I always wanted to be famous. Somehow it seemed like the most effective way to feel validated and significant in this big wide world. But lately, I am not so sure.
I grew up in an area rife with celebrities and soon-to-be celebrities… not in the L.A. “I’m-not-really-a-waitress” way but in the “we-made’the 60s-what-it-was” kind of way. My parents saw all the great bands of the 1960s and I grew up with the offspring of these folks… Garcias and Harts and Greenes and the ensuing entourages. Fame in the 60s seemed like a small accessory to a pretty cool life.
By the time I got to high school in an area not far from the Lucas Ranch and in a town known for location filming… think Cujo (that was actually my house… 635 Baker St., Petaluma, California), American Grafitti, Peggy Sue Got Married among the more well known… I was celeb mad. But not for the low key (and now I think much more authentic) fame of the 60s, but for the glam of the music celeb world and big time movie stars. I had autographed pictures of Harrison Ford, Steve Martin and pretty much any band I could chase after. We all wanted to talk about how we knew our classmate Noni Horowitz when she was cast first in Lucas and then Beetlejuice as Winona Ryder. We were unspeakably cool because Primus and Faith No More (Mike P’s second gig after the more locally revered Mr. Bungle) played all of our local venues repeatedly, Victim’s Family was one of our faves that never quite cracked the threshold as the others did. No one even got psyched for Green Day back when they came up from Berkeley in 1989… just another local band…. We knew how to get tickets and passes to nearly every show because someone always knew someone who knew someone who knew someone…
But these days it seems we have gotten lost along the way. I am not sure when it happened, but suddenly the interest got invasive. I read all the gossip websites and People, US Weekly, Hello, OK!, even Star on occasion, so I know I am part of the problem… but I worry for the overall social consequences. I have begun to expect to know the intimate details of people’s lives, which I would die if people knew about me, and we say it is the cost of fame. Why do we care about Clinton’s indiscretions, but JFK was a-ok? Why do I know that Anna Nicole had abcesses on her ass from injections when she died, or the style of undies Britney does not wear? How come I don’t know Owen Wilson, but I know about his darkest secrets? I think there is a difference between fame and celebrity. We know who is famous… they don’t need to do much about it. The celebrities on the other hand must costantly shock and awe us with their antics and appearances… perhaps it speaks to their need for valiadation… or our hope to grab onto a small piece of it?
Maybe I still long for fame… but if I ever do achieve it outside of my own consciousness I hope that is a sort of reluctant, cool, old school fame; think Hunter S., Nicholson, Dietrich, Coppola, Benicio DT, Emma Thompson, Grateful Dead, Hepburn… you get what I am after.
When I was little I thought fame would make me a better, more important person. Now I find myself thankful that I have been saved from it… if not still just a little hopeful for a taste… just a little….