Author Archives: Alison Tavel

What’s In A Name?

I worked as an assistant for a high-profile musician and was helping him go through his wardrobe. There were Saint Laurent after Saint Laurent after Saint Laurent and Gucci, Celine and Tom Ford jackets, blazers, bombers galore. Stunning pieces. Every once and a while he would pull one off the hanger and say “donate” or “I’ll give this to a friend” or “this should go to storage.” And then he took a gold shimmery bomber jacket off the hanger and said “here, you take this one.” I graciously accepted and tried to keep my cool as we finished and I just set it aside out of eyesight for fear he would look at it and decide to take it back.

We finished going through everything well after midnight and he went upstairs to sleep and I walked to my car. As I gently lay the jacket in the backseat of my car, I saw the tag: Zara.

Bonsai Buddy

I once worked for an artist on tour who wanted to have a bonsai plant on stage for his set. On the first day of tour I found the nearest plant store and bought one. I watered it and let it get some sun everyday and did my best to take care of it and on the last day of tour about two months later I realized it was fake.

Best Seat In The House

I love Ludovico Einaudi. If you don’t know his work look him up. Beautiful composer & pianist. He announced a tour but by the time I found out about it tickets had sold out for his show in LA. I was crushed. I checked Craigslist a lot leading up to the show but nothing was fair except for one that surely seemed like a scam. 3rd row center, face value. I emailed. The guy responded and didn’t sound sketchy at all. He said his friend bailed and that he just wanted the extra ticket he had to go to a real fan since he would be seated next to them. I explained that I was he let me have it: $75 bucks for a 3rd row center seat with a very nice Ludovico fan. I bought him a drink as a thank you.

About 30 minutes in I had to go to the bathroom. I left during the first set where Ludovico had his entire band on the stage with full energy. It was amazing. But when I came back, the band had left the stage and Ludovico was performing a quiet piece on the piano. The usher told me I couldn’t go back to my seat until he was done. I took a seat in the back, no problem. His solo piano section continued on and about 20 minutes later, I got a text from my stranger date that said, “Hey everything ok in there?” I explained that I was sitting in the back of the room, and not taking a massive crap but he definitely didn’t believe me because when I got back to my real seat when the band came back to the stage, he asked again if I was sure I was alright.

Brace Yourself. It’s Gonna Be A While.

8th grade. Going into Freshman year. So many expectations. So many fears. I had braces throughout Junior High and had planned it so that I would get them off in June, before Freshman year started. I have always looked 10 years younger than my real age, and of course now I’m happy about it but when I was 14, not so much.

So my appointment was set for 8:15a in early June and my mom and I pulled up to the strip center where my orthodontist’s office was and was stopped by DO NOT CROSS tape and saw plumes of smoke in the air and fire trucks galore. Some fucking dumbass lit the dumpsters on fire and it caught on to the roof and the whole strip center was demolished.

No other orthodontists in the area felt comfortable taking my braces off (like it’s rocket science) so I had to wait 9 months before my orthodontist could find a new office to move into.

No one died so I figured I was allowed to be devastated and end-of-the-world level pissed.

When The Clowns Come

I hate clowns and I believe wholeheartedly that the energy you put out into the universe, you get back. If you say “I always trip” you’ll keep tripping. I believe this. So I’ve stopped saying things like, “clowns are just attracted to me” because over the past two decades or so, I’ve accumulated enough clown run-in stories to last a lifetime. I think, nay, I KNOW that they sense my fear.

One of the more recent times was while on tour, when we were on a drive from Houston to Dallas and decided to stop in Spring, TX for an early evening dinner. We got pho, our server who called himself “Thug Dog” showed us his butt tattoo, I thought that would be the main event of the night, but it wasn’t. On our walk back to the tour bus, which was parked in a strip center lot, everyone got really quiet and someone took my shoulders and pointed me towards a CiCi’s Pizza. I was so confused, everyone was laughing. Then I saw it: a clown, sitting in a booth alone staring at the ground, and then suddenly dropping his head onto the table. I turned around and the band was filming me. I made a run for the tour bus and as soon as I got in front of the bus, a spotlight hit me. My first thought was that I was on some kind of Boiling Point type reality TV show. I didn’t even know tour buses had spotlights!? The tour bus door opened and our driver yelled, “You’re late!” Somehow all of this was just a weird occurrence and there was no reality show. Our drummer handed me my left shoe that I had lost while sprinting back to the bus and we headed off to Dallas.

