ASSOCIATES (2007, March, v. 13, no. 3) -

Katie Kintner

Adventures in Paradise

Libraries. There, I got that out of the way. That is the last mention of libraries you will see in this column today. I have loftier things to report. I went to the Grammy awards.

Please don’t tell me you don’t know what the Grammy awards are. I’ve already heard that from various people in my surroundings, making me feel as if knowing what the Grammys were made me some sort of pop culture addict. Go to the Reference Desk and look it up—I’m not going to explain it here. Let us suffice to say that it is held in Los Angeles every year and enough pop idols to stuff a sack show up to present and receive awards while more of them sit in the audience holding their bladders until commercial breaks.

Anyway, I didn’t even realize I was entered in the contest. That’s right—contest. Hubby had been doing some sort of information gathering that had qualified him to enter this contest, sponsored by local TV and radio stations. So of course, he entered my name too so we had multiple entries. One morning last month, he was listening to the radio and heard my name drawn from among 2500 entries to win this trip. I wasn’t even awake yet. He poked me in the ribs and told me I had won! Won what, I asked groggily. A trip to the Grammy Awards says he and I groaned. I didn’t really know too many pop idols, which I assumed would comprise most of the show.

The trip included two tickets to the Grammy awards and to the official Grammy party afterward, two nights at a hotel, airfare and a $200.00 gift card. They made no mention of how we were to get from the airport to the hotel but the gift card was apparently to pay for a shuttle service. But there was another reason for us to go. Those of you who have read this column for a few years know that I spent some time in Los Angeles when hubby and I were first married and even though we have moved back to the Midwest, his kids were still there. Additionally his son, a United States Marine, had just returned permanently from a year in Iraq. We would have some extra time to visit upon arrival, which would be great!

But family things aside, this column is about a plebe’s visit to the Grammy Awards. First of all, we were housed at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood. This is a luxury hotel situated in the same complex as the Kodak Theater, which hosts the Oscars, among other things. You can see the famous “Hollywood” sign on a hillside from its balustrades.

The hotel is also right on Hollywood Boulevard at Highland, which is the heart of the old tourist section of what used to be called “Hollywoodland”, which started out as a land developers term to entice buyers to California. Grauman’s Chinese Theater is almost next-door and the Hollywood Walk of Fame runs along the boulevard in that section. We took a bit of time the morning before the show to take a walk over to the Chinese theater and try our hands and feet in those of the stars set in concrete there. We did the usual tourist thing of taking photos and hubby got his photo taken with “Homer Simpson”. Homer got two bucks for that. We also bought a CD for $10.00 from a budding rap star and upon playing it, heard words that I never knew had been invented. Between those words were other words that I knew very well but I think this young man will go far. He was absolutely charming on the street, so maybe his calling is in acting.

Getting ready for an internationally televised award show when you are going to be seated in the absolutely farthest seat from the stage is still nerve-wracking. What if I run into Brad Pitt? What if George Clooney steps on my toe? What if I get a shot at Justin Timberlake and take it? Well, since it was an awards show for music, it was doubtful that Brad and George would be there, but I could get my shot at Justin! So I tried to look my best, which wasn’t all that great, but at least my new gold “lame-like” (that’s LA-MAY, as in Elvis’s jackets) duster would camouflage a lot of fat. I would only look like a very large gold-capped tooth. Putting my brass knuckles in my pocket (for that shot at Justin, revenge for “Sexyback”) and hubby in a nice dark suit, we set off for our bus to the awards.

Yep, a bus. We were just one couple in dozens who had won trips across the country. They had all been sponsored by CBS affiliates, which was apparently an effort by CBS to get butts into seats that would be so far off-camera as to be in Orange County. Most of the ladies were dressed in long gowns, though a few like me were in nice slacks and glittering tops. There was one gent dressed in worn blue jeans, a plaid shirt and a beaten up baseball cap but that’s all I will mention of him. He was gauche.

Our bus took us from Hollywood into downtown Los Angeles, specifically the Staples Center which is host to both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers basketball teams. The neighborhood around it is not where you would expect to find Justin Timberlake but the neighbors seemed quite friendly, hopping over the curb to talk at limousines stopped at traffic lights. I also saw a few ladies standing on the street that were dressed like stars but maybe they were waiting for a bus or something.

Anyway, at the Staples Center, our bus dropped us off not at the red carpet but at some locked side entrance. I still don’t know where the red carpet was—we never found it.

