RW36 - Dinner at the Hawk House

This week, Dan and John talk about:

The show title refers to John imagining what dinner at Tony Hawk’s house would be like, because Tony Hawk is smart and nice, but not funny.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

Shooting the #heyseattle Visit Seattle ad campaign (RW36)

John got contacted by the Chamber of Commerce tourism group called Visit Seattle who represent the whole notion of wanting people to visit Seattle for the economy and for fun, hotels and restaurants and so forth. They wanted to do a Seattle-focused ad campaign and they wanted John to be the spokesman. The concept was that they were going to build a talk show set on the back of a flatbed truck and drive it around town and John would answer viewer mail about Seattle and for a couple of days that is what he did.

Those were long and involved days where they did five or six locations a day, pull up in the flatbed, John would jump up, sit behind his desk, read viewer mail in the sense of: ”Hey Seattle, what is the best place to find oysters in Seattle?” And then John would say: ”Well, there is no bad place to find oysters in Seattle because we have the best oysters in the world, but here are a couple of places that I like to get oysters.” and John named those two or three restaurants that he typically goes for oysters because the the ad company didn’t want to feed him lines but wanted him to just talk about his Seattle. John didn’t think you do want that, because he would just say: ”Here are the 10 best Goodwills in the Northwest and here are the 15 places in Seattle to go sit on a park bench, smoke cigarettes and cry!” John is not going to have a lot of opinions about where the best wine bar is.

And they said: ”Well, do give us your Seattle and all the stuff that you know, and then of course we do want to promote local wine and we are going to ask you about that and we don't know what to suggest that you do!” So John got his friend Jason Finn up there and asked him a bunch of questions about booze. In a few examples John invited friends up and used them as ringers for certain questions. ”What are the best alternate art galleries?” John has been going to the same old art galleries for 25 years and there are probably new ones, so he mentioned the ones that he liked and then had his art friend get up to give you the underground scoop.

It was a paying gig. John is not somebody like Dan and Merlin who just makes a living in a podcast empire, but he has to also take other jobs. He has to go to work, although that is hard for Dan to believe. John is not saying he is out pounding the pavement and he typically accepts jobs where all he has to do is sit there. If somebody asked him to sit in a room for five days and write something with four other people, he would totally do that, but if somebody said they wanted him to handle the landscaping of a new development, maybe he would do it for a day or a week just to see how it was.

Getting tickets to an Adele concert (RW36)

A good friend called John last night and asked if he wanted tickets to see Adele, but John doesn’t know anything about Adele. He was the promoter of the show and he figured that of all the people he knew John would be the one of anybody who would say: ”Yeah, I will to see Adele, just to see what it is!” He was absolutely right, John will go see Adele just to see what it is and so he went alone to the Adele concert, of course they were very good seats because they were from the promoter, and John was blown away by Adele and that is the reason that you do say yes to those things!

John thought she was some kind of like America's Got Talent person or Britain's Got Talent person and why would he want to go see that, all these histrionic vocals that he is not really into, the whole ”fake British girl doing gospel music” thing. It is going to suck! It turned out she is the consummate performer, absolutely top-shelf in every respect, she is hilarious, she is self-effacing, she got this voice like a chorus of trumpets. As a result of that, John couldn't even tell if the music was corny. That did not even enter into the question. If he heard it on the radio he is not sure what he would have thought, but sitting there in the room there was nothing corny about this, this was fantastic! There were several moments in the show that John got actually emotional.

Tony Hawk (RW36)

That is always what John does. If somebody wants him to try out their new half-pipe he would say that he is too old to try out a half pipe because he is going to hurt myself, but stand on the edge of the half pipe and watch talented skaters skate this half pipe and if somebody gives him a microphone, he will do a running commentary. In fact, that sounds like a great gig! Why isn't somebody doing that already? ”Hey, everybody, welcome to the show! I don't know anything about skateboarding, but look at these kids go!”

John is a big fan of Tony Hawk. He is the same age and he is still doing inverted 960 Mobius or whatever they call it. Tony Hawk is a professional sports guy who has been in the game for 30 years, but is there any scandal associated with Tony Hawk? He has always been cool, he is not some square. But Tony Hawk has never crashed a Ferrari drunk, he is a family man, he grinds, he shreds, he shroups, he is the greatest American hero!

Guy can be smart, funny and nice (RW36)

He doesn't seem like a guy with a hilarious sense of humor. A lady friend said the other night that when you are looking for a boyfriend that is smart, funny, and nice, but a guy that is smart, funny and nice is a unicorn. You can have any two, but not all three. If you read enough Cosmopolitan magazines, as John have done, there is this mythology that girls don't think about cute at first. They are thinking about: ”Is he funny? Is he smart? Is he nice?” and then obviously cute is important, but it is not the top. Whereas according to Cosmopolitan magazine, if you ask a bunch of guys, the first thing they say is: ”What does her butt look like?” and everything proceeds from there. ”Is she nice?” is way down the line.

