Liz Phair — Exile In Guyville

I’ve often heard that music and smells are the most effective ways to trigger memories from the past. Audio and olfactory flashbacks seem to be all I’m specializing in these days. I try my best to live in the now, but I’ll turn on Spotify and I’m back at Lollapalooza ‘91 or I’m driving Lush around in a Jeep Wrangler. Today, Liz Phair’s Never Said came on, and I was whisked to St. Andrew’s Hall in October of 1993.

I had purchased “Exile In Guyville” based on the recommendation of the clerk at Car City Records, since I didn’t have time to listen to the entire double LP in store. I’d heard “Never Said” on 89X and I knew after listening to Side A, that there were enough songs I liked to justify the purchase price. I went home and immediately transferred the LP to cassette so I could listen to it in my Jeep for the next few weeks.

When I heard Liz Phair was coming to St. Andrew’s Hall, I planned to spend the afternoon outside the venue on the stairs hoping to have her sign my album before sound check. I always wanted to get signatures before sound check for two reasons: 1) There was no guarantee the artist would come back outside between sound check and showtime and 2) I could use the time between getting a signature and doors opening to grab dinner, pick up my girlfriend or just have a pre-show drink.

Plans are great until you screw them up by doing something stupid.

I should explain why I did the stupid thing I did: I am a moron sometimes. An impatient and cheap moron. St. Andrew’s Hall is located on a one-way street and there is little street parking. When I arrived, at the venue around 3pm, I was forced to park around the corner at a meter that cost about $2 in quarters every hour. The other option was to pay $7 to park in a lot for the evening, but the option of leaving before the show (Doors were at 8pm, I think) and having to pay a second time upon return didn’t appeal to me. So I stayed at the meter around the corner, but watched for any opening in front of the venue.

Most artists arrived for soundcheck sometime between 3pm and 5pm. I’m on red alert for Liz Phair’s arrival when a perfect parking spot opens up across the street from St. Andrew’s. I leap into action, instructing my girlfriend to get my album signed if Liz shows up while I’m moving the car. I run around the corner and think “Instead of driving around the block on these one-way streets, I can just back around the corner and back into the parking spot if I catch the light just right.” (Remember: I’m a moron at times.)

That is exactly what I do. I see the light behind me is green, with no traffic and back up into the intersection. I turn the corner (in reverse) and back into the parking spot perfectly. The Detroit Police officers who were sitting in their marked police car (in the aforementioned $7 lot) were not impressed. They had their lights on before I got the keys out of the car. I sat there hoping they were coincidentally going after someone else, but had no such luck. They were quite angry at me. They told me the number of moving violations I’d committed (3), the number of points that could be on my record (6), and the amount of fines I’d be facing (lots). They angrily asked for my license, registration and proof of insurance. Two out of three was not what they were hoping for. I could not find my proof of insurance anywhere. As they walked back to their car to write what I assumed to be either a 75-foot-long ticket or my arrest paperwork, I looked over to the steps of St. Andrew’s to see my girlfriend, several other fans and many of the stagehands watching the proceedings. I secretly hoped Liz Phair would show up just so the stairs would be empty by the time the cops were done with me. After what seemed like an eternity, I was given a ticket for driving without insurance that would be dismissed if I went into a precinct and provided proof within 10 days. I was so relieved I could almost cry. The cops left, I slunk across the street to the steps of St. Andrews just as the van carrying Liz Phair and her band arrived. I took my album from my girlfriend and asked Liz to sign it. She couldn’t have been nicer. The show was great, but my girlfriend had the “I’m dating a moron” look on her face the whole evening.

I never said nothing…..

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