Friday, June 27, 2008

Localized Fame

There's a phenomenon I've become more and more aware of after living in San Francisco for five and a half years: people who are somehow locally prominent in one scene or another and the people within said scene who assume that everyone else in the city knows this "famous" person. To be honest, I find it quite vexing. I can't tell you how many times I've been having a conversation with someone, even someone I consider a good friend, and they are blathering on and on about this or that person, whom they only refer to by his or her first name, assuming I know exactly who they're talking about. When I interrupt them to ask who it is they're talking about they always respond with a mixture of surprise and mild annoyance. "You know, DJ______ from _______ " or "that person who does that event ___________." I usually respond with a nod and "Oh, right, right" of recognition even when I still have no earthly clue who they're referring to. It just seems like less of a hassle.

But I think I'm going to make a mid-year resolution to stop doing that, for a variety of reasons. The first being that I think it's good to remind people that there is a world outside of the insular scene they spend a good deal of their time in. There's people as close by as me who have no idea who you're referring to because your participating in something small and local, not massive and global. Another reason is that when I do know who these locally famous individuals are/I realize who they're referring to, it's almost always someone I find a bit annoying because of how overinflated their sense of self-importance seems to be due to said local fame.

I've never been someone who finds a home in one scene or one thing. And I don't say that to sound downtrodden or self-congratulatory, it's just a fact. I am a part of the SF music scene in the sense that I play in a local band and we play lots of local shows. But I am not immediately networked in to every music scene in town and aware of everyone's efforts, local fame or not. I spend my time in various spaces in the gay "community" of San Francisco but none of them feel like home base to me, just places to be social and see different people I might know socially. And I certainly don't enter any of these spaces expecting to be recognized for being The Drummer from Ex-Boyfriends. It's nice if I am, definitely flattering, but I don't walk around thinking I have some glowing halo of recognition shining down on me, making me stand out from the other people around me. And while I sometimes am a little disappointed when someone hasn't heard of my local band that's been together for over five years, it's a fleeting feeling and I accept it as a reality. This is a big city and I am not Madonna or George Bush or Oprah Winfrey or someone else that people know immediately by name or face. Hell, I have a friend who is a widely published author and a pretty well-known Internet celebrity with crazily big name talent agency representation and I still don't expect people to know who she is simply by uttering her name. I just wish some of my neighbors had this kind of awareness as well.

Look, I am not putting down anyone for being a DJ or someone who puts on various nights and events or plays in a band or creates art of some sort in the SF Bay Area. I think all of those things are worthwhile pursuits - they enrich our lives in various ways and a lot of it is appreciated and enjoyed by me. Just don't lose perspective. Lots of people are DJs in this city. In this world. Lots of people are in bands. Lots of people host nights and events. You have not reinvented the wheel and you're not necessarily gliding on the cutting edge of now, so maybe you could turn your egos down a notch or two. And maybe all you folks who know these people in one way or another could stop assuming your friends are so famous that they merit instant name recognition. And if they don't receive said recognition, don't huff and sigh all annoyed that you have to explain to clueless little me, or clueless little whomever, who this relative unknown is. This goes triply so when you're referring someone by their LJ name before you tell me their actual name. That just may make me hurl a car at you. With my mind.


At 6/27/2008 12:42 PM , Blogger misty L said...



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