When I want to be a 9-year old country girl in the back of a pickup truck who’s shaking her ass, I reach for “Party In The USA.” When I want to be an alley dwelling derelict who’s roaming the city alone at midnight looking to score drugs, I reach for “LA Woman.” When I want to be an international hustler whose survival in the world has a life-arc bigger than ending-up on the side of a milk carton, I reach for “Paper Planes.”
Hanging on to your edginess is a waste of time. Pretending one rock star is more legitimate than another rock star is a waste of time. Debating artistic merit is a waste of time. They’re all sell-outs, which for me, personally speaking, is an endless source of envy.
I tried. I really did. I tried to be a rock ‘n roll sell-out. It didn’t happen.
I had a rock ‘n roll band. No one liked it. I sang. No one liked it. I threw a gigantic party in the summer of 1996, when I was given the opportunity to run the Chill Tent at Lollapalooza. Everyone liked it.
But I went bust, ending-up with a debt it took my younger self damn near 4-years to pay-off, working a job as an advertising sell-out, hating myself every day I walked into an ad agency, hating myself for the life I felt locked out of, but caught a glimpse of, when I was the Master of Ceremonies in the Chill Tent at Lollapalooza, in the summer of 1996, for 2-days.
I even slept in the Chill Tent, between the 1st and 2nd day, I so badly wanted something big to happen in my little, little life. It didn’t.
Turns out, catching a glimpse of something big can be the worst thing that ever happens to you. Especially when it’s taken away, never to be seen again, not from the perspective of doer, but instead, from the perspective of watcher, from the perspective of just another person in the vast, vast audience.
The only way to let go, and heal, was to stop going to shows, for damn near all of my 30’s. Finally, halfway through my 40’s, I started going to shows again.
I see it for what it is.
Miley Cyrus is a gorgeous brat with Disney Starlet DNA and a low class daddy who pimped her out. Jim Morrison was a gorgeous brat with sexy flowing hair only a guy with a JewFro full of hair gel can fully fall in love with. MIA is a gorgeous brat with lipstick the color of fearlessness.
I’m doomed to be alone. Don’t worry, Mom, I’m good at it.
Speaking of being stuck and not knowing any better, my band was called Gumption Trap. It was the worst name in rock ‘n roll history. Jim Morrison took the name for his band from The Doors of Perception. I took the name for my band from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
If only I was kidding. If only I could blame the inevitable demise on the name of the band. If only I’d gone to law school.
Just what the world needs, another overeducated, overpaid liar with a law degree. My 20’s might not have crescendoed with me shirtless on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, just before an oh so glamorous drug overdose. But at least I spent my 20’s making decisions like I was in my 20’s.
Most of my friends who are successful spent their 20’s being 40. They were old before they were old. At this point in the journey, I’m halfway through my 40’s, which means my friends who are successful spent most of their lives being 40.
There’s nothing wrong with being 40, don’t get me wrong. I’m 45 and loving it. I’m glad to be here. But I wouldn’t want to spend my entire life preparing to be old by pretending to be old.
Sure, they own cars I can’t afford to look at. Sure, they throw $300K bar mitzvah parties with scoops of ice cream the size of spinning rims in martini glasses the size of Cadillac Escalades.
Here’s the downside: they make me feel bad about where I am, even though, in reality, it’s me doing it to myself, by comparison.
Here’s the up-side: when I see Miley Cyrus twerking, I see it for what it is.
Miley Cyrus is a gorgeous brat, shaking her ass bone to get more attention, more money, more time in the spotlight. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are gorgeous brats, shaking their funny bone to get more attention, more money, more time in the spotlight. The only difference being, they have SNL Starlet DNA and the role of pimp daddy is being played by Lorne Michaels, a class act.
I call them gorgeous brats, but it’s a half-truth. They’re not brats. They’re success stories, big time success stories.
I admire the ability to blend gorgeousness, youthfulness, recklessness, ambition, heart, musical ability, sense of humor, discipline, all tied together by luck, to crescendo with twerking at the VMA’s, or even better, making fun of twerking at the Emmys.
If it was easy, anyone could do it. It’s not easy, anything but. And if getting to the tippity top is difficult, staying there is damn near impossible.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, when I want to be a cranky genius, cloaked in every shade of black known to man, I reach for “Hurt,” the masterpiece by Nine Inch Nails, re-imagined by Johnny Cash.