Keeping Score

Money is not the only way to do this.

We admire our rich people, but we love our artists.

You get to choose, which path are you on?

Some cross over, Steven Spielberg is a good example. He’s rich, influential and admirable, he may not always reach the artistic heavens, but his work touches people.

But Spielberg broke through in 1975, in a completely different era. Gerald Ford was still President, inflation had not run away with the economy, Ronald Reagan had not legitimized greed, no one ever talked about billionaires, there weren’t any.

But then Michael Milken made $550 million in one year.

But they got him, indicted him and he even got cancer.

But Milken was just the first. And those who followed knew if they spread the money around, not only gave it to the politicians, but flew them around on their plane, took them on vacation (did you see that Scalia was in Texas on a free trip for someone who’d gotten a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court?), lawmakers bent to their will.

And now we accept this.

We decry the influence of the Kochs.

The right wing excoriates George Soros.

But nobody wants to fight them that hard because one day they too might be rich, and when they achieve this they want the same privileges, the same largesse, the same influence, the same lifestyle.

This is the carrot in front of their eyes, this is the American Dream.

But the lack of a ladder, never mind the influence of money in politics, has the younger generation following Bernie Sanders, who unlike Hillary Clinton never took that Wall Street money. Do you think they paid Hillary because they wanted to hear what she had to say? No, they paid for influence.

Because money trumps everything.

Or does it?

We’ll have to see what inroads Bernie makes.

But one thing we know forever more is that art trumps money every day of the week. Money buys power, but not as much as art.

Assuming you exercise it.

We need a reset. Artists are not in competition with the Kardashians, that family may be famous, but it is not creating art, not in the conventional sense.

But in a society run by money, he or she who has it wins. So artists are comparing themselves with the rich, which they shouldn’t do, because they’re playing a different game, there’s just not enough money in entertainment.

Unless you run the NFL. But does anybody expect Roger Goodell to have a legacy? One people admire? Of course not, he’s the lackey of billionaires.

Is this your goal?

Kurt Cobain wouldn’t take a limo, he said it wasn’t punk.

And Kurt Cobain will last longer in people’s memory than the tech billionaires, hell, Steve Jobs, number one, is already in the rearview mirror.

We’ll all be forgotten one day.

But while you’re here, what is your goal?

There’s nothing wrong with accumulating wealth. If that’s your path, set to it.

But if you consider yourself an artist…

An artist does not do what’s expedient, but what he feels. And we all feel something, none of us are automatons, didn’t you laugh when Rupert Murdoch got engaged to Jerry Hall? He’s just looking for some eye candy, he’s thinking with the little head, not so different from the guy on the street. Encapsulate what people feel in your art and you can own the world. Don’t expect execs to laud this, but the listeners and viewers will, that’s what they’re hungry for.

And artists speak truth to power, they say what’s right, they blow the whistle on foul play and inequity. It’s hard to speak the truth when you’re begging the corporation for a sponsorship. But that’s putting money in front of art.

And youngsters have only grown up in this era, where music is about money. Films too. And let’s be clear, both record labels and movie studios will purvey anything if it sells.

But we’ve been unlocked from our chains. We can now do it ourselves, we can gain control, but we rarely exercise this power.

We are not in a golden age of music. Primarily because the motivation is suspect. Stuff sounds good, but it’s got the nutritional value of a candy bar.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Your greatest asset is your mind. Your influences and education, wrapped up in your thoughts, laid down as your art. They want to sell teenagers, because they’re moldable, they’re satiated with toys, adults are more difficult.

And you can rail against the financial system, but ultimately artists are in control. Not only of their art, but their business. Artists could make sure fans got seats, by going to paperless, by charging what the tickets are truly worth, no one bitches that they can’t get a ticket to the Stones now that they flex-price. But no one else does, because they’re afraid of being labeled the rip-off they are. There’s no honesty, everyone’s fake, everyone’s hiding behind a facade.

And then Bernie Sanders comes along and blows up the building, demonstrating money isn’t everything, and if you appeal to the many as opposed to the few, you can raise just as much cash and owe little in fealty.

That’s the story of the century. How the American Dream was decimated and someone who was not wishy-washy, who always stood for the same principles, stole the hearts and minds of the younger generation.

And the rich people don’t like it.

And the political parties don’t like it.

And the media doesn’t like it.

At first they wouldn’t cover Bernie and they keep saying his proposals are unrealistic.

But Bernie is giving people hope.

Like you used to get when you put on a record or sat in a darkened theatre.

You can be in the hope business, you can be in the connection business, you can even make enough of a living along the way to pay your bills.

You’ve just got to decide this is your path.

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