Following the closing-night performance of Groundworks 2001's week-long series of fundraising concerts, Belltown's Palace Kitchen was aglow with celebrity diners. Over the course of a few hours, members of Pearl Jam and R.E.M. were in the house, as well as Gwyneth Paltrow, whose hair had been styled that day by Hovercraft's Rick Peterson. ("She was very sweet," commented the Hovercraft drummer.) Michael Stipe and R.E.M. drummer Joey Waronker even managed to head up to Capitol Hill and stop by the Cha Cha for a bit. The next night at the Crocodile, fans of the Minus Five were treated to a surprise set by R.E.M. that featured several songs with guest vocalist Eddie Vedder. When he wasn't singing, Vedder happily fetched the band cocktails, again demonstrating what a swell guy he really is.

R.E.M. performed so passionately that even former fans who have gone off the band a bit were back in full appreciation (myself included), although it would have been nice if Stipe had known the lyrics when he "dueted" with Vedder on "Begin the Begin." The mood onstage was jovial, and the night was fun for all who attended, whether the appearance of R.E.M. was a surprise or not. On the Minus Five, one showgoer was overheard remarking during their set, "They're pretty good for an opening band." Hee-haw.


I try not to comment too heavily on Courtney Love these days, because the woman seems so afraid of becoming irrelevant she'd rather maintain a reputation for being a crazy bitch than be known as someone who once stood for scrappy, determined strength. Maybe she knows deep down that she can't sing and that movie roles mirroring her own life experiences won't keep coming along forever. Whatever the case, her motivations seem undeniably desperate these days. The latest, aside from her legal bid to gain the rights to all of Nirvana's publishing? Love's Tourette's-style meltdown on farty record industry chat site The Velvet Rope ( After a poster cut-and-pasted remarks that Love made on Hole's website--blasting current Geffen Records president Jordan Shur (she called him a pig and claimed he does coke... shocking!) as well as attacking Gary Gersh and John Silva, former record execs who now manage (among other acts) Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters--the widow Cobain signed on, and a whole load of misspelled name-calling, wife-insulting, and credential-busting ensued. At one point Love likened herself to Arab men in terms of her fierce loyalty to family. She warned Universal Records that she has hired private detectives (you don't say?) to track down the names of anonymous posters who may be label employees: quoted Love as posting, "My gentleman friend prints out said defamatory posts and puts them in a little file," while reminding all that "anonymity is a pretense" on the Internet. ("Gentleman friend"? Hey there, Blanche DuBois!) The Velvet Rope's owner Julie Gordon confirmed Love's claim that rock manager Irving Azoff is helping her to "terrify" GAS (Gersh and Silva's management company). Back in the mid-'90s I used to read the posts on Gordon's site, many of which were written by an excitable and well-informed ranter named Lilac and Clove. I haven't seen the site in over six years, and it's amazing to learn that Love will still explode all over a forum bursting with the industry types she hates. Fear of becoming insignificant is a powerful, destructive drive.