I just had to be the center of attention during Social Distortion’s recent run at the Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles.
I jest, of course. When I accidentally found myself in frontman Mike Ness’ sights, I froze in a mix of terror and pride as the punctilious punk poet complimented my hitherto perfect attendance. I couldn’t even manage a smile or wave. Like Charlie Watts, I have a default expression — stern and bored, regardless of what I’m actually feeling. At any rate a blonde in front of me seemed to think Mike was talking to her husband, a bald chap in a bowler hat, and I didn’t want to ruin their faux moment.
This is how it went down. Social Distortion end every year playing a ton of shows throughout southern California, and 2022 was no exception. They scheduled four gigs in downtown L.A., and I showed up to the first three, on Dec. 21, 22 and 23; sadly I could not make the fourth one, scheduled for Dec. 28.
On the 23rd I was minding my own business near the mosh pit contemplating the carnage of Hiroshima, which Mike had just finished singing about in “1945.” Before launching into the next song, he pointed in my direction, about five rows from the stage, and said:
“A little bit of fan appreciation. I’ve seen this guy all three nights, right here. Yeah, blue shirt. All three nights. [Mike nods.] He’s serious. I know there’s some more of you, but I recognize him.”
In my mind I nodded and smiled, but he probably thought he was speaking to Johnny Foreigner with mental problems. Fortunately the whole show was recorded by Jörgen Becker (Youtube handle @jorgenbecker5896). Here’s the relevant bit:
Now I can contemplate the encounter until my dying days. Actually, Mike and I have already had an encounter, a phone interview in 2011 for Social Distortion’s most recent album, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes. In my dreams, we’ll meet in person one day to work on his memoir.
That third show, by the way, brought my 2022 total to four because I saw Social Distortion on a rainy Munich night in June.
Until then I had not seen my hometown heroes since 2001 and before that, 1996. That makes a lifetime tally of just six. Pathetic. I vow to fix this shameful oversight in the coming years. I promise to make Mike Ness sick of me.
Reach for the Sky
Through These Eyes
I Wasn’t Born to Follow
Over You (new song)
When the Angels Sing
Tonight (new song)
Ghost Town Blues
Don’t Drag Me Down
Born to Kill (new song)
Story of My Life
Ring of Fire
NOTE: If you liked this piece of stellar literature, try my gossipy rock bio Strange Days: The Adventures of a Grumpy Rock ‘n’ Roll Journalist in Los Angeles, available here. For more info, go to strangedaysbook.com