My First Second of Fame

A couple of weeks ago, I got a text from my classmate, Josh. The text consisted of an address in Gowanus, Brooklyn, a meeting time and a possibly ominous but most definitely shady message, “If you can, please come. If you can’t, no worries.”

After a few back and forths, I determined that the bond villain (yes, that’s his actual nickname) was not plotting to murder me, so I met him at an old salvage yard. After some exploratory photography, Josh told me about a second stop that could be added to our agenda.

“Two artists are living in a hamster wheel for 10 days.”

Hell yes.

A 30 minute train ride later and we were in Williamsburg. We walked into the boiler and were greeted with hushed tones. About 8 other people were inside. Some with cameras, others with microphones and the rest in various levels of awe and confusion. All eyes were on the gigantic wooden hamster wheel that hung from the ceiling. It was over 15 feet high and two artists were perched inside. One on the very top, the other on the bottom (inside the wheel), so they could balance each other out.

I took a bunch of pictures and then made some small talk with a cute blonde who turned out to be from CBS News. I’m guessing she was a producer because she stood off to the side as the reporter and cameraman worked together to get footage for the piece, which debuted the next morning on national television.

While Josh set up his tripod to get long exposure shots, I stood there just thinking about the absurdity of the stunt. All of a sudden, I noticed a bright, white light in front of me. The cameraman had turned his camera to the back of the room, toward me and Josh. I immediately threw up the peace sign and started hamming it up. The cameraman started laughing and I quickly tapped Josh on the arm to tell him we might get on TV. In an instant, he turned his back on the camera and mumbled something along the lines of “I DON’T WANT to be on camera…”

I laughed it off and he meandered somewhere behind me. Unfazed, I could still feel the spotlight on me, so I did my best “WHOA LOOK AT THAT COOL THING/I’M TOTALLY ACTING NORMAL” face and ignored the camera. A few seconds passed and the cameraman turned away and started packing up. No comments, no release form, no nothing. I guess it doesn’t matter if it’s b-roll?

A couple of days later, I searched for the story and found it. I watched it excitedly with my brother and cheered as my one and only second showed up (1:46 in).

Look Ma, I'm on TV!

Look Ma, I’m on TV! And yes, that’s Josh behind me.

I wonder if my face will be forever ingrained in the memory of the minds of the people who saw it. Maybe some deja vu would be triggered if I ever saw them in person? I wonder.

I think it’s entirely possible to cross paths with someone (days, months or years before) and notice the stranger from afar (without talking to him/her) for whatever reason. He/she could be really cute, have a distinctive mark on their body or just be unique. The memory of the person then fades into the recesses of your mind. If you ever cross paths again in the future but this time, talk to him/her and make a connection, would your initial thoughts and viewpoint of that person (from the 1st meeting) influence your new impression of the person (during the 2nd meeting) somewhere deep in your subconscious?

Whoa. This post just went through the wormhole.

Anyway, now that the 1st second is out of the way, it’s time to get noticed for something I did. Sure, being at the right place at the right time is cool and getting an article written about me is fine but I want more. It’s on to the next one…two…three and all the other 14 minutes and 59 seconds. And I won’t stop there. Not for the sake of fame. I could give a  fuck less about the number of followers I have or being on some trendy blog or news site. I just want to fulfill my dreams and visions and make them happen for real. To prove to myself and the outside world what’s already a foregone conclusion in my mind. Otherwise, I’ll just be like a lot of people living a ‘successful’ but average life; daydreaming about what they could’ve done if only they tried a little bit harder, believed a little bit more or dreamed a little bit bigger. I like my odds.

To finish this post, I’m going to talk about a quote by a new friend I made at my weekly pickup basketball games at the Y. He’s an older gentleman (he wouldn’t divulge his age but my guess is 65+) who can still play full court 5 on 5 games and keep up with the guys in their twenties (me!), thirties and forties. And believe me, he can still box out and can still hit a bucket from outside, as long as he gets his arms up, keeps his elbow in and doesn’t rush his shot. It amazes me how he and the other older guys can still play and not get winded. As I was packing up to leave after winning 4 straight games (lost the fifth), I asked him, “How do you do it?” After going on a tangent about his H.S. and college days (as many grandpas would do), which I thoroughly enjoyed, he summed it up like so:

Once you stop running, you’re fucked.”

So simple, yet so eloquent. It can be applied to many aspects of life, whether it’s your career, family or personal goals. If you’re alive, healthy, willing and able, you have no choice but to keep pushing yourself, changing into the best person you can be and keep improving…unless you stop yourself from starting in the first place. Or give up halfway without giving your best effort.

The next time I’m feeling lazy or uninspired, I’m going to keep that quote in mind. I’m going to keep running and making moves because I want to be like Harold in 40+ years. I don’t want to stop running because I don’t want to be fucked.

I’m going to be the fucking one.

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