Friday, July 15, 2011

The Not-So-Magic Jacket

by Robert Jevne
   Fame is a magical cloak that we as observers of one sort or another put upon performers of one sort or another whether they like it or not. It is a projection of our own mostly irrational desires and bears no relation to the quality of the person we project it upon. It is extracurricular of their chosen profession and I imagine for some, it must seem like a burden at times, while for others it becomes an entitlement and an excuse. Fame’s perverting influence is a disorder not exclusive to the famous but in fact more endemic to and virulent in those I would call the fame-ish. It is a form of madness in those hovering around the fringes of success which manifests itself in bad behavior in public places.
   Before there was The House of Blues the nation-wide corporate chain-o-tainment machine there was a bar, or I should say, private club, in a back alley I don’t even remember exactly where in Chicago owned by some SNL alumni/frat boys/ “blues fans.” A friend of mine said the bartender was a friend of his and suggested we try to get in to this ironically exclusive blue-collar/blues oriented/comedic-actor hang-out. Being as cool as I was, and as out of touch with common sense as I still seem to be, I thought it would be a good opportunity to wear my friend’s pink striped sport-coat. He was in a band hence he was cool. I wanted to look cool so I put on the cloak…uh, the coat. There was nothing intimidating about the alleyway leading to the bar or about the entrance to the bar itself. Just a wooden door on a non-descript little building. My friend had been told we needed to knock. We knocked. Someone came to the door. My friend told this person that we knew so-and-so. The door closed. We waited. And waited. And waited. The alley, by-the-way was empty the whole time. No lines forming around the block, no fresh faces desiring to gain entrance, no legions of stumblers coming out. I was beginning to doubt whether we were welcome and worse, I was beginning to second-guess my choice in apparel. Until finally, the door did open and out came Jim Belushi. Not his famous, by then dead, brother John, of course. But the fame-ish, because he was related to John, Jim, who at the time was being not particularly funny on SNL, and went on to be out-acted by a dog in a movie no-one remembers, and later yet to be the star of a mean-spirited sit-com which was equally unmemorable to all the rest because I refused to watch it. So did a lot of other people.
   We didn’t have time to acknowledge that we recognized him although I‘m sure we both did. The steps we were standing on were narrow, we stood aside, smiling, I’m sure, as we had nothing against him, to let him pass. In order to show his appreciation of our exemplary manners and doubtless to acknowledge my sport-coat as well he pointed past us and said: “The street’s that way, ya fags” And kept on walking without a worry in the world.

   Fame? Some people can wear it well, I guess. On others it hangs like a cheap pink striped sport-coat.

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