Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin’

More About Fame

April 25, 2013

Tuesday April 23rd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I’d like to spout off a little more on the concept of being famous and all that goes with it. It’s a complex subject, and I’m not even sure if I fully understand it. What I do know is there is a huge difference between having name recognition and being an actual draw. I want to become a draw.

   There aren’t many who can say that, but those who can have the world by the ‘nads. Being able to fill seats brings power, even though actual talent isn’t a requirement to do it. What is needed is an easily identifiable product that a significant amount of people are willing to pay money to see.

   I’ve been trying feverishly to become a legitimate draw for decades, and have failed miserably no matter what I’ve tried. The closest I have come by far are the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows I am doing this month in Milwaukee, and I’m hopeful I can continue to build on that. It feels like a hit.

   But even if it is, I’ll only be a draw in the Milwaukee area and maybe Wisconsin. Sure, I might work my way up to having a loyal following and that following could number into the thousands or even hundreds of thousands – but that won’t make me famous. True fame is an extreme rarity.

   Only a very very VERY few in any category manage to generate instant name recognition with the masses, and with the internet generation getting more and more fragmented by the minute it’s becoming even more difficult. The days of worldwide fame are coming to a close, but the era of selective stardom is just getting started. More and more people are becoming partially famous.

   This seems like an ideal plan, and the chance at having the best of both worlds. Not being able to leave my hotel room isn’t my idea of fun, but that’s what being truly famous entails. Michael Jordan talked about that in an interview I saw, and it made me not want to ever reach that level.

   It was bad enough when I worked on cruise ships. I challenge anyone that thinks being famous is desirable to work one week on a cruise ship and see if they still feel that way. I was tired of the random but constant recognition after only a week, and I did it for the better part of eight months. 

   There was no place to hide beside my room to avoid it, but who wants to be cooped up inside a tiny room without a window on a cruise for a whole week? After a while, I felt like I was inside a fish bowl and everywhere I went I was being watched. No place on the ship was safe from attack from anybody at any time. I could be eating a meal or even in the bathroom and it would happen.

   I’d say 95% of those who approached were extremely nice. They’d say something to the effect of how they enjoyed the show, and then went on their way. It’s their right, and I respect it. Then there was the 5% who made it hell by telling bad dirty jokes or trying to get me to buy Amway.

   It’s all a big numbers game. There are what – seven billion people on the planet now? Who gets to be famous to the highest number of that total? The Pope? The U.S. President?  What comedian is known to the most people worldwide? I wouldn’t have a clue. It’s probably a Muslim mime or a Chinese ventriloquist. I do know it isn’t me, and I don’t think I’d know what to do if it was.

   I was trying to crunch some numbers and I’d guess after all these years I’ve performed live for probably 750,000 to one million people not counting radio and TV appearances. That may sound like a lot, but out of a total tally of seven billion it doesn’t even make a tiny dent. Even if I got on network TV daily, people overseas wouldn’t know me. I won’t seek fame, but I will try for rich.

The Driver’s Seat

February 7, 2013

Wednesday February 6th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Donald Driver officially retired from the Green Bay Packers today, and in my opinion is one of a precious few in professional sports who clearly understand how the big picture works. He’s had one of the most successful careers I can think of in any sport in decades, and his star still shines.

I have admired him on and off the field for the entire fourteen year run he has spent playing for the Green Bay Packers, but I encourage anyone – even a non sports fan – to look deeper into how his life has unfolded. I would admire this guy even if he played for the despised Chicago Bears.

There are so many good things to say, I hardly know where to start. He not only was drafted in the last round, he was the last of two picks in that round. He was taken with a draft pick that was obtained from the Bears in exchange for Glyn Milburn, and that makes it all that much sweeter.

He was a picture of consistency throughout his career in Green Bay, but off the field has been a champion for charity and pillar of the community. There are all kinds of stories about him having a scheduled appearance of a certain length but staying far longer to make sure fans were happy.

I can’t believe every professional athlete isn’t like Donald Driver, but unfortunately he is about as rare as someone on ‘COPS’ being arrested with a shirt on. He has been a great professional on the field and a greater human being off of it. I am proud to be a Green Bay Packer fan when there are players like Donald Driver to cheer for, and he is what’s right about pro athletes in general.

So few of us ever get a chance to experience the privilege of playing big time sports, and many of us – me included – tried with every ounce of our being hoping to make it so. I feel with such a rare honor comes a responsibility to be a role model to others but not everyone agrees with me.

How hard is it really to sign an autograph or shake a hand and have someone tell you they love everything you do? Those moments will last a lifetime for those who receive it, and it’s always a win/win situation because the love will be reciprocated. Donald Driver has always grasped that.

Do you think he’s ever going to have to buy a meal or a drink in the entire state of Wisconsin if he lives to be 100? Will he ever be out of a job or a place to live? Hardly. He could probably run for governor of Wisconsin, and I’m sure many wish he would. He’s earned the status of legend.

Brett Favre was also on a path to have the same kind of unbridled love, but his selfishness and lack of class fumbled that away years ago. Yes, he was a great player but it didn’t end well after many years of him being the pampered golden child and many – me included – won’t forget it.

Donald Driver was the exact opposite. Everything he did reeked of class, and other players and teams in all of pro sports should look at his career as a shining example of how it can and should be done. The man is beloved in Green Bay, WI and for a black guy that’s not easy to pull off. He has transcended race and everything else, and is a stellar example of how to truly succeed. I can’t see anyone ever eclipsing the well rounded career Donald Driver has had. Hats off to a true hero.