Thursday, January 31, 2008

Celebrity Oneupsmanship

I worked for a company that made musical instruments, of a sort. We were pretty small, and competing against the big guys. But we had a pretty versatile piece of gear for sale, and attracted sporadic famous-musician attention. Remember the theme song to Miami Vice? Beowww wow wow chikka chikka chikka blamazamazam? Jan Hammer created that and we sold him a few units. Some dude from Michael Jackson's band got one.

Since we were a small company, anytime this happened, we had to make the most of it and buy ourselves a little publicity. This meant being really nice to the musicians, filling special and emergency orders, and sometimes going to see them play their music.

We were invited to join the band Stryper for ziti dinner in the basement of the church, and attend their concert afterwards. It was standing room only, both times.

During the show, there was an interlude when the lead singer was being inspirational. He quoted from the Bible, and a few other places, including this from Neil Young:

It's better to burn out than it is to rust
The king is gone but he's not forgotten.

Well, I was getting into the spirit of the show at this point, so when he got to the words "burn out", I was overcome with recognition of how we all share the same basic human condition, and I yelled out, "Neil! Yeah!" A lot of people who attend Christian rock concerts must not be familiar with the works of Mr. Young, and seemed very perplexed by my outburst as their confused faces turned toward me.

It wasn't until later that I figured out that in the religious context of the night, they must have thought I said "Kneel!" I like to think of it as one of the small ways I have helped people live more confusing lives. That's my celebrity story.

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