i think the greatest achievers are often the most unlikeable weirdos

i have a theory. it started out in early 2007 when i became intimately acquainted with the rollins band album, ‘the end of silence.’

i was going through a difficult period of change (not like a sex change or anything, just personal growth) and that album suited my state of mind at the time really well. it spoke to me so clearly, it applied to me in such huge ways that i felt connected to henry rollins, like we shared some powerful core experience. i became really curious about henry rollins on a personal level and i checked out a number of his interviews, like this one with nardwuar, the human serviette.

and i realized, “jesus christ, hank rollins is an asshole. i wouldn’t want to hang out with him at all.” i was shocked! i couldn’t believe this man who had been instrumental in helping me through such a difficult time could be such a dickhead.

then i started thinking about some of my other favourite artists, like prince. i think prince is god-like. i firmly believe he is a michaelangelo or davinci of our lifetime, he is truly a living legend. but same thing, he’s a fucking dink. he’s so esoteric and smug and pretentious. and the same goes for a lot of other great artists who are geniuses but really fucking unlikeable in a great variety of ways — sting, mike patton, david lynch, stanley kubrick, marlon brando. i could go on but i’m sure you get the idea. it’s a shame but i think it’s largely inherent to any artist who ventures out on their own, doing something new and interesting and genuine. they have to be strong, proud, stubborn individuals to do something unique and crazy and be successful with it. but those qualities don’t usually make for good buds you want to go for dog walks with.

then i saw the olympics a couple years ago and watched an interview with some world class athlete. i can’t remember who it was but it was a young, beautiful woman who was one of the best in the world at some obscure, essentially useless talent. i thought, “wow, so accomplished, and what a babe. i wonder what lucky dude she’ll end up with.” but then i listened to the interview and she talked about her rigorous training schedule, nutritional regime, how hard she had worked to get to this point, that sort of thing. her entire life from like age 8 on had been all been nothing but buildup to olympic level shotput or high jump or breaststroke or whatever, and i realized that despite the things i admired her for, she was a horrifically imbalanced individual. she had never had the time to make lasting friendships, to date people and learn about love and romance, to party, to hang out at mason’s in the summer and drink discount kick sodas…

it was a poor man’s jolt cola that no one bought, so they sold it for next to nothing. we bought it up like hot cakes.

…and she wouldn’t be any fun to hang out with. she and most other olympic athletes must be so stunted from living with such a singular purpose that i actually feel bad for them. they are on top of the world for a few weeks out of their lives, and the rest of the time they are missing out on the things that make life worth living. or things that make my life worth living, anyway.

and that’s how i came up with this theory that the people who seem the most talented or have achieved the greatest things are probably the most imbalanced, odd, and unpleasant to be around. we average schlubs may not make it into any history books but i’d way rather spend late nights dancing with my pals at seedy bars and house parties than doing anything at all with prince, henry rollins, or david lynch. i love their shit but those guys are weird as all hell.

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an end for all things.

the other day, i dropped off a patti rothberg shirt at the salvation army. it was a white XL shirt with this image on it.

i never liked the shirt and think i only ever wore it for a few seconds once when it first arrived in the mail: it was way too big for me and looked like a fucking mumu; the artwork was not my thing, way too ‘sensitive man’ or lilith fair-ish; and i don’t like white shirts because they get filthy instantly.

so why did i buy the goddamned thing in the first place? because i used to be the world’s biggest patti rotherberg fan, and this was one of only a few patti rothberg shirts ever made.

rothberg is a rock/folk rock artist from new york who i became absolutely obsessed with in the summer of ’96 when her single, ‘inside,’ became a moderate hit. i bought the album, loved it, and even managed to get in touch with her once when i was writing for a small music magazine (many thanks to my pal josli who looked patti up in the phone book while in new york one day, way back when). i think it was ’98 when i spoke to patti on the phone. i recognized her voice instantly and felt lightheaded. no joke, i almost fainted, that’s how freaked out i was. i mean, here i was in shawnigan lake, talking to this successful artist in new york who was profoundly influencing my teenage life, an artist who had created a large part of the soundtrack to this era of my life, and who i had a massive star crush on. i’m sure i sounded like a real dumbass kid.

i continued to follow patti’s career despite the fact she never again attained the success of ‘inside’. after a few years, i knew that she was technically a one hit wonder but i believed, and still do believe, that she had lots of other work that was just as great as her initial hit. i bought a 7″ vinyl single (my fave patti recording of all, actually), her follow-up album ‘candelabra cadabra’, not to mention numerous CD singles, posters, press releases, and another shirt.

but eventually, patti lost me. her stuff just became too humorous and silly or lacking in great hooks, not rocking or touching or catchy enough. i began to see her continued music career efforts as just plain sad. that was hard for me to admit to myself because of how valuable patti and her work had been to me when i was younger, but there was a point where i couldn’t deny my true feelings on patti rothberg: i was over her.

this was quite a few years ago. 10 years ago now maybe? i’m not sure. and yet i’ve held on to all my patti memorabilia until just a few days ago when i cleaned out my closet. as cherished as my memories of patti and her music are, i can’t justify hanging on to a white oversized mumu with a graphic on it that i don’t even like, that i’ve never even worn. so i took a deep breath and put it in the salvation army pile.

i still kept everything else though.

patti rothberg
1996 – 2014
from my perspective, anyway.
we had a good run.