he was there headlining Jazz Fest. Everyone’s favorite sci-fi author Ted Chiang is in a book club with my wife and he’s been to our house a few times.

Anyway, my favorite famous person story was when I lived in Berkeley in the early 90s. One of my housemates was dating Tre Cool (Green Day Drummer). He basically lived with us, or at least spent the night most nights. He was kind of a silly punk doofus. Green Day was still a local band but they’d signed to Lookout records and they were very very good. We had a party and they wanted to play our house and we were like Sure! Didn’t quite expect them to plaster the whole East Bay with flyers for “FREE GREEN DAY SHOW!” Anyway, what I heard of the show was fucking awesome but I was a little stressed out working the door and trying to keep a handle on the like hundreds of east bay punks that came to my house that night. I also hooked the band up with weed on several occasions, driving their van to some friend on mine’s house to make a deal. All of this happened about one hundred years ago and I’ve loved everything Green Day has done since making it big.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:20 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, when I was a kid I was on the same plane as Gary Coleman. I was amazed at how small he was and also how completely embarrassed he was by his parents and wanting to be an anonymous normal guy he seemed.

I also was on a plane with Hillary Swank coming back to Seattle from Tokyo and going through customs with her at like 3 am.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:28 PM on March 18


About 30 years ago, well before his fall from grace, I was at the Blue Star petrol station on the Warrego Highway, which was famous locally for having the best hot chips in Ipswich, and Rolf Harris was next to me ordering a meat pie. After we'd got our respective orders I sat with my friends at one table and Rolf and his mate were behind us and as I was far too cool to say hello or acknowledge him I just spoke very loudly to my friends about the PLAY THAT I WAS IN and how VERY SERIOUSLY I WAS TAKING IT.

I cringe, even now.
posted by h00py at 5:54 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


The Vintage Vinyl mention jogged another encounter loose.

I saw OKGo there after their self titled album hit. Mtv had put out a mixed CD of new bands to know and were supporting them in a series of small concerts with VJ appearances. I saw OK Go at Vintage Vinyl with iirc Damien Fahey.

After the concert they band was signing merch from a table set up on the stage and I was in line in front of Fahey. He had teenage girls trying to cling to him and he seemed uncomfortable and tried striking up a conversation with me because I was older. Joke on him though, because I was so socially awkward I just mostly smiled and looked pained. He just talked about being from NYC and how weird it was to be in a city with trees all over and grass.

OK Go were charming in that smelly boys in a van having an adventure way.

Then they made that first video and blew up.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 5:58 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


A couple of weeks ago, I saw my favorite bass player, Dave Schools from Widespread Panic at a club in Marin. I'm super awesome at conversation and breaking the ice, so I was like "HEY", and he was like "hey." Later, I was like, why didn't I say "DAVE, WHAAAT'S UPPPP", but you know how it is. You always think of the pithy remarks later. Highlight of my month though.
posted by gt2 at 6:07 PM on March 18


I accidentally chatted up Alec Baldwin one day (ran into him walking his dogs while I was walking mine) - I wasn't wearing my glasses and he was far enough away that I couldn't quite see his face, so had no idea he was anyone famous. Our dogs said hi, I was chatting away about the dogs, and he was pretty nice about it. I realized about 30 seconds in who he was by his voice. Since then, his dogs have lunged at my dog every time we see them and are total jerks (and he does nothing about it, so we are no longer cool).

I have also had a couple of dog-led Ron Perlman encounters and he was just totally nice and normal-neighbor-ish. Similarly, I've also met Fran Kranz and Jennifer Carpenter through my dog.

Moral of this story is that my dog is way cooler than I am.
posted by snaw at 6:25 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


A not-very-near-miss... Khrushchev visited Iowa in 1959 and as a kid I was really excited when a Russian delegation toured our farm then. I kept looking for the head-red himself, but it turned out he wasn't with them that day. Disappoint.
posted by ClingClang at 6:28 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


I'm in Little Rock, Arkansas right now, and while I end up missing the local MeFites, I'm sure I'll bump into Bill or Hillary one of my few days here ;)

I saw Alfred Darlington while waiting for show in Los Angeles, and all I could think to say was "Daedelus!" He looked my way and smiled while I grinned like an idiot and said nothing else.

I found a back-stage pass to Nine Inch Nail's show in a college gym in 2005 (link includes a link to an audience recording! You can hear Trent say "this could be the weirdest place we've ever played" in March of the Pigs) and I waited and waited for someone to come and say "so, someone's here to see Trent, right?" and I'd jump up and say "Yeah, that's me!" ... but it never happened. Instead, a fellow college radio DJ interviewed the opening band, and after 15 or 20 minutes I went back out to see my friends. I might have even wandered back to look at the tour bus, but there was no one outside waiting to welcome me in or anything, and I lacked the gumption to just knock on the door and say "hey, I found this at the show - you were great! How is it going on tour with band-mates who are half your age?" or something like that. (OK, I wouldn't have said that last part, but it was weird seeing him looking like a dad, raging out with a backing band of kids in their 20s. Still, tons of fun.)

At that same "venue," I saw Woody Harrelson give a talk about environmental ... stuff, in which his inspiring catch phrase to rally the troops was "We're being Wookied off the rock! We're being Wookied off the rock" (See, his story was about how he was in Hawai'i with his dog, Wookie, at this beautiful pond or little lake with a waterfall, but while he was sitting on this rock, his dog kept nudging him off the rock, little by little. I'm sure you know the feeling, right? Beautiful scene, pushed into the water by your dog?) Woody talked to people afterwords, but I was kind of miffed at his stupid story, so I didn't have anything I wanted to ask him.

Dave Eggers also came to Cal Poly when I was there, and a friend of mine gave him a compilation from our college radio station, which made him happy. I had nothing to give him, or say to him, though I was fond of his work and McSweeny's.

Jeff Bridges came and talked to my little high school video class in Santa Barbara, CA, because the teacher knew him, and this was in the mid-to-late 1990s, but before The Big Lebowski had put Bridges on the map for any of us, so we watched a "highlight reel" on VHS that our teacher put together before Jeff came to our class. And luckily when he did come, our teacher's daughter also came, because she had questions to ask, where the rest of us were dopey high school kids who had no idea who was talking to us and what we should ask him.

In short, I'm not very good about doing anything with celebrity run-ins.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:08 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I was crossing the street in Northampton, MA, in the early 1990s. Crossing in front of me was a guy with glasses and brown curly hair. I didn't really notice him until the other guy crossing at the same time said, "holy shit that's Kurt Vonnegut."

I have autographs from Joe Jack Talcum and Dave Blood (RIP) of the Dead Milkmen after meeting them after seeing them at my first show with a mosh pit at the Rat in Boston, circa 1990.

A friend and I were going to see Morphine in Northampton in 1995 or so, and were having dinner at a restaurant across the street from the venue (Sylvester's and Pearl Street) we were the only people in the dining room besides Mark Sandman and a couple of his bandmates. I was too starstruck to approach him but I'm sure he noticed me staring at him.

I was standing outside the Swedish-American club in San Francisco in during the 2002 NoisePop festival. Daniel Johnston walked right past me and got into a beat up car parked at the curb.

I took a class at UMass Amherst in 1992 from Samuel R. Delany.
posted by bendy at 8:20 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Our plumber is the great-great-nephew of Auguste Renoir.

Yeah, that‘s all I got.
posted by The Toad at 8:37 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Here's a few more. Houston early 1960s, house blues singer in my favorite club was Esther Phillips. She and I got friendly, while she was on the downslope from drugs and had lost recording contracts. Not too long after, she hit big.

Koko Taylor, mid1980s Asheville NC. She performed and then came to our table as my boyfriend was a music journalist. She was a tiny, fierce person but lots of fun to talk to.

SF convention in Greenville SC, 1990s (I think). Met Lawrence Watt-Evans, world's most boring voice who turned out to be a monologist. Several authors and fans were rolling their eyes. Lured him into an "obscure author" contest, which I won (hello, used-book seller here). And he went away miffed. Also met Roger Zelazny and Ben Bova, both very nice.

One of my great pleasures was meeting Octavia Butler at a con in Knoxville in the 90s. I got to sit and talk to her after a panel for about 20 minutes, then she had to go off to her appnt. She was an impressive woman and I was so sad when she died.
posted by MovableBookLady at 8:42 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Buddy Guy used my fingernail as a guitar pick. He came down into the audience and grabbed my hand. I didn't know what to do at first, but he guided me, onto his guitar.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:52 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


My dad (and his brothers) beat up Bruce Springsteen...

When they were 10. Bruce lived in the next town over to where my dad grew up in a house that I can best describe as ... stucco with a wrought iron fence... My dad decided to take us there and show us the house once when we were a bit older. And we knew we were going to Bruce Springsteen's House. And he said, you remember the story where that kid that ran over my leg with his bike and broke it? Yeah... that kid lived there.