John said: ”Smart, funny and nice? I am smart, funny and nice!” - ”Are you nice?” and John had to think. Maybe not nice! It is easy to be nice for five minutes. Which two is Dan? He thinks he is smart, maybe funny. He is one out of three. It is hard to be even two! If you can get two on the list you are very much a catch! Hardly any of the women John has dated have ever said: ”I am looking for a nice guy!”

Tony Hawk (cont)

John imagines that Tony Hawk is very smart because he has run this tremendous business empire. He has got to be nice, he skateboards in a nice way, he is very aggressive, but he is not a showboat. When Tony Hawk lands a thing, he doesn't get up in the camera and go: ”Boo yah!”, but he is just like: ”Thanks! I just landed a really hard skate trick!” His trademark isn't to finish with the middle finger up in the air and he got no neck tattoos.

John’s guess is that Tony Hawk is not funny. He is smart and nice, but not funny. In 35 years of following his career, John has never seen him do a funny thing. He doesn't even make a funny face. Some people might suggest that that is simply because there is no real personality there. He is just all business. He is so good he doesn't have to be anything else, but the fact remains that he is all business. It is hard to gauge what dinner over at the Hawk House would be like, the Hawk Airy. John thinks his wife is nice, although he has never seen her, sit around, chit-chat. It is like having dinner with an astronaut: At a certain point the moon-landing is going to come up. You are not going to go over to Buzz Aldrin's house and not eventually start talking about going to the moon.

You don't start right off with: ”Moon landing!”, but Dan might, although then he is not going to get invited back to dinner a second time. But that is why he has to start out with it because he is lucky he got there in the first place. He has talked about this a lot and John would let him bring it up. You wait for him to say, which he is inevitably going to do. They say about firefighters: ”How do you know there is a firefighter at your party?” - ”He is going to tell you!” You are never going to have a firefighter that is not going to bring it up!

Dan thinks that people with that kind of job, he might even include musician in this, you should probably have a guitar with you, even if you don't play, even if your instrument is a piano or something. Show up just with a guitar under your arm. Don't say anything about it and just have it on you because you are a musician. In case later on if things lead to it you could sing and do some songs.

Typically if you have a barbecue and you invite a fireman there is a 94% chance he is going to show up in a T-shirt with the fire department logo on it. There is a 6% chance he is going to show up in some kind of Guy Fiery short-sleeved shirt with some flames on it.

Michael Schilling’s uncle unknowingly meeting Steve Taylor (RW36)

John’s friend Michael Schilling, who used to be the drummer in The Long Winters, is a Jewish kid from Scarsdale or whatever, from Southern Connecticut, and he had an uncle who was a dentist on the Upper East Side, a very wealthy dentist who has a dental practice catering to wealthy people. It is a whole subset of the world, a part of New York society, a central notion. An Upper East Side Jewish dentist is an archetype, like a cowboy. There are some cowboys left in the world and there are some of these characters left in the world, Michael Schilling's uncle is vacationing in Aruba, sitting on a white sand beach in an exclusive location so there aren't a lot of people on the beach. He is just out there with his family, dipping their toes in the water.

Along the beach came a character with long hair who looked all scraggly like a destitute homeless person and he walked up and said: ”Hello! How are you?” - ”I am good!” and they start to chat and it turns out they hit it off and had an immediate rapport. They are laughing and having a good time. They are palling around and Michael's uncle says: ”Well, why don't you join us for dinner?” - ”Of course, I would love to, but let me ask you: You don't know who I am, do you?” - ”No, should I?” and the long-haired guy says: ”You know what? No, you shouldn't! That is why we are having such a good time and that is why we are going to have a good time.”

They spent the next several days, because the long-haired guy’s cabana was one cabana over from Michael's uncle's cabin, they spent the whole rest of their vacation just friends and just going over back and forth, their two houses were open to one another, the long-haired guy's family was there, the two families intermingled. It turned out the guy was Steven Tyler and Steven Tyler had this vacation planned and he ended up next to this wealthy, Upper East Side dentist who has no idea who he is because the two worlds do not intersect at all. And yet they became total pals and had this wonderful vacation together and it was probably such a relief to Steven Tyler that he did not have to come to the dinner with a guitar and did not have to tell the story about the time that his drummer drove a Ferrari underneath a semi-truck on I-95. He didn't have to talk about Run-D.M.C.. He was just a guy and they were just hanging out, eating seafood and being waited on.

How much do people want to talk about their accomplishments? Talking to Buzz Aldrin (RW36)

So if you go to dinner at Buzz Aldrin's, you have to pretend that you barely know who he is, just in order to be polite, and let him say: ”Well, you know, that reminds me of the one time I went to the moon and it was like what you were saying! I was at the moon and there were some interpersonal problems to solve. The computer was a little overloaded. We had to reprogram it. It was a really interesting day!” You just let him do that! John had a lot of adventures in his life that he cannot just bring up in conversation. The conversation really has to go there.

