Sunday, May 07, 2006

chuck barris

I almost forgot to post about Wordstock, the fabulous writer's wet dream. It was really not fabulous at all, just a bunch of book sellers and vanity publishers and actual publishers and none of them were selling MY book so why would I care? Anyway, the point is that Chuck Barris was there.

I loved the Gong Show. Try as I may, I can't remember when it was... I think it was the mid-seventies, but I was there and it entertained me, loaded as a rat. So, when I saw that Chuck Barris was going to be there, of course I couldn't pass it up. I saw Confessions of a Dangerous Mind in the theatre, which means I was really happy to pay money to see it. Anything about the Gong Show interests me. And there I was, sitting in the middle of a bunch of empty chairs waiting for the host of the Gong Show to entertain me one more time. The creator. The first reality TV. Blamed in large part for the decline of modern civilization.

There are predictable questions that an audience of would-be writers asks of established-if-not-really-successful other writers on the speaking circuit. One is: why did you become a writer? If they are honest, they say, "Because it looked easier than having a real job." But they usually claim to be motivated by a higher force-- they write because (in the immortal words of Rilke) they MUST. Barris answered honestly, to his credit. Another question often is: What do you want to be remembered for? And typically, the author will speak about a certain book or selfless act like childbirth as though giving birth were selfless. Chuck said this: "Hands down, I want to be remembered as an author, but I'll never be remembered as anything but the guy who created the Gong Show." And this is where I lost my question. Because I am guily of remembering him as just that. And I am sad that it is not his best memory. Mine is tainted because of it. If I had created the Gong Show, I'd wear a t-shirt that said it every day.

My question was going to be, "Are there any Gong Show tapes?" But obviously, it would have been a crass thing to ask in the face of his need to be seen as an author. The book he was promoting was a reprint of something he wrote in the seventies. See? Not memorable.

1 comment:

a. said...

That's a sad fucking story