I've Always Been This Awkward - Five


What ever happened to Sal? You know, Sal from Blueberries for Sal; Robert McCloskey's Caldecott Citation winning children's book first published in 1948? That Sal. Beautiful book. Cute story with the adorable parallels between Sal and her mom and the little bear cub and his mom. Sigh.... You read it. I read it. My child read it. Your child will read it. But what happened to Sal? Was it the same morbid fate of many of our child stars: drugs, prostitution, promiscuity, religion? I want to know. I'm curious and stuff. What ever happened to Sal? I was just wondering.

I wasn't a child star or the subject of an historic and heartwarming book but from time to time I have been a local or niche celebrity. I probably will be a local or niche celebrity again. Some things you just cannot control. I'm like the weather.

I can only begin to really imagine what it must be like for actual "stars" (or that perverse category called superstar). All the perks, all the passes. People clamoring for photos and autographs. I mean, just for the little goofy stuff that I've done I've been offered or provided, unsolicited liquor, drugs, sex, money, and food. Perks! Additionally, I've been given access to places and opportunities free of charge (or deeply discounted at the discretion of those in charge) on many an occasion. Passes! And I've posed for pictures and signed my name for people. For some reason. I've endorsed checks too (I think I gave Lily 90% of future revenue in perpetuity).

I never really understood the fan side of celebrity. My heroes have mostly been a bust (think: Allen Funt). What is an autograph, anyhow? Sure autographs have become a commodity of sorts, having an intrinsic as well as mark-up value, but in its essence, what is an autograph? It is proof that you actually met someone, right? It's lie cover. Is it the best of lie cover? No. Signatures are easily forged. Opt for the photo if you can. Or better yet, you can purchase custom, authentic, branded merchandise (just wait for it, it all makes sense soon).

Fandom is kind of a weird thing. Sure there are people whose work I've enjoyed and respected enough to want to meet them. Kind of. Sort of. I guess. I'd probably enjoy sitting for tea with.... Uh. I'd surely enjoy eating a burger with, er...with.... I'm a bit stuck right now, help me out. What kind of fan am I?

[Pause for phone call to figure out who'd I'd be a fan of...]

Yeah, I wouldn't exactly hate to have a coffee with a Richard Kern or Dave Naz or David Cross. Or it wouldn't kill me to share a cocktail with Jack White. Or, Lenny Kravitz. Shit, I'd even have a face-to-face with Michael Jackson. You have issues with that? I didn't think so. I would be really interested in how they process the world. But, would I ask any of them for an autograph? No I wouldn't. When I told people of celebrity exploits they would either have to believe me or not. I cannot control that. But would I pitch a project to Jack White? Probably. Would I sell a little Ty Hardaway™ to Lenny Kravitz? You bet, I'd try. Would I steal something from Michael Jackson? Hell yes!

Fandom, however weird, is essential to the business. And what exactly is America but a big ass business. Fandom provides purpose. Fandom adds dimension to individual and collective contexts. What is an election but a big fan contest like American Idol and all the rest.
To this end, let it be known that at Middlespace Industries of America we work deliberately and in a manipulatively calculated manner to create such fine brands as Ty Hardaway™, we give the fans what they expect from the Ty Hardaway™ brand, we to add value to fan existences through the brand, and we nudge our fans into areas that they've never experienced; the middlespaces™. We keep the Ty Hardaway™ brand fresh through extensive scientific testing and custom focus groups. And you know what? We do it all for you!

For instance, here is but a partial listing of what we're providing all of you right now -- right now (and you probably didn't even know it):

I've Always Been This Awkward
"Ask Ty" [& clicky™]
Saturday Workshop
Sunday Worship
Custom Art
What?! Huh?! Well guess what? It's all true! You're welcome. Remember: Ty Hardaway™ is the voice of your generation. Ty Hardaway™ is front slash dot com™.
Ty Hardaway™ is the next generation bio pharma solution to your enterprise's low hanging fruit. If you can't be Ty Hardaway™, then you'd better get off your ass and own some, right?
Why all the business talk? Well the freebie era has now past. I'm charging you now. Huh? What am I selling? As my business manager says, "...keep in mind that you're not selling books, t-shirts, or CDs. You're selling Ty Hardaway™." Hi! I'm Ty Hardaway™.

And just who is my business manager? Well the same person who said this about Barack "Bary Oh!®" Obama's candidacy on May 8, 2008:
"White Americans are used to seeing black men in arenas. In fact, they are willing to throw down a lot of money to see black men in arenas.

White Americans get all squirrelly when black men show up at their donut shop."
And just where did that get us? Here:
"Barack Obama will give his main speech of the Democratic National Convention at a 75,000-seat stadium rather than the 20,000-seat hall where the convention is taking place, convention organizers announced Monday." [clicky™]

Of course, you can still offer me your perks and your passes. I'm not retarded or nothing. Free is free (except what we give to you costs money).

Oh, and this too: Autographs now only $20. And if you're one of the first 25 to order your very own autograph, I'll throw in--just for you--the pen I will use to sign it (DNA is the world's best lie cover).
I know, a riff, huh? But what is life but a collection of a bunch of riffs. By the way, last I heard Sal is running a B&B thing up in Mendocino and goes by "Sally Faye" now. And just look who is your newest niche celebrity now.

I've Always Been This Awkward