John doesn’t think Buzz Aldrin wants to talk about the moon. It is really high on the list of things for Dan to talk to him about, but he just wants to talk about the peach cobbler. He is just a normal guy, he just wants to hang out! Dan thinks the moon changes you. Once you have been to the moon you have a whole different perspective!

Long before Dan had kids Dan thought it was weird to talk to his friend’s kids, he didn’t know what to say to a child and how to communicate to them, they frighten and confuse him, and his friend said: ”Here is the best advice you will ever get for interacting with a kid until you have your own kids and then it all changes: Usually a child is holding something. Talk to the child about the thing that they are holding, ask them questions about it.” and the next time Dan was with some friends who had a daughter who was maybe three years old, she was holding some little doll or a flower and Dan asked: ”What is your doll’s name?” and that did it, he was immediately beloved. It was great. They talked. It broke the ice.

Dan thinks Buzz Aldrin, wherever he goes, he might as well be carrying the moon in his hands and holding this thing out and showing it to people and saying: ”You got to ask me about the moon!” If Dan was Buzz he would wake up every morning, look into the mirror, and say: ”Who went to the moon? You did, buddy! You went to the moon!” John thinks Dan is overestimating the degree to which adults carry their accomplishments around like a doll, that they want people to notice. Maybe! Here is how John would bring it up if he were talking to Buzz Aldrin and he had invited John over to the house for a reason, which is that he is a big fan of his podcast, or he loves The Long Winters. John attracts some very unique listeners and usually they stay silent until he says something that has to do with them.

Here is how John would approach it: You are just talking about the food, about your day, you let Buzz talk about John for a while because he is the guest and he wanted him there. He would tolerate him asking some questions about his podcast and his Rock music and then he would say: ”You know, Buzz. I have been to mission control and I have seen the Saturn V rocket, and let me tell you that is a hell of a rocket, and I can only imagine what it must feel like to be sitting there in that chair, and you have been training to be an astronaut for a long, long time, you have gone through all those things that we saw in the right stuff where they spinning around in a centrifuge and you have been in the little capsule and they filled it full of smoke and they took your oxygen away to see what you would do, but no one has ever experienced what it is like to sit on top of a Saturn V rocket when it lights. That is not a thing you can simulate. You can put you in a chair and shake the chair and make it sound really loud, but to be at the top of that amount of kinetic energy and to feel that explosive power is a singular experience!”

John would be leaving the moon completely out of it. Going around the moon is a fucking singular experience, Holy Christ! It is an experience so singular that it dwarfs sitting on top of a lit Saturn V rocket! But you start slow: ”Tell me about that rocket!” He is used to talking about the moon, but this is a little bit more on the technical side and he is an astronaut, he is intrinsically a science nerd because that is who they pick. He is an aeronautical engineer and a jet pilot and all these things. But wants to talk about the ins and outs. He would start talking about the rocket and then his guard is down and he is going to tell the whole story: ”Let me tell you, if you have the opportunity to sit on top of a Saturn V rocket, take it. It is so choice!” and John would just be like eating it up.

You let him take you there, but you don't start off at the moon because then you are just being a fanboy and you don't want to be a fanboy. You always want in a conversation with somebody find where you guys are peers and then let the person demonstrate that they are not your peer at all, they are way, way away somewhere else. But you start off where you are peers. Then he will say: ”Well, enough about the moon! Tell me what it was like to open for The Decemberists.” - ”Well, you have been on the moon, but you have never opened for The Decemberists! Let me tell you if you get a chance to play the Greek Theater in Hollywood, California, in Los Angeles, do it because it is really a great room!”

And Buzz Aldrin might say: ”All right! I will call somebody and book a show at the Greek Theater!” and he would sell it out. He could just walk up and down the stage and talk about going to the moon, showing a slide show. He would sell 3000 tickets to that. John would buy a ticket to that. It is not like anything John has ever done isn't within Buzz's realm. He can't play a scorching guitar solo like John can probably.

People know John and Dan for one of their primary skills, which is that they can blather for two hours and not everybody can do that, maybe even Buzz Aldrin can't. That is a hard thing to even quantify. You can say: ”Oh, I run a podcast business!” and to whatever degree people know what that means, at least they can nod. But people ask John what he does, but he doesn’t know. There is no entrance point there. Nobody can say: ”Oh, that is kind of like me. That is what I do, which is go to the moon!”

John is sitting at a dinner party and somebody says: ”What do you do?” - ”Kind of like this what we are doing. Basically my job is to sit at dinner parties, except there is no food and there is no-one else there.” What is their next question after that? ”How much money do you make?” Anybody really wants to know. John might start with that: ”Buzz, when you were at NASA you were probably really underpaid, given all the stuff you were doing, right? You weren’t making that much money?” - ”No, but part of the pay is that I went to the moon!” - ”That is like my career. People tell me all the time that part of my pay is something else. Exposure or how much fun it must be to be in show business. That is part of my pay, too, but both of us were getting ripped off all the time because people say: I am a millionaire and I love your music. Here is eleventeen dollars!” Musicians are expected to sell T-shirts to make a living. Buzz Aldrin doesn't have to sell T-shirts.

