Almost Famous

america
I was recently recognized for my writing efforts here on WordPress. Almost Iowa gave me a shoutout the other day, kindly asking his audience to have a look at my silly stories. I am forever grateful, and should take a moment to assure him that the check is in the mail. The flurry of new readers was a boost at a time when I’ve been trying to decide if this blog is worth the effort. I’m just not sure what it’s accomplishing. Or, rather, what I’m accomplishing.

There’s an old song by The Tubes wherein they ask the musical question, what do you want from life? I have a few short-term goals – a fulfilling job, a Super Bowl Championship for the Detroit Lions – but the “big picture” is still a little fuzzy. A three-book deal with Random House? A boatload of cash? To be famous? And would that be “Julia Roberts” famous or “Ed Begley, Jr.” famous or, say, “Tarek El Moussa” famous? Because I’ll need to specify when Lucifer shows up with the contract.

Not that I haven’t dallied with fame before. I once spent an hour and a half as a guest auctioneer during a Public Broadcasting fund-raiser at a local affiliate, panhandling exorbitant contributions from the erudite demographic in return for macramé renderings of the Yalta conference and sweatshirts bearing the message “Carl Sagan rocks my Cosmos” (yes, it was that long ago).

I also did about six months in front of the cameras as a traffic reporter for a television station in Grand Rapids, where I would offer up a pinched Steven Segal smile and point with wooden gestures at the monitors and switchers. It speaks volumes that, shortly after my stint, the station decided to forgo an “on-camera” presence and now simply shows the traffic maps while the reporter provides a disembodied voice-over.

And I’ve come within spitting distance of several luminaries. Richard Nixon paid a visit to my high school shortly before his empire collapsed under the weight of the Watergate scandal. As a member of the band, I sat in the stands behind the podium and took with me many memorable images of the back of the President’s head.

Then while passing through Aspen, Colorado with several other itinerants a few years later I spotted a man who, quite possibly, could have been John Denver standing on the sidewalk (as if the rusted station wagon with out-of-state plates wasn’t enough, someone in the vehicle rolled down a window and hooted “FAR OUT!” at an inappropriate volume, thereby leaving no doubt that the occupants could be anything other than bourgeois goobers). There was also that time I was walking through the terminal at LAX and recognized a vaguely familiar individual, after several minutes of deliberation, as a bit actor from The Dukes of Hazzard, I believe it was. His name never did come to me, only the thought that he appeared much less important in real life.

Of course, I have no room to judge when it comes to importance. In my real life, I feel lucky if I can get what few friends I have to answer the phone once their caller I-D has blown my cover. My most significant attribute may be the ability to stop a fully racing gas pump on an exact dollar amount more often than not.

And when it came to being vaguely familiar, there were those who claimed to see a striking resemblance between myself (in my long-hair days) and one of the founding members of the seventies folk/rock group America – the one with the glasses (see above). With that kind of cachet, I doubt I’ll be doing lunch with Ed Begley, Jr. any time soon. And that’s okay by me.

So, what do I want from life? Well, if someone is reading this, I think I have it.

Photo by Henry Diltz

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13 thoughts on “Almost Famous

  1. What do you want from life?

    In life, there is the doing and the having done. With writing, some people want to write, others want to have written. The people who want to write, enjoy the doing of it. Those who want to have written enjoy other things. This could apply to anything and fame is all about having done something.

    Of course, the ultimate is to enjoy the doing so much that the having done brings rewards – but rewards are fleeting and even though the doing of something doesn’t last – it is repeatable.

    • There’s also the distinction between WANTING to write (as for the blog) and HAVING to write (to earn a paycheck). The latter tends to be much less enjoyable.

      And so long as someone, anyone, is reading my words and finds them even slightly entertaining, then that is all the reward I need.

  2. Most of the time I feel *compelled* to write, sometimes I love to write (and sometimes not), and I always love having written. Interaction on the basis of what I’ve written is wonderful. I also co-sign your point about wanting to write and having to write for pay. Oh yeah.

  3. Well, there’s this: I don’t have a clue who Ed Begley, Jr., might be. I don’t remember ever hearing the name Tarek El Moussa, either. But I know your name, and I stopped by to see what you had to say. So, there’s that.

    I stopped obsessing over the Big Questions some years ago. There wasn’t any particular reason, I just became more interested in living than in constantly judging my life. If I’m honest (and regardless of how inane or stupid it sounds), my answer to the question, “What do you want out of life?” is pretty simple. I want to live, to be alive: responsible, honest, free in thought and action. It seems to me that, by starting there, what I do and the results it brings will become both less important and more satisfying.

    Just out of curiosity, and because it’s sort of related, have you ever read Jack Kerouac’s Belief and Technique for Modern Prose? I dig it out every now and then, just because.

    • Ed will be crushed, no doubt.

      I suppose the Big Questions will go unanswered, whether we obsess over them or not. And “not,” I’ve found, is a lot less taxing on the soul. Having come from a business where many considered themselves quite important, it’s a pleasure to focus on things that really matter: happiness, peace of mind, and a good story or two.

      And thanks for stopping by.

  4. I wonder if I can bask in your glory of nearly being famous as I can say that I’ve commented on your blog a couple of times now. Don’t stop writing, you always make me smile.

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