On Nov. 10 and 11, the British pop accompanist and cultural figure Morrissey played two sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl. I abounding both shows, absolutely with reservation: Morrissey, my longtime admired singer, artist and beard icon, is authoritative account afresh for his ambiguous comments, this time about Muslims, migrants, multiculturalism and men behaving badly.
I abode actual aboveboard in my book, “Mozlandia: Morrissey Admirers in the Borderlands,” that I accept been a Morrissey fan for decades and accept no affairs to stop. But my fandom ebbs and flows. These days, it ebbs. So, aback Nov. 10 came about — Morrissey Day, no less, as declared by the Los Angeles City Council — I bare article to admonish me of why this man, abysmal down, still mattered to me and the accoutrements of admirers who arranged the Hollywood Bowl that day and the next.
How to get in the mood? I comedy some best Morrissey, about 1992, the year I best accessory with my own fandom, aback his songs from “Bona Drag,” “Kill Uncle” and “Your Arsenal” were the abandoned ones I capital to hear. “Every Day Is Like Sunday” still stirs my emotions. And “Glamorous Glue,” bratty and brassy, struts along. The music I apperceive and adulation from 1990s Moz plays on, and my action grows. I sing forth to “Our Frank” and “The Last of the Famous International Playboys” and alpha to dress for the concert.
I put on my “Moz Angeles Aerial School” T-shirt, Levi’s and atramentous Doc Martens. I accelerate some anoint into my afresh achromatic beard and adjust it up into a little pompadour. A atramentous and red bandage from Manchester’s indie-league football club aloft a atramentous Dickies anorak with its sole Moz button that declares “I AM NOT A MAN,” the appellation of one of my admired songs from Morrissey’s 2014 album, “World Accord Is None of Your Business,” completes my outfit.
I attending like a Morrissey fan.
As I clump up the aisle to the Hollywood Bowl with my traveling companions, I watch the accoutrements of admirers authoritative their way up. Moz admirers are not clashing the decked-out Dodgers admirers swathed in their team’s colors, scripts and logos on bold day. (Often, they’re the aforementioned people.) And they’re not so altered from the paisley purple-clad Prince fans, or the Michael Jackson admirers who bedrock a distinct white bedazzled glove, a sequined adviser anorak and a tipped-forward atramentous fedora. Moz fans, too, accept a cipher that identifies them.
In his 2013 “Autobiography,” Morrissey wrote about his admirers in their “fastidious attire” of “‘Viva Hate’ emblems; art-hound Ts, catchbasin acme and accoutrements graffitied in Morrissey-code.” He invented this code, and admirers accept the message.
It’s apparent to see in these photographs, area the iconography of Moz appears in unexpected, occasionally buried combinations: scarlet red lips, aciculate eyeliner and gold hip-hop-inspired bamboo bandage earrings. Brown bark indelibly active with Morrissey’s name, face and lyrics. Oscar Wilde and Old English book amalgamate with bobcat prints, achromatic denim and Dickies jackets stitched with Smiths patches. And everywhere I look, I see abundant hair.
Morrissey’s quiff is his signifier. In Limerick, Ireland, the accepted Manchester Night affair at Dolan’s beckons its citizen Smiths and Morrissey admirers to ball the night abroad in their best quiffs, NHS spectacles, gladioli and Morrissey T-shirts. In Portland, Ore.,; Fresno, Calif.; and Hollywood, admirers beautify themselves with T-shirts, jewelry, badges, buttons and added commodity that affection Morrissey’s iconic image: angular jawline, arresting brow, close-clipped sideburns and alpine quiff.
Many Morrissey fans, myself included, pay admiration to him by cutting our beard like his, or by invoking the 1950s appearance about associated with Morrissey and his band. Our shiny, abounding atramentous beard looks aces swept up in anointed pompadours or pinup-girl curls, looks that admonish us of pachucos and pachucas, of motorcycle rebels and bedrock ’n’ cycle stars. James Dean and Ritchie Valens accommodated Frida Kahlo and Selena.
I am with my people.
“We attending to Los Angeles for the accent we use, London is dead,” Morrissey sings in his 1992 hit “Glamorous Glue.” He sang this song on Morrissey Day, and anticipation by the fans’ response, Los Angeles — abnormally the admirers — looks to Morrissey for the accent it uses. We allege in the idioms of the Smiths and Morrissey, swapping lyrics like lovers’ belletrist or fighters’ fists. We appearance our hair, acrylic our faces, boom our skin, don Doc Martens and Dickies and denim stitched with Smiths patches, bubble flags and Union Jacks.
The amusing outcast, outlaw outsider; the maligned and marginalized and misunderstood; the barren lovelorn and beggared depressed accept all begin acceptation in Morrissey’s music and lyrics, Smiths and solo, over the years.
For the moment, authoritative my way to my bench and amphibian in the sea of Moz Angeles fandom, I balloon the account about the man we’re all actuality to see. Afterwards all, Morrissey implores us to “stop watching the news” on his new song, so I heed his anxiety for now. I’m accessible for history to be fabricated at the Hollywood Bowl on Morrissey Day.
I attending about and booty in the scene. It’s a brittle autumn black in the Hollywood Hills, and electricity is in the air. Morrissey is here. And so are his fans, cutting their adulation on their sleeves, shirts and skins. It’s showtime and we backpack on, cat-and-mouse for the man who sings us to sleep.
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