Celebrities wanting to be normal people (RW36)

Steven Tyler has forgotten more times he has had sex than anyone listening to this program has ever had sex, except for the fact that they probably have some sex addicts listening to this program who maybe even had more sex than Steven Tyler, but they are in the minority. Steven Tyler did a bunch of sex during a time when he was also doing a bunch of drugs. There is all this sex that Steven Tyler has had that he doesn't even remember. That seems cool if you are 15, but if you are a little bit older and you have ever had sex even one time that you don't remember because you were on drugs, you realize that is not something that is very great. That is not actually something you are proud of because it just doesn't feel very good.

Steven Tyler carries that around with him his whole life. He doesn't have a monkey on his back, he got a gorilla on his back of shame that he feels that other people are telling him is really cool. This is the Keith Richards problem: Keith Richards is a monster 90% because all the things that he is actually really ashamed of himself for doing, he is lionized for by his millions of fans who don't understand that actually that was all very gross. He used to go into people's houses and just ash his cigarettes on the carpet because he was so fucked up and also he sucked. People were like: ”He just is asking his cigarette on our white carpets, but we can't really say anything because he is Keith Richards and that is on brand!” If Keith has any soul at all, he is ashamed of that, but every person he meets is like: ”Tell us again about the time that you asked your cigarette on Queen Elizabeth!”

How do you be good or normal under those circumstances? Steven Tyler has been through AA a dozen times, he has tried, and he seems like a very smart guy. He has tried to say: ”I would like sometimes to just be a human being who doesn't have people around me looking at me with these big eyes that are communicating all this adulation for stuff that I am kind of disgusted by.” They were making a record one time and they were shooting crossbows at each other. Sure, that sounds fun and we laugh, but that is an awful way to live. You get into that circumstance because you have more money than brains and celebrity does a terrible thing to you and Rock'n’Roll does a terrible thing to you and all of a sudden you are doing this stuff and it is all kind of a performance and then you are legitimately addicted to drugs and legitimately still being given everything.

John got addicted to drugs, but at a certain point people stopped giving him stuff because most drug addicts run out their rope and then nobody is your friend anymore and you are just shitty. Either you fall further, you wallow in your shittiness and keep falling, or you say: ”Boy, this is shitty!” and you try to arrest your fall somehow. Steven Tyler was doing that, but when you are rich person you just get shittier and shittier and nobody is there to arrest your fall. You actually got doctors there who bring you back from the brink of death. Think about Prince landing his plane on the way home to have himself resuscitated! That is some rich drug addict stuff that most of us don't have access to, but that is not the behavior that makes you into a good person.

If Steven Tyler came to your dinner party and you ask: ”Tell me all the times that you had really gross sex with somebody in a gross location!”, which is what you are asking about when you say: ”Tell me about the Rock’n’Roll!” John used to do interviews all the time: ”What is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you? What is the darkest or weirdest or most surprising thing that ever happened to you on tour?” - ”You don't want to know, and I don't want to talk about it!” That is not what is cool about being a musician, but that is what everybody wants.

The things those folks did is legendary, like Led Zeppelin destroying their hotel room and all that. Led Zeppelin had their own airplane and because of the time it was almost certainly filled with half-naked teenagers, which is terrible business. They are climbing onto to their own airplane full of half-naked teenagers and at least Jimmy Page is so gacked out on heroin he doesn't even know, but he is being hoisted into there and sits in a chair nodding off for the whole flight. That doesn't sound that fun! There is a documentary called ”It can get loud” and Jimmy Page just seems like a gentle, amazing creature, but who knows what it is like to have dinner with Jimmy Page!

Dan would be much more interested in just a standard conversation with Jimmy Page who is one of his guitar heroes and why he learned to play guitar, much more than he would be able to have a non-moon conversation. If the limit was you can absolutely not bring up anything at all relating to music Dan could have that dinner. But if you said you are going to sit down with Buzz and can’t bring up the moon? Forget it! Dan would be out!

Even if you could talk nothing to do with aviation, travel, space exploration, nothing, he is still a fascinating guy, a technical guy who has strong opinions and is a colorful guy. He is a crotchety old man and Dan can have a conversation with a crotchety old man, he is doing it right now! You wind up a crotchety old man and you sit back and watch the fireworks. Just mention Woodrow Wilson, he has surely 1000 things to say. John wouldn't pass up the opportunity to have dinner with him, even if he was prohibited from speaking about the moon.

Having dinner with celebrities, like Hillary Clinton (RW36)

If John had dinner with Hillary Clinton right now, there is a lot going on in her life. Dan would start with the covered-up plane crash she was in when she was going to Iran in 2012/2013. John had never heard of that. The details vary depending on which story you read, but apparently Hillary Clinton was injured, a top U.S. Navy SEAL commander was killed, it was a C 12 Heron (?), a military passenger transport airplane. It crash-landed in Iran near the Iraqi border and she was there to have a secret meeting. She was seriously injured and the cover-up part of it says that she had a nasty bout of the stomach flu.