So... yeah, after my dad and his brothers tracked down the kid - post my dad in his cast, the four of them beat the snot out of him. My dad (and his brothers) beat up Bruce Springsteen. I can't think of a single Springsteen song that my dad didn't love... that they all didn't love. It was part of NJ culture that seemed to transcend petty squabbles such as 'hey, asshole, when you were little - that was my leg you broke.'
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:55 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


fraula - omg I remember Malo kitty!!!
posted by davidmsc at 11:08 PM on March 18


Many brushes with celebrity. I have met Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, George HW Bush, George W. Bush and Joe Biden. When I say met, for all but Bill and Hillary, I just shook their hand and got a photo with W. Also have a photo of me and Chris Christie who was at the Bat Mitzvah of a dear friend's daughter in NJ. Watching Chris cut the rug with his wife was freaking funny and doing the Hora even funnier still. I literally bumped into Phil Lesh at the Woodlands Market in Marin. I had my head down looking for something and walked right into him. "Excuse me. Mr. Lesh? Thank you for all the good times you created for me." He just backed away slowly. Also had a cigarette (and I don't smoke) with Bob Weir after a Weir Wasserman show at the Marin County JCC. He was hanging out by himself smoking a cig and the only thing I could think of to ask was, "Can I bum a cigarette off you?" Also ran into Warren Haynes at the Stop & Shop grocery store here in Westchester County. Like an idiot, I asked him what he was doing in the grocery store. His answer, "I gotta eat too." He then introduced me to his son and chatted me up about Gregg Allman. It was right after Gregg had died. I have also met and did tequila shots with Dave Matthews and at the same time Andy Roddick who was a guest of DMB.

But, I am sort of clueless as to celebs. My kids love this story: I am at a Yankee game. Actually, I think it is the game where Derek Jeter dove into the stands against the hated Red Sox and made an incredible catch. We had really good seats, my friend and I, on the third base side about 6 rows from where Jeter hit the stands. A man and a woman walk down the aisle past my seat. I was on the aisle. The guy I am with says, "That is Jay-Z". I had no clue who he was at the time. I said to my friend, "Will my kids know him?" "Absolutely". So I get up with my ticket stub in hand and for some reason I had a black sharpie with me. I walk up to him and say, "Excuse me, Mr. Z. Can I have your autograph for my kids please?" He looks at me and said, "Mr. Z? Sure." And he signed. Immediately, a lot of people started down the aisle to get him to sign. I apologized profusely for starting such a commotion. "I didn't even know who you were. I am so sorry." He replied, "I know you didn't know. That is why I signed. You really are getting it for your kids. Don't worry about these people, my security will clear them." I walked away. Later on, as he walked up the aisle past my seat, he offered up his hand to me for a high five which I obviously did.
posted by AugustWest at 11:22 PM on March 18 [20 favorites]


Back in 2003 I made my second and final visit to the NYPL Science, Business, and Industry Library to track down some tricky references for grad school.

As I was walking out this younger kid dressed like, well, a younger kid goes up to a man wearing a suit and carrying a backpack and exclaims loudly "You're Hans Blix!".

The man replied in accented english, "No I'm not... I do not know who that it is." The kid was very insistent and followed after him yelling, "You're Hans Blix" as the man shook his head and walked away.

It was totally Hans Blix.
posted by NormieP at 11:37 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Hugs and thoughts, ocherdraco!
posted by Harald74 at 12:32 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Reading the last few from Bendy, Limeonaire and others surfaced a few more. I lived in Cambridge and Boston and worked part-time jobs at the not-kinkos-copyshop where all the Harvard GSD, HIID, Shambalah Press, NBER, and zine and indie music people came in. Odd mix. Waited on Nash Kato and Eddie Roeser from Urge Overkill when they were making some fliers or something. Dr Ahmed Fishmonger of The Church of the SubGenius worked there at the time and we were neighbors, too. He helped throw a going away bbq party for me the first time I left town in 1990, and Peter Wolf of J Geils showed up--totally random--he was pretty low key and quiet.

When I moved back I worked at a book store in Harvard Square for a while. Mark Sandman used to come in all the time. He was such a nice guy. Lots of professors and authors, of course. Two impressed me the most: T.C Boyle and Jimmy Carter. President Carter was just as down to earth as he is often portrayed. There was no parking out front, so his car and one driver/guard I guess pulled up to the delivery entrance out back, in the alley, with the dumpsters. He sat in our crappy break room for a few minutes before going out to sign books. He was just as gracious to each and every person and shook my hand warmly. I still have a signed copy of, "Turning Point: A Candidate, a State, and a Nation Come of Age."

Oh, and shows in Japan! You can wind up seeing and then talking with big western stars in relatively small theaters and it is easy to find them after the gig. Dave Grohl--seemed like a super nice guy--I didn't really talk with him because a friend was SUCH A BIG FAN you did not want to get in between them. And, I once slapped Lux Interior on the ass during a show in Nagoya. He turned and threw the mic and beaned me right in the head and retrieved it without missing a beat.
posted by Gotanda at 1:11 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


I’ve seen plenty of celebrities around London, mostly people who wouldn’t be well-known outside the UK — Colin Jackson, Dara O’Briain, Daley Thompson, James Nesbitt. In fact I walked past Jeremy Hardy yesterday.

But in the genuinely famous category, I saw George Best in the pub in Chelsea, although I think he was basically there all the time, sadly. And I was in the same restaurant as David Bowie and Iman once.

And I saw a very famous actor in tears in a shop in London, maybe just because of the stress of Christmas shopping, who knows. But the idea of having that kind of moment in public and everyone around you knowing who you are is just horrifying, so I won’t say her name.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 2:28 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I once answered my phone to find Nathan Fillion on the other end, acting as my friend's personal secretary for lolz. We had a brief but very nice chat and then he passed her phone back to her and I made high pitched noises down it.
posted by halcyonday at 3:40 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


I was a waiter at a restaurant in Chicago called Blue Mesa; it was on Halsted St. Periodically, say every six weeks or so, we’d get a weeknight call and a few of us would stay at closing time. after 11pm or so, Luc Longley and Steve Kerr, and their wife or girlfriend, would arrive and sit at the bar with their back to the foyer. Luc couldn’t see under the hanging glasses and his legs were so long that his barstool was pushed half a yard away from the bar so he could stretch. They tipped generously. Both were kind. and we always left them alone.
posted by lemon_icing at 4:06 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Bill Joy always traveled with a toothbrush, I hung out with him several times in th 80's as I worked with his sister (Comp Sci stuff). I'm pretty sure I've told this story before, but I had dinner with George Carlin at a memorial dinner. I'd worked with Joe Monroe (Radio). Joe had given him his first media job. George hosted a dinner for the station talent on a visit to establish a scholarship at TAMU. I've sung on stage at Lincoln Center with Luciano Pavarotti. I've stood in line next to Tina Turner at the Coop in Zurich in the '00's, Whoopi Goldberg at the Apple Store in Soho NYC in the '90's, Shared an elevator with Robin Williams in Lowell Mass in the '80's, shared a First Class ride back from Tokyo to London with Uma Thurman during her promotional tour after Gattaca. More recently, Sam Niell.

It's sort of silly to say there are more of the chance and not so chance encounters.

But, the one that probably most affected my life is Charles Green, aka Mean Joe Green. It was the early to mid 80's and at a time he was trying to establish a new family oriented restaurant chain. I was a young person with talent with computers. The small group I worked for (5 folks at the time) mainly dealt with support of Minicomputers (Wang, TI, DG, DEC) and what was then known as MRP and MRP II. Most of which was written in COBOL.

Me being the new member of the team, and the owner's network of friends in the restaurant business, he gave me the task of writing a real time restaurant POS /inventory / accounting system and handed me the code for MCBA in COBOL. It also had to integrate with multiple MICROS registers. Just for added fun he pointed to the Wang PC running MS-DOS 1.0 with one floppy and a 5mb winchester. Which, btw only had compiled basic as a high-level language.

They mostly left me alone to figure it all out. I managed to do it and we sold it many times, but that's another story.

I demoed the system to Joe, and he bought it. I spent a year or so working with his businesses and with him setting it up at his various restaurants. I moved to Dallas, his wife took a liking to me and the three of us would hang out together. It lead to a job with Wang Laboratories, a powerful company at the time, and a couple of singing gigs at various NFL player's weddings.

It's doubtful I'd have had the life I've had without him.
posted by michswiss at 5:27 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


Then again, there was that time in high school in the 70's at a high school tennis tournament at the Woodlands close to Conroe Texas. I was in the club's pro shop, Afternoon Delight was on the radio and Farrah Fawcett walked in... It probably affected my hairstyle for a decade afterwards.
posted by michswiss at 5:46 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


I've mentioned this before somewhere else on MeFi but the lead singer for The Ataris (Kris Roe) was my then-boyfriend-now-husband's-band's biggest fan when he (the singer) was in high school. So Kris would be the kid hanging around after shows trying to be cool, trying to talk to the guys in the band. Then, at the just-starting-to-fall part of his stardom, he reached out to my husband and the other guys and started playing music with them, did a recording, had them play a song at an Ataris show, and then skipped out on paying for the recording (which he promised to do). He had left some of his equipment at the rehearsal space, so the guys sold it to pay for the recording.

