It's the sound of a dream dying. The lazy din of large girls milling about the Hard Rock Live, hoping to catch a fleeting glimpse of something, anything, that might prove that their pin-up obsession with five guys who could (but never did), was somehow justified. Justified like Justin.
"Omigod, they're in there!" varying versions of an airbrush-kiosk nightmare coo. Oh, but not for long.
Admittedly, I bought the O-Town thing hook, line and stinker. When "Making the Band" launched as a glimmer in a fat man's eye, I was there to offer my journalistic condolences, feigning an audition and a photo shoot for this very publication. I was going to make "Making the Band" if it took an obesity/blowjob situation to do so. I even talked to Debbie Gibson on the phone while trying to get through to said belly barbarian, Lou Pearlman. I was a shoo-in.
Now, only in my dreams, O-Town are kaput.
"All or Nothing"?
Tonight's show is to be O-Town's last, sniffle. Ashley Angel will not sleep with me off camera, and Erik Estrada will never beat me up.
"We are running extreeeeeemely late," flips Cami, the show's publicist. "Which means we'll have to play it by ear."
Less a publicist than a Sweet Valley High cheerleading understudy, Cami nonetheless gains points for being very, very Blair Warner. One gets the feeling that if professional duty and a pair of 1979 Jordache straight legs were being held in front of her, I would be grabbing the Vaseline. But the news is not all bad. Not yet, anyway. Cami tells me to "stay here, and I'll be back in 15 minutes."
In show-dog terms, that means, "Sit pretty, and I'll get you a treat." So, I lick my balls and wait. Whether anybody cares or not, this is a pilgrimage of regret -- both for me, and for a small lot of saggy-armed pop pundits who long ago traded in taste for sequined proximity. A gaggle of forty-something photog types are huddling around notes and stories, clearly sick with the knowledge that this ride, this O-Town rollercoaster, is ending. The dream, I repeat, has died. A recent attempt at freelance regurgitation to US Weekly produced a sympathetic decline. "If Justin would just move back to Orlando," simpered the editor. "Then maybe we could use you." And isn't Scott Stapp dead yet? The fate of the Orlando music journalist has been ripped out from under them, like so many capri pants and Gucci sunglasses.
One of the sad peripheral lensers, whom I've seen at a number of these candy-coated events, approaches with a grimace.
"It's all hurry up and wait," he hurries up, then waits. "Y'know, I hear that this is their last show."
Yeah, I know. I, rather desperately, try to pull on my pop-culture, daytime-television knowledge to save the band.
"Well, I saw them on Maury Povich singing their last single, Ã?These Are the Days,' to a terminally ill little girl just two weeks ago!"
"That must have been a repeat," he breaks up even me.
So, naturally, my eyes roll back into my head in some constipated reverie regarding my favorite five guys who I thought I knew. Despite the fact that they are allegedly assholes (a fact I can personally contest, seeing as I once met Ashley at a Wal-Mart signing and he truly understood me), I can't help but summon a eulogy in my sick head.
Ashley, oh Ashley. He was the nice one. Always there when you ran out of your own hair products, and never, ever, offering anything close to politics or controversy with which to sour your obsession. An angel, indeed.
Trevor? He was a little scary in that urban, Dennis Rodman kind of way, but always seemed to play down his eccentricities with a genuine joie de vivre. I looked at Trevor and thought, "Go, go, go!" An inspiration, to be sure.
Jacob, however, touched the warm hearth of my more organic being. His religious relationship with a blonde bimbette, his unnecessary hair clumps, his painted finger nails: Jacob was the sensitive one. And I will love him for ever. TLF.
But I won't love Erik. He always struck me as that annoying ex-boyfriend on ecstacy that told you he was still in love with you, fucked you (poorly) and then left you for a girl.
And Dan? Dan was a late addition following contract foibles with the too-hot-for this popsicle stand Akiko. And he seemed, sadly, painfully homosexual. Although his hip-hop speak threatened to mask that, yo.
Just when my catatonic reverie threatens to have me escorted off property, I'm slapped back to cynical derision by the clanging of a death knell. A 400-pound twentysomething saunters by in both a trucker hat and a tiara (one over the other; you do the math), wearing an airbrushed T-shirt, tastefully decrying, "You down with OPP!" Do these things happen to other people? Am I the reckoning point for tired cultural manipulations fresh out of steam?
"So, uh, what's happening?" I Natalie to Cami's Blair. "Will there be an interview?"
"Ummmmm," she strings her bubble gum around her pencil eraser, "No. But I can e-mail you official things that the band have said."
That won't be necessary. But a razor blade might be nice.