Salieri: Mediocrities everywhere, now and to come: I absolve you all! Amen! Amen! Amen!
I’ve written this book of opinions called This Is Your Brain on Pop. It’s my second book of opinions called This Is Your Brain on Pop, but this one has the following dedication:
For all the guys and girls who bought guitars after seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show and didn’t have an ounce of musical talent between them, and Buck Naked, who after all was just out walking his dog.
Is it pretentious to have a dedication if your book isn’t published, especially if it isn’t likely to be?
Pretentious is such a vicious word, because you’re only pretentious if your art sucks. People who can barely rhyme two syllable words love to mock Jim Morrison for wanting to be a Poet, but only being good enough to be a Rock Star. If you don’t like Jim Morrison, he became a bloated drunken fool. If you like Jim Morrison too much, either you say he blazed through life, a man of passion, dancing on fire until he was spent, or you direct The Doors with Val Kilmer and the incredibly miscast Meg Ryan. Most people who accuse others of being pretentious are people who tried and failed to be artistic or who never had the courage to be artistic in the first place.
So I have this book. I consider it finished. Unfortunately, for me, an unpublished book of opinions becomes dated every day. Tom Wolfe didn’t have to rewrite The Electric Kool Aid Acid test every time it became dated, but if he did he’d get to call it a new special updated edition and get more bread for it. Me, I just rewrite stuff and try to keep it somewhat current because I don’t particularly have the ability or gusto to sell it whether it has value or not.
Really, it’s more efficient to have opinions about dead people. Somewhere there’s a poor slob who had been trying to sell a book for years, where he told heartfelt stories about being a youth inspired by the life of OJ Simpson and every year that poor fellow gets a little bit more bitter.
Salieri: All I ever wanted was to sing to God. He gave me that longing and then made me mute. Why? Tell me that. If he didn’t want me to praise him with music, why implant the desire and lust in my body and then deny me the talent?
The coolest thing about Bob Dylan is that he never listened to anyone who told him that he couldn’t sing. Some people still say that he can only get away with singing because his songs are so good, but Dylan still thinks he sounds as good as Caruso.
Some people are talented and lack the drive to be successful. Others have all the drive in the world and just aren’t that talented. Every one of us has their own special excuse for why their life didn’t become the Playboy after Dark episode of their own choice.
We live in a Capitalist society so people’s ability to spend their time pursuing whatever thing they think constitutes art is doled out by either their ability to sell their art or their ability to have financed their lofty ambitions through some earlier successfully financial pursuit, be it founding Microsoft or being born Howard Hughes.
Here’s the essence of capitalism. People can spend hours arguing who the greatest drummer of all time was, but Ringo Starr’s probably the richest and that probably takes about 15 minutes of Google time to ascertain. Capitalism doesn’t want to hear how unfair it is that Kenny G sold more albums than John Coltrane, it just is what it is.
Never underestimate the power of Capitalism. I majored in Economics and not many Professors really argue that Capitalism is a good thing; they just pretty much acknowledge that it’s on the biggest winning streak of all time. Socialism? Nice idea but it’s 0-35. Not happy with that? Want to tell the Capitalist monsters to fuck off? Cool. Want to buy some tell the Capitalist monsters to fuck off t-shirts? How about some coffee mugs? We’ve got a ring tone that goes perfectly with that attitude. A lot of people think that’s a good thing. There’s a McDonald’s on every corner. Happy with that? I’m not.
Life as we currently know it is a competition to see who has to clean the toilets. No one particularly dreams about growing up and becoming a janitor, but somehow we live in a world with enough poverty where some people will kill for the chance to go into a bar and wash out the urinals and stalls after a busy Saturday night.
I met these really annoying people who called themselves artists once. They acted like the world was cruel because it ignored their innate unrecognized talent. They weren’t going to move to a big city where there was an art scene. They weren’t going to start a guerrilla art scene to promote their work. They just wanted the world to kiss their ass because they deemed themselves epically talented, and for all I know maybe they were.
Until we get the robots to take care of us, you don’t have the right to demand a living from your artistic pursuit, but you do have the right to do it to the best of your ability and throw it out there, which is what’s so fantastic about the Internet. The Internet is a museum with infinite wall space that lets millions of people throw something up on the wall and express something about what it felt like to them to be human
Some people say that 99% of it is completely worthless. I disagree. I pretty much think that anything done from a creatively honest place with noble intentions has value no matter how awful it might be. There’s a web site that collects pictures of dogs in bee outfits. I have no idea what possessed that person to put that thing up there, but I’m guessing wealth and world domination wasn’t in their future plans, which to me makes it art in the purest sense.
There was a running joke on the show Taxi, about how every one of the driver’s considered themselves to be something else. One was sort of a boxer, one was sort of an actor, and another was a wannabe artist, but supposedly Judd Hirsh’s Alex was the sane one because he knew that he was just a taxi driver.
What you do to survive shouldn’t define who you are. Hard work done honestly should never be mocked, but it’s a tragedy if that’s all there is to you. In reality, Alex was the insane one. Alex was the tragedy, because life had beaten him down to the point where being a Taxi driver was the only way he could see himself.