This doesn't really count but it makes me swoon, so I'll include it: a friend of a friend's mom sat on the UNICEF board with Ewan McGregor.

My husband and I were unpaid extras in the movie Seabiscuit. He got to stand on the rails during the War Admiral/Seabiscuit race. I did not.
posted by cooker girl at 6:35 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Born and raised in L.A. I also drove for a limousine company for 2 years, so I've had run ins and 2 hour long drives with many, many celebs. Some I can talk about, some I can't. Some were really very lovely and some were total asses. I also live blocks from Disney, NBC and Warner Brothers studios. My local Mexican food place has a sign on the door that requests that you do not ask for autographs or take photos of the patrons.

Ocherdraco, thinking of you and sending all of my best wishes.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:53 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


My college friend dated Weird Al and is the one credited with convincing him to become a vegetarian. I don't know the details, but she was the one who decided to break it off. I got to talk to him on the phone briefly once. Just the other day she posted some backstage pictures of his recent tour.

My aunt-by-marriage (my blood uncle's wife)'s brother was best childhood friends with Eliot Tatelman. They played in a high school band together, and my aunt said she often saw him at their house growing up. When their father died, I chatted with him at the funeral.

My close friend is a cousin of Ernie Boch Jr., but says that the two sides of the family have nothing to do with each other; my friend doesn't like the rich blowhards, and the Bochs are afraid of being asked for money by the poorer relations.
posted by Melismata at 7:48 AM on March 19


Probably everyone who's lived in Cambridge for some time has encountered the late Prof Hawking at some point,

Can confirm. I was behind him in line at the cinema one time. We were seeing A Room With a View, I think.

I'm astoundingly good at not meeting celebrities, though. I'm never in the right places at the right times despite many many movies being filmed at places I've worked over the years.

My husband's cousin is a New York-based film and Broadway character actor of some repute and the whole family was all a-titter at who would be at his recent nuptials but the best we could do was David Chase, who I fully (understandably, I think) did not recognize.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:58 AM on March 19


I don't remember if I've told this story here before. In his younger days, the mister bore a slight resemblance to Jon Stewart. We got married young, when I was 22 years old and eight and a half months pregnant, so we didn't have a honeymoon at the time for obvious reasons. Our honeymoon came four years later, thanks to the mister bringing in the most assets in a national incentive contest thing his company did back when that was still legal. He was rewarded with an all-expenses paid trip to high end resort in Cabo. The total cost of the trip cost more than my annual salary that year. The room we stayed in was more per night than the monthly mortgage payment. That kind of place.

So one of the perks that came with the trip was a private yacht ride around the Sea of Cortez. We're in the harbor area still, lounging on this bigass yacht, drinking champagne and eating prawns the size of lobster tails, when we hear the yelling on a nearby booze cruise get louder than normal. We look up and there are a bunch of cameras flashing in our direction. And then we start to hear what they're yelling...

And that's my story of how a bunch of drunk tourists told their friends that they saw Jon Stewart in Cabo, but they really just saw us.
posted by Ruki at 8:49 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]



I always say that celebrities would love having someone like me for a neighbor, because I largely wouldn’t recognize them and so wouldn’t act weird around them.

Outside a venue, I basically blocked Warren Haynes’ path on the sidewalk so I could shake his hand. I waited around to meet all the Drive By Truckers and Big Head Todd and Jay Farrar. Near a venue, we were walking to the show after having dinner and met Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and their kids on the sidewalk. We spoke briefly to Derek and ignored Susan because even though we love her and have her solo albums, she looked so gorgeous and young and everything that we kind of assumed she was their nanny. We felt awful about it later. That was some years ago. My husband and I met Jason Isbell several times, most before his sobriety, and he was unfailingly friendly and gracious each time. His wife, Amanda Shires, played to a small crowd in a small room in my city, and afterward I went to meet her at her merch table. I already had all her albums, though, so she gave me a warm hug and a sticker. Extremely sweet, genuine person.

The day after a Roger Waters show in Nashville, we were in a guitar store, and G.E. Smith was in there. We didn't bother him but I goggled.

I refrained from bothering Sen. Barack Obama on his cigarette break once even though I really wanted to meet him. Regrets, I have them.

I’ve waited around outside to meet U2. Fifteen or so of us were standing around forlornly after everyone else had gone, and Larry Mullen came out to say hello. He was extremely conscientious in making sure that he had spoken with each person before leaving, had shaken hands or signed things or posed for a photo, very graciously. It was ten years before I met the others (a few times). The Edge tries to shake every hand that’s extended, even if someone is three rows back and snaking their hand between people. He’ll sign things and field questions (“Do you have any tattoos?” “Sadly, no.”) When it’s a bigger crowd Larry quickly shakes hands in a businesslike fashion but doesn’t stop to chitchat. Adam smiles and shakes and signs and is quite friendly. Bono has that extremely charismatic thing that one expects from someone in his position; he seems to slow time and really see each person during the moments he spends with them. He loves kids and will be particularly nice with them. Once he was trying not to speak much, to save his voice (before a show), and I fumblingly thanked him for his activism. He gazed keenly into my eyes for about a month (I think). Each of them is appreciative of the fans, over and over again. Very good sports about the whole thing.
posted by Occula at 8:56 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


I can't seem to get away from celebrities. Gosh, which story do I like most?

I mean, Michael Jackson used to rent from a video store I worked at. He'd come in in costume (hat, fake facial hair, wig), and everyone would point and say, it's Michael Jackson in costume!

James Caan used to come in. His eyesite was starting to worsen with age and his hearing didn't seem to be that good, so he would just bring VHS tapes up to the desk, toss them down, and say What's this? You'd say the same of the film and he'd squint at you and say What? Then you had to repeat everything.

He brought a movie up to me once and tossed it down. What's that?

Rollerball, I said.

What? What's it about?

I read from the back: James Caan stars in this science fiction classic about

Oh, that's one of mine, he said, and grabbed it away from me.
posted by maxsparber at 9:19 AM on March 19 [11 favorites]


I chatted up Elton John very briefly, whilst my boss, a set designer had me waiting for him back stage during Aida's run. I did not ask if he was Elton John because it was evident. It was a totally inconsequential chat because I was very young and wanted to seem cool. But I had been a huge fan as a kid and still kinda regret being SO nonchalant about it.

I hugged Boy George once. Or he hugged me. It was backstage at a concert in Boston. His manager was an investor in my company. He joked that I was too young to be one of his fans. He was very friendly.

I met Arvydas Sabonis when I was a kid in Portland. He came to a summer basketball camp I was at to wave to us, because someone obviously paid him to come by the camp for day. He is the closest thing to a Bond henchman that I've ever seen. A literal giant.
posted by French Fry at 9:20 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Until last year, Richard Jenkins lived a few streets down from me, and I'm so disappointed I never ran into him around town. I mean, on the other hand, it's also entirely probable that I did because Richard Jenkins has one of those "that guy" faces to me.

I met the cosmetic dentist who did David Bowie's veneers at a dental conference once (if I ever win the lottery, I'm totally going to him, he does amazing work) and then when I actually met Bowie years later, all I could do was stare at his teeth.

I briefly worked under the table at a club in Providence and Tim Armstrong of Rancid was a massive lying jerk who screwed me out of getting paid one night. It's been over twenty years and I'm still salty about it.
posted by Ruki at 9:28 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Oh my god you wouldn't believe who we just saw! Last month we went to Paris (from Berlin, it's not that expensive - not cheap but it was my 50th b-day and so you go a little crazy) and met up with some friends (who somehow scored barely more expensive tickets from NYC (Norwegian Air Lines(?)) which was a very funny and nice surprise because I got to drop in on them in NYC last spring.) My one friend has tastes that run a little ... uh... look I'm a snob, I confess, and his tastes run little broad - but he picked up the tab and the food was good, really good even - So what I'm saying is he suggested we go to this restaurant that is a bit tourist trap a bit office-outing a bit ... impersonal. But great food. But you could be in any big city restaurant where the food is better than average...
Any rate so we're sitting in this goofy restaurant, full of wine and talk and various kinds of fish, and for no good reason I look over and sitting at the table next to us but one is ... uh, because I've trashed the restaurant I'm not going to say who - he's a director who makes 'quirky' films, that I've all seen at least five times and love inordinately... and he's sitting there with his wife in that way that you sit with someone when you go out because you don't want to cook. Companionable, happy, unaware. Except that we're in this... silly restaurant. Paris is a big city and about every 500 meters there are at least two particularly good, chill, yummy restaurants. None of which this place was. And you'd hope that someone who has made such refined, intentional, thoughtful films would not... be here. Or if so then they would be in a big group that some studio is paying for. That here wouldn't be the place you'd go on a Tuesday because you don't want to cook.
I blabbed it to the whole table, tried to get the kids to understand, they've seen one of his films at least - they didn't care. My wife told me I should go say 'hi' but I can't see my way clear. And besides, he's eating dinner on a Tuesday. When they leave two of our party go and get a picture with him. I confess I was a little envious.
Back home the Berlinale (film festival) chugs into motion and his new movie is having its premiere and I kick myself because though I would never have been able to bring myself to ask for tickets, I totally think I should have. At least asked him how he liked working in Berlin.

