Gasbag: Fame

It’s very rare that a person who’s driven to become famous reaches their goal. Fame isn’t a 5K jog/walk, nor is it junior college¿there is no visible finishing line, and there are no rules. Fame is an enigma, wrapped tightly in a riddle, bound by a strong cord of unpredictability. There are proven methods of obtaining fame, but it’s always the wrong kind. Killing or having sex with an American president makes you famous, and eating human flesh when other food is readily available also seems to carry with it the potential for recognition, but quality fame is about as easy to understand as a conversation between two dolphins.

Concurrently, those who find themselves the focal point of the media spotlight often never pictured themselves rising to such a position. When interviewed, they always manage to say things like, “I had know idea I’d ever get as far as I have.” Ironically, that’s probably one of the few questions they’ll ever really answer with sincerity, clarity, and honesty.

There’s an underlying theme to the lives of people who achieve non-homicidal fame¿hard work. Years of dedication to a specific activity gives one the ability to excel at something, thus exponentially increasing their chances of winning the attention lottery. Which brings us to one of fame’s bigger conundrums: at what point are you trying too hard?

Einstein couldn’t have answered that question with anything better than pure conjecture, and he used way more of his brain than anyone you know. Laban Pheidias and Anthony Van Engelen can’t answer it, either. They’re featured in interviews in this month’s issue of TransWorld, where they’re asked questions relating to their knowledge of obtaining and maintaining fame.

By his own admission, Alien Workshop’s Anthony Van Engelen spent a decent-sized chunk of his skateboarding career not necessarily caring all that much about skateboarding. Anthony recalls spending the better part of a year in Russia without a skateboard: “I brought boards with me, but I didn’t have trucks. That’s how over skating I was. I brought boards, but I wasn’t sweating it that much. I didn’t even have griptape.”

In contrast to Anthony’s blasé approach, Laban Pheidias has been working his ass off to be a successful, respected skateboarder for longer than anyone cares to remember. In “Holding On To The Dream,” Ted Newsome writes, “Within a year, Laban had lost every sponsor he’d ever had¿no board, no shoe, not even a set of trucks. He still had the skills, but got no love from the industry.”

So what’s the message here? Blow off skating, move far away, and forget griptape if you want to be a famous pro? Or is it, work hard, be focused, and fail miserably? Or the third option: love what you do, and you won’t need the adulation of others to justify your direction in life.

It’s your choice … just don’t think about it too hard.¿Joel Patterson