Later because of the stomach flu she passed out and hit her head, which gave her a head wound and a concussion, which the conspiracy theorists say was the actual injury in the plane crash. Since then she has been on different kinds of like anti-clotting meds and other kinds of meds and was actually seriously injured in this. The source for that online is the Kremlin and John is not seeing any other sources outside of Iranian intelligence agents quoted in the KGB report. John would like one other triangulated source.

That would be Dan’s entry point in the conversation and if she says: ”No, that is just some Russian disinformation” Dan would be watching her eyes to see if her pupils dilate. But that right out of the gate is going to alienate them so that for the rest of the dinner party they will just sit there with their silverware scraping on their plate and Dan blew his wad right at the top and there is no chance that they are going to be friends, but Dan would be all right with that in that particular case. He wouldn’t start with: ”Wow, you were at Yale in the 1960s and Yale had only started…” If it were an interview, Dan would knock it out of the park!

Hillary Clinton is not going to be listening to John’s podcast and she is not going to know who he is. He is going to be at a table of 15 people because she is there and this is some dinner where most of the people there have paid to be there as a fundraiser and John has been brought to the dinner by a rich person. It sounds this happens to John a lot, he often seems to be brought to places by somebody with some cash who wants a different entertainment.

That happens, because there are rich people who like to stir it up and they are not themselves very interesting conversationalists so they bring a proxy. Their date to this event is not going to be their spouse who is also going to sit there and just scrape her knife on the plate, but their date to this event is going to be their colorful friend who is going to spark a laughs in conversation and that is going to reflect on them because they were the one who brought this colorful clown dancing monkey with the cymbals in his hands and a fez.

That is how John met Spike Lee, he met a lot of people where he was brought to the event that ends up being a very small private event and John is wondering: ”Why the hell am I there?” and then the thing is: ”Why is anybody there?” Everybody else is there because they are rich and that is boring. Spike Lee is sitting there at another dinner with a bunch of rich people, but he wants to get this new film funded and this is what he has to do. Celebrities around the world and important politicians and stuff are on this circuit all the time. Here is a dinner, it costs $2500 to come or it costs $25.000 to come, but you get to sit at a table with Spike Lee or Hillary Clinton, and then the celebrity goes: ”Yuk, I hate this stuff, but okay!”, and they sit at a table with people that are paid to be there and those people are dull and the whole thing is just a formality.

Then the rich person gets to get their picture taken with the celebrity or they get to ask their one question. Then they ask John what he is there for: ”I am a musician and a podcaster!” and it sounds like, at least in the room, that that is a big deal because this guy over here is some Amazon bigwig, this person invented the lubricated ball bearing, but nobody is going to quiz John too deeply and they will just assume that being a musician and a podcaster is a thing. Then John is authorized to be in the mix just because he is there. If he were at an event with Hillary Clinton it would be as somebody’s boy toy and everybody there is going to tolerate me until he is outed as a goofball. If he starts right out:” Tell us about the plane crash, Hillary!”, they will be: ”Nah, this guy doesn't belong here. He is one of the caterers and he put on a coat and tie and now he is sitting at the table. Get him out of here!”

But if John starts with: ”When you were at Yale, that was only a couple of years after women were allowed at Yale. What was the temperature then? What was it like to be a pioneer and have that aspect of your college life never really talked about in the media. We all talk about you as a feminist ballbuster at Yale, but we don't acknowledge that like up until 1968 you couldn't even be a woman at Yale!” and then she has a thing nobody ever asks her about that is actually probably something that really colors her experience and she can go: ”Actually, that is very true, and at the time a lot of the professors and the administration and other students were very hostile to women at Yale! I wasn't just fighting at a national level for women's rights. I was also every day walking across campus and getting scowled at.” This is an interesting conversation now.

All the industrialists who are sitting at the table wanting to ask her for a tax break or something are like: ”Oh shit, now I got to sit here and listen to a real conversation for a second. This is getting in the way of my plan to talk to her about Goldman Sachs, which is what we are all here to do!” You get to slip in there and then you hope at the end of the night that Hillary Clinton, as she is going down the line and shaking everybody's hands, that she holds your hand for an extra second and goes: ”Really nice to meet you! Nice talking to you!” - ”Thanks!” and then you briefly think: ”Maybe we are friends! Maybe she is going to ask me to be part of her administration. Maybe she will ask me to be chief of staff!”

John does this a lot. He flatters himself, thinking: ”That was a real experience that I had, that was a real moment, and I gave her a little moment that was authentic where she felt for a brief moment like this wasn't just a like a performance, but I actually made a human connection with somebody!” That is self-flattery because she is just trying to get in and out of this thing. She actually probably doesn't want to have an authentic conversation. She doesn't want to reveal anything about herself to this group, but that is just being a conversationalist by trade.

