"Stay Real". It's a phrase I say to my friends all the time. It seems so simple on the surface, but it can actually be most difficult, especially in this industry that chose me. That's right. It chose ME, not the other way around like many think. I'll hit on that in a bit. But it has become so commonplace for guys in bands to try to live out their own version of "Behind The Music" by getting wasted, trying to snort ants or whatever the fuck stupid shit Motley Crue talked about in "The Dirt." I have seen the biggest and the smallest act a fool just because it's what's expected. Rock Stars. So predictable. My friend Fat Mike always puts things the best:
Kill The Rockstars.
I would never sit here and try to act like I have never been this way. I have done my fair share of insane, rockstar-ish things and wouldn't change a thing about it. If you're in a band, we all have our moments and are allowed to have said moments. It's one of the "perks", so to speak. But when the act blurs into reality is when you need to step back and re-evaluate. Too often by the time the "rockstar" realizes how fucked he or she really is, it's too late. Enter rehab. A great idea, especially for the chemical dependents. It helps people to "get clean" usually in a short period of time. The real problem isn't with chemicals you ingest. It's in your DNA. Look at how many of the people living in mansions on the hill, the rich and famous type, go into rehab. Not just once, but multiple times. My question is with all that money and free time, how come they can't figure it out? Maybe they're just not that smart to begin with.
Now if you're living on that hill and representing that "side" and reading this you're probably...wait...you're DEFINITELY a lot richer than I am, so take that to heart. That kind of thing usually makes your type feel better. I really don't like you. Not you, the person because I'm certain you may be quite pleasant. It's your given lifestyle I don't like. The privilege you were born into. It pisses me off. Perhaps it's jealousy, but I feel all good things should be earned, not handed down. If you earned it, good for you and accept my apologies; I'm a dick and keep working hard. But 90% of you didn't. You earned your money "the old fashioned way": you inherited it. I could say "in a fair world it would be that way for me", but the world is actually quite fair in it's own way. Because I do not like those kind of people and, as life is fair, I am not one of those people. At all. I have had to earn everything I have. I live a fairly normal, middle class lifestyle and I thank my parents for that. They challenged me to work for what I want and earn it. The right way. I tried. I failed. A lot. At times succeeded. But ALWAYS worked.
There is no job I won't do. Last week, I actually cleaned up human shit for the first time in about 15 years. Yes. I have cleaned up human shit multiple times. And no. It was NOT my own. I don't care if you're disgusted. I was the one cleaning up the shit; not you. I did it for my uncle. And no, he didn't shit on the floor. The sewer backed up. He lives a very simple life and is a very proud man. He hates asking for help but I think he realized awhile ago he may go blind some day. Just like his father, my grandfather, had. He reminds me a lot of my grandfather. I have very faint, but clear memories of my grandfather, so figure this man, is who I'm supposed to be here for right now. For that particular day, I mean. I am lucky to have been blessed with a profession that has offered me the time to spend with him. Even if it's spent cleaning up his shit.
In September, my father was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I have spoken about it on my blog and with friends. It's not a weird thing for me to talk about. He is living with cancer. But, here is my male role mode. I know that though he is slowly fighting this horrible disease (and winning!). It's tough for him to be tired and feel so weak. It's tough for me to see him like that. I again, have been blessed. I have been here at home with him: Going to every chemotherapy appointment, making sure he's taking care of himself, and just hanging out with my Dad. I have to say, he's pretty good about taking care of himself. My mom is getting older too, but don't tell her that! Just kidding. She is in very good health, though she will tell me CONSTANTLY how her hip and hand hurts. I tell her my ears hurt from hearing her bitch about her hip and hand. I know. I'm an asshole. Even to my mom. But I love her. It's always good to spend time with her, even if she makes me crazy.
