Friday, December 21, 2012

A Cautionary Tale

There's a conceptual threshold of wealth called 'fuck-you-money' defined as the amount of money you need before you can say 'fuck you!' to somebody before, as opposed to after, hanging up the phone. But there's no hard or fast figure to say 'now is the time' you know, for some it might be $12 million, for other $120 million, and so on up into the billions...

Even harder to concieve is a point at which you have 'made it' to the extent that you have some sustainable success and can say take people for granted, or piss off your supporters, or act with impugnity towards your reputation.

Currently 'Pride comes before' plagues me, in the modest success I have enjoyed as an artist, I was caught off guard at how quickly and surprisingly it became a full time job that still does not sustain me financially. I am accutely conscious that there are people looking after me and that I need to look after them, and it has become onerous to not try and dissappoint them. At the same time there's a bunch of people I still need to win over, and expend effort to try and bring them to my cause.

Thus you know, I try. And it's exhausting, and it's not 'poor me' but as Bryce said 'we chose this' and I sought Bryce's advice because I'm only just beginning to understand that there ARE problems that come with having hundreds of supporters and am understanding just why he struggles with the problems of having THOUSANDS of supporters.

It's a balancing act. A few weeks ago I had 6 social engagements on one Saturday, fortunately they aligned in such a way that it was possible for me to appear at all of them, I got to 5 out of 6 before exhaustion hit and had to pyke on the last. But while it may seem understandable to just pick one thing to go to and that people have clashes and are busy and can't make shit... that's the job I've chosen, and when you have 5 or 6 things on in one day that's precisely when you have to make an effort to get to all of them. Otherwise how can I ask people to go to effort and expense to support me?

It may be exhausting, but I love going to the effort. It's like a marathon to me, I get off on it. But only a fortnight later I was triple booked - and I'm not 'guest of honor' in these situations, but I just remind myself that I'm not the guy who 'everyone goes to his exhibition' but that I need to be the guy who 'goes to everybodies exhibitions' and to be a superfan basically. That's the rep I need and want.

Subsequently I have my eye on a lot of people pursuing the same career holy grail as I am, different paths, different decisions, it's a really rich and valuable learning experience. While I look at world class artists to try and emulate in style and quality, local artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers have so much more immediately relevant stuff to teach me.

And you know, it's easy to criticise sometimes 'their promotion is terrible, they're selling themselves short. etc.' and it's also easy to praise 'man their work ethic puts me to shame.' and either way you can be critical and admiring of the same person in the same breath but nothing in the end changes the fundamental fact that I WANT THEM TO SUCCEED.

I go to watch people succeed. I vicariously experience their joy as they achieve personal mile stones. It is my favorite thing, the best thing.

Thats why its dissappointing to now feel like I am witnessing a promising career, somebody I have admired for years (relax I am 100% sure they do not read this blog) basically 'snatch defeat from the jaws of victory' as my father puts it, and turn into a cautionary tale rather than a role model.

For one, while I currently labour over how to stave off 'pride comes before the fall' at that exact moment where it took over my thoughts, I saw the pride take over them and I thought nothing of it, I was just like 'they're a little over excited, their bubble will burst and they will chill the fuck out.'

But then I was watching this episode of breaking bad where a character said 'being poor is easy, that's why anybody can do it, no it's hard to be rich' and what I am witnessing I think is somebody being caught off guard, or blindsided by how hard it is to be successful - once you have succeeded, even modestly.

I'm not really in a position to say what is required when you are successful, but I can see how people fuck it up, like taking their supporters for granted, or assuming it's a permanant state, an unconditional one.

'Fuck you money' might be a nice thought, but I'd speculate that even if you have more money than you can spend stuffed into your mattress, it's probably safe to say that it's never a good idea to say 'fuck you' to anybody you are dealing with.

As I sit here writing this, I realise it would be poor form to actually divulge any details of the cautionary tale that you may sit in judgement and actually learn from it, because it is still in the process of playing out, and hopefully will resolve as a caution to them and me and nothing more. But at the same time, it's hard to write about something in purely abstract-arms length terms.

It just reminds me that I should write to Bryce and seek his advice, because I think Bryce is one of those people who not only has succeeded but can succeed.

No comments: