As you may have heard, Fear Inoculum, the first album by Tool in 13 years, comes out this Friday, August 30. To commemorate the occasion, Phoenix New Times is rerunning some of the best columns by Maynard James Keenan, the band's frontman and Arizona winemaker. This piece originally ran on December 5, 2012.
I base my life and my movements throughout it on quite a few assumptions. These may or may not be accurate, factual, or even realistic. And until they actually prove themselves to be inaccurate, I follow them without question. (Insert silly comment about assuming here.)
Today's rant is centered on one of my previous assumptions regarding one's chosen path. As children, we do things. Sometimes, the things we do are met with accolades from the surrounding huge people. And in chasing more of these overly animated approvals, we begin the long process of repeating and honing the actions praised.
The assumption is that these early spark sparks drive us toward a particular path. And that as our years click on, we either consciously or unconsciously find our way toward a career based on these little successes.
Whether we've come by these accolades through predisposed natural talent or by blood, sweat, and tears is of no consequence. The assumption is that we've continued on the path because of the balance between praise and passion and that we strive each day to do better at our chosen task. I used to believe this. I was wrong. Apparently, this perspective applies only to a handful of people.
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It came up the other day while speaking with Sarah, with whom I'm working on my semi-autobiography. She was tasked with covering the new Puscifer EP announcement for my hometown newspaper. She'd been browsing through some press clippings from recent years, and after the business end of our conversation, she commented on how forthcoming I was during her interview. She said it stood in direct contrast to some — but not all — of my tight-lipped discourse she'd found online. Her guess was that the journalists in question lacked enthusiasm.
Her understatement was correct. This is not the case with all journalists I've encountered, but unfortunately, it's the norm. The awesome writers strike up a conversation and my publicist has to cut us off 'cuz we're having too much fun. We call these people journalists. The lazy ones have a list of questions to which they've already anticipated the answers, so they don't bother listening to my responses. We call these people never again. There seems to be an epidemic raging out there. A whole lot of people are calling themselves professionals who really have no business doing so. I'm blessed. I'm surrounded by knowledgeable, experienced craftsmen. Tasting room staff, plumbers, masons, electricians, journalists, engineers, programmers, etc. But they are the exception, as far as I can tell. The norm is to accept mediocrity. For these extras on the set, it's almost as if their praise and subsequent path came from their whining rather than doing.
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Their skill is squeaking and moaning in order to get their way. Which is fine with me. It makes for easier targets. When the world goes sideways, these same helpless and starving extras, also known as "Zombies," will instinctively stumble their way past San Bernardino and across the desert toward the hoarders and doers, also known as farmers. Plenty of headshots to be taken during the harvest downtime. We call this pre-apocalypse practice.
A suggestion (and again, this is just one man's opinion): If you're going to take money for doing something, try and effing learn how to do it well. Otherwise, quit effing wasting all our effing time. Otherwise, I'll see you in the crosshairs, you squeaky eff.
(Out of respect for this publication and its investors, I have used the socially acceptable term "effing" in the above paragraph in place of that wonderfully trailer-trash term we fear so much. We, the Sybil-equivalent authors, highly suggest you go back and read the paragraph aloud with the proper verbiage in place. It will give the piece the intended oomph, zing, and rage it is currently missing and desperately deserves.)
Chicken Little out.