So my dog watches Animal Planet.
He particularly likes "Meercat Manor". I stopped home for some tools and saw him watching a cute pet trick game show and yes, David Brenner was one of the celebrity judges, and yes there was a parrot doing flips on the rings.
I tried to put myself in his position. A stand-up has-been who hasn't really scored since the Johnny Carson days, whose syndicated comedy show barely registered in the ratings, whose last film credit was 1989 ... if someone called up and said "Here's some money, judge the pet tricks" -- wouldn't I do it? In a heartbeat! I'd do it in a heartbeat now, as a totally anonymous never-was failure. But of course no one would ever ask me. Anonymity is a stigma you can't escape, whether you're a needle-in-the-cyber-haystack blogger, a first time novelist, or just a guy trying to get a restaurant table on a busy Saturday night.
But celebrity has a half-life roughly equal to Plutonium. A moment in the public can keep you going for a lifetime. Andy Warhol was so wrong about this -- or maybe times have just changed. Everybody will be famous for fifteen minutes? No: fifteen hundred people will be famous foreveer, in ever-diminishing venues, whether their eating bugs on a tropical island or selling reral estate on late night television.
So I should be happy for old Dave. He's making a living and people like to watch him work. But it strikes me as sad, somehow. Our craven lust for the familiar marks so much of society now: remakes of movies we've already seen, that were based on Tv shows anyway, writers forced to churn out the same 'branded' novel every year while their real talents wither, fast food 'comfort' mels that are quietly killing us as we shovel them in; the fear of change that keeps us gridlocked in our cars while railway lines across the country rust and crumble .
Personally I'd like to see someone new doing something different for a change. I guess the best thing to do is just turn off the TV and avoid the mall bookstores and take a nice long walk with my dog.
He likes that even better than 'Meercat Manor.'