Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The power of being recognized as a local celebrity ( and I am using this term with the utmost humility) is that the person is being recognized for his or her personality and/or appearance through artistic or broadcast expression.
Granted, depending on the medium, it's a personality or an appearance magnified to the Nth degree, but it still gets communicated broadly and accepted into the consciousness of the person recieving the particular vehicle.

The power of a celebrity recognized in a national or even global capacity is that the celebrity isn't just noticed for his/her work and personality but for what they do when they're NOT WORKING.

Most people would state that they could give a shit about Angelina Joilie's private life or current affairs, but they would read about (and probably not admit to it) who she might be fucking. It's vicarious projection through rumour and heresay. A local celebrity could live a life of general anonimity to the rest of the world or even to the majority of his or her town. The main reason there's no such thing as a "Bakersfield Enquirer" is because the only local celebrities worth mentioning among our neighbors are the ones that are in power and the ones that are seen on TV.

Instead of an "Enquirer" we have a "Californian" and the Internet.

If a local weatherman becomes involved in a drug scandal, or a sex scandal or a financial scandal ( three things that we ALL have in common, but don't usually make the news) or a local politician is embroiled in the same sort of mess, it will be reported in the local paper; barring a conspiracy. If this same sort of scandal were to happen to a local artist, it wouldn't be as broadcast unless it involved a child, a politician, a cop, a lawyer or an even bigger celebrity.

Anyone that works with the public risks becoming (or turning into) a local celebrity. Do you have a favorite bartender? That person is a local celebrity. What about the salesperson that you always buy from? Local celebrity, son.
I STILL get recognized from working at Guitar Center two years ago.

If you are not familiar with local writer NL Belardes, I suggest checking out his blog at http://www.nlbelardes.com . The reason why I bring his site up is that there is a particular theme currently riding through the crop of his newest blogs concerning a write-up he did on the reunion show of a band named DIM. It's about some comments he made about a local musician named Rob Ruiz.

I've known Rob for approximately 10 years. In fact, I was the drummer that succeded him in JUMPING TRAINS in 1997-1998. He left them to persue his growing intrest in DIM. I don't know why he and DIM parted ways; I never thought to ask. The last time I saw him was at a barbecue about (SHIT! Time flies) a year ago at my friend David's house in downtown Bakersfield. It was an accidental reunion of most of the musicians who played in JUMPING TRAINS through the years. He appeared in good spirits and looking just as he did all those years ago. Short white socks and black sneakers.

The reason I'm contemplating on what makes a local celebrity is that the people in the public eye aren't the only ones that turn into celebrities, it's also the people they TALK about.

Rob was generally popular among certain circles, especially considering the bands he played in ( the aforementioned JUMPING TRAINS, DIM and MY FAVORITE BAND). He was also friends with NL for years. In the article that NL wrote he wrote some comments about Rob that offended him. From my experience, privacy seems to be the optimal luxury afforded to those that have to deal with other people on a regular basis. I don't want to read about a drunk binge I got into back in 1995 ( or the one last week for that matter), but my social circle is quite familiar with public intoxication in general. If I read about it, though, I would hope it would be entertaining and (hopefully) well-written.
Given the chance, I can safely say that most people don't want to be reminded about the things that make them cringe when they think about themselves. We want our flaws to be invisible, silent and distant. Whatever they are.

I talk to musicians, writers, artists and like-minded lunatics in general and we all deal with our audiences, fans and critics every day. We ARE in the public eye on the platform of entertainment, escape, enlightenment and information. Essentially: TRUTH. Not in a linear " I cannot tell a lie" sort of way, but in a "This is what I have to give. This is me" way.

I'm being realistic now, this IS Bakersfield, and NL's blog is not the Associated Press, but it does reach a wide variety of people.
I'm willing to bet that most of them know Rob.

None of us are above the cross hairs of responsibility.

If you accept to respect the privacy of others, does it make it unfair if someone else doesn't? Freedom of speech, freedom of press, artistic liscence or pure entertainment value are some reasons for the person that doesn't want to read (or hear) about what they did last night to sweat bullets if they know someone that has access to the powers I listed above. Gossip written down becomes more powerful, because it feels as if it's CONFIRMED as TRUE. Sometimes it's worse beacause it IS true.

