Ed Driscoll

'Alternate-Universe James Hetfield Named Taco Bell Employee Of The Month'

At the Chicago Boyz econo-blog, “Carl from Chicago” links to a photo of a would-be rock star covered from neck to pelvis — and presumably beyond — in tattoos and writes:

As for this guy, is there ANY other higher purpose for him except to be a rock and roll singer? He is skinny, an ex-addict, and covered from head to toe with tattoos. He LIVES the rock and roll lifestyle, at least from the perspective of someone that just sees him up on stage.

The problem is that there are about 5 or so spots that can support a decent lifestyle and about 1 million people trying to attain one of those spots. I need to quote from my favorite source for actually-pretty-true-news, The Onion:

Alternate-Universe James Hetfield Named Taco Bell Employee Of The Month

You can’t really top that. According to Taleb (in a book review I need to write up someday) probably no one has gotten luckier than Hetfield; in a million other universes he ends up (at best) as employee of the month at Taco Bell; remember that this guy was an insane alcoholic for decades and only in the Rock and Roll business is that tolerated for so long.

And I’ve been meaning to link for the last week or so to an article on Charlie Gilmour, the son of legendary Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, being arrested for climbing the Cenotaph. That’s the London memorial originally built by Sir Edwin Lutyens in the wake of World War I, to commemorate British servicemen killed. Afterward, Charlie joined “the baying mob that surrounded Charles and Camilla’s car,” as the London Daily Mail reported.

Or as this New York Daily News article notes:

The son of legendary Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour has been arrested for taking part in the violent protests over student tuition that have engulfed London.

Charlie Gilmour was charged Thursday on suspicion of violent disorder and attempted criminal damage, British newspaper The Guardian reported.

The 21-year-old was also accused of damaging the Union flag on London’s Cenotaph, which is a monument in Britain honoring fallen soldiers, the BBC reported.

Last month he reportedly was caught on video grabbing a policeman’s helmet during protests, which also may have gotten him in trouble with London police.

“On the morning of Sunday 12 December, a [man] was arrested at his home address in Sussex,” a spokesman for London police told The Guardian. “He was arrested by officers from Operation Malone on suspicion of violent disorder, and attempted criminal … He was taken to a Sussex police station where he has been further arrested on suspicion of theft.”

Gilmour was photographed during the protests last week and publicly apologized Friday for having climbed on the Cenotaph during the protests, according to reports.

He also claimed to be high on LSD at the time of the violent protest and didn’t even know what the monument was when he was climbing it – despite being a history major at Cambridge, the Daily Mirror reported.

Veteran British music journalist Julie Burchill (the “Jools” in Pete Townshend’s “Jools and Jim” from his 1980 solo album Empty Glass*) got up quite a head of steam over the incident; here’s but a sample:

The cherry on the festive cake is that Gilmour is a history student who didn’t know what the Cenotaph was. What do you bet he thought THE GLORIOUS DEAD was the name of a band? Make no mistake, this was not a foot-soldier of the wretched of the Earth rioting in defence of his survival – this was the spawn of privilege and entitlement rioting in defence of his privilege and entitlement.

Charlie Gilmour was basically doing in miniature what his father and his musical partners have done for much of their career, bringing in millions of pounds of revenue as a result. But Kathy Shaidle uses the story of Charlie’s arrest as the jumping-off point for an interesting meditation on the state of fame and celebrity in the second decade of the 21st century:

When 20th century writers tackled the theme, those desperately seeking fame were portrayed (correctly) as freaks and/or villains: Bonnie & Clyde; Day of the Locust; the lone assassin; All About Eve

However, satirical warnings about the rise of such twisted individuals went largely unheeded and may have actually served as how-to guides and metaphysical permission slips.

We mock “people who are famous for being famous” but clearly they get something tangible out of this apparent ephemeral state or they literally wouldn’t be able to survive.

They are more accurately “famous for being rewarded for being famous,” perhaps through free meals and clothing, regular spots on TV then an advance for a quickie book and maybe their own line of perfumes and other products. It beats working.

Yes, young people crave fame because it looks quick and easy and often is. That was always the case. But one thing has changed: fame is no longer “fleeting” — which was the classical slap against fame and its shallow accolytes.

Rather, today you can almost never become “un-famous” — anymore than you can unring a bell or “unsee” a particularly disturbing viral video.

* * *

Shameful personal behavior has little impact on fame, any more than, Kelo excepted, you can never lose your home once you own it outright. Elliot Spitzer now hosts his own eponymous television show, to cite just one of countless examples.

So young people groping for fame may not be able to articulate their reasons why, but their instincts aren’t entirely unsound. They have considered the odds in their own slapdash way, observed the world around them, and believe they are making a good investment.

And for those who’d like to jump-start the process, here are “Eight Tried and True Ways to Get Famous Fast.”

As they say, what could go wrong?

* I like Empty Glass, but I’m more of an All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes man myself, for what it’s worth.