It was very windy so most of us made our way into the West Hall where Grammys were being given for the lesser-known categories, such as “best duck call recording by a Norwegian lutefisk cook”. We used the restrooms, peeked into that award ceremony, noted all the women in four-inch spike heels and then tried to find our way into the main building.

After one or two false starts and many passes through security, including metal detectors, we made it into the Staples Center. Correct that—I made it into the Staples Center, hubby did not. After a frantic search through his pockets, he found that he had lost his ticket! Apparently after so many security passes, the ticket had not made it back into his pocket. Since the tickets were scanned and logged electronically, I couldn’t leave the center to go with him or I would not be allowed back in. I was left inside while he tried to retrace his steps to find it.

It took about 20 minutes, but soon he was back and inside the center, except not with his own ticket. He had found a set of tickets lying in one of the guest areas. Apparently someone else had lost his or her ticket! He had taken it to event authorities, but they just shrugged and told him to use it. So he did.

Once inside the arena, my suspicions were confirmed. Our tickets were not only far away from the stage, they were on the top row! The wall was behind us. But to our relief, we were directly in front of the main stage and a smaller round stage was a bit closer. So we settled in to watch.

Some interesting things happen during a high-profile awards ceremony like this one. Even the stars in the audience (and us) get stage instructions. For instance, during broadcast, no one should be in the aisles or risk getting run over by a steadi-cam operator running backwards. If you leave to go to the restroom during the show or during a break and are late coming back, you will not be allowed back in until the next commercial break. This is the first arena show I have ever been to where the aisles were absolutely clear during the show. When the commercials came on there was a mad rush out of the arena. With just three or four minutes to use the rest room, a lot of people didn’t make it back and “seat fillers” kept their chairs warm for them.

The show itself was great though—I got to see the Police, Rascal Flatts, Justin Timberlake (too far away to slug, arrrgh!), Carrie Underwood, Gnarls Barkley, Lionel Richie, James Blunt (the “You’re Beautiful” guy), Joan Baez, Prince (for about 7 seconds as he introduced someone), Christina Aguilera busting a gut trying to emulate James Brown and a lot of other reputedly famous people you wouldn’t normally find in one place. Of course, they all looked like ants, except for Christina, whose hair could be seen from space. There is another odd aspect to it too—the show looks exactly like you would see it on TV. The only difference is that I could see it better if I was home watching it that way.

Once the show was over, everyone who was anyone was headed to a party. Our destination was the official Grammy party held in another hall. Once again, we went off to stand in line to go through security before being admitted. With at least 8 lines separated by steel railings, I felt like I was in a cattle chute going to slaughter. But we eventually did make it into the party and I felt underdressed for the occasion.

First of all, the party had live music but not just any old live music. Chaka Khan and Kool and the Gang were providing the tunes. The food was buffet style but there were many tables of it so I didn’t find myself standing next to Justin (Grrr! Justin! Take THAT!) and surprisingly, the food was good but nothing special. I did peer about for stars but only spotted Patrick Warburton (“Rules of Engagement”, “Seinfeld”, the voice of “The Tick”) who was slimmer in real life. There might have been a behind-the-scenes guy from “American Idol” sitting across from me at our table, but he disappeared quickly so I never could pin him down. All I could say was that he looked familiar, as if he may be one to occasionally tap Simon on the shoulder and tell him to pipe down.

Chaka was awesome but I had a bad headache coming on by this time and we decided to skip Kool and the Gang. It was time to head back to our bus and the hotel and just in time too, as a group of Chinese drummers were getting ready to enter the room for a dragon dance. We filed into a line for a “free gift” which we were told that once we had the gift, we could not come back in. It was a vinyl case full of hair-care products. Once back in the bus, I felt myself relax for the first time in days. I had made it through the Grammy Awards!

But our adventures were not quite over. Our flight back the next day was at 10AM, which worked out to be the time we actually GOT to the airport. Missing our flight, we rebooked for another one an hour later, got back to Chicago to find our connecting flight to Appleton was delayed anyway. After sitting on the tarmac for nearly an hour waiting to be released from O’Hare airport, we finally made it back to Wisconsin. The next morning we found out that weather had cancelled most of the remaining flights after we had gotten out. Our luck was holding.

Now I’m waiting to see if hubby can win us some award show tickets again! This time, we have a shot at the CMA Awards in Nashville! Wish us luck!

About Us | Subscribe/Unsubscribe | Editors | Submit | Current Issue | Archives | Home