All of us have various levels of privacy. Even people that are open books have skeletons in their closet still dressed in their old clothes. As with everything, this is not a question of right or wrong; this is one form of good against another.

If you have regret, shame, embarassment or any negativity entwined with your life then the harshest light of all is the glint of a mirror reflecting back your glorious faliures and wrong decisions back at you. It's not just a cold reflection, sometimes it's all too accurate.

You become reaquainted with old scenes and situations, decked up in a new sheen and a sinking feeling slicing into your chest because you realize that the reason you are reading these words about your life is because someone BETRAYED you.

Even if the entire world knew it all already, or sometimes ESPECIALLY because everyone knew.
That usually means that the world was looking through a window right at you while you were too busy on the other side, refusing to see outside.

We all get one shot: a lifetime. No more, no less. Misteps along the way to the end of our paths are not only expected but important. If you can't laugh at yourself, you will always be mad at everyone else.

12 Comments:

Blogger Matildakay said...

I think most people want to be recognized, want to be somewhat of a 'local celebrity', it's just that they only want to be protrayed as how they perceive their 'image'. So... when someone with the means (a blog, newspaper, or news)exposes part of their image that they don't want people to see, they get upset.

When in reality good press and bad press is part of being a 'local celebrity'. And it's the 'press' itself (good or bad) that fuels their celebrity status.

Love what you're writing... keep it up! :)

10:10 AM  
Blogger Bake Town said...

Well put C!

10:40 AM  
Blogger slobidanjohnson said...

Cesareo, you absolutely nailed the finer points of the role that minor celebrity plays in this mini drama. But, in the spirit of self-observation, I propose that a mirror should be shoved squarely in the face of Belardes himself.

For me, this is more about some self-serving a-hole editorializing a former friend’s existence in order to create some juicy footnote to his “entertainment reporting”. You’re right, Balrdes’s blog isn’t the AP, but, if you think, for a second, that he was just putting together a well intentioned little now and then write-up focusing on a local band’s reunion, then check out Belardes’s response to Rob’s initial reply where Rob asked/ told him not to post anything further about him, past or present.

"At least I didn't print all the gossip I heard
about drug abuse and such. I thought that was over the
top.”

Hello, McFly! You just printed an allusion to that which you just stated would have been over the top. What the fuck? Implying that Rob had a drug problem, whether true or not, is way over the fucking line. In reality, no one cares. But, what’s the motivation for posting it? Is it a power play? Is it to create further controversy? Personal amusement, perhaps? Most likely, all three and more. I submit that Belardes is merely using Rob, as he will many others in the local arts community, to further his own agenda.

Belardes agenda, for those of you who haven’t figured it out, is to promote his ‘novel’. Since no will publish his work, it’s left poor NL in a bit of a lurch. The reason no will publish it? Well, frankly, the kid can’t write. Now, he’s forced to go grassroots, which under normal circumstances is a noble pursuit. But, he’s turned in to something far more devious. He’s just proven that he won’t hesitate to sell someone out for a couple of cheap paragraphs. Even an old friend. The day will come when this guy is unveiled as nothing short of a narcissistic hype machine that will feed on anything in his path to meet his unseemly ends. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right…

Oh, by the way, Belardes says that wrote all that he did about Rob under the guise of a “Descartian pursuit of the truth.” Fuck you, a Descartian pursuit of truth. He’s a self-proclaimed gossip columnist, for Christ’s sake…

I apologize for the lengthy dissertation. It’s just that I feel so strongly that this guy is poison parading as the pied piper. Sooner, rather than later, people in the arts community will realize that it's just not safe to talk to him. No one will want to risk association or even the inherent vulnerability of a friendship with someone who’s so willing to exploit their talent, for his gain, in his elusive quest to become something great.

And, for that, I want to say, “Congratulations , Nick Belardes. You are the first entry in my heretofore-nonexistent karma hit list.”

9:39 PM  
Blogger n.l. said...

A blog with 'gossip' in the title can't pursue the truth? With that logic, every photo I've taken doesn't capture truth, and every word about every band, well, I guess the opposite is true. Wow, I must hate all Bakersfield music. This guy sure seems to have my whole agenda figured out too.

