October 2, 1999
Vomiting In My Purse


We were waiting for Elvis Costello to come back onstage for that third encore, last night, when David bent over and started digging around under our seats.

"Where's your purse?" he asked me.

"It's behind my feet," I said, mystified. "Why?"

"Because I want to see if there's any vomit in it," he replied.


Elvis Costello Ticket

He was referring, of course, to the infamous Vomiting-Into-My-Purse at-the-Rock-Concert Episode of 1974 ... a horrific tale I've often inflicted on friends, Tots and *FootNotes* readers, but one which bears repeating today, since:

1.)  I've recently celebrated that one year milestone of sobriety

2.)  I am the mother of teenagers who occasionally cruise through this website -- at least, whenever the Mariners aren't pre-empting "Futurama" -- and who may have missed the story the first 43,897,621 times I've told it

3.) I've spent so much time dinking around with the new website layout today that I'm very nearly out of actual writing time (she says sheepishly). 

So quickly, here's the Infamous Vomiting-Into-My-Purse-at-the-Rock Concert Story ... in all its regurgitated glory:

I was seventeen and a junior in high school when Scott K. invited me to the Led Zeppelin concert. 

We weren't officially dating at the time. We didn't run in the same social circles: he was one of The Popular Kids, while I was the quietly-nerdy girl who played piano for Concert Choir. Mostly it was a case of me thinking he was quite possibly the best-looking human being who had ever walked the face of the earth ... and him probably thinking my name was "Tammy." So it was a complete surprise when he asked me out.

He had ice-blue eyes and jet-black hair. Most appealing to me of all, though, was the fact that his drug history far surpassed my measly little dropping-mescaline-in-Biology class forays of the year before. Next to him, I felt like a novice. He introduced me to LSD on one of our earliest dates. I was shaking like a leaf when he handed me the tiny scrap of paper and told me to swallow it: acid was heavy duty stuff, man. We walked to a party, where I sat on the sofa and listened to The Beatles' White Album for the first time, all the way through. (When they played Revolution #1, I thought the whole world had gone from 45 to 33 rpm.)

At dawn, I climbed through my bedroom window and sat on my bed, eating an entire box of Ritz Crackers and watching the kaleidoscope display inside my head whenever I closed my eyes. I had enjoyed the experience, but I decided that acid was just too intense to be a regular thing. Besides ... being high had made it too difficult to talk to Scott. I hadn't even been interested in making out. I was afraid he thought I was The World's Dullest Date.

When he asked me to the Led Zeppelin concert the next week, though, my heart soared. Here was another chance to *wow* him with my personality ... my wit ... my clever banter! The tickets cost him a fortune. This was the hottest show in town, and everybody who was anybody in our junior class was going to be there. I knew I couldn't count on myself to be naturally clever and entertaining ... so I snuck into my Dad's bedroom, the morning of the concert, and filched a bottle of Smirnoffs from his personal stash. Then I emptied a Pepsi can and filled it with straight vodka. I figured that if one or two beers could make me feel sociable and happy at a party, sixteen ounces of STRAIGHT VODKA would be even more *effective.* Right?

The last thing I remember about that particular evening was standing in line outside of the Seattle Coliseum, surreptitiously sipping from the Pepsi can, babbling to Scott about how "great" I felt. 

And then I lost consciousness.

Long and short of it? Scott missed the entire concert, because he was too busy hauling my unconscious ass around the stadium, trying to avoid the security guards. I threw up in my purse ... on my date ... in my hair ... in Scott's car. The next day (and for several days afterward) I was too sick and too ashamed to face anybody, so I skipped school. "The whole SCHOOL is talking about you!" my best friend reported to me happily, over the phone. I wanted to hurl myself off the nearest bridge. Or maybe just hurl, period.

Obviously that was my last date with Scott K. It wasn't until I was an adult, researching alcohol addiction, that I learned how close I'd probably come to dying that day.

  David looked around at the audience last night, as we sat in the nosebleed section of the Oakland Paramount, and he said, "Everybody here looks like us."

Meaning forty-something and sober.

I caught an occasional whiff of sour liquor from the guy sitting behind me, but this was definitely not your vodka-in-Pepsi-cans sort of crowd. No topless girlfriends perched atop their swaying boyfriends' shoulders. No giant beach balls, no mass Bic-flicking, no clouds of marijuana smoke, no knock-down-drag-out fights in the ladies' room.

(And no hangover the next morning.)

I'm going to let David tell you about the concert itself:

"Well, the first thing I had better tell you is that I have just come back from driving my two kids all over hell and high water, running them up to Albany to look at life-sized reproduction casts of Allosaurus Fragilis skulls (only $1800.00!) at a store that SECRA and I discovered during our recent outing on the "Solano Stroll" street fair, and then over to what used to be the Oakland Coliseum but is now the "Network Associates Coliseum" (FAUGH!) to watch the Seattle Mariners kick Oakland Athletics' booty in a game that seemed to go on and on and on about as long as this sentence. So bear with me here, I'm tired.

I've seen Elvis Costello three times before: June, 1978, at Winterland, in his third appearance in San Francisco in seven months at the close of "The Last Tommies In The Trench" Tour; in 1981 at the Warfield on Market Street, and in 1984 at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. I remember his earliest stage persona as wonderfully bitter and venemous, although by the mid-80's he had managed to become a credible "modern rock" performer, and was no more dangerous than, say, Men At Work.

Last night's show at the venerable Art Deco movie palace, The Paramount Theater (as featured on a recent episode of Nash Bridges) found Costello and long time Attraction Steve Nieve playing as a duo: Costello on guitar, and Nieve on keyboards, primarily piano. While the purpose of the tour was to promote the new Elvis Costello/Burt Bacharach CD, Painted From Memory, the set list ranged across twenty-four years of composing, from "Alison" all the way to several as-of-yet unreleased songs.

The second-most interesting part of the evening was watching old full band ravers recast in the duet format: songs like "I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea", "Watching The Detectives", and "Shabby Doll" shorn of the driving beat of the Attraction's rhythm section, slowed down, and done with faux-Classical piano flourishes. Nice to see the boys breathing some new life into the old warhorses.

But the MOST interesting part of the show was Costello's VOICE. Unlike most rock singers, he has gotten BETTER with age. There is a fullness and richness that I have never heard in his live singing before, and I've heard dozens of tapes of his live performances. He was also dead spot-on as far as pitch: in two hours, there wasn't a single bum note.

The only thing else I can add is that his AUDIENCE sure looks old. Are these the same people who used to tear up the seats at Winterland, or are they all POD PEOPLE from 'Invasion Of The Body Snatchers'?  ... "


insert self-important blurb here: check out the new tapesty ... and "Things That Go *Ping* in the Night"

self-important blurb #2 -- probably having something to do with the WEATHER -- will go here: yep. we're having weather, alright.

special *howdy* to: my dear pal Sharlie [aka JOCHUCK] ... I'll wish you a happy birthday, but I absolutely REFUSE to give you a fluffy hug. xox

a year ago

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
does this new layout make me look fat?

amazingly profound thought of the day: "It could be worse: they could be talking about pineapple rings again."