Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Friend Goo

Download: Goo Goo Dolls - "Long Way Down"
Download: Goo Goo Dolls - "Name"
Download: Sonic Youth - "My Friend Goo"
Download: Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

MTV has an article about kids who've been on the covers of famous modern rock records - i.e., Korn's and The Violent Femmes' self-titled debuts, Nevermind, etc. This article was of particularly great interest to me because one of the people profiled, Carl Gellert (whose photograph was used for the cover of the Goo Goo Dolls' breakthrough LP A Boy Named Goo), is a great friend of mine and was my roommate for almost all of the time I spent at college.

Here's the relevant text from the article, with some additions by me:
Carl Gellert
Famous For: Being the boy on the cover of the Goo Goo Dolls' 1995 LP, A Boy Named Goo

The picture of a 2-year-old Carl Gellert — with dirt smeared across the lower half of his face — that serves as the cover imagery for the Goo Goo Dolls' breakthrough release wasn't actually commissioned by the band's label, Warner Bros., for the disc. It was a photo his father, Vance, a professional photographer, had taken of him for a book he later published called "Carlvision."

"At the time the album came out, I was just going into seventh grade, so I was 12 or something like that," Gellert remembered. "I don't really know how it happened. I think somehow my dad knew the band's publicist, and the Goo Goo Dolls discovered the book, and they really liked the one picture so they went with it."

Carl's dad was paid $6,000 for use of the image that helped earn Gellert, now 24, the nickname "Goo" — one that's stuck with him throughout his entire adult life.

Having music nerds as roommates throughout your college career certainly doesn't get rid of said nickname either. Sorry about that.

What's especially funny to me about this is, during high school, I played in a band with a guy who almost exclusively pitched Goo Goo Dolls songs for us to cover. Being desperately, desperately, sexually frustrated, I, of course, went along for the ride. Take a guess as to how that turned out. So when I learned of Goo's celebrity, I thought it to be a rather amusing twist of fate. But then I thought back to the not getting any part and, needless to say, I took great pride in telling Carl about how much better The Replacements were and how they were doing the same thing that the Goo Goo Dolls did, but about ten to twenty years before. I think it was to the point where Carl had to control the urge to strangle me whenever I mentioned Paul Westerberg's name.

"I was actually going into a new school that year, and pretty much instantly earned the name 'Goo' before I even started school," he said. "At first, it was kind of lame, and I didn't like people calling me Goo. But by the end of that year, I had pretty much embraced it, and my friends still call me Goo."

Guilty as charged.

Like Ferrara, Gellert's not what you could call a Goo Goo Dolls fan ("I didn't dislike the album, I just wasn't a fan at all"). But his residence hall director in college was maybe a little obsessed.

"He had the poster up in his room, and had me autograph things," Gellert said. "He'd pester me almost every day about it. When he found out they were coming to town to play, he'd ask if I could get him free tickets, or get him backstage and meet the band. But in my apartment, there's no Goo Goo Dolls paraphernalia. The album is hanging up in my parents' houses, and I had it hanging up for a while. But I can't stand having it up any more. I have seen that picture way too much."

If Goo is talking about the person I think he's talking about, then this is even funnier (for me, rather. Obviously, I wouldn't be enthusiastic about people pestering me about this kind of thing every day). I clearly remember talking music to this person several times throughout the first year of college. Indeed, aside from the moving in day chatter, one of the first in-depth conversations I had with the resident hall director was about Who's Next. I also spent a lot of time convincing him to listen to The Replacements. Unlike most times when I try to convince people to do things, this actually worked. On more than one occasion when I saw him in the residence hall, he'd be whistling "Alex Chilton." Finally, a nerd wins out.

Like Elden, Gellert — who lives in Minneapolis and will be entering grad school soon to work on his doctorate in art history with a focus on archeological research — was initially, well, "mortified" when he learned his naughty bits (which are barely visible in the picture) were plastered across posters, T-shirts and billboards. "I thought it was cool after I got over my initial embarrassment," he said.

He also looks for the record when he goes into music stores, and has been asked more than a handful of times to sign copies of the disc. And he's often introduced to people by his friends as the kid who was on the Goo Goo Dolls' album cover, which sometimes leads to confusion.

"Most people, when they see me again, mistake me for the Nirvana kid," he said. "I'm always like, 'Nope, that was someone else.' Other people think I'm in the band — I'm just the baby on the CD. I'm not even the same guy anymore. It does make me feel like I have some small niche of fame. But at the same time, it wasn't anything I did for myself, so I'm not terribly proud of it. It is pretty cool, and I like that people think it's so cool and want my autograph."

So yay for Carl! He's one of the coolest, most laid-back people ever. To see his 15 minutes wind back up again is rather surreal and awesome.

Read the rest of the article here

(Jonathan Graef)

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Anonymous Autumn said...

Well, I know I'm going to sound rediculous, but I never realized Goo was, well, THE Goo. I thought it was just clever and slighly infantilizing nicname because he looked like the kid or something. I guess there's a reason for that. Wow. I'm a genius.

9:07 AM  

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