I’ve been afraid of clowns since I was a kid but the first real run-in I had was in 8th grade at a theme park Halloween “fright-night” where there was a circus tent. All of my friends wanted to go in, and made fun of me for not wanting to. Of course I was the only one in my group without a “boyfriend” (that would continue for the next two decades as well) so all of the paired-up people and myself walked into the circus. Long story short I lost all of my friends and found myself in a narrow mirrored hallway where fake clowns pop out from the walls but some of those clowns are real. I maybe slipped? I’m not sure but the next thing I know I’m on the ground and a clown is, I guess, trying to help me up. I pushed him out of the way and ran out. My friends were all waiting for me outside. I ripped the shoulder of my hoodie and lost my wallet and one of my friends had to go back in to the circus and find it. It was the worst.

The next instance was a few years later. I was playing hide and seek and decided to hide in a mirrored sliding closet. While quietly listening for someone to enter the room, I looked to my left to see multiple clown costumes and in a moment of panic, pushed the door outward. Except that it was a sliding door and it busted.

My senior year of High School I took a psychology class and we had to do a report on serial killers. We were all given names at random. Gacy The Clown was selected for me. I told my teacher that I was deathly afraid and asked if I could switch. She told me I could write about Gacy or take an F.

I lived in NY for a summer internship, and was taking a taxi in the middle of the day. We were in dead-stop, gridlock traffic in the East Village. It was hot and the taxi’s windows were all down. From across the street I could see a clown with a cardboard sign walking through the cars. I got spooked because he was looking right at me and I got my wallet out to give the taxi driver cash so that I could just get out the other side and make a run for it. I guess the homeless clown thought I was getting my wallet out for him and came up to the window and stuck his hand in. I threw the money at the taxi driver and ran about three blocks without looking back.

While walking down the Promenade in Santa Monica after just moving to LA, there was a clown making balloons for people. I took one look at him, and immediately crossed the street and rushed off. I looked back and saw that he was in a mad dash towards me. I took off running. After about a block he turned around. Needless to say I didn’t live in Santa Monica for very long.

I was at Lollapalooza minding my own business, waiting for a band to play and sitting in the lawn with my friends when a clown looking joker thing on stilts spotted me from like a football field away and then started circling me.

I was printing some materials out at Staples for a future presentation and it was Halloween and the guy helping me was the Joker. I really needed the prints. Not my favorite situation.

My boyfriend had a drum rehearsal studio space in Downtown LA, where parking is a nightmare. He needed to pick something up from the space while we were out so he had me wait in the car right outside of the building. I sat in the driver’s seat with my flashers on. I looked to my left and saw across the street a bloody looking clown sitting in a chair in front of a barber shop. I got out of the car and ran up to the doorman who was in front my boyfriend’s building and asked WTF was up with that clown. He explained that he worked at the barber shop and always dressed like that. I got back in my car and put the seat down and hid until we could leave.

And just a few weeks ago I went to the office of a producer I started working with and as soon as I stepped inside I saw a big huge life-size clown figure in the corner. He had recently produced a documentary called Wrinkles The Clown about a clown that parents hire when their kids are being bad (it looks terrifying and disturbing). So needless to say we’ll never be meeting at his office ever again.

And that is where these stories will end because clowns don’t follow me, they’re not drawn to me, they want nothing to do with me, and they don’t bother me. DID YOU HEAR THAT UNIVERSE????

Thank You Julie.

The artist I worked for was hired to perform a solo show in NYC for an ESPN Impact 25 gala honoring different female athletes. There would only be five of us flying to New York for the one-off show and then we would all head back home, as we weren’t on tour at this time. A couple of the flights got messed up with the travel agent, some name mix ups and a return flight destination was wrong. It was the day before we flew so it could have been a disaster if it wasn’t caught in time and corrected. I spent the entire afternoon emailing back and forth with a woman named Julie who worked for the event and helped solve everything in time. We made it to NYC and I was looking forward to meeting Julie to thank her in person for all of her help. By the time we finished sound checking we had to rush back to the hotel to change and get ready for the event.

