Saturday, July 17

Embarrassing Tales: Weirding out Harvey Pekar and other Famous People

Stephanie's wonderful post this week inspired me to share my own tales of fanboy glory. I am always saying stupid things when I meet people I admire. For example, when I recently met author Carl Hiaasen I told him that he was handsome. Well he is! But why did I say that!? He seemed pleased. I felt stupid! Also, when I met The Ramones, I called CJ Ramone "Dee Dee," even though that's a totally different Ramone. And I *knew* it was. I am not one to confuse Ramones. I just get nervous. I felt incredibly dumb.

Meeting The Ramones was actually the coolest and most fanboyish moment I've ever had and the weird/sad thing is that soon after I met them, Joey (the singer) died. Then not too long after that two more members of the band died. And then I got comedian Mitch Hedberg's autograph and then, yes, he died an early death.

This was starting to freak me out.

I mean, I didn't think too much of it, but I'm not really generally a fanboy or autograph collector, and these were among the few whose autographs I had. These guys were among my absolute favorites, then I got their autographs, then they died. My friends started teasing me about being cursed. So *then* I met Harvey Pekar, who wrote cool comics and who inspired a great movie (American Splendor) and who I really admire. I thought, "Hey, Harvey will think this story is funny about how when I get people's autographs they die." But of course Harvey did not think this. What would YOU think if someone asked you for your autograph and then they said "Hey it's funny, as soon as I get someone's autography they die." He got really freaked out! I was like, "Man, I"m dumb!" I tried to explain. He gave me a piercing Pekar-glare. I felt so embarrassed as I imagined his thoughts. Was I a stalker? A serial killer? Was this a threat? It was certainly a weird thing to say to someone. I couldn't even begin to explain. But then he laughed and said "Ah, I'm tough. I've been around a long time and I'm not going anywhere." He gave me an autograph and went on his way.

The sad end to this story is, as you may know, that Harvey passed away this past week. It was about eight or nine years post-giving-Berk-an-autograph, so I don't feel like I cursed him. It was just his time. He was a heck of a writer and a cool guy and just one of the famous people I made myself a fool out of in front of. I wonder who will be next!


Alyson Noel said...

You. Met. The Ramones????

I think I'm having a fan girl moment over you! Wow.

I loved American Splendor too--did not know Harvey died. RIP to him, and as for you, 9 years post autograph is surely past the statute of limitations, right?

Josh Berk said...

Yeah, I totally did meet The Ramones! It happened at the Virgin Megastore in July 1999. I just happened to be in NYC & saw an announcement for the event so I rearranged my plans & stayed in town an extra day. It ruled! Here is someone else's blog post about the event if you're curious --

And right, nine years has got to be past the statute of limitations. Also I didn't kill that Virgin Megastore, although it too no longer exists... (But just to be safe, I understand if you never want to give me an autograph...)

Alyson Noel said...

Josh, I probably won't be giving you an autograph, pretty much ever, but I'm glad you understand.

I met Richard Branson (a hero of mine) at a Virgin Megastore and he hugged me-twice!--probably just copping a feel, but, whatever. The point is, I've a special place in my heart for those stores!

Think I'll go listen to some I Wanna be Sedated . . .