Adele concert, celebrities giving up something about themselves (cont)

Adele was up there on stage, making very overt connection with people in her audience. The house lights are kind of up through the whole show and she is looking out from the stage and seeing people's faces and she is looking at them in the eye and she is giving them a huge smile and she is giving them a brief connection that really charges people up. Throughout the show a couple of times, she brought people up on stage, looking through the room: ”You! I really like your dress! Why don’t you come up here for a second?”

John posted a video on Instagram where she gets down and actually walks through the crowd and goes to a second stage in the middle of the room. As she is walking through the crowd she stops and she hugs this 10 year old girl. John is standing right there, making a video of her, and she walks right past him and you see this electric smile of connection because she got a fabulous smile, but for a brief second you realize as she is walking down this scrum of people, all of whom are trying to reach her and touch her, and people are filming her and everybody is trying to look at her.

She gives this electric connected smile of seeing someone that you recognize and being like: ”Oh my God, it's you!”, but the smile in that brief moment isn't directed at anyone in particular. She has taught herself to be able to make that intense smile of recognition and energy direction, but she has taught herself to just make it. If she points it at you, you feel: ”She saw me! She knows me!” As she was done hugging the 10 year old girl, which was an authentic hug, and the girl will be changed forever by it, she turned and started to walk down the aisle a little bit and turns on that smile, that light.

It is directed just generally toward a group of people, and maybe some of them were like: ”That was for me!”, but from John’s perspective that was intense because she is a real person, that is a real look, but her fame and the tens of thousands of people that want that from her, she has taught herself to be able to do that as a broadcast. That must have taken something from her, because to do that requires energy, but it has also taken something away from her to have learned that. Because now when she does that to someone she actually loves and wants to see and actually turns that smile on them, there is some question in her mind about how real it is or how much she has diminished that by turning it into a talent.

Being a celebrity is hard and you can't do it successfully without giving away not just the momentary energy that it requires to entertain 30.000 people, the two hours that you have to expend, but also the permanent loss of something integral to you. If you are up on stage and you are Marilyn Manson and you are dower and you are not giving anybody anything, except your cartoon, you still have done something to yourself, to be able to do that where over time you misplace things about yourself and then you are sitting around and you can't reconnect those to the reality of being an actual human, which is terrible.

John always tried to be human, to be himself, but what that has ended up meaning is that gradually he has caricatured himself such that now he inhabits a caricature of himself, to a greater or lesser degree. He had some foreknowledge of this experience because he watched it happen to people that were close to him. If you get famous before the age of 29 it can be permanent. You can be destroyed because you don't already have a self that is very clear. If that self happens within the context of you being famous and adored there is hardly a chance that you are not going to come out the other side as a total creep.

Nobody cared about John until h was in his thirties and when he started to build a stage persona and a public face for himself he tried to make it pretty close to who he was: ”I know you want to hear another song, but I am going to talk to you for ten minutes right now about my opinion of the valet parking industry and there is nothing you can do about it because I am on stage and you are not. You paid the money, you can leave and feel like you wasted your money, but I shoulder no burden. If you feel like this concert was a waste of money for you: Fuck you! It is not a waste of money, sit here and listen because I have valid things to say about the valet parking industry!”

That is not incompatible with who John is, but over time, because you are doing it every night and John was trying to be his genuine self every night, but on those nights where normally he would say: ”I am just going to sit and read a book and sit in the bathtub, but instead I am on stage, it gradually becomes a caricature. People now who know him think of John in caricaturistic terms. Dan said earlier: ”I am talking to a curmudgeonly old guy!” and that is part of John’s performance. The more that that gets reflected back upon you by your fans and friends even because your friends aren't separate from that, your friends are watching you perform at shows, too, and that bleeds over into your friendships. Pretty soon John is more and more fulfilling the expectations of that role. He enjoys being able to walk into a room and and say: ”Fuck you!” because it is easier than walking into a room and saying: ”Hi everybody, I am vulnerable to you right now! Please don't reject me!”

Doing a show in Portland, being a caricature of himself (RW36)

John did a show in Portland the other day where most of the people in the room didn't know who he was, it was a storytelling show rather than a Rock show or a comedy show, a fairly earnest ”get up and tell your story” kind of show that had become popular. There were hundreds of people in the room, but it was much more of an earnest crowd. The woman who promotes the show and hosts it is a fan of John and she said: ”I would like to introduce you guys to John Roderick from Seattle!” and there is a smattering of applause for at the mention of Seattle because of that Portland/Seattle thing and John stood up and said: ”Yeah, that's right! I'm from Seattle!” and then both middle fingers came up and he did a two middle fingers in the air raspberry thing that he does all the time.

And here was this room of 300 people that had never met him before and he is giving them the double bird and the raspberry. It works because it is not what they expect. Everybody else at this show is like: ”Thank you! Thank you for… Here is my story. Thank you!” and John goes: ”Fuck you if you don't like it!” John did that then because that is what he does, not because it was how he even felt.