When we arrived back at the event we had about 20 minutes until the performance, but the event had already started. I told one of the ESPN crews that I’d love to say hi to Julie if she was around. The woman told me to follow her and we went out into the ballroom where all of the tables were. A woman in a dress was seated at one of the round tables eating dinner. I thought it was a bit strange that one of the main event planners would be seated and eating during the event but maybe her part was over! The woman tapped Julie on the shoulder and introduced me. I shook her hand and said “I just wanted to meet you and thank you for all the help you gave us this week!” She looked suuuuper confused. I caught on that maybe this wasn’t the same Julie. I looked at her confused face and asked if she was the woman who had booked my flight here, and she said politely, “Nope, I’m a soccer player.” This was Julie Foudy, the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, two-time World Cup Champion and former captain of the US national soccer team. I looked at her and said “I’m so sorry, congratulations” as I slowly backed away and let her continue her dinner.

I got to meet the other Julie, the Julie that booked my flights after that. She was also very nice. All in all this instance went over way better than the time I met Peyton Manning and asked him what he was doing in Denver.

Kate Moss and the Paparazzi Shot

One year for Halloween I was in New York visiting my sister and decided that I would dress up as Kate Moss. I basically had the entire outfit, I just needed a blonde wig and a ziplock baggie to fill with baby powder that would act as cocaine. We got ready with her roommates and then met some other friends on the street and walked to the bar. At this point I was a few drinks in already and I remember the walk, but everyone was talking and there were other people out on the streets dressed up so there was a lot going on. 

The next morning I woke up and was bummed to find out we didn’t take any photos of our costumes. There were a few photos taken inside the bar but I was so sweaty that I took my wig off, so I just looked like a regular person with some cocaine on my nose. 

A couple of years later I got a text from an old friend from High School who sent me a photo of my friends and I walking down the street in NYC wearing our costumes from that Halloween.

I was so confused. She asked if it was me in the photo (she was confused because of the blonde hair). I said “yes and how the F*** did you get this photo?” She was at a bookstore and was browsing through a coffee table book and came across a familiar face: mine. I sort of started to remember a big bright flash when we were walking down the street but it was all a bit foggy. 

Half of me was so angry that whoever took this photo was making money off of it without my consent and the other half was so incredibly happy that there was finally a photo of all of us from the night. 

Also I feel I was never given enough credit for my costume. It was pretty spot on.

I found out from my friend who bought the book that it was called Street Boners and it was made by Gavin McInnes the crazy Vice hipster founder turned far-right advocate. I want to sue him.

“I Will Never Forget This”

After my freshman year of college I decided to do an internship in NYC for the summer. I found an apt on Craigslist that was a few blocks away from where my sister lived. My friend also had an internship lined up in NYC so we decided to split the very expensive rent in half and live together in a small studio apartment. 

This apartment was so gross. First of all it was 2007 and I told everyone at the time it was on 6th and C but it was really 6th and D (and I was too scared to walk on Avenue D). The studio was on the ground floor so there were bars on the one window that we had, and it was next to government housing so we always had interesting people walking by. Sometimes they would stop and talk to us and one time someone decided to stick their hand through the bars and open window (open because it was 100 degrees and we had no AC) and try to steal my iPod (it was 2007) that was sitting on the ledge. Going back to the temperature and not having AC: it was so blistering hot that when we were at the studio, both of us would lie in the full-size bed and put the random contents of the owner’s freezer (think frozen peas and vegan cheese) on our necks and foreheads to cool down. We never bought our own food because you could not pay me to try to use the “kitchen.” The whole place was maybe 175 square feet. When you walked in the bed was to the right, near the window. The fridge was at the foot of the bed and the kitchen/bathroom was straight ahead. There were rats, spiders, sometimes internet and no AC, all for the really not-reasonable price of $1750/month. I also had to put down a $1,000 deposit. The guy renting the space to us seemed really nice over email and while the place wasn’t great – for two 18 year olds living in NYC for the first time, we were so happy and made the most of it. 

At the end of the summer I made sure that the place was as clean as can be and emailed him that we were out of the space, the key was in the apartment along with his mail that had come over the 3 months. A lot of bills and “last notices” but I didn’t think anything of it. He didn’t respond to the email. I followed up to the email a few days later to make sure he’d seen it and to remind him that I needed my $1000 deposit back. No response. I called. No answer. I Myspace’d him (it was 2007!!!!!!!) No reply. For an 18 year old, and let’s be honest – even today, $1000 is a lot of money. I was FUMING MAD and even now, my blood boils thinking about it. Money aside, being ignored is my biggest pet peeve. It’s just rude. 