My only other comment that I even care to make is regarding posting about alleged drug problems of Mr. Ruiz. The tactic was simple: to let him know I could write in detail what actually was gossip and to send a clear message that his hate mail would only be used against him. See, what I had written he didn't deny. It's in his own words, which means, I wrote the truth. Yep, even with 'gossip' in the very blog title. And, had I truly written of the alleged drug problem, I would have went into extreme detail. I didn't do that. Funny how the writer gets angry because I didn't honor Ruiz' gag order, yet the writer goes on to not honor it as well by also writing about Ruiz and bringing up the idea of alleged drug activity.

3:50 AM  
Blogger slobidanjohnson said...

Obviously, you’re too thick to get ‘it’. Firstly, no one truly cares about alleged drug activity. It’s the fucking music scene. Drugs will, do, and always have permeated it. That’s just not breaking news, Geraldo. It’s the idea that you publicly flexed your “blog muscle” by telling Rob, in essence, that, “Hey, Big Guy, buck up, shut up, open wide and take it. I’m on a Descartian pursuit of truth. At least I didn’t fuck you up as badly as I could have by printing all of the other rumors I heard about you.” That, above all, illustrates what a world-class asshole you really are.

“A blog with 'gossip' in the title can't pursue the truth? With that logic, every photo I've taken doesn't capture truth, and every word about every band, well, I guess the opposite is true. Wow, I must hate all Bakersfield music. This guy sure seems to have my whole agenda figured out too.”

That’s a pretty weak argument, Nicky. Here’s the definition of gossip:
1. Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature.
2. A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts.
3. Trivial, chatty talk or writing.

So, by definition, gossip can, and often does, contain truths. But, for you to suggest that you, as a gossip writer, are operating on the premise of a “Descartian pursuit of the truth” is laughable. Gossip writers pursue truth like most Christians interpret the Bible: You take away a few things you can use, dirty and confound the remainder and revile the whole.

Case in point; you say, ”The tactic was simple: to let him know I could write in detail what actually was gossip and to send a clear message that his hate mail would only be used against him.”

Here’s Rob’s reply that you deem “hate mail”:
Hey Nick, a friend sent me the blog you mention me in. I am at a loss for words at the moment.Thanks for making me look like some pathetic bitter drunk jobless loser to all of bakersfield. If that's the only way to you make yourself feel better by making other people on your website look bad, then more power to you (i guess). Just to let you know,I DO have a job now. I am a carpenter on a construction site with a fat bank account to prove it. I hope that I never ever see or hear about my name mentioned on your website or in any book from now on EVER! My friend will let my know for sure (as did he with the rest of Jumping Trains sending them the link also) This is just bullshit plain and simple! Robert Ruiz

Calling Rob’s reply “hate mail” is fucking preposterous and right in line with the rest of your hyperbolic bullshit. Never once did Rob threaten or disparage you in any way. I would say that’s a mild response compared to what you might have received from a lot of other people who may have been a target of your gossip.

The one heartening thing that I gleamed from your response was that you didn’t deny what I proposed to be your agenda. By your own standards, that’s equivalent to an admission. Because you didn’t deny it, right? I applaud your consistency.

By the way, why don’t you allow comments on your blog?

1:16 PM  
Blogger n.l. said...

Targets? I target people? Is there a list somewhere? I'm starting to feel like a mobster. Maybe that's why slobid doesn't sign his/her name because he/she may be afraid I might be some kind of Bakersfield Al Capone with words. That's kinda funny. I don't know what to tell you about your anonymous anger... I won't respond to any more of your hate. Late!

6:17 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I kept telling myself that I would not justify Nick's deplorable comments (about Rob Ruiz)with a response.... and I kept telling myself that over and over, until I felt like I was going to friggin' explode. Fuck it. This self-agrandizing prick needs to be put in his fucking place.

Then, I read slobidanjohnson's comments on this blog, and said to myself "shit... this guy did it for me." Well said, whoever you are. I think you've got this thing pretty much well in hand, and have nailed Nick's VERY OBVIOUS agenda to the public hitching post. With great big railroad spikes.

