(Aside from his trademark red hair, his G N’R cross tattoo and “AXL”-branded high top sneakers gave him away.)
Starstruck though I was, I managed to strike up a conversation with Mr. Rose and ask him (no joke) why G N’R kept pushing back the release date of their allegedly epic new double album (Use Your Illusion I and II, for those who remember).
That sort of foolishness (i.e. delaying a long-awaited album) was causing die-hard fans such as myself to do inexplicable things, like buying a Skid Row t-shirt instead of a Guns N’ Roses t-shirt at Pier 39 in San Francisco the day before.
Yes, like the very one I happened to be wearing at that very moment, and which– in a moment of sheer awkwardness rivaled only by (now that I think of it) pretty much every other moment of my teenage years and well beyond– I asked the lead singer of Guns N’ Roses to autograph.
There he was– the singer of literally the biggest rock band in the ENTIRE WORLD– signing another band’s t-shirt.
All because of me.
All right, here’s the deal.
Last week I uploaded a bunch of pictures from my recent Hawaii trip onto my Facebook page (not sure why I haven’t posted anything here yet, but, whatever).
Hey, check out this awesome segue!
(Oh, man. That could have come two lines earlier. Oh well. Not breaking the flow to change it.)
So, I uploaded all of these photos, but I purposely left one out.
[Ed. Note: Unexpected return to previous storyline to follow.]
See, after the Axl Rose incident, I returned to boring old Pennsylvania and vowed to move to Los Angeles– where all my famous heroes lived– where I belonged.
Because one day I would be one of them, and some awkward high school kid from the middle of Nowhere Important would be asking me for my autograph.
(By the way, I even bought this absurdly oversized UCLA sweatshirt immediately after meeting Axl Rose to remind me of my goal– which it did– every single, horrible, winter day for the next two years.)
Well, I didn’t end up in L.A. right after high school. I ended up in NYC, where I interned for massive entertainment industry companies (Columbia Records, MTV) and famous people were, I guess, more routine than I’d expected.
The winter weather still sucked in NYC, however, and so I did end up moving to Los Angeles in 1995, after I was accepted into the Film Production program at USC.
[Note: I've written extensively about all of this in The Memoir Series, in case you care.]
Needless to say, I continued interning for big entertainment industry companies (e.g. Columbia Pictures), and by 1999 I scored a paying gig at Carsey-Werner Television, where I saw famous people every day.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because– after four years of living in Los Angeles and the almost fourteen years that have elapsed since I chose to abandon my Hollywood dreams in the summer of 2000 (another long story that you can find in the memoir series)– I haven’t experienced anything remotely close to that feeling of awe in the presence of true celebrity that I felt when I met Axl Rose in the summer of 1991.
And I say this having worked on a film in 1998 with George Clooney and Jennifer Aniston.
(OK, I take it back. I had a conversation in an elevator on the set with Jennifer Aniston. I was slightly flustered.)
Until two weeks ago.
(I’m talking about experiencing that feeling of awe– not being in a continual state of flusterment since 1998. Sorry if it’s hard to keep up. It’s really late, I’m really tired, and you wouldn’t care if it were Kerouac.)
See, in Hawaii, two weeks ago– over two decades after randomly meeting my rock god in a retail store– I (quasi-randomly) walked past my yoga hero (heroine?) in a hotel hallway.
I mean, I knew she was going to be teaching at Wanderlust. That’s half the reason I went to Hawaii. (The other half should be self-explanatory.)
But I was still caught off guard.
Anyway, it was like one of those slow-motion Matrix moments.
We made eye contact.
For like an hour.
(I don’t know, it was Matrix time. Hard to tell.)
She kept walking.
(Because, really, why wouldn’t she?)
I had to sit down.
(Not in the middle of the hallway. I went outside first.)
You probably don’t get it.
I’m talking about Seane Corn.
(Just Google her, in case you don’t know.)
I’m not the same person that I was in 1991.
(Thank God, contact lenses, and more kale than you can possibly imagine.)
Though I do occasionally find myself rocking out to Appetite for Destruction (which, I maintain, is one of the non-negotiable, top five albums ever recorded– you can argue about the other four and their rankings, but “Appetite” will always remain in the mix), I can’t quite imagine what would have happened had I modeled my own life after Axl Rose and the hair metal scene on the Sunset Strip.
See, back in those hard-rockin’ days, Seane Corn (who’s ten years old than me) had also just moved from New York to L.A.– where she ultimately fell in with a different crowd.
From what I gather online, we probably discovered yoga within a few years of each other– though she apparently took it seriously while I completely ignored it.
Over the years, she would go on to become not just an internationally renowned yoga teacher, but one of the greatest and most admired global social justice activists in the yoga world today.
And I– while many of my friends would go on to forge respectable careers in Hollywood (or in any number of other fields)– well– I would go on to become… um… me.
(i.e. Someone who just doesn’t translate on a resumé.)
So, here our paths cross at the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of O’ahu.
I’m literally shaking with excitement, because Seane Corn is 37-year-old-Evan’s Axl Rose.
(I know, it’s turning into a long story– bear with me–)
And then I take class with her.
And I realize that I’ve somehow underestimated how amazing this person actually is.
Forget Guns N’ Roses.
Seane Corn is a rock star.
She travels all around the world, inspiring people to live heroic lives.
She’s not afraid to be herself– to dream and achieve the impossible– and she’s not afraid to put herself in the vulnerable position of speaking her truth and helping other people to do the same.
(Or, if she is afraid, she doesn’t let that stop her.)
I’m still maybe just a little starstruck.
And I’m still maybe just finally realizing that– three weeks from now– I will be participating in a week-long yoga activism and leadership training with Seane Corn and her Off the Mat, Into the World organization in Seattle.
(Yeah, I applied and received a scholarship. Before I actually went to Hawaii. Oh, did I not mention that part earlier? You can’t trust me to be linear at 2 am.)
After the first (utterly superb) class I took with her, I decided it was time to say hello.
So I stood in line with a handful of the two hundred other people who had just taken the class, and when it was my turn, I introduced myself, and thanked her for not just this class, but for being such an inspiration to me over the past several years… and I told her that I’d actually be training with her in Seattle… and she told me that it was going to be awesome… and challenging… and it’s so great that I’m doing it, because they need more guys to get involved… and then I asked the person behind me if they wouldn’t mind taking a picture of us.
[Because everyone else in line was doing it, and because it was better than asking her to sign my Ana Forrest t-shirt. (Note: that was a yoga joke. I don't actually have an Ana Forrest t-shirt.]
Here’s the picture.
I didn’t grow up to become a rock star, like I thought I would.
(Hell, I didn’t even grow up to become a grown up, like I thought I would.)
Everything’s all taking a lot longer than I thought it would.
And playing out in ways that I never could have possibly imagined as a seventeen year old dreaming of Los Angeles, with visions of Hollywood fame and fortune.
(And playing out in ways that I never could have possibly imagined as a twenty-seven year old, Orthodox yeshiva student in Jerusalem… but that’s a whole different story.)
Nevertheless– at thirty-seven years of age–
The journey continues.
And it’s only just beginning.