I've read the New Yorker since I was twelve. Which was back around 1980. I read pretty much every issue for about the next decade. I also read back issues from the library. In the late 80's early 90's I worked in the Brill Building as a handy-man. Twice I had to get out of the elevator so Mr. Shawn could ride down. Each time I didn't realize who it was until he was gone.
Once, during the same period I was sharing the elevator with Ron Howard. It opened on some floor and there was an electrician there (that I was meeting.) The doors open, the electrician looks at Mr.Howard and says, "Holy shit! It's Ritchie Cunningham! I fucking loved that show!" Mr. Howard was really really nice about it, flattered that he was recognized and that his worked had been appreciated.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:33 AM on March 19


I sat a seat over from Nicole Kidman at a performance of "The Seagull" at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park in August 2001. Beyond being beautiful, she has a kind of otherworldly quality that was thrown into sharp relief by being set down among us sweating punters.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:38 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I once passed Don McKellar on the street in Toronto; the only thing notable about the encounter was how much information we silently and almost instantaneously exchanged when we made eye contact for about one-tenth of a second:

Me: Hey, I know that guy. Isn't that...?
Him: DON'TTALKTOMEDON'TTALKTOMEDON'TTALKTOMEDON'TTALKTOME
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:47 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


Bo Diddley's niece was our divorce mediator. The separation was very amicable and we tend to be DIYers so there wasn't really much mediation that needed mediating, so we spent a fair amount of time (off the clock) talking about her childhood growing up around the Black blues/R&B scene in Washington DC in the 1960s.
posted by drlith at 10:01 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


In 2016, during TIFF, I and two friends accidentally walked a mini red carpet in front of a hotel with Chadwick Boseman and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. We were super oblivious until paparazzi started snapping photos and then we noticed security trying to stop us. I'm notoriously bad at recognizing people (even my friends in out of context situations) so my other friends had to inform me of who we had just had our photos taken with (never attempted to see if those pap shots made it anywhere - hopefully not)

I also used to live down a very interesting looking alley that was commonly used to represent NYC or Boston and was near a hotel where famous people stayed during TIFF. This became annoying because the door to my unit looked like the door to an abandoned warehouse, so when the paparazzi were stalking a famous celeb or a movie was being filmed, they would block access to my place.

So one day, after a very long day of work, I walked right into a live shoot of a police chase scene (it was a bit alarming to see police cares come squealing down the alley/officers jumping out with guns- apparently when this happens I freeze). After i saw this, a very handsome garbage man (that I later realised was an actor) stopped me and told me I couldn't go any further down the alley as they were shooting. As stated previously - long day - so I pointed to my apartment door and said "you can't stop me from going home" and plowed through the rest of the shoot. Not sure if I saw any famous people that day (see above - terrible at recognizing people).
posted by devonia at 10:02 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


One time I was coming back from bottomless brunch and I'd...had a few, which can have a tendency to make me a little too chatty and outgoing.

Entering my apartment building, I saw a mother/daughter pair holding a clipboard and looking around in an apartment-hunting way, so, boundary-ignoring jerk that I am, I asked whether they were interested in any information about the building. Turns out they very much were and they asked me a bunch of questions about the building, the area, my safety, whatever. Of course, drunk me spared no detail and I talked about how I thought the apartments were nice but mildly overpriced, how the only intimidating/illegal activity I ever noticed in the neighborhood was sex work (and even that was very different hours than I kept, so I didn't really notice it often), the route and frequency of my dog walks, the amount of public drunkenness on different holidays, etc. I do think I gave them some useful information, but I really needed a stronger filter, especially when it came to the way I was speaking to this sweet-seeming mom figure.

At any rate, after I'd rambled on about money and sex and alcohol and dogs for long enough, my boyfriend [uncharacteristically politely] asked "I'm sorry to ask...are you Indra Nooyi?" For the unfamiliar, Indra Nooyi is the CEO of Pepsico. She's someone we both admire & somewhat relate to as she one of the most powerful women & one of the most powerful Tamil people in business. Of course only then did I notice the Pepsico Aviation clipboard and the familiar-ish face and I slowly processed the fact that I'd laid an extremely candid version of my day-to-day very bare to a woman I'd read about so many times.

I've seen several other famous people while they're doing their jobs (Oprah looks like...3D Oprah, which is actually pretty damn cool!) but my on-the-street encounters have been fairly limited. One time I waved to Ellie Kemper because my brain had only processed that her face was familiar but hadn't processed where it was familiar from so I guess I assumed we were friends?
posted by mosst at 10:35 AM on March 19


I work in theatre, and we occasionally have somewhat famous people come by. Anna Devere Smith made us hold rehearsal so she could vote for Obama in 2008 before she got on a plane to come out. (I get it, but it meant we couldn’t watch the election returns come in...). When she finally got there, she was pretty unreasonable and very diva-like. (We had to pull in a different sound designer to mix her stage monitors, because she didn’t like it that it sounded slightly different when she was standing farther away/closer to them. All she had was a single lavalier mic; it was a one-woman monologue show.) I didn’t care for her.

We also did a show with Marlo Thomas. She was also pretty high-maintenance, but at least friendly about it. Her husband, Phil Donahue, sat in the booth with me to watch a couple of shows and he was lovely. And shorter than I expected.
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:44 AM on March 19


I've recounted most of these before in various threads, so I'll link to those comments:

David Tennant

David Strathairn

Colman Domingo

Malcom Jamal-Warner, Fisher Stevens, Jeff Goldblum, Yoko Ono, Anthony Rapp, Roger Bart, B.D. Wong, Drew Barrymore (not a multi-star meeting, a multi-story comment)

Constance Wu, Cote de Pablo (another multi-story comment)

Malachy McCourt, who I actually just ran into again recently; he's 86, and still trying to kick ass.

Leon Uris and Robert Abplanalp
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:47 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I can’t believe I forgot about Paige Davis! She was amazing and friendly and we bonded over Trader Joe’s frozen Indian food (the paneer tikka masala with spinach basmati rice, ftw!).
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:48 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Someone on here (god I wish I could remember who) told a story once about how his mom apparently saw Tupac get killed and somehow failed to mention it to them for over a decade. Like one night they were talking and she just casually mentioned it like it was NBD.

I have a lot of celebrity stories (I grew up in NYC, where everyone does) but that one just really blows them all out of the water.

Edit: Found it! It was Etrigan. And I guess she failed to mention it for more than 20 years.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:24 PM on March 19


More New Orleans stories: in the early days of dating, my sweetie and I were wandering buzzed through the Quarter on Mardi Gras day and he said 'oh hey Trent' and Trent Reznor said hi. We kept walking.

Another MG day, stopping in my home bar at 11 am to take a moment (a pee stop/buy a drink stop/how drunk am I really stop) we ran into Johnny Knoxville, sitting at my bar, if you please, and asked him what he was doing there. He said, saltily, well what are you doing here, and somewhere I have a blurry polaroid to prove it. He was wearing a sailor hat, but I have no idea if it was a costume. I was wearing a lot of feathers.

I worked at a photography gallery (yes, that one in the Quarter) and we had lots of people come through. Our small staff always got to meet artists and interact with them to one degree or another. For instance I took Elliott Erwitt out to dinner on my boss's dime once.
The busiest book signing we ever had was for the country singer Marty Stuart, of whom I had never heard. He published a book of his own photographs of his memorabilia collection (Johnny Cash's guitar and Nudie suits, etc.) He was so dainty and small, and everyone who came was so excited about him, it was a mystery to me. He acted like someone used to that level of attention. Mystifying. We also had a very busy signing with Lenny Kravitz, who is equally tiny and acts like we all need to pay a ton of attention to him, but at least I can see the appeal there.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 12:27 PM on March 19


Just out of high school I worked at a coffee shop in the Bay Area, and I got to cater some events at an old estate in the hills... got to see Johnny Cash there for free, etc. In those days I smoked a lot (no, a Lot) of cigarettes. Lucky Strike straights. And I would just throw the wrappers on the floor of my Honda Accord. So one night I am catering the Spalding Gray show and taking the big coffee urns out of my car. I leave the passenger door open as I go back and forth. And on one trip back to the car I see Spalding Gray looking in the open door, goggle-eyed, at the disturbingly large pile of empty cigarette packs on the floor.

I see him and say "Spalding!" (It is possible I said "Spalding mon!" in an ill-advised Swimming to Cambodia reference.)

