“The beginning of Wisdom, is to call things by their right names”
-Ancient Chinese Proverb
Never have we lived in such a time of “political correctness”
And I have to tell you something, I have had enough and what do we have to show for it?
Everyone is so concerned with what everyone else is thinking that no one is real anymore. They are afraid to say what is truly on their minds. They fear that they will not be liked and that they will offend somebody.
There is no responsibility and for that matter as well no accountability.
I could count the times I have watched the show “American Idol” on one hand, but I can tell you this. I like Simon Cowell, I instantly liked him and recognized why he is such a polarizing figure. He is honest and I appreciate that in these times of not wanting to “hurt anyone’s feelings.”
A lot of these kids going on the show have no idea that they simply put “suck”
Their parents loved them so they said “Oh Honey, you sound great, you have a beautiful voice.”
Their friends did not want to hurt their feelings or offend them so they uttered similar platitudes. All the while their voice teacher and music teacher did not want to lose them as a client and or “hurt their feelings”, so they drag out the dishonesty and it goes on and on.
On to the extent that they arrive at this show thinking they are prepared for the big time. Think about this, then Simon looks them in the eye and gives them a dose of Radical Honesty and they cry like a baby or get mad at him and call him a rude pompous asshole.
I would argue the “rude pompous assholes” are the family members and peers and teachers who did not have the spine to tell them the truth. If your going to love somebody, love them from strength. There is nothing wrong with criticism if it is meant to build. It can even be done this way.
If you don’t have anything good to say don’t say anything.
That’s not my style (obviously) but it can be very effective.
Look, “Suck” is not truly a bad word, it just means you have not grown up yet. It means you are a baby. We all suck at some point, that is where the word comes from. A baby pig is called a “suckling”, why? because it sucks on the mothers tit, that is where this comes from.
In nature do you think a mother or father in the animal kingdom will not encourage a baby to leave the nest when it’s time? Hell no, it would be cruel so they make them leave the nest, in nature it is the survival of the fittest. There is a great saying from Africa that I love;
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
One of the greatest lessons I ever learned was from my Classical guitar teacher. I had started to do pretty well in lessons and then I got lazy and did not practice one week. I went to my lesson completely unprepared. At the beginning of my lesson it became obvious to my teacher when I did not even have the piece memorized. He got up, walked out of the lesson and went to his garage and starting working on guitars. He refused to waste his time and went to doing something useful with his time. He didn’t say a word to me, he didn’t need to…
I got the message, it never happened again and I still remember that lesson like it was yesterday and that was over 15 years ago.
That gets me to today’s business at hand. I live in a town heralded for it’s music scene. It is one of the reasons I chose to live here and stick around as long as I did and not move to Austin. In the town I live in there is supposedly this thriving music scene and I have seen it wilting right before my eyes. I have seen it boil down to something that was going on in Austin 20 years ago.
Remember the movie “Slacker”
Well history is starting to repeat itself all over again. Once again it is fashionable to be a “hack” and hardly be able to play your instrument. To dress like a slob and to not shave and look like a Sasquatch.
Here is a definition of slacker:
Slackers, understood mostly as males in their twenties and thirties, may be regarded as belonging to an antimaterialistic counterculture, though in many cases their behavior may merely be due to apathy or laziness.
I like that last part “though in many cases their behavior may be due to apathy or laziness”
That is hitting the nail on the head.
That is the problem I have with this whole “Keep Denton Beard” movement. Even going as far as to have it as a slogan catchphrase of a music festival that is simply a carbon copy of SXSW.
Keep Denton Beard?
Egad! I saw one of the most heralded bands of the “Keep Denton Beard” movement recently. I went with an open mind and heart and watched the entire set. Just to make sure i wasn’t being judgmental or biased I shared a youtube video of this bands performance to several friends. I showed a well known music producer friend of mine, I showed a sexy red-head friend of mine that simply loves all kinds of music, I showed a 14 year old high school kid, a 16 year old. I even forwarded the video to friends in Houston, Portland, Austin and Germany.
Everyone of them said in one way or another, “Eric, that sucks, why are you showing me this?”
“The beginning of Wisdom, is to call things by their right names”
I realize that art is subject to a lot of different perspectives and opinions. And I realize opinions are like assholes, everybody has one. At the end of the day, who am I to call someone else “noise” “noise”
But damn it’s hard to hold back on this one and I am just being honest. I even read an article in the paper about one of these bands just last week. In the article this band said this, straight up; “We actually barely ever practice, If you practice too much it has a very negative effect on our live performance” In the article they also stated that the band had a show in 3 weeks that it was purposely not going to practice for.
In the book “Outliers” the brilliant author Malcolm Gladwell takes a look at what defines success specifically in the sense of practice being essential in addition to your family and culture and even the time you were born in. Behavioral Psychologist have come up with an observation that it takes about 10,000 hours of focused practice to become an expert at something.
To accomplish expertise in an endeavor that breaks down to practicing 3 hours a day for 10 years. I have definitely done that with my guitar. In the book Malcolm tells the story about how the Beatles took a gig playing at a Strip Club in Hamburg Germany that required them to play 8 hours a day. Almost all the other bands turned down the gig because of the work involved. Not the Beatles, they were hungry, they wanted to play and they wanted girls. They took the gig, at one point Paul and John sat down and wrote 50 songs in one day. They started learning covers and they had this gig they saw as being paid to practice for the greater part of a year. 8 hours a day for the greater part of a year. Then they came to America and the rest is history. They were ready…
So I am calling this latest movement and or fad of “Keep Denton Beard” for exactly what it is:
You go right ahead and grow your beard out, get drunk at Lucky Lou’s all day, put on your wood shop glasses and don’t practice. Let’s see where you are in 10 years. Oh, I almost forgot I already know where you will be in 10 years, doing the same thing I saw you doing 10 years ago, and ten years before that. Slacking
Striving to be the best you can be never goes out of style. Imagine a lawyer that had a case in 3 weeks and said to his client. Oh, I am not going to prepare at all for your case. Let’s just show up in the courtroom and see what happens.
While you guys Keep Denton “Beard”, I am going to continue practicing and sharpening my saw. I am also going to continue to bring the best of the best to town as a friendly reminder of what’s possible. Not only musicians, but Chef’s like Kei Nagano and lawyers like Racehorse Haynes. Grandma said it best when she told me “You are who you hang around.”
It’s great, I like the challenge, you guys remind me of why I hate to be lazy. Superman needs Lex Luthor he inspires him to be the best he can be. Batman needs the Penguin.
You keep Denton Beard, that’s easy…
I am going to keep practicing and hanging around those who do. Let’s see where that gets me in 10 years. I look back at where I was 10 years ago and I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I had to scratch and claw to get there though and I faced some serious “Lex Luthors” along the way. My Grandmother also told me “If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger”
Damn I loved her wisdom…
Set your beard down and come by the Silver Leaf this Thursday night. I guarantee you will see what happens when you do practice. Also take a look at the audience and watch the effect on the audience when they are witnessing someone who practices.
I rest my case…
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