Tom Cruise passed through Aberdeen Washington lasterday to promote his dead in the water Mission Impossible flick. Previously, the former logging town with a few dozen EPA identified hazardous waste sites and few trees left, has only been known as the depressing northwest town that the angst ridden white trash bands the Melvins, Metal Church & Nirvana fled as teens.
A current local band tried to ride the publicity wave, Black Top Demon, who played guerilla style across from the mall in front of a beat-up van labeled "Porn Star Official Training Vehicle." They also lugged a trunk lid from a 1968 Dodge Charger with autographs from members of Nirvana, Motorhead, The Melvins and Mudhoney to the event. They wanted Cruise to sign it too.
The mayor seemed pleased with all the hub bub brought in by the Hollywood publicity machine, telling reporters "people will ... see the harbor isn't so bad after all."
"The fishing is gone, the logging is gone," The mayor said. "But we still have come back to be the great city that we are."
The mayor then gave Cruise a plaque commemorating Tom Cruise day in Aberdeen, a town that has long lived under the lurking chemical haze & stench of the nearby mills, where many of the citizenry worked. Last I heard, the mills were slated for closure by early 2006. The town is hopefully gearing up though to welcome a proposed $40 million bio-diesel refinery.
Many of the area's 16,000 residents live below the poverty line in old run down company town housing. I visted there once on my way to a Melvins show in Seattle to see where those guys grew up and could see why their music was so twisted, and why they got out as soon as possible. There was a pervasive sadness in the atmosphere, and likely as many beat up wives, little christian churches as lonely liquor stores...besides the Wal Mart, one of the major employers is the new Stafford Creek Correctional Facility. Statistics show Aberdeen's rampant unemployment and downward economic mobility, has lead to a spate of social ills including alcoholism and meth abuse. The day before Cruise arrived in the area someone shot at a local high school from a moving car.
Apparently the seasoned Scientologist & his PR machine was there as a contest prize won by a lucky Wal-Mart employee. A red carpet was rolled out in a rural shopping plaza, and the Wal-Mart employee & his family & friends timidly walked past a phalanx of cameras & screaming lookee loos. Kevin McCoy , the winner of the online sweepstakes said it was the first time his whole family including his divorced parents , 3 sisters & 3 brothers were gathered together in years. See folks , proof Scientology does work !
Cruise's PR machine, which for 14 years was driven by legendary pro Pat Kingsley, of PMK seemed to fall apart after he let his sister Lee Anne DeVette and his own C/W productions handle it. An article from the Hollywood Reporter circulating on the wires today details the problems many stakeholders like Casio & Nokia had with Cruise in getting approval & contracts signed for Mission Impossible product tie ins, and joint promotions going.
Nowadays Cruise has allowed his controversial religious beliefs to dominate the headlines, and seems to be struggling to control a backlash, (which ironically was the name of a Seattle newsprint zine that I regularly read for news on Aberdeen's Nirvana etc at the turn of the grunge era).
Cruise arrived in the sad little northwest Washingto town via private jet, and his entourage, including fiancee Katie, signed autographs and rushed through town in black SUV's with tinted windows. Chain link fencing was put up to protect TomKat from their fans, some of whom had spent the night to catch a glimpse of the high powered Thetan with a close personal relationship with Xenu.
A local 911 dispatcher ho took the day off work told a Seattle paper "I can live my life and say I saw Tom Cruise in person"
At the local taverns and around town, many were non-plussed, like supermarket worker Tanya Murray who told The (Aberdeen) Daily World last week. "I couldn't care less that he's coming. I like his movies, it's just everything else. He seems to be such a jerk." A local carpenter at the Passage Tavern sipping from an oversized can of beer told a reporter "I could care less, I'm just not really into the whole movie actor kind of thing."
According to The Longview Daily News nearby local radio stations KSWW-FM and KJET-FM planned to hold an Oprah-style couch-jumping contest in their parking lot Tuesday, but dropped the idea after they said reps from Paramount had asked them not to emphasize Tom's oddball personality .
"They felt it reflected poorly on Tom's image," said Tom Schlaht to the Seattle Post Intelligencer of Selmer's Home Furnishings, which had provided a sofa for the contest.
One woman reportedly held up a sign that “Tom Cruise, what did you do with the placenta?” another said “Scientology is an evil cult” above the cartoon figure Stan from “South Park”, that lady was led away by security, never to be seen again.
Ironically, Cruise is not the first entertainment industry PR blitz to roll through, as 10 years ago Metallica were there for a similar contest stunt broadcast by MTV. Said one 37 year old woman to the Seattle Times "That's like the only other thing that ever happened here."
A local radio station employee told a reporter "this is the biggest thing since Franklin Roosevelt was here".
Melvins - Shit Storm
Nirvana - You Know You're Right
Nirvana w/ Meat Puppets - Lake of Fire
Rev. Payton's Big damn Band - Aberdeen
Metal Church - Into Dust
Metal Church - Battalions
Nirvana - Dive
Melvins - Revolve on KZOK