Rock Stars as Role Models. [Read]

We featured The Rolling Stones on Friday. Exhibitionism, the traveling Rolling Stones exhibit, is in its final weeks at Navy Pier and Friday I answered this Lin’s Bin question.

Hey Lin,
I have a budding rock and roller on my hands and need some advice.
My 2 year old son is a HUGE Rolling Stones fan already. So, sensing that he may have a future in rock and roll, I wonder if rock bands or the stones are ideal role models. Gratefully, Jackie

You raise some provocative issues. Let me start by saying the only thing more ridiculous than looking to professional athletes to be role models is looking to rock stars to be role models. And it’s not their fault. They live in vans or if they’re lucky, buses; but have you ever been on one of those luxury tour buses. I don’t care how many DVD players you have, it’s still a bus.

A bus with 4 or 5 perpetual adolescents who actually believe they can make a living performing music for audiences so fickle that if your band is six months old, they’re already not as good as they used to be. A bus with cheap beer and cigarette smoke and teenage girls who climb aboard the bus in every city and say their parents are fine with them joining your band for the California leg of the tour. And between the irresistible temptations to unwind after a show and the reality of sleeping in a metal tube with too many other guys, you’re so hung over and tired that you can’t remember where you are or where you’ve been. And you piece together the days of your life with fast food wrappers from expressway rest stops that they dare to call oases. Was it Arby’s in Akron or was it Wendy’s in Wichita? And while you’re subsisting on a diet of French fries and chicken tenders, you consider that one bathroom on a tour bus might be inadequate for your greased insides.

And if you’re lucky, the head of promotion from your record label will meet you backstage after the show and tell lies so extravagant that you think they must be true. And the lies are not malicious, they’re only for your survival to protect you from the all too quiet reality that unless you sell a half million CD’s in the next 6 months, your band will suddenly be treated like Jeffrey Dahmer come back from the dead.

But you’re not really thinking about what the record guy is saying before he goes out to a 4 star French restaurant because tonight the backstage deli platter has two kinds of bologna and to you, it looks good. Real good. So you shove some sandwiches in your pockets because the bus has to be in Chicago by 7am for a radio interview with a guy who’s gotta be older than your father. And you climb the steps of the bus and trip over the drummer’s legs because he’s too absorbed tweeting to look up and you stagger into the bathroom and look in a mirror spotted with god knows what and say, “Am I ready at this stage in my fragile life to be a role model for a two year old listening to music in his car seat?” The answer is simple. Who needs role models when you’ve got Keith Richards?

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