Who is your hero now?

18 Apr

A great friend of mine makes coffee for a living. Every morning she prepares a question for her regular customers as a way of getting to know them. We were up chatting one night over a bottle of wine when the next day’s question was born:

“Now you’re all grown up, who do you consider your hero?”

Every kid worships his or her favourite sports star, or pop star, or author, or actor. But I think it’s just as important to have heroes as an adult. Often they’ll be less randomly selected than your childhood heroes (Nicolas Cage, Michael Jackson).

Perhaps your modern heroes are people with whom you feel a personal affinity. Maybe you admire their work, their output, their methods, their style, their audacity, their capability, their attitude.

I have two musical Spirit Dads. I have learned different lessons from each.

Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse)
R.I.P. I love Mark Linkous for his sideways approach to the world of pop music. Sparklehorse was never designed to be a challenging listen. It’s constructed of themes familiar to even the most unadventurous ear. Yet siphoned through the Sparklehorse filter, everything feels darker, dirtier, prettier, and more deeply stirring.

Mark Linkous taught me that formula, cliché, and the expected is not always something to shy away from. It can be someplace to start.

John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats)
I admire John Darnielle for his output. He is a machine. Grooveshark insists his back catalogue consists of several hundred songs, which I am tempted to believe. Many of them play on the same themes, some have the same chord progressions and strumming patterns, many of them are a continuation of a series that bridges several albums. Some of them are Ace of Base covers. It doesn’t matter.

John Darnielle taught me that the most important thing a writer can do is write, and write relentlessly, and never stop writing. He also taught me the second most important thing a writer can do is release what you make almost indiscriminately. Because everything finds its audience.

But the truth is, I don’t think I’ll ever make it big on the rock star circuit. That kind of existence would likely end with me lying under the ground next to Mark Linkous. So for now, it’s me trying to make it work in advertising. Trying in the face of great adversity to make shit that isn’t shit. Work that leaves the world a better place. And on the side, maybe share a few funny jokes amongst the communities I inhabit, both online and IRL.

Which brings me to my number one modern hero:

Todd Lamb
Now based in New York, Todd Lamb began his advertising career at W+K Portland (swoon), before moving to San Fransisco’s Goodby, Silverstein + Partners, and finally to Mother, New York. As a freelance writer he’s worked at Droga 5, W+K New York, Chiat/Day, Johannes Leonardo and Strawberry Frog. Basically just everywhere anyone in advertising has ever wanted to work. Shit, he’s even worked for Disney.

On the side, he’s a film director, a published writer, a writer for television, and a performer of stand up comedy. Oh, and he is the creator of the coolest street art project ever, Notes From Chris. My adult hero is Todd Lamb. Todd Lamb is what I want to be when grown up me grows up some more.

So…

Now you’re all grown up, who do you consider your hero?

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