whipchick (whipchick) wrote,

I Wanna Be A Rock Star

I want a brand new house
On an episode of Cribs
And a bathroom I can play baseball in
And a king size tub big enough
For ten plus me

We’re sitting in a circle on the stage floor, talking about why we’re doing the career we’re doing, how we got here. This is an arts high school, the kids audition to get in and to stay in, they ride buses at 4AM from the far-flung corners of orange grove country, they bag groceries or run cash registers on Saturday mornings and come back to school for rehearsals, do their homework when they’re not in that scene, run lines in the hallways between classes.

My teaching partner is seven years my junior, he graduated from this school three years ago, he’s out in LA trying to make it, doing MTV dating shows and getting more tattoos. The rows of circles on his forearms line up exactly, blending into each other when he presses his arms together to hold a microphone.

“What’s your goal in Los Angeles,” someone asks, “What do you want to be doing out there?”

Jarrid says, “I wanna be a rock star.”

I'll need a credit card that's got no limit
And a big black jet with a bedroom in it
Gonna join the mile high club
At thirty-seven thousand feet

It’s easy to be dismissive, Rock star, sure, of course that’s what the spike-haired kid wants, to fall into the trap his parents did of thinking there’s nothing beyond ADD and not going to college, nothing but pipe dreams and bar-back jobs.

But one of the kids in this circle is smart enough to ask, “Why a rock star?” Smart enough to distinguish that there’s a reason people say rock star instead of musician, or Broadway instead of actor.

“Because that’s how I can get to the largest number of people,” Jarrid says. “I love making music, and I want to share that music with as many people as possible. Performing in stadiums and arenas is how to make that happen.”

I wanna be great like Elvis without the tassels
Hire eight body guards that love to beat up assholes
Sign a couple autographs
So I can eat my meals for free
(I'll have the quesadilla on the house)

Hey hey I wanna be a rock star

So rock star can mean limos and cocaine, or even just trading up to air-conditioned venues with a dressing room instead of changing in an office or a tent, or it can mean getting the message out.

Right now, I want to do radio. CBC Canada. NPR in the United States, BBC in London. I want to stand up and tell stories on The Moth, I want to be quirky on This American Life, I want to bring back jewels of story from India and South Africa and get someone to pay my expenses while I do it.

Why? Because it’s how I can get to the largest number of people. Because I am egotistical enough to think I am blessed, to think I am talented and lucky and brave. Because I have studied and practiced the tools to tell stories. And I believe that having those traits confers obligation, that those of us who are able to make stories must find those who can’t, find out what they need to tell the world and tell it for them. That being brave enough to journey in the world means you must watch every detail and shape the events to sing your saga on the way back, share the quest with those at home around the fire. It’s how we earn our keep, not just in cents per word but in words and sense, in letting people know, you were right to stay behind, or next time, you should go.

whipchick is only a little embarrassed to be quoting Nickelback. What's the best medium you can think of to get your message out?

Tags: declarations of intent, monday questions, non-fiction, speech fodder
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