In a situation where it is like: ”Here is John, he is from Seattle!” and there is a thing, like: ”Yay, Seattle!” he could sit back down, which is what most people do, and accept that the crowd went ”Nah”, but John refused to accept it and threw it back, which is great! He wouldn't change that and it is certainly better than standing up and going: ”Oh yeah, really? Thanks a lot! Thanks for your weird applause!” and sit back down, all pissed off. John is incapable of going: ”Oh, thanks!” He can't do that and was never able to. What John does casts him and even if they have never seen this exact kind of guy, they know now that John is dangerous to approach, maybe, or whatever.

John is 47 now and he is not imprisoned by this character, not like Steven Tyler who every morning has to wake up and intentionally put boogers in his hair because the expectation is that Steven Tyler is going to walk in with boogers in his hair because who knows what happened? Are those his boogers? Are they somebody else's boogers? Who knows? He can't just get a haircut and wear a tie once in a while because he likes to wear ties. He has to have a bunch of bits and bobs string-tied around his neck, crapola! Maybe the audience would permit him to change their perception of him, but he has given away so much of himself that it would never occur to him. If Steven Tyler cut his hair and showed up in a three piece suit, maybe the world would follow and go: ”Okay, that is weird! I like it!”, or who knows what is going on! But it would never occur to Steven Tyler because he has put his whole self into that monkey suit.

If you think about when Metallica cut their hair, that was a fucking big news story! But what Metallica was saying in that moment was: ”Look, we came from a place of scroungy Dirt Metal and we identify more with Grunge than we do with Hair Metal.” Hair Metal is staking out a claim that Grunge was against them, which is true, that Grunge was hated Hair Metal, which is true, and so Hair Metal is never going to cut their hair and follow Grunge. It would be a defeat. Vince Neil is always going to be Vince Neil, even if he is sitting out in front of a strip club with a tin cup he is never going to cut his hair. But Metallica is saying: ”That is not true of us! We were always Punk Metal, Dirt Metal, and so we identify with Grunge and we are going to cut our hair because: Fuck you!”

The controversy about it was: ”Metallica is selling out because Grunge is popular now and they are following the trend!” but Metallica was making a political statement. The exact same thing when Chris Cornell cut his hair. The whole first five years of Soundgarden his complete identity was: No shirt on, huge dark, curly hair. He was like: ”I am a sex God!” It you took Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and combined them, that was what Chris Cornell was trying to be: A dark haired, swarthy Robert Plant. Five or six years in everybody in the world was trying to rock that look and Chris Cornell is a very smart guy and he said: ”I don't like this. I don't like other people telling me what I am!” and so he cut his hair as very definitely a statement of: ”Screw you! You Don't Know Me!”, which was a very Seattle thing to do.

In the subsequent 15 years he has been wearing that weird greasy pencil mustache because at a certain point he said: ”Weird greasy pencil mustache is my thing! I am not your bare-chested long haired Rock God. I am weird, greasy pencil mustache guy!” and now John doesn’t know whether he could shave it off and whether it would ever occur to him.

Dan finds things like facial hair interesting in some ways because people frequently identify with that. In Dan’s mind John has a full beard mustache thing, even if right now he doesn't. Periodically he will post a selfie on Instagram where maybe he trimmed it down to a goatee or just the mustache this week or shaved completely, which every time he does it he regrets it. Dan’s dad always had at least a mustache, very frequently a beard and when he would shave the beard away down to just the mustache, it was always like: ”Oh my God, who is this guy?” Around Thanksgiving of last year Dan was taking it a little easy and didn’t shave and within three or four hours he had a full beard. His kids said: ”We really like the beard!”, but after a little while: ”We don't really like the beard, can you please shave?” and Dan shaved it and immediately both of his kids were horrified: ”Dad, please grow it back!” His little girl who is four wouldn't let him pick her up or hug her until there is at least a few days of a beard back.

We as people communicating with other people tend to feel comfortable with them if they fit into that box that they have perhaps helped us place them in: ”Oh, John Roderick, he is the Rock’n’Roll guy from Seattle and he is supposed to have a beard and glasses. Sometimes he wears a T-shirt, but other times he wears a suit from the 1940s. You never know what to expect. That is what John is. John is the guy who will surprise you in some way.” Someone like Jesse Thorn has a very long wispy wizard beard and it not necessarily… when Dan met him he was very quaffed, he is impeccably dressed most if not all of the time. He had a lovely bow tie and he just looked amazing. His look now has changed a lot. Not that he not still dresses very well, but he changed his identity in the dress sense and the beard sense.

Steven Tyler and these other people have crafted an identity that they now feel are expected to maintain one way or another. Another good example of this is Hulk Hogan, he still does the goatee style thing and the Hulkster persona. We all put on a public persona to some degree, but it seems weird and difficult to have that be an expectation that whenever you went anywhere or did anything that people would be expecting that of you.

