While we had, in fact, traveled to the birthplace of all things hip before, it had been as athletes not as artists. Back then, there had been curfews, and square meals, speedos and chlorine.
Lots and lots of chlorine.
This time around though, things were quite a bit different. On this trip we saw bright lights, pec implants (yeah, seriously), and $75 t-shrits. We noticed that every other person in Hollywood seemed to have a guitar strapped across their back, little black dresses are mandatory, and people take limousines to nightclubs instead of taxicabs. There was no bed time, and the only speedos we saw were on a particularly daring street performer who we thought might have been modeling for someone.
We drove fast down a winding road that shares a name with a movie we like. We climbed (almost) mountains. I stood in John Woo's footsteps; Greg chose Bruce Willis'. I found out I'm taller than Batman, Greg dueled with Zorro, and we both avoided the lure of a free Celebrity Home Bus Tour--provided we could secure the 'entertainment'.
We got some out of focus pictures of the world famous Whiskey A Go-Go as we drove by at 30mph, and a few ( even more blurry ones) when we got a good laugh while trying to lean out the window to get the Roxy. We came to a complete stop to take pictures of the Capitol Records building, but as we were still on the road that caused us a little bit of grief.
We ate Chinese food by the pound, cupcakes the size of softballs, and the biggest, best(est) hamburgers in the history of beef. Although we never did get to go back and try the Guinness milkshake we had a few grown up drinks while we were there too.
All in all, it was an early morning flight missing good time.
Our trip was no mere vacation however. Instead, it was firmly centered around the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. Spaceship Days was nominated in the Best Alternative category for our single "Shadow Walking"
We lounged in a four star hotel in sight of the award show's venue feeling like we should do some exercise, but unable to muster up the motivation. As members of the Glass is Half Empty clan, neither one of us was sure to expect, so we eventually came to the agreed upon conclusion that we should just turn our brains off, get dressed, and show up.
So that's what we did.
The event itself was a pleasant surprise. Greg and I (and all the nominees) were made to feel very welcome--or rather, like we were every bit as cool as every one of of the artists we all listen to and adore. This came largely in the form of the red carpet strut at the beginning of the show, but it extended to everything that happened throughout the course of the evening. We had a very cool guide who told us where to stand and smile for photos, where we had to go next, what microphone to speak into, and answered probably 95% of our thousand and one questions about the way the world turns in that far away western land (Thanks Bretagne!)
Besides meeting lots of other enthusiastic men and women 'in the club' of music making, we were able to trade smiles with some very clever (and disarmingly approachable) people who stand on the other side of things. Yeah. You know, that side. Not a single person we came across (and we came across many) was wearing one of those flashing red neon top hats that say: I'm Too Cool For You. Everyone had a firm handshake, a ready business card, and ten minutes to chat with us while we tried to pick their brains.
Our category was the next to last of the evening. By then, the grins were a little bigger, the double Windsor knots had come undone, and most everyone's speaking volume had gone up a couple of dozen decibels or so, courtesy of the very diligent and speedy bar staff. Greg and I had somehow wound up on opposite ends of the room. When they announced the winner --who had just completed an exceptional performance-- we managed to catch each other's eye. It was one of those neat, silent 'hey, we made it here anyway' sort of moments.
Suddenly our uncluttered, uncomplicated we-make-music-for-its-own sake adventure was that much more excellent. It never occurred to us to be disappointed, or feel 'beaten'; we'd been invited to be a part of something that none of us had ever imagined we'd actually have the opportunity to--and our imaginations are quite fertile.
I met an older man in the VIP just before the show. Cool hair. Crazily expensive suit. Supermodel for a date. Killer shoes. The man never introduced himself, but I got the impression later that people don't usually just sit down and start talking to him. Glad I did though, he was a very congenial fellow. Before I took my leave, he said to me "No matter how trite it sounds, every one of tonight's nominees is a winner. Watch. You'll see."
I believe him.
And who knows? Maybe next time Spaceship Days will return to Chapel Hill with a tall shiny trinket to go along with all the great memories.
*Thank you to everyone for all of your well wishes and support while we were on the left coast