Hair and a Teletubby

And while we are on the topic of careers in the artworld this question often appears about as welcome as a bounced check; What are the odds of having a long happy creative life?

As a young painter I once got a call from Aquarious Productions for an interview and found myself looking for said Company in a grim building squeezed in somewhere way down West 42. I climbed 4 flights of stairs bothering sweaty folks in dance studios and musicians along the way to see if anyone knew where Aquarious was. No one knew. I knocked upon an old scarred door with a wierd blue/gold triangle and a painted on eyeball, kind of  a dollar bill type symbol. The peephole darkened from within, a police lock was wrenched away. An overweight guy greeted me, stringy blonde hair reaching the shoulders of a denim shirt embroidered with a butterfly or maybe a mushroom on the front, the whole look skillfully pulled together by a giant bronze marijuana leaf belt buckle. A skinny kid who seemed to be in some sort of a trance, whacked  a snare drum roughly every 15 seconds, or so. With a beefy wave I was invited to sit on a caved in sofa next to a dead empty fishtank with a nine iron poking out of the top. I dutifully showed my art portfolio, which at this time consisted of photos of enormous paintings of industrial stuff like screwdrivers, channel locks and power drills.

“Groovy” ( I shit you not ) declared the hippie guy. He said he was trying to get Another Hit play together at a community college in Pohdunk, West Virginia or somewhere like that. Oh, said I, what was your first play? “Hair”, bespoke the playwright dude. The snare drum rattled. I could think of nothing other than to cleverly offer “Wow, that sure was a big piece of history”, as this was clearly either Rado or Ragni, I forgot which, but one of the Hair guys famous from the covers of Time and Life and, shall we say, a tad off his game? As this particular new enterprise looked entirely doomed. I got out fast.

And what should one do when the 15 minutes of fame are up?  Wait it out and suffer the bad times in the closet like an extra wide tie or a zoot suit?  Maybe get hammered and plunge your ride into a ditch Pollock style to avoid seeing your life’s work end up on formica countertops, wallpaper designs and lamp shades?  Or just Do what you want, When you want, Damn the Bollocks? Which of course can lead to the woulda-coulda-shoulda stool at the end of the Terminal Bar.

TelletubbyMy own personal theory here is that you have to be happy with where you are in life no matter what. Like I figure Billy Joel and the lady who wrote and sang the Titanic song (I forgot her name, maybe Celine? ) have roughly the same amount of God given talent. One drives cars into trees, buys 13 mil houses in Southhampton then decides he doesn’t want them anymore, weds, then divorces blonde supermodels and now, just looks awful, like a sad, bald Teletubby. On the other hand the other singer songwriter has a nice marriage going on 45 years, a lovely home in Vegas, rewarding gigs with adoring fans and is always smiling. Get it? She knows where she fits in and is blissfully happy. Billy Joel can’t figure out why he is not John Lennon and, as a result, is miserable.

Billy Joel comments on our Teletubby Post

Dear Mr. Christopher –
I just read your article where you stated that I was “miserable because I can’t figure out why I’m not John Lennon” and that this is also the reason that I “look awful, like a sad, bald
Teletubby”. For your information I look the way I look because I inherited my father’s genetic structure, and believe it or not, he’s even worse-looking than I am. I’m bald because I’m 61 years old and baldness runs in my family. I’m assuming that a Teletubby is a cartoon character and I can’t knowledgeably comment about that because Im not up-to-date on children’s television shows. Also, I am not the least bit miserable and I have absolutely no desire to be John Lennon – who happens to be dead, in case you haven’t heard. I do not “drive cars into trees”. I had the misfortune of skidding on black ice in the wintertime 5 years ago and that was the reason for my car accident.
Anything else you may have read regarding this in the tabloids is just that – tabloid journalism – which you seem to have a propensity forgleaning your information from. And the woman who you insist on comparing me to is named Celine Dion, who happens to be a wonderful singer but does not write a single one of her own songs – which I do. Therefore, your entire premise of shared talent is totally flawed. I do not “wed and then divorce blonde supermodels”. I married only one person with that description, and the ensuing divorce was not
something that was undertaken on a whim as you infer. I never bought “13 million dollar houses in Southampton and then decided I didn’t want them”. Where do you get this garbage?
Before you go insulting the way someone looks, practicing dime-store psychology and slinging mud at those you know absolutely nothing about, I suggest that you do what any competent, qualified writer would do before submitting a story: do your research, take some pride in your profession, and try to practice your craft with just a modicum of integrity. It is obvious that you don’t know anything about Celine Dion, or me – or authentic journalism.
Sincerely,
Billy Joel

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