Friday, June 12, 2009

Maybe you should be nice on your way up because you may come back down?

This is the most star-studded blog I have ever done and may ever do.
Get your sunglasses on and watch your head because names are going to be dropping like raindrops.

It's also very long but I wanted to keep this together.

What got me thinking about this topic was when I was thinking about Roger Federer the other day after he won the French Open and how I believe he is probably a genuinely nice guy.

I started to think about celebrities, how they act towards the public and their fans and how the public sees them.

For those who don't know, I was a bouncer for many years in Ontario in my younger days.
It was always my feeling that defusing a situation is far better than taking the situation down once it has begun.
Many times I would calmly walk with someone out the door instead of physically throwing them out when they became drunk or a bit rowdy.
I was know as "Tim the nice bouncer".

I would spend long nights watching the people and trying to read the emotions and feelings in the room.
I think in doing this for so long I think I started to get a pretty good feel for people.

There have been many times over the years when I have got a less than positive vibe from an individual and have been on the mark.
Other times it appeared that I was wrong but after some time it has was shown that I was right at the start.
Sometimes I really am wrong and missed altogether.

My point here is that when I look at Roger Federer he seems to me like a truly nice guy and I cheer for him because he deserves to be happy.

Here's where my names start to fly.

Many years ago my mother attended a celebrity tennis tournament in Toronto. One of the celebrities in attendance was actor Lloyd Bridges.

Following his tennis match several people including my mother were standing along the route that Lloyd was leaving and hoped to get an autograph from him.

Mom told that Lloyd blew past those few people so fast and acted so ignorant towards them it was unbelievable.
Signing a few autographs for a few ladies wasn't too much of a task really.
But the way Lloyd Bridges acted towards them assured that those ladies would never be his fans again.
Or their families.

Once upon a time Toronto had a WHA hockey team franchise called the Toronto Toros.
The WHA was made up of ex-NHL players who were lured over by money and the promise of renewed glory.
It was a flop.
However one day the Toros had an event called "Scoutskate".

It was advertised that all of us little Cub and Boy Scouts could have a chance to skate with the actual Toronto Toro players themselves!

What a load of garbage that was.

It turned out that we all went for a free skate with hundreds of other Boy Scouts and had a chance to perhaps glimpse a couple of the Toros that happened to be in the area. Without skates on.

One of the Toros players was hockey legend Frank Mahovolich who actually showed up that day.

I remember I was so thrilled to see him! I always loved watching him play and had his hockey cards.

I made my way toward Frank with my pad and pen in hand. It was amazing that I could actually meet him in person.

I asked him if I could please get his autograph.
Then I mentioned that my uncle had also been involved in the Montreal Canadiens hockey organization as he had been before joining the Toros.
I was just making conversation and trying to slip in a little bonding for good measure.

Mr. Mahovolich then told this little Boy Scout to go and "ask your uncle for my autograph" as he blew past all of us.
Pop! There goes that boy's bubble.

I believe he's a member of the Canadian Senate now but I won't be approaching him for an autograph again.

I have stories of a couple of Canadian bands.

A couple of them were pretty popular back in the 1980's. I'm not sure if you recall the bands Bootsauce and The Box.

When I was attending Humber College in Ontario the student council managed to book The Box to do a show in the student bar on campus.
At that time The Box were doing really well for themselves. They had a few really great songs that we're getting plenty of airplay at the time.
I wasn't able to go to the show but read about it in the school newspaper a couple of days later.
It turned out that the band went up on stage, did a couple of songs and left the stage leaving everyone wondering what the heck happened.
The paper reported that the band may have been a little drunk or stoned at the time but possibly not.
When the reporter asked if he could talk to them for a few minutes they told him to forget it and they just wanted to go and "get laid".
I lost all respect I ever had for them and never listened to them again.

I support artists but not when they act like that.

Who knows where they are now. To be honest I really don't care.

Bootsauce was another band from Quebec that weren't as popular as The Box but had music that I really liked.

It wasn't as mainstream a sound but I really admired their talent.
This would have been about the time that I discovered The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the Stone Temple Pilot style. Grunge I believe it was called.
Bootsauce fit right in to my tastes.
I have no personal knowledge of what has become of them.
However, at a party one day I met a record company executive time who had signed the band.

He told me that the band members were the rudest, most ignorant people he had ever met.
They acted like they were the biggest rock stars on the planet and noone else mattered.
Could this have been their downfall?
I can't say for certain.

Nickelback is a band that has been around for a couple of years and have become pretty big internationally.
Lately I have noticed a growing sentiment against them.
Facebook even has a group "Friends don't let friends listen to Nickelback".

