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Monday, February 1, 2010

Ozzy Osbourne Book Signing - Skokie, Illinois

The Ozzy Osbourne-Chicago Cubs nexus is more than tangential. Ozzy set the bar as the worst guest conductor in seventh inning stretch history. And before you say anything to the contrary, please consider that Mike Ditka, (1) knew the lyrics and (2) had not made his living as a platinum-selling recording artist.

So I arrived at the Skokie Barnes & Noble at about 6:20 a.m. on January 30th and there were already at least another 150 people lined up already. It was still dark out and the temperature was 19 degrees. I was prepared. Some idiots showed up with nothing more than a hoodie and I saw a surprising number of people that did not even bother to bring gloves. Some of these geniuses even had kids in strollers out in this weather.

The store started handing out wristbands at 9:00 a.m. and by 9:25 I was comfortably inside as a member of group “D” with my newly purchased copy of “I am Ozzy.”

It was here that we were told that we had to be in line by 10:30 a.m. if we wanted to meet Ozzy when he arrived at 1:00 p.m. That sucked. The feeling finally returned to my toes by 10:00 a.m.

I marveled at the number of people in the store. There were at least 400 wristbands distributed. The remaining latecomers were told they could wait in line, outside the store, if they wanted; however, Ozzy was only scheduled to sign for two hours and there was no guarantee of an autograph without a wristband. The store employee in charge of our line said this was the most people she'd ever seen in the store and that the crowd was much more normal looking than the weirdos that showed up for the Harry Potter event.

If only the people from Guinness were on hand, I think this would have easily set the record for the most metalheads in a bookstore at the same time. The crowd was an interesting mix of folks. I met people from southern Illinois, Indiana and even Wichita, Kansas. The vast majority of the people really did not look how I would picture hardcore Ozzy or Sabbath fans. I saw a bunch of shirts featuring Ozzy, Randy Rhodes and Sabbath, along with an array of other bands from Emperor to Slipknot.

I met Disturbed’s number one fan (“DNOF”) who at the apparent height of his impatience asked the store representative, in all seriousness, whether the wristbanded groups would be taken in alphabetical order. That was awesome. He also made the exact phone call. Five. Times. In a row. I have presented my best guess as to the other side of this conversation with each of his friends. It went something like this:

DNOF: “Hey, you’ll never guess where I am.”
Friend 1-5: [Where?]
DNOF: “A bookstore.”
Friend 1-5: [Why?]
DNOF: “I’m in line to get someone’s autograph.”
Friend 1-5: [Who?]
DNOF: “You’ll never guess!”
Friend 1-5: [Ok, I give up.]
DNOF: “Ozzy Osbourne!”
Friend 1-5: [That’s terrific. So why did you have to call me, anyway?]
DNOF: “I’m just trying to kill some time.”
Friend 1-5: [Great. I'm going back to sleep.]
DNOF: “Fine, I’ll talk to you later.”

A look-alike even came through the store:
At about 40 minutes late, Ozzy was tucked into the lower-level music section at the store and there was not much opportunity to get a good photo. There were absolutely no photos with him, he would not personalize the autograph and would only sign the title page.
Overall, he was very friendly and it was cool to meet him. Plus I got to find out what he likes on his pizza:

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