John going on a date with contact lenses, wearing glasses ever since (RW36)

John thinks about the decision he made wearing glasses. He tried to wear contacts in High School and they were a struggle to put in and it was like breastfeeding: You try and put the baby on your boob, the baby often doesn't like the boob at first or doesn't know how to deal with it. In learning to breastfeed you have to just stick the boob in the baby's mouth and go: ”Do it!” Do not give the baby a chance, do not say: ”How do you like this boob, baby?” You just say: ”Incoming!” The first couple of days it is a challenge for a lot of people. If you say: ”This isn't working, I can't do this. My baby is too dumb to figure this out or I am too uncoordinated to make this happen!”, then the option is right there: Here is a bottle! A nipple on a bottle is two inches long and you just stick it in a baby and the baby is like: ”Well, shit!” But breastfeeding is also painful.

When John got contact lenses, it was putting the boob in the baby. He put the contact on his eye and said: ”This is awful! I do not want to put my finger in my eye! I do not want this basically glass disc!” They had invented plastic ones, but they were about the thickness of a piece of construction paper and they felt like construction paper. He put the contacts in and did all the things that you are supposed to do. He took them out, put them back and showed everybody that he was capable of doing this.

Then he put in his contacts and went on a first date with the girl that ended up being his high school girlfriend. His first date, basically. He put in his contacts, put on his pink and purple plaid shirt and took his brand new girlfriend, his date Kelly, to a Warren Miller ski movie. In Anchorage in the 1980s when Warren Miller came out with a new ski movie, it was a big deal. It was being shown in the West High Auditorium, the biggest venue in Anchorage, and it was packed. Getting tickets to a Warren Miller ski movie was a big deal!

Warren Miller was an old guy who had been making movies about skiing for a long time. He flew around the world, rented helicopters and had film crews and just filmed people doing big ski jumps and skiing through fresh powder and then he would narrate it in a folksy, humorous way. A lot of the footage was in slow motion. Somebody would jump off the top of a mountain and powder snow is flying all around and they jump over a tree and they are flying through the air and you are like: ”Oh my God, that is amazing!” and Warren Miller says something like: ”Scheduled for a 2:15 landing!” Then the guy lands in the big fluffy powder and you see him start to lose his balance and Warren Miller goes: ”Oh, oh!” - ”Haha, that was just what I was thinking!”

They were a big deal because there was no ESPN where you could watch footage of people doing big ski jumps. This was it! And in Anchorage, watching somebody ski in slow motion through deep powder in 1984 was absolutely pornographic. Everybody in there was having a full-on porn sex experience. John was in there with his date. She wasn't much of a skier. This was one of those first dates where John was: ”Hey, would you like to go on a date with me?” - ”Okay!” - ”Want to go to a ham radio festival?” - ”Okay!” - ”Want to go watch curling?” - ”Sure! What is curling?” - ”Want to go to a big ski movie?” and John was a teenager and it didn't occur to him that everybody didn't want to go to this.

They were sitting there in the theater, the lights go down, the movie starts, and John rubbed his eye because it was irritating him and his contact came out. ”Shit!” He got this contact in his hand, he had only been in the movie five minutes, and he leaned over and said: ”I have to go to the bathroom, I'll be right back!” - ”Okay!” John left her and went to the bathroom at the West High Auditorium and he spent 45 minutes trying to get that contact back in. He is filling it full of water, trying to get it in his eye and he can't and it comes out and falls over and this and that.

The problem is: John didn't bring his contact case because he was just going on a date and was only going to be gone a few hours. He had his new contacts and was already a pro at this! If he didn’t get it back in his eye, then he had this dead contact in his hand and this was before disposable contact. This contact was his only guy and he had to care for this little friend. This was also before you could wear contacts all the time. You had to put them in and take them out all the time. John struggled to get this thing and finally he got it in, but it wasn't in the center of his eye, it was over to the side, he went back and his eye was the color of a tomato from all this action.

John sat back down, he couldn’t really see the movie, he could only see it out of one eye, she asked: ”Where did you go?” - ”I'll tell you later!” and he watched the last half of the Warren Miller ski movie in embarrassed agony and then he said: ”Look, I have to go home. My contact is all fucked up!” - ”Yeah, you look terrible!” John dropped her off and went home and took those contacts out and never put contacts in again! He put his glasses back on and that was it! From that moment on, he was 15/16 years old he never tried contacts again.

Except for one time in about 1999 he got contacts again, which was an excruciating process because apparently his eyes are flat. He walked out of the place, started walking down the street, and he felt like his entire life he had a Plexiglas shield in front of him that protected him from birds and crossbow bolts and people throwing mud in his eye and now he had taken away his shield and was as vulnerable as could be, like he was walking bare-ass naked down the street. Every single thing he saw he thought was going to fly into his eye, and he got home and was like: ”Screw this!” and he put his glasses back on. The idea right now of John not wearing glasses, of getting LASIK surgery or something? No way! He is wearing these till the day he dies!

guitar ending

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