"Oh thank goodness!" he says. "I thought someone died from too many Lucky Strikes!"

"No such thing!" I said, and he went off to do his show.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:23 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Through my work in events i have cigarettes with a wide range of people. I cannot smoke on the job of course but during breaks, while they wait to go stage do their thing or i wait for their driver, or the next session or lecture to begin sometimes the speaker just finished and looking to unwind

During the event i tend to pace the sidewalk following the livestream on my smartphone, or hide by the trash cans with the catering staff for a quick smoke.
Fairly often if there is time this lead s to smoking companiably and usually silently with someone with a big name.
posted by 15L06 at 1:53 PM on March 19


I met Sally Timms from The Mekons at a show at the Empty Bottle a few years back. She's not such a big star in the world, I know, but in my world, she's the greatest. She was lovely and let me take a photo and chatted with me about the band we were both checking out (Algiers).
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:16 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Before my mom started dating my dad, she dated Bobby Zimmerman, before he was who he is now.

I have about... fifteen? twenty? A-lister stories (from stage, movies, and TV), but I was a stage-door Janey during my teens and early twenties, and was also stupid, as one is in their teens and early twenties. So by and large, they're not stories I can tell, and I'm flat-out mortified by some of them now.

(Everything was legal, if not always morally pure.)

On the other side of things, when I was 25, I was at Show Tune Sing-Along night at a local gay bar, and a very, very, very drunk gay dude was convinced I was Madonna. (I looked exactly nothing like Madonna.) He kept pointing at me throughout the evening from wherever he was in the bar, and I would make eye contact with the person he was pointing me out to, and every time we shared the same non-verbal exchange: "Your friend is very, very drunk." "I'm so sorry about my very, very drunk friend." The fact that literally no one else was coming up to me apparently did not help to convince him that he was wrong. It was an amusing evening.

(I wonder if the dude thought everyone was playing an elaborate practical joke on him, because he was dead sure that Madonna was hanging out for hours at Show Tune Sing-Along night at a small gay bar in Chicago.)
posted by tzikeh at 2:29 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Nowadays, my "celeb encounters" tend to go like the one I had when I was in Manhattan a few years ago to see... something? And I saw Richard Schiff standing outside the theater next to the one I was going into. We made eye contact, I nodded and smiled a little, and he nodded and smiled a little back. I like to believe that those nods and smiles actually conveyed the following exchange:

"Hello Richard Schiff! I recognize you! I loved you as Toby in The West Wing! I will not bother you, because you are just going about your day and I am past the point in my life where getting to talk to you outweighs my understanding of your need not to be accosted by a fan while you're just waiting until the theater opens its doors! I hope knowing that I think you're awesome makes you a little happier today! Please enjoy the show you are going to!"

"Hello person who recognizes me! I recognize that you recognize that I am Richard Schiff, and that your likely point of reference is Toby in The West Wing! I am grateful that you are mature and easy-going enough to recognize that this exchange of nods is really all you need, and that you are aware that I am a fully autonomous human being who just wants to take his seat for this evening's entertainment, and you therefore are not coming over here to engage me in what could only be a short and nearly meaningless exchange of words! I hope you enjoy the show you are going to also!"
posted by tzikeh at 2:38 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]


One of my pals crop-dusted Keanu Reeves at a club in LA.

True to his "Nicest Guy In Hollywood" rep, Mr. Reeves just smiled and waited for the bathroom line to clear.

We joke that tagging is the Gen Z answer to autographs.
posted by fritillary at 3:14 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Since you asked.

When I lived in LA from 1990-1995 I hooked up with an organization that managed fundraising concert events [I mostly did Voters For Choice events, but did a few others, both in LA and DC]. I was lucky enough to "work" events in exchange for an all access pass.

The work wasn't even close to being work.

"Hey, Rick, stand close to Bonnie [Raitt] while she greets some fans."
"Hey, Rick, you're the Indigo Girls bodyguard tonight."

I met lots and lots of very nice, personable stars [Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Bruce Cockburn, Ani DiFranco, Nancy Griffith, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Bruce Hornsby, et alia ... shit I wish I could remember them all right now], but mostly I got to stand on the stage and chat with the artists, and smoke some really good weed.

Out of the many years I did this a few anecdotes stand out:

1) At the Santa Barbara Bowl, we were doing an event with Jackson, Bonnie, and a few others, and I went up on the hill and got high with Jackson's tour manager. When I came back to the stage I was way stoned, and I settled in stage left to watch Jackson Browne do his set. He had just released I'm Alive. As I was standing there listening I feel a hand on my shoulder and a voice whisper in my ear "This is fucking great." I turned and it was John Prine. I was so high I think I just nodded, afraid I would speak too loudly and be heard by the band. But I was actually more star struck by this gentle man than almost any other.

Later that evening was when I was asked to keep an eye on Bonnie, and I was afraid I was too high. But I did it, and when I met her I babbled about how much I loved seeing her and Jon Prine do Angel from Montgomery, and her reply made me go weak in the knees "Thank you! Aren't you sweet to say so."

A little later Jackson showed up and we were all stuffing our faces at the burrito bar the caterers had set up. I don't think he was just wound up from the gig, as he joined our circle and started rocking on his heels and said "so, what are we all talking about."

2) A year after the Northridge earthquake in 1994, I decided to return to the DC area [I had packed all my stuff to leave the day Jerry Garcia passed], and when the organization came to town to do the Voters For Choice events they still called me to help. I had just met a woman I ended up dating for a few years, but at the time it was new and I was trying to show off. So I got her tickets to the show, and she saw me on the stage during it. Smooooth.

Backstage I had a really great time hanging out with one of the artists, who bummed a smoke off of me. I won't mention her name because she made me promise I wouldn't tell anyone, and I have kept that promise. But she was so sweet to me.

The next day, I was invited by a few of the crew to go to brunch ... I recall it was a sub-freezing day ... and we walked blocks from the hotel (Mayflower, I think?) to brunch and Jimmie Dale joined us. It was a small group, and it was incredible for me as a 29-year-old to be accepted by this group of older folks.

3) I think it was the next year that they returned for another VfC event at DAR (sorry, but that place has shitty sound), and two things stand out. One was being asked to show a police officer and his dog (officer Cupcake, I kid you not) so they could sniff for bombs before the event. I looked at the head of security (who also did security for Phish and helped me see some great shows with them too) because I had a bag of weed in my pocket and said "Um, do I need to go out to my car first?" and he replied "Don't worry, Rick, these dog specialise, and Officer Cupcake specialises in drugs."

After I returned I went to the production office and ran into Graham Nash. I asked him if he needed anything, and he asked me to run across the street and grab him a carton or milk (seriously!). Just as I was leaving the phone rang, and I reached to grab it, and he waved me off. He answered the phone "Production!" in a sing-songy voice. He listened a moment and then said "One moment" before covering the mouthpiece with his hand. I mouthed "do you need me to get anyone?" He shook his head and then returned to the phone saying "this is Graham." I loved it. he had screened his own call.

4) Also in 1994, I asked to help with an Indigo Girls Honor the Earth show at the Santa Monica Civic. We started around sunrise running errands for a list of things the artists wanted in their dressing room, and then I was asked to be their bodyguard [photos of me with Amy & Emily with my goofy stoned grin and the headset I had to wear. The woman with me in both photos was someone who's day I made from the #indigogirls chat room I actually hung out with when I first discovered the Internet]. The band was doing their sound check when the IG's publicity person approached me and told me about an overzealous fan who had been getting a bit close over the last few shows and had somehow gotten an all access pass. She asked me to handle it, but with strict orders not to get physical with her. She was in the aisle of the theater, and I slowly approached her and simply made small talk. Even though I was nice, she backed slowly away from me, and as we got near the doors I asked her a question about her pass, and quietly slipped it over her neck until it was in my hand. I pushed the door open and told her to enjoy the concert. I was told later that Amy & Emily had seen how I handled the situation and were so pleased.

I also remember that about the same time I was having my photo taken with them, that I asked them each to sign my access pass. I think Amy drew a car because she had seen me running errands earlier. The guy who runs the concerts yelled at me because I was on duty, and Amy told him to settle down because I had had a long day.

Golly, the floodgates have opened, and all the memories of another life have returned. I could go on, but I won't. However, I think I may need to add these to my blog soon before I can't recall all these details.

Thanks for the prompt. Hope I don't sound like too much of a prick.
posted by terrapin at 3:55 PM on March 19 [8 favorites]


In the late 80s I worked in a video store where both Eddie Money and Ross Valory (Journey) were (separately) semi-regular customers. Both had a habit of renting adult videos and neglecting to return them until the late charges greatly exceeded the purchase price of the videos. I once saw Eddie Money cut up a line on the glass counter to share with the store manager, which is probably why the manager was so generous about forgiving his late fees.

Brooks Robinson rented a video once, but I didn't know who he was until later. My husband will never forgive me.

Once I was managing Chuck E Cheese and I told the girls trading in their tickets that their dad looked just like Matt Stairs. They said "our dad IS Matt Stairs."

