Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Self-Baking Fruitcakes

I once knew a guy who idolized David Lee Roth. He thought the essence of all music was "pizzazz". He'd wear Spandex and hop around on stage during band shows. Well, not "hop". He sort of blumpthed. I know that's not a word, but that's what he did, for criminey's sake.

And, let me tell you, Spandex is a mystical, magical fabric. The pressure per square inch inside that suit must have been immeasurable, forced outward as it was by his unreasonable rotundity; yet, it did not burst. It does, however, have opacity limits, as only a drummer, like myself, can see from his unique vantage point when a singer decides to crawl toward the audience, a la Roth.

So, this pumpkin of a chap would loll around on stage, wrapped in bumpy neon slipperiness and hocking out his own version of "Jump" in front or a room full of frozen, open-mouthed faces. If I were a woman, I would venture a guess that the mere sight of it would have been enough to instantly turn me asexual.

The thing is, this guy really thought he was doing an impressive Roth. Everyone else in the room, with the exception of, perhaps, his mom, was aware that an epileptic bison with a foreleg limp and questionable taste in sonnets could have done better. But the blumpther wanted to be Roth so badly that he believed he had what Roth had -- whatever that was. (See the "Panama" video to draw your own conclusion. Personally, being reminded or Diamond Dave's very existence makes me feel kind of weird.)

I've made some bad calls, myself, on this level, if not quite as epically embarrassing. As a musician in a cover band, I have picked songs to sing and realized, later, that the choice was wishful thinking -- just because I like Sting, for instance, doesn't mean I can hit the same notes. As a lyricist and a songwriter (even as a teacher, which he once was), I identify with the guy in a lot of ways, but it doesn't mean I am him. It doesn't mean I can automatically do the same things he can.

What if the problem goes farther? What people were to pick life-paths based on a wish that these paths were suited for them or based on inspiration alone? Say, for instance, a guy decides to be a trial lawyer because he once saw And Justice for All, and, inside, he wishes he were a dynamic neo-Pacino. Then, not having realized he had little talent for words and argumentation, he winds up spending a career wallowing in inadequacy. Or, imagine a person who so loved a particular teacher that she decides, when she grows up, she is going to do that too and she commits to that idea. But what if she has no talent for teaching?

I'm not one of those people who believes we can be whatever we want. I found the movie A Beautiful Mind to be engaging and even inspiring, but, try as I might, I will never have mathematical genius like that (and, hopefully, not the same mental issues, though only time will tell . . . twitch).

Wishing we were like someone else who inspires us does not make it so. This seems pretty obvious. But we can delude ourselves. Somewhere along the line, the internal recipe can get messed up and our subconscious awareness of our own inadequacies can get blended up with a pinch of ego and a cup of emotion and we can wind up baking ourselves into a pretty crappy fruitcake. And you know what happens to those.


  1. *Acts shocked that we cant be anything we want*
    *Pauses and looks at 80s style crowd*
    *Begins slow clap in 80s style*
    *Standing ovation accompanied by inspiring hair metal or something of the like*


  2. Hmmm. I have to ponder this one. I don't necessarily disagree with you (although I have SUCH a hard time letting go of the "you can be whatever you want to be" credo. I was brainwashed well.) But I'm wondering how this fits in with your recent musings about not killing the dreams of teenagers?

  3. A gal-derned good question. I think, in that post, I referenced teaching kids to revise their dreams to make them work as opposed to encouraging them to throw those dreams away. I would argue that if the blumpther above can't be a rock star, he could certainly become a concert promoter . . . that sort of thing. I guess if you know yourself well, you can figure this stuff out for yourself and I guess that is what I'm making a plea for: know thyself. Maybe we should revise the old cliche into "You can be anything in the neighborhood of what you want to be." But there's nothing wrong with a positive attitude, for sure.

  4. For the record, I did like the post, you spoke the truth, even if people dont want to hear it, I was just in a weird mood earlier today.


  5. No need for apology. I can sense a genuinely weird mood from miles off. And I liked your weirdness.

  6. "You can be anything you want to be...but don't quit your day job." (Why yes, I am engaged to a musician, why do you ask?) Apparently Papi's weird mood is contagious. Who knew? :) But.. fair enough... pursue your dreams, but work within your limitations. Or that of your pants' fabric.

  7. Alas, there's a weird vibe around this whole stinkin' blog . . .huzzah! And, yes, the whole fabric limitation policy is so, so very important. [shivers with the memories; curls into fetal position]