I have no idea what started this but one day I was browsing videos on Youtube and watched a recent video clip of Nickelback on stage in Europe.
It's difficult to see exactly what brings it on but the singer asks the crowd if they want to rock and roll. He doesn't get the reaction he is looking for so the band leaves the stage and never goes back out.
On the way, the singer gives the crowd the middle finger salute. I'm certain he wasn't telling them they are "number 1" with it.

Maybe I'm wrong but this type of show of affection towards your fans may diminish their love level somewhat.

I am absolutely certain that my friends in Age of Daze and the lovely Miss Maggie B will never treat their fans in such a manner, no matter what level of stardom they achieve.
It's not in their nature.

A smart artist (or anyone for that matter) knows that even though fans may tick you off at some point the fact is that the fans put you there.
And the fans can take you down just as easily.

Why do you think that Rush has had such a loyal solid fan base for so many years?
The big reason is that they are outstanding musicians.
The other is that Rush loves their fans.
And we love them right back.

This last one is my favourite story.
About 20 years ago my mother called me to tell me that a movie was being filmed in her little town Beeton and I should check it out.
It was a made-for-TV movie starring Harry Morgan and Walter Matthau.

I took off up to Beeton that afternoon to see.
Mom and I searched around the town for signs of filming and learned that the cast and crew had gone to the Beeton arena for lunch.

We went there and headed upstairs to the large dining area.
There were people all over the place sitting at many tables.

Over at one table sat Walter Matthau all by himself eating his lunch.
I thought "Perfect! I'll head over and just say hello. He won't mind a quick autograph."

As I started to walk over a geek who felt very important stepped in front of mom and I and said "No, no. You can't disturb Mr. Matthau while he's eating!"
Fine, we would wait.

Mom and I stood off to the side for almost 10 minutes as Walter sat and ate by himself.
I finally told mom "enough of this, I'm going over!"

I'm sure everyone is familiar with Walter Matthau and what his style was.
He was the ideal grumpy old man. He looked and played the part perfectly and it made him a superstar.
He was the slob Oscar in "The Odd Couple", he was a drunk grumpy baseball coach in "The Bad News Bears" (The original, not that crap that Billy Bob Thornton did).
He was one of the "Grumpy Old Men" with Jack Lemmon and Burgess Meredith.
The most fitting was as Mr. Wilson in "Dennis The Menace".
Mr. Wilson spends the whole movie putting up with the torment of Dennis, the neighbour's boy and thinking of ways to exact revenge on the kid.
Walter was fabulous in this. It's one of my favourite roles of his.

Back to the story.
I walked over to Walter as he was eating and he looked up at me.
I asked if it was okay if my mother and I just had a quick photo with him and an autograph and we would be on our way.

How do you think he responded?
Grumpy old man?
No way!

He said "Of course! Come on and sit down! I would be delighted! Please join me!"

I waved over to mom and she sat down beside him and we had one of most pleasant chats I have ever shared with anyone.

I get teary just remembering how nice it was.

I still have the pictures of us with him from that day.
He isn't smiling in them. I bet he was intentionally looked the part for the photo.
But we know better.

It was funny when Mom acted like a mom and asked him about how he was feeling. She had read that he had recently been ill with a virus of some kind.

She was all concerned about him and he told her all about it like she was his mom checking up on him.

I can still picture her look of concern and him describing everything carefully.
We eventually left him and he waved and shook our hands with a big smile of an old friend.
What an amazing man.

It's moments like that which people remember and share as I am right now with you.

Something so simple as sharing a couple of minutes with another warms their hearts forever.

I wonder how many people will never know how different from his roles he really was?
At least you know now.

I should note that in "Dennis The Menace" Mr. Wilson manages to drive Dennis so that he runs away from home.
Then Mr. Wilson sits down and thinks about how awful it is that Dennis is gone and how much he wants the little terror back.
He gets sniffly and teary and sets out to find Dennis and bring him back safely.
THAT is the part of Mr. Wilson that fit Walter Matthau perfectly! He was a nice caring person.

When I learned of Walter's passing years ago I felt so awfully awfully sad.
But I also felt so happy that I had shared a few minutes with him that day in Beeton.

If I had ever had the chance to meet Bea Arthur and tell her that I had a crush on her I think that she would have given me a nice hug and maybe a little peck on the cheek.
I will always believe that she was that type of person who loved us as much as we loved her.

Remember, almost everyone starts out at the same level.
Plus, we are all people after all even if some are more wealthy and famous.

It doesn't take much to make others feel special does it?
Even if you don't like someone just respect them.

You don't have to love or even like everyone but respect is a huge thing.

Stay well,


Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

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