Friday, July 16, 2010

Fame and fortune

Since I've been ordered by a physician to spend all day on my couch eating,* I managed to finish the book I was trying to save for my upcoming flight to Massachusetts: High On Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips.

It brought me to the conclusion that I'm so, so grateful that I was not raised by rock stars. Sure, my parents were hippies, but they were relatively grounded and actually put a lot of thought and energy into raising their children.

It's made me think about fame. Mackenzie's mom was John Phillips' first wife - she married him before he got famous. John Phillips then left Mackenzie's mom for 16 year old Michelle, and they formed The Mamas And The Papas. Fame gave Mackenzie's dad (who, it seems was never exactly responsible to begin with) money and adoring admirers, allowing him to live in a hedonistic, drug-filled alternative reality where he could do whatever the heck he wanted. Sure, he may have still been a crappy dad if he'd never gotten famous, but he probably wouldn't have had the resources to expose his children to the kind of environment that money and fame allowed.

One thing that Mackenzie said about her dad toward the end of the book was that he had wasted a lot of his potential. She thought he could have achieved more as an artist if he hadn't let drugs and partying completely take over his life. I thought this was an interesting point, especially because he did achieve so much artistically. But he could have done more, she thought, could have continued to grow as an artist, and he chose to party instead. Because he could.

It got me thinking about myself, and other artists that I know. I think for many artists, fame and fortune are the worst things that can happen. This is not to say that I think starving artists are more pure or legitimate, just that many of the crazy, envelope-pushing tendencies that make for great art can become warped into self-indulgent excess when they're not kept in check.

*I should note, though, that she stressed that I was to eat healthy food :)

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