Per usual, I’m sitting here with 55 minutes to write an editorial. What the hell is wrong with me? I could tell you I’m in distress, but I’ve been in distress for so long that I’ve forgotten it’s taken up residence in my psyche.
Besides, what good would it do to indulge it?
I ripped through Dave Grohl’s autobiography this week, entitled “The Storyteller” – for those of you who don’t know, Grohl was the drummer for Nirvana before launching his own band, Foo Fighters, after the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.
Grohl is pretty much my age – within a year. And what I loved about his book – he’s my generational brother. Which means, he’s just so happy to be where he is, having done the work and taken the risks and enjoyed a little luck along the way, that his sense of gratitude and appreciation, particularly for others who’ve helped pave the way, overwhelms the distress part. And he’s experienced more than a bit of distress. Cobain died at 27. His best friend from childhood died in 2008 at 39. And most recently, his bandmate and soul brother Taylor Hawkins died about a month ago – after the book’s release.
One of the early chapters details a show where Grohl miscalculates as he’s running across stage, momentum carrying him into jumping 12’ off that stage onto a hard concrete floor.
He shatters his leg. Foo Fighters are two songs into a 25-song set.
“Your leg is probably broken, and your ankle is dislocated, so we must put it back right now,” he is told.
“Just then,” he writes, “my wife Jordyn and my tour manager Gus ran to my side in horrified concern, but all I could do was laugh at the absurdity of the situation. I instructed Gus to get me a tall Solo cup of Crown Royal and leaned over to my wife, taking the sleeve of her leather jacket and putting it between my teeth. ‘Go for it,’ I told the doctor as I bit down on the salty black material, feeling a strange pressure as they wrestled my ankle back into place like an old key in a rusty lock.”
He ends up playing the rest of the show from a chair with the doctor literally kneeling beside him doing his best to steady Grohl’s foot and keep it in place as he plays.
Two other things that really struck me. One was in how he got his first professional gig playing drums for a Virginia-bred punk band called “Scream.” He was a huge fan of the band. One day, he’s at a Falls Church music store and he sees a flyer on the wall. Scream looking for drunmer. Call Franz.
So he calls Franz, and then when he doesn’t hear back from Franz, he calls back and gets Franz’s girlfriend, who sets things in motion for Grohl to get an audition.
*Notice young people, that Mr. Grohl 1.) Actually places a phone call, and 2.) Places a second call to follow-up. This is what’s known as tenacity.
He gets to the audition and Franz is the only one there. Clearly, Franz had told his bandmates that he didn’t have much faith that the audition wouldn’t be a waste of time.
Franz: Okay … so you wanna play some Zeppelin or AC/DC or something?
Grohl: No man. Let’s do Scream songs.
Franz: Oh yeah, which ones do you know?
Grohl: I know them all.
He gets the gig, drops out of high school, and begins touring the country on a $7.50/day per diem with bandmates who are all at least a decade older.
When he informed his mother about what his plans to join Scream, her response was simple and direct: “You’d better be good.”
As a side note, even when Grohl first joined Nirvana, he was so broke that he would walk across the street from the tiny apartment he and Cobain shared to a gas station/convenience store where he would buy three hot dogs for 99 cents. He’d eat two hot dogs for breakfast and then save the last one for a snack later. That was his daily menu.
Grohl’s recipe for success. The Law of Attraction: What you think you become/What you feel, you attract/What you imagine, you create.
The other part of the book that really stood out – there are a lot of chapters which relate to parenting. Particularly cultivating that sixth sense of knowing the things you just can’t miss.
He talks about being informed of a Daddy-Daughter school dance. He looks at his calendar and his stomach sinks as he realizes he’s scheduled to be playing a show in … Perth, Australia that day.
He manages to move the show back two days. Which means he’s got three days in between the last show ending and the next one beginning. 72 hours.
In which time Grohl flies 20 hours each way to Los Angeles so he can spend two hours at this dance.
He then contracts food poisoning on his return trip and they have to put him on an IV drip before the show.
Years later, when he tells this story to his daughter, she exclaims, “Twenty hours??? You didn’t have to do that!!!”
They then smile at each other, and after a long pause, she turns to him and says, “Actually, yes you did.”
This reminds me of a story Tom Cage told me years ago (hope I’m not telling it out of school) where he drove to San Luis Obispo to have lunch with his daughter. He pretended that it was all part of a trip he’d already planned, but it wasn’t. He drove over because he sensed that he was needed. That story has profoundly influenced my own approach.
It has not proven inexpensive.
Late presser from Mammoth Mountain. Canyon and Eagle Lodges close for the season as of Sunday.
Starting Monday, the following chairs will be operating: Broadway (1), Stump Alley (2), Face Lift (3), Rollercoaster (4), High Five (5), Unbound (6), Gold Rush (10), Discovery (11), Chair 12, Chair 23, and the Panorama Gondola.
South Park will close for the season Sunday. “We will assess conditions weekly and adjust terrain and operating hours accordingly,” the presser concludes.