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Pearl of Great Price

My purpose in writing now is to understand myself.

Which instantly admits that I do not understand myself. I don’t; I am a mystery to me.

You are a mystery to you, and we’re all in the same boat. Call in the psychologists – though I can tell you right now they’re mysteries too.

I’m trying to understand how I spend every day cranking out brilliant performances no one sees.

If my performances really were brilliant, wouldn’t people come flocking? But they don’t.

Two explanations: A) my performances are not brilliant, or B) no one knows where the brilliance is. If they knew where it was they’d go and buy tickets.

Today I spent all morning responding to a Leonardo fan named Mary Clara, whose parish church is right across the street from a major research university, and who liked my post here on Copernicus and Kepler Day – the medieval astronomers who described the Milky Way as it actually is.

My simple idea was that Episcopal churches should hold public blessings of scientists.

She picked up on that, and she may enlist her parish to hold such a party next year. Right across the street, after all.

Their feast day is May 23, which comes at the end of the academic year in this country. It might be a good day to shake out some holy water at Evensong.

What I most liked about my post was the idea of inviting Ei-ichi Negishi (Nobel Prize, Chemistry, 2011) to give the sermon. (He lives three miles from my parish door.)

Episcopalians don’t let anyone Not Approved take their pulpits. But maybe we could make an exception once a year?

What would a scientist say on such an occasion? I don’t think Dr. Negishi’s a Christian, so he’d have to finesse that somewhat – but what would he actually say?

We won’t know unless we invite him – and we probably won’t, because good ideas get ground down by big wheels, so it was all just a fantasy anyway.

By some blogger in Indiana. Oh, puh-lease.

Should I tell you about the excellent comments I make every day on The Indianapolis Star website? Or the Journal and Courier, or The Times?

I don’t understand myself.

The fact is I get plenty of responses as I fight every day for Truth, Justice, the American Way and Gay People Loved by Jesus Christ. I comment on the news of the day, some politician’s latest idiotic remark, with an incisive, well-crafted and devastating squelch, and 40 Likes show up on Facebook.

Which means I sold 40 tickets at $0 per.

I don’t get this. Why am I doing this? What does it matter?

Is there anyone out there? Why am I performing if there’s nobody out there?

I leave it to you to judge the quality of the performance. I’m often terribly proud, but the applause is scant, and I’m really not living for applause anyway, but the joy of giving the performance.

I become myself when I go onstage. Offstage I’m a very average Joe. The yard needs mowing, the kitchen isn’t clean.

I’ve written a book (which I bleat to you about endlessly) that is, I think, worth your 40 Likes. Or even 400, or more.

I can’t assess the actual fact, that’s entirely up to the audience.

I can however tell you what it’s like to stand on this stage and not get much of an audience.

Dick Clark died recently; he had no talent whatsoever. He made hundreds of millions delivering the worst schlocky TV Americans have ever seen; he was the Junk Show King.

But we liked him, and he was eternally young, and he gave us rock ‘n’ roll on New Year’s Eve, plus game shows and Miss Universe pageants.

It doesn’t take talent to make money. It takes a commitment to make money, which Dick Clark had like no other. If you want tits and ass, he had tits and ass.

Clearly I’m in the wrong business, because political comment, however well-constructed, dors not deliver tits and ass.

I have no idea what I’m doing here. I’m almost as bad as Worley Rodehaver, a Cincinnati goofball who is dearly loved and outstandingly ineffective. (Credit to Worley: he’s made his appearance more goofy every year. As if he enjoys his goofiness; as if it’s his calling card you’ll remember.)

I used to live in his house, which tells you everything you need to know about my popularity.

Back when I was cute I should have hooked up with Calvin Klein. If I had, I’d now be famous.

Instead I peeled layers of wallpaper off Worley Rodehaver’s walls. Those 40 Likes tell you I’m a really fine writer, considering I once performed at Worley’s dinner theater.

I attribute my success and lack of it to a decision I made one day in 1966, as I was walking past the county courthouse outside my mother’s drugstore. (Here is the pearl of great price.)

“I do not want to make money.

“I am not going into business.

“Money doesn’t matter if you lose your own soul.”

(Of course, if your soul would also enjoy food and clothing, you’d better make money; but I was 16 and didn’t know that.)

Forty Likes on Facebook are pretty darn good. Jesus really does love Gay guys, and I don’t care whether saying so makes me popular in Indiana or not.

Sometimes I fret a little, though; knowing that if I wanted a real career, I don’t belong in the Midwest. But I do like where I’m from, so fuck ’em.

Small towns need activists too.

I would like the current gigantic opus to be a gigantic hit, Dick Clark-style, #1 on Billboard. But I don’t have the talent or connections to achieve that.

Dick Clark knew popularity; that was his business, like Casey Kasem and his Top 40 Countdown.

So here I labor, soon to die in some obscurity. Have I mattered, Lord? Did I make a contribution?

Of course I did.

I wouldn’t give you 14¢ for all the suckups around Calvin Klein.

I met a few of those people, and I didn’t much care for them. I lived in New York twice, and saw enough.

It’s a wonderful city, but it all depends on sucking up to money, and I wouldn’t do that. Which is why I only get 40 Likes now.

I love every one of the fans I have.

I think they are better than a packed house on Broadway; so I will labor alone.

Fame is frankly rather empty. The world didn’t really mourn Dick Clark, who wasn’t much more than a countdown guy.

It won’t mourn me either; a few folks will, but not most people.

I would like, in my life, to have one great success. I would like to have that #1 hit.

But if it doesn’t happen, I sang anyway.

That’s the most important thing, as I knew when I was 16, walking past the courthouse outside my mother’s drugstore.

Just sing. They may or may not buy tickets; just sing.++

(Harold Copping)

One Response

  1. Sing-sing-sing (aka I´m dancing as fast as I can)…yes, you´ve done it again…you and your ¨like generators¨ have made life worthwhile and it would only matter if you only touched one persons life (and Luke too). So here we are in wherever it is that we really are with our tails wagging (mostly) as you delight us with your observations (innermost and outters)…we are your audience, sometimes brighter than other times but we´re here and we´re here because we admire you. How many does one need to feel appreciated and loved? Only my active alcoholism instincts know for sure and they always said MORE is better — but, more wasn´t, in fact, MORE tried to kill me…I learned to take what I could get (and pretend the rest).

    When I write my blog (lots of visitors but few comments) I always think I´m playing to a large audience…it´s weird, I have a smaller core of same visitors and huge number of international visitors…many become repeaters…but, I´ll never know who they are as they get to know who I am…seems a little odd but, then, there is no business like snow business.

    I send you my best, I´m one of your ¨likes¨ in residence,
    Len

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