After many weeks and months of trying to get in touch, I finally called him one more time and when I got to his voicemail I just said “I WILL NEVER FORGET THIS.” and hung up. 

I moved on. But I never forgot. 

Then, one fateful day in late 2011 I was having a chat with my sister who still lived in NYC. She was telling me that her friend was coming into town to see a local band play a show. My sister looked up the band and, remembering my ongoing rants about this guy, recognized his name. She told me the name of his band but it didn’t sound familiar. I remembered when I was first emailing with him that he told me he was in a band and sent me some songs, but I was pretty sure that the band was called the Uplifters (which was ironic) but his full name checked out and the music was just as bad so it must have been him! I couldn’t believe it. My sister told me that her friend could put me in touch with him. I told my sister’s friend the whole story and low and behold, four years later, I got a response from him. He wrote a lengthy email apologizing for going MIA and promised to pay me $50 a month, until it was all paid back. Of course, it wasn’t that simple or easy. I would follow up each month, and every week after he was supposed to send a check but didn’t, until he did. It took three years – I looked back at my emails and I didn’t receive the last check until April 26th, 2014.

All in all it took seven and a half years to get my $1000 deposit back – – but I did it. Because I told him I would never forget. And I didn’t. The moral of this story is, don’t fuck with me. Oh and also karma. 

Hey Fellas

While on tour, sometimes we would get “day rooms” which were hotel rooms that you could use during the day, because at night we were normally sleeping in our bunks on the tour bus on our way to the next stop on the tour. Day rooms allowed us to have some privacy, or shower or just hang out in an air-conditioned space away from “home.” My bff on the tour Michael and I got to split a day room thanks to our tour manager, who was second to none in tour managing – I mean he just lived for this shit, he was so good at it. We found a case of beer in the fridge with a note on the counter from him that read something like: “Hey fellas, got some beer in the fridge for ya.” He loved hooking the band and crew up with thoughtful things like this so naturally we drank all the beer but I was so annoyed the whole time that he would call me a fella.

The next day I went up to him to ask him why he thought it was OK to call me a fella and he said that the beer was meant for the band Lord Huron who would be using the room that night after we left.


Rock & Roll & Retainers

About seven years ago I dropped everything (I didn’t have that much going on to be honest) and moved into a tour bus with five band members. I wasn’t in the band, I didn’t know the band & I had never toured. I also didn’t know I was going to be touring until two days before I was touring.  

The first day was a whirlwind. I had only met the band once before and had no idea what to expect. I flew to Tampa, FL and took a cab to the venue. I reintroduced myself to the band and basically just observed everything. I saw the show and was blown away. They were total rockstars and I knew I had made the right move. That night was the first night on the bus. I was on a high from the day. Getting ready for bed, I did what I always did: brush my teeth, wash my face, throw my hair up and put in my retainers. I got in my bunk, closed my curtain and went to sleep as the bus rolled on to the next city on the tour.

The first night of sleep was interesting. The bus driver forgot to mention that he took the bus for a wash during the night drive so I woke up in a total panic that we were driving through a hurricane. I sat up abruptly & hit my head on the ceiling (the bunks are small). The bus started moving so I figured everything was fine and got up to go to the bathroom. 

Normally, I sleep and pee when the ground underneath me isn’t shaking, like everybody else, so this was a bit weird. On top of that I was freaked out from the “hurricane weather” that had woken me up moments before so my head was a little hazy. I got back in bed and drifted back to sleep. I woke up feeling fine actually and excited about my first real day of work. I got out of bed and noticed that my retainer wasn’t in my mouth. I slid my hand under my pillow and pulled back my sheets. Nothing. I looked on the floor where the bunks were and in the front lounge and on the kitchen counter and in the bathroom. Most of the band was in the front lounge while I was searching and was obviously wondering what I was doing. Those clear retainers cost like $500 a piece. I had to find it. I swallowed my pride and said, “I lost my retainers in the middle of the night so if you see some clear plastic things………’s mine.” Everyone laughed at me, rightfully so. Fortunately…………or unfortunately, I would soon get myself into way more embarrassing situations than that one so no one ever made much fun of me for it after that. And it set the tone for who I was right off the bat, so, you’re welcome.

I came to conclusion that I threw it out in the wastebasket in my fuzzy state when I went to the bathroom and the bus driver had emptied the trash when we got to our destination. I never replaced my retainer and my teeth look the same. So joke’s on my orthodontist.