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Another Portland Blog

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

 

Billy Corgan at Powell's on Hawthorne

So I drove across town for the Billy Corgan poetry reading last nig...

...Ok, I'll stop right there. Yeah, I drove out of my way to watch Billy Corgan read poetry.

Why? Because prior to the release of Adore (bleah), I was an unapologetic Smashing Pumpkins fan. I went to see the band at the Rose Garden back in '97, I have a bootleg of the show and, yes, I even bought the Aeroplane Flies High box set back in the day. While I've sort of come to my senses over the years, I'm still convinced Siamese Dream is one of the top five best recordings of the 1990s.

Yeah, well, all your favorite bands suck too.

Plus, I wanted a copy of America: The Book and figured watching Corgan read poetry would be, well, funny. For anyone that's given his lyrics a second thought, they're about as horribly earnest as earnest gets ("I used to be a little boooooy" "Despite all my rage I'm just a rat in a cage"). Would anyone at Powell's take him seriously? After all, this is a rock star that once sincerely compared himself to Job. Or would everyone suffer through it in order to get their worn copies of Pisces Iscariot signed?

I was stuck at work at until 8 and showed up an hour. Corgan was signing a copy for a kid in army jacket. From there, he headed into the coffee shop. So how is the alterna rock god carrying on these days?

He's still shaving his head and he's grown a shaggy beard. He was also dressed in a green rain gear and an old stocking cap. All in all, he looked like he had just stepped of a fishing boat in rural Alaska.

As I was heading to the humor section, I made eye contact with him as he waited for his coffee. Years ago, in an interview, Ice T once confessed that a Michael Jackson concert, despite it all, can make the hardest rapper "scream like a bitch." So, yeah, despite it all I wanted to run over to Corgan and start gushing- asking a million stupid question about the conflicts during the Siamese Dreams sessions and if D'arcy is still on the crack pipe. Instead, I kept walking.

They were sold out of copies of John Stewart's book. As I was leaving, Corgan was sitting in the shop, talking to a small group of fans. If I hadn't known better, I would have assumed he was just a random guy talking to a group of friends. Seven years ago, this same man was standing in front of a sold out crowd of 15,000 two miles away and was reported to one of the biggest assholes in the industry. This is either a parable for why you should never turn a successful band into a goth synth act or a great example how to humbly enjoy the dying embers of fame. Take your pick.

As I headed out, I overheard one of the employees say, "It went well. We only had to kick out two drunks."

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