Yesterday I was ushering a California Symphony performance and Rita Moreno was in the audience.
posted by rekrap at 3:58 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


* There's a photo of John Schneider holding baby PBO, I'm not sure how or why this happened
* Sat next to Peter Coyote at a Cirque du Soleil performance
* I have seen George Lucas out in public a few times and chatted him up
* The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' dance guy physically collided with me at a show
* I was standing in line behind James Hetfield at Borders once, did not realize it until he left and the cashier was all omg that was James Hetfield
* My kid played with Amanda Seyfried's dog
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:33 PM on March 19


I literally brushed into Jay Leno when I was 14. We were backstage at the Tonight Show and he didn't see me when he came into the room (which wasn't unreasonable given the layout of the room and where I was standing). He started talking to someone and noticing me, physically backed me into a corner. I was too polite to say anything, but I remember thinking "should I tap him on his shoulder?" But then he left as quickly as he came, and I stood there thinking "well, there's a story." His shoulders were huge.

Last year I met George Saunders, but I was really nervous about shaking his hand and my palms got all sweaty. I tried using hand sanitizer, but that just made them stickier. So when I actually met him I said "it's really nice to meet you, but I've got sticky kid hands and you'd hate to touch them." He said "thanks for the warning," and stuck out his elbow -- we shook elbows instead. I was like "cool, made myself look like a weirdo in front of one of my favorite authors," but my friends were like "no, that made it memorable!" But I mean, weirdos are memorable.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:40 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I've lived in LA and worked in the industry for the last seventeen years. Most of my celebrity encounters are mundane. But I see Paul McCrane (Dr. Romano on ER, Emil in Robocop) fuckin' all the time. Shopping, at the movies, at restaurants. One restaurant in particular: Dr. Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas BBQ. (Mr. McCrane is from Texas and surely misses that state's signature BBQ as much as I miss Lexington-style chopped pork and spicy vinegar.)
posted by infinitewindow at 5:35 PM on March 19


Oh yeah, I worked for John Tesh and Connie Sellecca for a couple years.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 5:47 PM on March 19


Once I was waiting tables and the very nice middle aged man I'd been taking care of paid with a card that said "Donald Slaught." I noted that there had been a pretty good catcher with the Pirates and Yankees named Don Slaught. The man's wife nearly leapt out of her seat. "It's him! It's him!" I gather that as a solid but not star level player whose time came and went, he doesn't get recognized much anymore. His wife was tickled to death. He was a little sheepish but flattered. We ended up having a nice conversation about baseball. He was in town as a coach for the Yankees. I met other players with more star power on other occasions, but giving that retired guy some appreciation was more fun than any of the other encounters.

I mean fine, he wasn't Johnny Bench. But he was a career major leaguer and even an All Star once. That's something that deserves recognition.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:52 PM on March 19 [7 favorites]


tzikeh, your "acknowledge the famous person but also acknowledge they're trying to be a civilian" comment reminded me of another one:

The day that the Supreme Court ruled "yes" on marriage equality, I decided to stop by the Stonewall after work because by golly, there was bound to be some kind of festivity going on. And sure enough, various groups had gotten together a celebratory rally that day. I turned up and got to hear a couple speeches, but was wandering through the happy crowd, getting some pictures and soaking up the good vibes. At a couple points some t-shirted activists handed me little marriage equality flags - first one guy handed me a red one, and I took it. Then someone else handed me a blue one about five minutes later; I almost stopped them, but it was blue instead of red so I said "okay, sure". Then still another guy tried to hand me one five minutes after that. "I already have two," I said, showing him.

He hesitated, then leaned in and whispered urgently "we ordered too many and we're trying to get rid of them, please take one!" I took pity and did.

But there I was standing there with three little marriage equality flags. One would have done me fine. I was half listening to the speeches, and half figuring out what I'd do with the extra flags. Take them to work and give them to people? Maybe. I kept edging towards the back of the crowd; letting others have the good views of the speeches.

And that's when I saw Ian McKellan get out of a car and start edging towards the crowd. He had on a white straw hat with a rainbow hatband, and his attention was fixed on the stage where the rally's speechmakers were. And so was everyone else; I was maybe one of only three people who even noticed him (I saw a couple of people furtively point and whisper, with "is that...." looks on their faces). He drifted towards where I was standing in the crowd, not paying any attention to me, trying to listen to the speeches.

And on the one hand I'm thinking "omigod it's Ian McKellen from Gods and Monsters and Lord of the Rings and stuff", but on the other hand I'm thinking "....He's also probably wanting very much to just be a guy celebrating this victory." So after a moment, I just turned around, held out one of the flags and said "Mr. McKellan, would you like a flag?" He smiled a bit, nodded and quietly took one, and I smiled back and slipped to another part of the crowd, letting him be Just Another Guy in that crowd.

Only much later did I realize I should have called him "Sir Ian" but oh well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:22 PM on March 19 [13 favorites]


Oh yeah. I've been to the Skywalker Ranch twice. Once with a guy I was dating who worked on Knights of the Old Republic. There's an observatory on the ranch that employees are allowed to use. We drove in through the security gate and he picked up the mechanism of the telescope from the guard in the booth.

The second time was the annual fourth of July party for employees. Spielberg was mingling and posing for photos. I think my friends and I were just posing for photos near him and trying to get him in the background of our shots. And by background I mean us in the far edge of the shot -
probably even cropped out - with Spielberg (and I think an Asian girlfriend) in the center.
posted by bendy at 8:51 PM on March 19


In terms of awesome things, I was part of a team of Ingress players who participated in a top secret "starburst" mission on Saturday along with 25 other cities around the world. PDX kicked the butts of the other 25 cities, 13 Resistance and 12 other Enlightened.

The Niantic "story" doesn't lend itself well to comprehension but here's a little blurb: Special shout out to the Portland Enlightened for upping the ante and setting a high bar on Day One.

Then we had a huge party.
posted by bendy at 8:56 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Not long ago I went to get in a lift outside my basement office and when the doors opened there was a pope in it. I got the next one.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 9:31 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]


I thanked Steve Ballmer as he was leaving the gym and overhheard Emma Watson complaining about how much she hated the Welsh at the cafeteria.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:21 PM on March 19


My mother helped take care of and became friends with Paul Tanner, one of the last surviving members of the Glen Miller Orchestra. She's got several things that he gave her over the years but the one that tickles us all the most is this animated flower-thing which plays In the Mood.
posted by vacapinta at 1:47 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


Rode the elevator with composer Alan Hovhaness, was not certain in the moment but I knew (pre-internet photos of composers were rather less pervasive) but still kick myself for being just too shy to say I loved his music.
posted by sammyo at 9:02 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


I once ran across classical pianist Claudio Arrau. I was heavily into classical piano at the time and recognized him instantly, so I kind of looked twice and he awoke from his afternoon-in-the-streets-of-Munich reverie and gave me a kind of rapidly suppressed coy side eye, like "this kid apparently knows me, but let's walk on." He then diagonally crossed a busy street and did not get hit.

From an inside perspective, this kind of encounters seems to be pretty tedious most of the time. I once was hired as accompanist at a masterclass with classical cellist Anner Bylsma, who on the way back from Karlsruhe to Amsterdam shared a train compartment with me (and a bottle of red wine, Clochard-style, or as he said: "glou-glou"). A very entertaining man, but when we changed trains in Arnhem, some random person came forth and started claiming that they had gone to the same school or whatnot, and Bylsma literally just ran away. I mean if you can't even take the train any more without being talked to by random strangers...

Story 3, not me, but my mid-vacation son, who one day was, and I quote, sitting in a coffee shop in Harajuku when a big, hulking American walked in. Then another, and another. Then a couple of stressed-out Japanese translators.
Then Justin Bieber.
As it turns out, he had arrived in Tokyo two days before.
He was wearing an ugly hat and sunglasses, as famous people do when they don’t want to get recognized; too bad his other clothes were eye-catching to say the least. That and being surrounded by bodyguards who drive you around in three black vans with tinted windows kinda ruins your disguise. End quote.
posted by Namlit at 11:11 AM on March 20


I ran into Brendan Fraser about 16 years ago in a coffee shop. I was sitting by myself writing in a journal, and I was in a terrible mood. He sat down near me and tried striking up a friendly conversation, but I was upset enough to glare at him and say "Look, I know who you are, but I'd really like to be left alone." He left me alone, which was nice.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:40 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


2003. Working as a bar-back and dishwasher in King's Cross in London. Start talking photography with the manager, who is very surprised that an undocumented Mexican bar-back and dishwasher knows their ISOs and f-stops and photoshop.

Manager is trying to break-through as a photographer, asks me to be their assistant for a photoshoot, £15 cash. We set up good lighting on location at a Jazz club and wait for the subject, an up and coming vocalist. We wait and wait and wait. Subject does not show up.

Stood up and dejected we go for a pint, on the way there we spot the subject in a launderette doing their laundry. Subject is unhappy and uncooperative. We don't care.