My grandmother is the best. Every other Thursday after my Dad has he chemotherapy session, she cooks dinner for us. And man, this is not just some soup and a sandwich. It's a feast fit for kings. It's also probably the reason I've gained weight, but I'll do some more sit ups. She's about to turn 89 and can't walk very well, but she still gets around the kitchen and cooks up a storm. She is incredible. It's not really hard to talk about my family. These are MY stars and I am their biggest fan. They taught me how to appreciate what I have been offered in life. They taught me that the measure of a person is not based on their possessions, but on their goodwill and their kindness to others. I was taught to treat people as you want to be treated. Be kind. Kindness will follow.
What an amazing concept, huh?
BE KIND. KINDNESS WILL FOLLOW.
It seems even life's simple tasks have become nearly impossible for today's "stream lined society". There are times my mom says things and I blabber in my thickest douche-bag-laden tone, "It's 2010, Ma, not 1965." I should punch myself for being such a schmuck. Think about it: something as simple as a man holding a door open for a lady is all but extinct. Do you say "thank you" when that door is held open for you? Do you smile at the person? Even make eye contact at all? I think Politeness needs to be taught in school like English or mathematics. It's like we've been trained to show no emotion out of fear that someone wants something from you.
People that are considered "celebrities" are even more on their guard. They have every right to be. To the normal citizen, these celebrities are just pictures in a magazine or an image on their TV or computer screen. To the layman, these people are not "real" and the image that they portray are who YOU think these "stars" are. You can read every blog, fan site, and interview that they do but no matter what you may convince yourself YOU DO NOT KNOW THEM. You know WHO THEY WANT YOU TO SEE. I have heard or read so many times "So and so is such a dick because he wouldn't..." Just fill in the blank. Sign this or that, talk to my friend on my cell phone, give me a hug, stop and talk to me about this or that. Fans put such high expectations on their heroes that a lot of times they are unachievable. Here's the truth, kids:
CELEBRITIES ARE HUMAN BEINGS.
They make mistakes. They make bad choices. They say stupid things. A good majority want to live "normal lives" when they are not working and would really rather not be bothered when they are out to dinner with their families. But they are "public figures", are they not? They should be held to a "higher moral standard" because they are under the spotlight all the time, right? Because YOU spend your money on them, they should be at your disposal if they are in eye-shot, right? WRONG. If you think this way, you are FAR worse than the celebs who think their shit doesn't stink. Again, life is fair and if you're a hater, hate will always come back around on you.
Staying Real is a concept for everyone.
I have a friend who recently had a fan park outside his home, take pictures of his house, dogs, and then after he got home, went up to the house, knocked on the door and ASKED FOR PICTURES! THEN the fan blogged about it, posted the pictures and after reading her blog, seeming thought it was no big deal. I'm sorry but that is just FUCKED FUCKED FUCKED!! I know that people can get crazy about their favorite "star", but give me a fucking break! If someone was camped outside of my house, I'd bring them a cup of coffee and ask them to kindly be on their way. Thank God no one cares enough about my band to do that, but privacy is important to everyone. How would you like it if someone came to your house and harassed the shit out of you? You'd call the cops. For celebrities this can be a daily occurrence.
This is a two way street, folks. Some of my friends are more well known than others, but I was always told to treat everyone THE SAME. That's what I do. I don't care if you sing for a Grammy award winning group or pump gas; if you are a good person and treat me as such, we can hang out. I don't freak around "celebs" because they are just people like you and me. I'm not saying don't ask for autographs and pictures! By all means, most celebs in the right setting will be more than happy to sign whatever you have or take a picture. But if you get a weird vibe from them if you approach them to do as such while they are eating dinner, understand why. Don't be a lurker.
To you "stars" that give a shit, remember: THIS LIFE CHOSE YOU. If you are self aware, you may think you're good enough and deserve it, but you also know in the back of your mind that there is always someone smarter, faster and better at what you do. YOU are blessed and it is because of your fans that you are allowed to continue to do what you love. Don't take them for granted and shut them out. Don't feel like you "deserve" things just because you're face was on Perez Hilton's blog or whatever. Try to maintain some sense of normality.
But both sides, here's the most important thing: CHILL THE FUCK OUT. If you just do that, I bet life will get easier for everyone. But what the hell do I know?
I'm just a sax player in a ska band.