What a cool thing to say as a kid. We all thought it. Well maybe not everyone, but if you lived in the glamour of MTV early-nineties hip-hop videos this may have been one thing you at least wished you could say. This of course is part of a verse sung by a child in BlackSheep’s “Pass the 40” from their “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” album. You might remember this group more for their hit “This or That” where they sing “engine engine number nine … ” Remember them now (you just sang it in your head, didn’t you)? It’s the song you love to belt out at clubs and bars but really don’t know anything else by this band. You might also recognize them from the TV sitcom “Scrubs.” I believe Turk wore their t-shirt during one episode (I hope that helps). BlackSheep songs were one of my lawn mower anthems. I would pop this tape into my Walkman (and not the kind that fast forwarded to the next song – I had to time that puppy just right) and listen to it continuously as I worked in my parents yard. I did get paid 10 bucks to mow the lawn, but I also got paid in rapping and gangsta lessons (though to be honest, BlackSheep wasn’t that gansta. I needed to pop in my Ice Cube, “The Predator,” tape for that). Anyway, back to “Pass the 40.” That kid was an icon for how we all wanted to feel and be seen – at least on the outside. He was so grown-up and hip by telling his friends to pass the 40, but I bet he didn’t feel cool when that malty beverage coated his taste buds. He probably ran home and washed it out with milk and cookies. The only time my friends and I drank 40’s was in college and that’s because they were cheap, you only had to buy one and it saved you money before you went out. But as a teen I bought into what this kid was saying along with every other teenager. I did want to look cool in front of my friends (it’s one of the reasons why I tried to wear my bright colored jorts ABC style and why I just had to have that pull out radio, when a regular one would’ve been just as good and would have allowed us table-space at Chilli’s). Looking back, I think that’s OK though. I mean what teen or tween didn’t want to look like a Fonzie-esk deity to their friends. But as an adult? Well, that’s a whole other washbasin of marbles.
I feel a need to call out the world (Though I really don’t know that many people, so I could really use your assistance on this one). There’s a lot of fakeness among us adults … I’m sorry, let me rephrase that in a nicer way. There’s a lot of Fonzie wannabes among us and it’s not even wanting to look cool as much as it’s people trying to act how they think they are supposed to. And I’m not talking about self-actualization or personal growth either. This is more about how we think we need to actively project and portray ourselves to others (Let’s call these people “Projectors”). Fonzie wasn’t a projector and he did “cool” perfectly, but he was Fonzie. Henry Winkler is not Fonzie outside of the character, though I’m certain he tried to be and feel into Projector status time-to-time. After all isn’t that what we wanted to see in him? Anyway, here are two general Projector examples that you can deeply examine on your own time (I’m sure you know one person in each category. Try and figure out what they are projecting.): 1) the guy that wants and actively uses the term “Mancave” and 2) the girl that laughs and acts bubbly after swinging and missing a base/softball. So what’s the reason for all this hullabaloo? Well I almost fell into “Projector” status this week myself. I know what you’re thinking … no way this can happen to GAR. Oh, but it almost did.
I was looking for a cool band t-shirt to wear for the engagement pictures our photographer offered to do for us (free too!) and all mine are faded and worn. While in a store I saw a Clash t-shirt with their song/album title “London Calling” on it alongside really cool graphics of the band. Pretty sweet … I know, but here’s the kicker. I don’t listen to the Clash and I’ve never seen them in concert (this album came out when I was 3) or on TV (However, I do have an LP with this song on it. The LP is “Life in the European Theater” and it’s a compilation album with half the proceeds going to a fund that opposes nuclear arms and power. So obviously, I just picked it up because it was weird). Buying that t-shirt would be a projection to the world that I’m a cooler and more sophisticated music fan than you, when I’m just a normal music fan. How fake would that be? I just need to be a great music fan of the bands I can actually pull up on my iPod. I was lucky to catch myself before someone got hurt in this kerfuffle, but a lot of people don’t.
For instance, I started reading Steven Tyler’s (or should I call him Steven Tallarico) autobiography. Now he’s lived a crazy life, but he is an awful writer. I’m actually giving him too much credit here. He dictated his book, so he’s an awful story teller – though with his name on the cover, it appears as if he wrote it. You say you were raised by wolves Steven? Really? And that was just the first chapter. Tyler tries to be overly cool and humorous in every waking part of his life. This was a big downfall for him in his first attempt at being an author. If he was just honest and real, the stories would shock and scintillate on their own merit. Most people just want him to be the face of Aerosmith and do what he does best - hit that high crescendo in “Dream On” and live his rock star status. But he took it too far though. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to evolve … you absolutely should, but be yourself as you do it. He tried to be an interesting author like I tried to be a fan of the Clash. It doesn’t work unless you actually put yourself into it. I think the question here is who are you doing this for anyway and why are you trying to fool your world? This happens outside the realm of artists becoming wannabe authors too, but I’ll stick with Steven to finish my thoughts (you can overlay this “lesson” upon any other area you wish). Here’s a novel idea, if your face and name is on some literary scribblings maybe you should’ve written it yourself - otherwise you’re a “Projector” (And if you do put your face on it, at least make it an attractive picture – some of us like to eat while we read). The world isn’t stupid though. Anyone can see Steven’s failed attempt at trying to be cooler through his words/dictation and the intelligent population will have already figured that out in the first couple of chapters (on a side note, I do in fact think he is cool and has lived an interestingly crazy life, but he could have packaged it much better). As for the people he pulls the wool over, well it’s kind of like convincing a baby you’ve disappeared in a peekaboo game. Not too strenuous, but tricking a baby? Plus, do you really want that to be your audience? Come on Mr. Tyler and come on world (“world” includes all adults you’re going to help me call out. Seriously, I don’t know that many people). Shit, I almost tricked a baby myself in the music world, but I can say one thing for myself though Steven. My picture is on scribblings I actually wrote and my name is on this blog, because I penned this blog.
So, what’s so wrong with just being whom and what you are as an adult? There’s no need to sneak the 40 to look cool people. I say, drink it because you like the taste, or because its 94 cents (with tax an even dollar) and that’s your best right now.
Well, now it’s time to pack prior to jetting off to the Galápagos’ Islands where I would love to become a Projector upon my return. The truth is though, on day 5 I’ll probably say, “oh … look … more animals” and that’s how I’ll write it.