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My 10 Seconds of Fame With Jane’s Addiction

How I lived a Gen X fantasy and became (briefly) cool

Jane's Addiction performing outdoor concert
Courtesy Tod Goldberg

You don’t get many chances in this life to become cool. 

By 1990 I think I already knew this truth in a general way. I was a freshman in college, living with my sisters in the San Fernando Valley, applying every week to (and being routinely turned down by) all the cool record stores — Tower, Moby Disc, Rhino — while employed at a notably non-cool mall record store, The Wherehouse.  

Until one day, fate walked in. I think his name was Aaron. He was tall, model handsome, rocking ripped jeans and smelling of clove cigarettes. He could often be found at the end of shows handing out stickers or promo CDs. He was, as the saying goes today, an entire vibe.

“I see you at Jane’s shows, right?” he asked. 

“Yeah,” I said. This was true. I’d probably seen Jane’s Addiction in concert 30 times. Wherever they were, so was I. It got to the point that once — Once! — Dave Navarro walked out of the bathroom at TOI, the Thai restaurant everyone went to after shows, nodded at me and said, “What’s up man?,” and kept walking. 

“Secret show.” Aaron handed me a flyer. “You can bring a guest.” And like that, he was gone.

The flyer was for a concert to take place at “an unknown destination” in two weeks. You were told to call a number on a specific date to reserve your spot, which was limited to only 500. The flyer stated that there would be charter buses and that you could camp on-site. It also said, “Tod, this is your chance.” 

The secret site ended up being a parking lot in Pomona.

“Are you sure we’re in the right spot?” my friend Jim asked. Before I could answer, a line of cars pulled in and out tumbled The Coolest People You’ve Ever Seen.

These trendsetters were wearing boots that went to their hips. I was wearing a blue Stüssy mock-turtleneck, short-sleeved shirt and some Chucks.

A car pulled up next to us. A young woman got out, stared at me for half a second, put a lazy finger on my chest and said, “Die yuppie scum!”

We all climbed onto school buses, which drove us nervously up the face of Mount Baldy, the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, until we were finally dumped out at a campsite called the Forest Preserve. Behind a chain-link fence was a glistening pool filled with floaties, directly in front of a small stage lined with equipment. 

A man grilled hot dogs and burgers. It was noon. The show wouldn’t start for another couple of hours. We were instructed to do “whatever you want, dude — just don’t touch the guitars.” 

We took a swim, ate some lunch, drank seven beers, had a lovely conversation with bassist Eric Avery’s dad and then moseyed over to the stage when it seemed like things were going to kick off. We positioned ourselves next to drummer Stephen Perkins’ kit, where we stayed for most of the show.

And the show was epic. They played for about 90 sweaty minutes, moving through all their best songs despite what can only be described as the absolute worst sound ever. But it didn’t matter. The sun-drunk (and drunk-drunk) crowd swelled around the stage, bouncing and shouting the lyrics we’d already memorized. 

In my memory, the show became a kind of Dionysian rapture, with Perry Farrell leading the way, and I recall thinking that I needed to remember this experience. Otherwise, it would eventually disappear.

I was wrong. Just a few months later, Jane’s released the video for their song “Stop!” And there the show was! Or about three minutes of it — including, if you squint, at 47 seconds in, a yuppie in a blue Stussy mock turtleneck, briefly visible in the background under Dave Navarro’s arm.

Whenever the video would air on MTV, which was not infrequently at the time, I’d jump up and scream, “I’m in this video!” People usually didn’t believe me, as this was the era before pausing TV. But I knew. And that was enough — kind of. 

Now, some 30 years later, you can find video of the entire concert on YouTube. The quality veers from terrible to pretty good, but one thing stands out vividly among the sea of shirtless, sweaty pit people — the guy in the blue mock turtle, playing air drums next to Stephen Perkins.

And you know what? I seem pretty cool.

Follow Article Topics: Inside-Dope