I use someone else's freshly laundered sheets as a reflector for some fill lighting. We get 20 or so snaps with crappy laundromat fluorescent lighting. The tint is all wrong and the pictures need a little retouching, but the end result is passable.

I leave London and never look back.

In 2011 I recognize the subject on TV.

I do a quick search for the pictures and turns out they got published in magazines and all. You can find the pictures too by searching for: Amy Winehouse launderette 2003.
posted by Index Librorum Prohibitorum at 12:43 PM on March 20 [21 favorites]


Chiming in here to post Mike Mongo's Randy "Macho Man" Savage story, because I still love it.
posted by knownassociate at 12:53 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


I sold a laptop and a backpack to Jessamyn once...
posted by mrbill at 3:06 PM on March 20 [8 favorites]


Oh yeah. Late 90s, this would have been '97, the 55th World Science Fiction Convention was held in San Antonio. I worked for an ISP that had offices on the riverwalk. Some of our boss' industry friends were at the con, so a SUV full of us went to attend a couple of talks.

Ended up in a random meeting room full of ISP folks and such, just chatting about random stuff. Talked with the guy sitting across from me for probably half an hour about techy things. At one point he moved and his ID badge flipped around. "Eric S. Raymond".

I looked. "Eric Raymond? ESR? Jargon File?" and he just *beamed*.

I told him of how I'd printed out the File on greenbar paper in college and spent hours reading it.

This was before he became a more opinionated jerk. So, I got to meet ESR before he became "famous" for more than the Jargon File.
posted by mrbill at 3:37 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


at next to Peter Coyote at a Cirque du Soleil performance

Oh hey if Uncle Peter counts I saw him just this summer :D

Having some family members who are a little famous means I've met a lot of famous people not quite by accident. Peter got married at Sean Penn's house back when Sean was married to Robin Wright, so I met them, that sort of thing.

The most recent is so weird though. Susie Bright (noted sexpert/author and one-time MeFite) somehow got me on the email list for her 60th birthday party. I do not know her. I presume she meant to email another Jessamyn. Or maybe she just emailed everyone in her address book and I am in there because we corresponded about MetaFilter back in the day. I did not RSVP (it is in California, I am not, I do not know her) but I am still on this round robin email list about plans and nonsense. Apparently there is going to be a boat cruise and then a hangout at someone else's house and lots of drinking and possibly even some drugs!

I sold a laptop and a backpack to Jessamyn once

And a shoulder bag! And I use that backpack every damned trip!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:35 AM on March 21 [5 favorites]


I was in the house band for a late-night show at The Actors Gang in Hollywood (before they moved to Culver) that was a remount of a show written by Tim Robbins. His brother was the music director. The after party one night turned into Tim's birthday party. I was leaving, and he and several of the cast were sitting on a bench in front of the building smoking cigarettes and jamming. He saw me and made cello-playing motions with his arms, so I took out my cello, sat down and jammed along.

William H. Macy was at the party, but I didn't talk to him because i couldn't remember his name, all I could come up with was Filliam H. Muffman.

I peed in the bushes outside Frank Gehry's house when I was showing some architect friends around greater Los Angeles one time.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:47 AM on March 21


My father was an Effete Elite East-Coast Intellectual (who worked for McGeorge Bundy), so I met a bunch of folks as a kid. I shook JFK's hand in the Oval Office. Thomas Kuhn and family were close friends. I had dinner with James Watson, Averill Harriman, George Kennan, and Freeman Dyson. Winona Ryder played my sister in a 1999 movie.

I sat next to Benoit Mandelbrot at a concert in Cambridge. I threw a house party for Si Kahn.

The best adult memory is working with the late Yuri Rubinsky, who was a tireless promoter of SGML (precursor to XML, among other things).
posted by Jesse the K at 1:36 PM on March 21


I've had a few brushes with fame, including with a person who is so meaningful to me that I'm not even going to talk about it (!!!) but one of my favorite times ever was when I went to a tiny house show to see John Vanderslice play, and we ended up chatting for like an hour and a half after the show and he tried to convince me and my friend to drive from PDX to Medford to see tomorrow's house show too. We really wanted to, but we couldn't. During that convo we were talking about my love for a certain song of his because of how deeply it spoke to me about experiencing depression, and he told me that he'd play it for me sometime.

A few months later some friends and I were gonna hang out in Minneapolis for a weekend, and JV was playing, so I emailed him and asked him to play the song - he said "It's not really a club song, why don't you come backstage with me after the show and I'll play it for you then." So me and my friends (who were kind of amazed that it was happening) got to go hang out in the green room with JV for a few minutes and hear him play "Dead Slate Pacific" for just the five of us, no mic, no crowd. There was a really lovely silence in the room when he was done. It made me cry. He had tears in his eyes. I will never forget that moment.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 2:25 PM on March 21 [2 favorites]


Jesse the K, I am pretty sure I met your father in the late 90s outside building E-40, just for a second. Do you think it could have been him at that date?

I would also count that as a brush with fame.
posted by Index Librorum Prohibitorum at 2:35 PM on March 21


...one time I was so obsessed with petting a complete stranger's cute dog that I didn't realize the stranger was Gerard Butler until I was walking away and someone said, "Hey, that's Gerard Butler!" to their friend.
posted by Fuego at 8:07 PM on March 17


Same with me, but with Billy Joel and his dogs in Greenwich Village.

I don't count meeting Ira Glass when I recorded my TAL episode in 2004 because that was for "work", same as helping rich/famous people buy and rent apartments when I was working as a real estate broker's assistant. I don't count any of the pop culture celebs I met while volunteering for anime and comics conventions, either. Same with meeting authors at signings.

However, on my plane ride home from APE 2004 in San Francisco where I'd been bumped to First Class, I did sit next to and have to wake up Lewis Black so that he could eat his food. Continental Airlines, I miss you so.
posted by TrishaLynn at 3:35 PM on March 21


Hmmm most of the "Famous" people that I've met are Vermont Politicians. Howard Dean, Bernie Sanders, Pat Leahy, but I would guess that nearly every Vermonter has a Bernie story or two. Leahy told my cousin to drink up at the VT brewers festival. Other than that I did get the chance to meet The Great One #99. It was at a small lake in VT and he had flown out to spend the week with one of the trainers of the LA kings who had a camp on the lake. The same lake that Jacques Cousteau took care of the docks in while he was sent to the US, by a wealthy aunt, to get away from the war.
posted by koolkat at 6:51 AM on March 22


Neil Gaiman updated me on my friend Jason's safety after the Tohuku quake in 2011, via Twitter.

I once sat next to Samuel Delany at his own bookreading, before I had ever seen a picture of him. I had arrived early and there was just one person seated in the audience area, dead center. That struck me as considerate and I emulated the choice. I talked with both him and my friends about how excited I was to see him and how much I admired his books. He did not introduce himself nor did I recognize him. It was not rude of him to fail to do so, as our conversational interactions were incidental. I was quite thunderstruck, but not at all embarrassed, when he rose to speak.

I've told on-site of taking a ski-resort cable car up a mountain with David Bowie as a teenager.

This Thanksgiving, Alec Baldwin stood in line with us to check bags for a flight from Seattle.

I have met Jello Biafra a couple of times, he claims to remember me from our first encounter but I am skeptical.

Jena Malone hung out with me and some pals at a SIFF closing-night party which centered on the rerelease of Donnie Darko around 2005 or so.

Elizabeth Cook and her then-husband Tim Carroll invited us to a gig they had opening for Mel Tillis and then introduced us after the show.

I have had journalistic interactions with Rebbecca Romijn, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Michael Moorcock, William Shatner, Dan Clowes, Harvey Pekar, and really too many more folks to mention.

I muffed the interview with Shatner and had to write from notes; he was gracious about the situation. Interviewing (and interacting online with ) MM was such a pleasure, and continues to be.

I kept Pekar on the phone for like two hours, which was a thing that he did, and the interview turned into a philosopical conversation about mortality and depression, which is a thing that he did, and it was an amazing, precious experience. I'll never forget it. I'm pretty sure I have a digital rip of that audio, I should dig it out.

I was once invited to a Museum of Flight fundraiser dinner and ignored the invitation, as I always do. I've been a member for like twenty years and the longer you have been a member, the more of these events they offer with fewer invited attendees. I'm not really interested in them so I usually don't examine the invitations closely. You'd think that would have changed when in this instance when I opened the invitation a month after the event I learned that the guest of honor had been NEIL ARMSTRONG. He had, it transpired, also made himself available for grip-and-grin pics all night. Man, I really regret not opening that envelope.
posted by mwhybark at 8:02 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


I walked past David Byrne while crossing 5th Avenue. He was carrying a cup of coffee.

I walked past TV's Frank Conniff at 8th Avenue and 23rd Street. He was not carrying any coffee.

John Hodgman did a reading in Philadelphia, and I helped him with a section on voting machines. I got an autograph and some bourbon out of the deal.