A few comments of my own, though, just to round things out:

1) I do not agree with the 'local celebrity' claptrap which has been spouted about here, or anywhere else. Privacy, and the respect for that privacy, should be afforded everyone. Rob Ruiz was/is just a musician. He loves to play the drums...that's it. He never asked to be placed upon some ethereal pedestal, only to be torn down by some two-bit hack writer in a desperate bid to re-invent himself at the expense of others. The fact that he has played in several popular bands in Bakersfield does not, and SHOULD not make him a 'fair target' for backstabbing cunts like Nick Belardes to defame and deflate in a public forum. The unfortunate advent of the "Blog" and the "Podcast" has only created a safe haven for fuckwits like Nick Belardes to hide from the ever-dulling swords of LIBEL and SLANDER. Show some balls, you nancy-boy... allow comments on your own blog. Face the fucking music for a change.

2) Of all the people Nick could have chosen to attack on his web log, he chose Rob Ruiz. Why?? Here's my personal theory: Jealousy. Rob, as unassuming and unthreatening as he is, has managed to garner more "fame" and celebrity (just by being Rob-like) than Nick, who is now trying so very desperately to establish himself as something more than the gutless, sweater-vest wearing hack writer that he is. And I use the term 'writer' very, very loosely... yeah, Nicky-boy...I read your excerpts. 'Nuff said.

I could go on, but the truth is I just don't have the energy anymore. This unabashed, shameful and completely unneccesary attack on Rob Ruiz has drained away what little faith I may have still had in humanity.

You know, Nick disappeared up into his wife's vagina for the better part of the last 10 years or so...and now he's trying to pry himself back out again, scraping off the filth and gasping for fresh air. I can appreciate that. He's trying to fabricate a new life out of the mediocre ruins of his old one, and I wish him the best of luck with it. I just wish he had the balls to do it with dignity and poise, rather than defamation and poison.

Chris Stanifer

12:11 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

By the way...
Cesareo, I realize the above post contains some rather harsh language, and you may not want this kind of thing on your site...so feel free to delete that post if it offends you. No hard feelings.

Chris

7:50 PM  
Blogger n.l. said...

Such drama.

I wasn't attacking Rob Ruiz. I was discussing the old DIM and its controversies... they were a public band. Had I thought Rob couldn't handle being brought up in a negative light, I probably wouldn't have written the piece...

Interesting that Ruiz didn't deny what I wrote yet here is clearly a 'hate piece' filled with strange lies by someone who has no clue about my past. Weird.

I wrote Ruiz was a schleprock and that he drank beer. Big deal. I wrote much worse about that dastardly Nate Berg, and he loves it and now sends me writings...

Chris Stanifer is right...

I have a desperate blog.

5:04 PM  
Blogger n.l. said...

Seriously, let me say this. Chris, you have seen a lot of Rob's old shows. Why not you and some other Ruiz friends write some good narrative pieces about favorite Rob Ruiz moments in the scene and I will post on my site... That would far outweigh the Dim article and perhaps portray him in ways you would like history to remember his great musicianship.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Nick, the only comments you made about Rob Ruiz were derogatory and defamatory. That's an attack. When Rob wrote to you to express his concern, not only did you 'magnanimously' inform him that you could have written worse things about him, but you POSTED it on your blog. That's an attack, as well. Bordering, in fact, on character assassination.

I'm not the self-proclaimed 'music scene' reporter here, Nick... you are. It's not my "responsibility" to deliver critical reviews of the truly laughable local art and music scene. However, your hackneyed brand of yellow journalism portrayed Rob Ruiz in an unfair, unwarranted and certainly unappreciated light. Of all the people you could have ridiculed in your blog, you chose the one person who was...well.. unassuming and undeserving.

Rob Ruiz is an incredible drummer, and a friend to many, many people in and out of the so-called Bakersfield Music Scene. And yes, I HAVE seen many, many shows in which Rob Ruiz played.... but I don't recall seeing you at a single one of them. In point of fact, I don't recall seeing you at ANY Bakersfield music event in the last decade or so, until relatively recently. Attempting to establish yourself as some kind of 'authority' now is akin to being the last guest to arrive at a funeral.... the corpse is cold, the guests have all said their piece, and the crowd is thinning.

You do what you want, and write whatever it is you think will make you look authoritative in the eyes of the masses.... just be prepared to defend those comments when your own detractors come calling.

Your standard "I won't respond to any more of your hate" is a transparent shield, Nick. Have the balls to answer those who criticize you, just as you criticize others.

Chris

1:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Nicky did to Rob was wrong, sounds like the usual ploy. Get someone mad, keep them from posting on his sight, email only. He then uses that to pick apart and make himself look smart.

6:57 PM  

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