Touch of Fame

Touch of Fame

Repost from my old blog - originally posted 4/28/2007 1:45 am

So I had two encounters with famous people this week.

On Monday night, I was on a ranch somewhere in central Texas cooling down from a rodeo where one of the helping hands almost got gored by a bull. I’m having a beer and am talking with my friend George about God-knows-what (it wasn’t my first beer and no don’t ask what the hell I was doing at a rodeo in central Texas on a Monday night, it was for work).

Anyway, this friendly and respectable-looking gentleman saunters by. I make the mistake of making eye contact, so now we have to talk. He introduces himself as Kevin Kelly. I think that’s nice, whatever, and I continue to talk with George. Kevin ahems and clarifies.

Turns out Kevin is a very famous person, started Wired Magazine, and he’s there at the invitation of my boss’ boss’ boss to give a talk the following day. Damn, I’m with a famous futurist, slightly buzzed, and he’s asking me about my research (”so, what are you doing about the future?”). Shit. Glib statement flaps out (”creating it”).

Anyway, as he probes for more details I rapidly regret my glib statement. My elaboration just doesn’t sound like it would look good in those floating colored fonts of Wired Magazine. I’m boring him (hell I’m boring myself) so I pass him off to my friend and to Keith who wanders by, and from the enthusiastic conversation that follows I conclude that he’s in good hands and that at least some people look creative and sharp (not me obviously).

The next night Kevin gives a very entertaining after-dinner talk. Turns out some of the themes I told him we are working on are exactly in line with what he had very slick and visual and beautiful slides about, so I feel a bit better about the last night. I wasn’t a total idiot, just boring. And after the talk he greets me jovially and later on I end up hanging out with him for most of the evening, with Martha and Leslie (I had twittered them to the rescue when it became clear that I was going to have a second shot at being clever and eloquent and impressing him with my view of the future, and I didn’t want to take any chances).

Anyway, my touch of fame tonight was very different.

I was at the Warfield with Nate, at the Kaiser Chiefs concert. Great show, high energy. I’m on the floor, standing towards the back of the front section. It’s packed. Lead singer Ricky Wilson is great, has everyone going nutty, makes eye contact with everyone in the crowd. Gives you this sense that he is looking right at you.

Shit he really is looking right at me.

Then he steps off the stage and starts to crowd surf. Seen this before, it’s pretty cool, but normally they just float there a bit and then end up on the stage again. This was different. He’s coming right at me, sort of sliding and swimming over the crowd but moving clearly in my direction, and looking at me with a look of determination.

Brief moment of panic.

Then he is there, and keeps going right over me (yes I help) to the ledge just behind me, and he gets up there and continues the show from there, and introduces the others in the band. Standing on the ledge, literally a foot away from me.

Now he needs to get back somehow. Once again, the look of determination. The crowd gets it and sort of surges, with hands up. But I’m the one who is right there – shit what if I f*ck it up and drop him when he jumps?

He doesn’t jump, he just sort of leans forward and slides out, back towards the stage, right back over me. It’s this weird cool touch-of-fame experience – while also becoming part of the show for a second.

Anyway, the rest of the show I am on this sort of weird high. And I guess as a proper silicon valley nerd I should have gotten more of a high from an extended one-on-one discussion with a famous futurist. But I must admit that that split second of lifting the lead singer of the Kaiser Chiefs was pretty damn cool…