I paid John Roderick of The Long Winters $5 for a hug at a concert. (He didn't have merch for sale, so the hugs were the merch.)

I met the members of DEVO on several occasions, though they were all sanctioned meet-and-greet sort of deals at concerts.

Dean Clean of The Dead Milkmen has judged a couple air guitar competitions I was in.

I've become friendly with John S. Hall of King Missile fame, after attending a few of their reunion concerts.

Placido Domingo crashed a pre-performance party I was attending with a friend at the Met Opera, but we were too wrapped up in conversation to notice.
posted by SansPoint at 10:33 PM on March 23


I had dinner with Tone Loc (and a bunch of his people) in ‘90 or ‘91 at a jazz club called The Left Bank in Tampa. I was a teenager and thought I was cool, as teenagers do.

I used to date a comedian who opened for various musical acts. I met the Four Tops and Donna Summer through him. I even gave Donna Summer a massage backstage once (I used to be a massage therapist). This was at the Trump Casino in NJ. It was as gaudy as you imagine it was.

Through the same guy, I moved to LA and ended up renting a room from Jacqueline Lear, granddaughter of the Lear Jet guy. She threw me a birthday party and Don LaFontaine (the movie voice guy “In a World...”) came. LA is so weird. I also gave Elisa Donovan, Amber from Clueless, a massage when I was out there.

Of course, anybody who has ever lived in Bloomington, IN has run into John Mellencamp, usually multiple times.

These days Air Force One flies over the area where I live. Frankly, it’s closer than I want to get to the man, but nothing I can do about it. I do point it out to my kids when we see it.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:38 AM on March 24


For some reason my folks were away for the weekend, and so a family friend who worked at a Soho art foundation stepped in and invited 13-year-old me to Saturday lunch at a Japanese place near her house. When I got there, she casually mentioned that Andy Warhol would be joining us. I can't remember much of the conversation, but he did say he liked my shirt. (Yes, I looked it up in his Diaries - there is no entry for that date, so clearly he chose to keep my no doubt brilliant witticisms to himself.)

A couple of years later I rode the elevator, dumbstruck, up at least fifteen floors of our building together with John Belushi. (Shortly after, he was found dead in his hotelroom.)

For work, I've recently spent days on set with the star footballers of Real Madrid, and have always found it too hard to ask them for autographs myself. I overcame my star-struckness only with another celebrity, last year when, after a lunch together, I managed to ask Sir Tim Berners-Lee if he would be so kind as to autograph my netbook. (Though his wife briefly attempted to spare him from my inane request, he graciously agreed. Even now I'm not exactly sure why I chose not to protect his signature on the aluminium casing - as forseeable, it's slowly but surely wearing away.)
posted by progosk at 11:33 AM on March 24


My mother also tells a story about Philippe Petit commenting on our shared name, one afternoon when I was watching him perform in Washington Square Park - but I can't say I believe her. (My unending fascination with his escapades from back then is likely behind my new-found joy in slacklining.)
posted by progosk at 11:49 AM on March 24


I lived in New York City for twelve years, which is basically cheating with regard to celebrity sightings. Unfortunately it was wasted on me because I'm notoriously bad at realizing strangers are famous. But Russell Simmons stepped on my foot at a protest about the Rockefeller Drug Laws, Julia Stiles stepped on my foot in the subway, and I once had brunch at the table next to Molly Ringwald for about an hour without noticing. Oh, and Debbie Harry sat behind me at a performance and hurt my eardrums by whistling piercingly every time there was applause, and I had a long conversation about youth activism with Sonia Sotamayor at an event where she was being honored. For all I know there were more...
posted by centrifugal at 1:02 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Ten or so years ago, Jonathan Richman played a date at the OK Hotel by the Viaduct -- a stoned throw from Pioneer Square. As per usual I went and went early with my friend Sarah Katherine, so as to get in the front row.

As it turned out, the OK Hotel was not open at the time so we moseyed over to the Elliot Bay Bookstore, back when it was down on 1st Avenue and Main Street.

Sarah

Katherine had taken off and I was looking at new releases near the front desk. And I rounded the rack and there was the man himself, wearing the blue and white striped shirt he wears on Surrender to Jonathan.

My eyes must have went wide and I do remember taking a step back... while Jonathan, Jonathan did this rubber armed and legged swoon and looked startled as hell right at me, and then we both cracked up. So, we made small talk, during which I noted that he had used the word 'arcane' in two different songs -- Roadrunner and I forget which other but it's on Modern Lovers 88and then he said he had to go and I'll see you there.

Oh, I was stoked. I babbled on about it to Sarah Katherine, who really had no idea who he was.

She was not that impressed with the concert but what did I care. And then when he sang that other song, he looked right at me when he sang the line with 'arcane' in it. Boy, that brought out the teenage fan girl in me. Two swoons in one night.


Also, if interviews count, I've spoken to Peter Tosh, half of Firesign Theater and spent two hours with Rambling Jack Elliott. Which puts me at 2 degrees of Bob Dylan, mind you.

But most wonderful of all interviews was over the phone with the Reverend Al Green, just before he played Bumbershoot. It was so wonderful -- he has the sweetest speaking voice.

And at the end of the interview, I went into Gush mode and said something like "Oh, I have been a fan of yours ever since I heard Tired of Being Alone on a car radio in Kansas, especially when you went..."

And zippity bop! Al interrupted me with that high falsetto "He-e-ey, Baby!" Oh, man, everyone was laughing, me, Al Green and everyone in the hotel room from he had called me.

One of my most favorite memories, that.
posted by y2karl at 4:17 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


D'oh! It wasn't Roadrunner,
it was Old World that the word 'arcane' was first used in a Jonathan Richman song. Still can't remember the other one, however.
posted by y2karl at 4:55 PM on March 26


Well, alright, finally:

First, the song Old World from 1976's The Modern Lovers --

...I see the '50's apartment house
It's bleak in the 1970's sun
But I still love the '50's
And I still love the old world
I wanna keep my place in this old world
Keep my place in the arcane knowledge
And I still love the '50's and I still love the old world


Then, secondly, At Night from 1991's Having A Party with Jonathan Richman! --

Well the stars they go with you while you walk
and late at night you can hear 'em talk
When the daylight ain't but the planets are
the door to the arcane is thrust ajar
At night, at night, at night
That's when I get my bright ideas


So, it must have been the mid-90's when I saw him at the OK Hotel. That was so much fun.

And that was where, when after he came out about 20 minutes later, after going backstage after his last encore, and started packing up his guitar, a young woman came up and shyly and quietly said,
'You may not remember this, Jonathan, but I sent you a tape of Italian pop music and...

Oh, wow, yeah, you must be Cathy! I love Italian pop music and I play that tape a lot!'
Now, there is one of the many reasons I love Jonathan Richman. He is your full service celebrity: fills your tank, wipes your windshield, checks your oil and sends you off with a smile on your face.

He's coming to the Crocodile on June 13th, btw.
Now, there is your untrivial meetup concept, hmm ?

Oh, and PS.

There's a pretty young woman in her 40s who rides the same number 9 I take to work. She's a teacher, currently instructing 20 something parents and their grade school age children at the middle school near Rainier Beach high school.

And, anyhow, I've chatted her up on the way to work these past few months and taken a bit of a shine to her in the process.

And, today, after just getting the alert about the concert last night, I impulsively got up and walked back and asked if she would be interested in seeing Jonathan.

She never heard of him. So, I gave her the short version, she got interested and said yes!

And, Mwah ha ha, she has no idea of what she is getting into...

OK, now to dig out some JR CDs for tomorrows commute.

Well, whoo hoo! I have been experiencing lunar gravity all day. Life is momentarily sweet again and who could ask for more ?
posted by y2karl at 8:31 PM on March 28 [3 favorites]


(pssst, Karl, maybe that was more than ten years ago... the OK closed after the '01 quake and never reopened for gigs, didn't it?)

(on preview I see you have chronometricized this out via attributative logic)

(Al Green! Wow!)

(how's by you, by the way? long time no see!)

posted by mwhybark at 9:02 PM on March 28


Ten years, twenty years, what's the difference ?
Six of one, twelve dozen of another, sez I.
posted by y2karl at 9:38 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


I surveyed Elizabeth Warren's house for solar panels today. She wasn't home, but her husband was very pleasant. We talked about hiking.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:37 PM on March 30 [2 favorites]


Besides book signings, the only sorta famous folk are politicians. I shook the hands of every senator who attended the Wellstone memorial except Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia because I was afraid that I would cause injury due to my enthusiasm. He was so frail going up and down the steps to his seat. I got to watch the Clintons in action at the memorial. It is something to see next level working of a room by consummate politicians. Who else? Walter Mondale and Jesse Ventura. My last senatorial contact was at a university graduation where Amy Klobuchar was the speaker. I am terrible with faces and names so do not recall people well but the memorial was quite the event.
posted by jadepearl at 10:01 AM on March 31


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