Failure and dreams...keep walking even if the world is beating you back.
This morning I am a bit miffed that I will probably be working for free at an Elton john concert. I find it amazing that the tickets can’t sell even at a deep discount. Then again, I never have heard of any show giving tickets for labor.
I have to thank my ex wife, one of the best box office people i know, for taking the time to teach and explain to “the tips and tricks of what some promoters” do around the world, to put more money in their pockets and less in the clients. she should write a book about it, particularly since the entertainment landscape has changes so dramatically with the larger conglomerates trying to be a one stop boutique (a good idea) but they are financing it with dangerous debt loads on the balance sheets.
So the strange reality is, i am at a new starting point in life. I have a new country until my old one grants some visas for my wife, a new language to learn - that really has been difficult for me to grasp. My lab and tools to just go out and prototype the ideas, are not avialable. i still have 3d modeling, animation, audio, design tools - but off a laptop and not a workstation where i can see everything on a few large screens. (thank you for the reading glasses Dr. Rubin! ) The kicker is as a citizen of the USA, I can’t get a bank account here. The Swiss banks have basically said, “sorry, but your country has too many hassles for us.”
So, here I sit, and think about the topic of how long one can go on an idea and dream without realizing a financial gain as well as how little one really needs to live on this planet once one stops looking at the advertisements and watching the media programming. You can go years with little to nothing for self.
Perhaps I am just sad that one of the true great live performers on this planet is Elton john. I remember sound check years ago when I was doing ice shows in Asia and I got a call from an Australian guy working Elton’s tour asking for help in Hong Kong and Singapore. We just happened to overlap with shipping dates, so it was nice to go see and work his shows.
How good is Elton john? He is this good.
I was at the front of the Singapore arena and I heard the PA go live and a song was being played. Maybe it was just me being on the road so long, that I forgot what time, day, country or show I was doing, but it really sounded good.
“Wow, the FOH is really nice, what is it a CD?”
“No mark, that is sound check.. Live. Every day i am amazed at how good they are.”
I really didn’t believe Vern, so I went out into the arena and there was the band in sound check, sounding quite remarkable. The magic words for today economy are, "they were playing live and they sounded so good" that they did something rare to me. They had me stop dead in my tracks and just close my eyes and listen. what a wonderful memory. Today i can still close my eyes and hear them playing.
In today’s world, most of the shows are cued and all the computer automation, equalization, efx, click tracks, pre-recorded backing vocals, and racks of auto tune…. demonstrate how few of the acts are good enough to consistently play live each night.
So what does this have to do with anything? Simple. The biggest failure in my life was when the tech cave show and the full immersion and implosion of an audience “live” happened. we were building the prototype when the events of 9-11 happened. i should have taken a cue form a road manager in Nashville sweating profusely at the coffee table, pounding numbers into his calculator. but i missed it. i was on a titanic of sorts and didn't even realize it.
"You ok? whats wrong?" i asked
"how many tickets do you think i sold for the tour today?"
"well, you were moving 5-8,000 a day a month ago...uhm...5,000?"
"15" he sighed, taking a sip of coffee while beads of sweat poured out of him from nerves.
it wasn't long after that i understood the message of the day, but god it hurt to learn it.
What is funny to me is that out of the ashes came two unrelated ideas. One was the Agrowbox, which ironically started with full sketchbooks during brainstorm for villages in the 3rd world, today it is the Agrowvillage. The other idea that evolved, instead of loading up massive shows with trucks of equipment, was to go the other direction and figure out ways to make human life more humane between people and cultures who are different. The Augmanity project and the pandora's box of things both good and not so good for humanity and the future of the two edged technology sword and the choices for how man will choose to use it.
The moral of the story is if you find something you are truly passionate about and love to do (for me creating solutions to problems) it won’t matter how much or little you make or get paid. You are doing what makes your heart sing.
The one thing your heart will always be able to discern in today’s world of canned semi-live entertainment is “what is live? “
Ok, that is enough of today’s whatever ramble. The early morning brainstorm was a disaster, now I will try “round 2”
Just keep trying…. things happen and if you do get a chance to see elton john live..by all means go. :o)
* As a side note, I still don’t know if Vern is dead or alive? He and his wife had a little hotel in phuket, Thailand. After the tsunami, i tried to get in touch....but....silence