That’s me. I’m the guy on Facebook posting that selfie with Leon Bridges at the Chat Room Pub above the caption: “So proud of Leon! We’ve been best friends for two weeks, even though I’m not sure he remembers my name, even though I sort of had to buy him a beer to agree to a picture with me, but who cares! He’s in the same room as I am! And he’s famous! And now so am I!”
I don’t brag with photos. I brag with geography. Below is a recent e-mail I sent to my mom, my two older brothers, one older sister, and two best friends back home in Pittsburgh. Subject line: “SNL Dec. 5.” Message: “Hey. You guys should tune into Saturday Night Live on December 5. That’s when this young R&B singer-songwriter from Fort Worth and his band are going to perform. Some actor-dude Ryan Gosling (sp?) is hosting. Pretty cool. Leon is a nice guy, too. Super-sweet.”
OK, maybe my e-mail isn’t as annoying as those can’t-escape-’em “me and Leon!” pics, but the point remains: Bridges’ success is, in a weird way, our success.
Go ahead and laugh. Go ahead and roll on the ground like an idiot. But every time your favorite college hoops team wins or your favorite NFL player’s charges are dismissed in court, don’t you feel that all is right with the world? That maybe cold leftover pizza from last weekend for breakfast isn’t so bad? That maybe getting whacked in the nuts with a baseball bat by your kid at practice could have been worse? That maybe peace on Earth is attainable?
I feel the same way about Bridges, that we –– you, me, even people in Dallas and Denton –– have contributed to his winning. We didn’t, of course. We didn’t do a damn thing, no matter how many selfies we took with him at the Chat or how many insightful (as opposed to generic and tossed-off) words we wrote about him before he was famous. That still doesn’t mean we can’t be proud of him.
I sure am. Bridges is, once again, a nice guy. How do I know? I had a couple of beers with him when he was just “Todd” at Lola’s Saloon on a random Tuesday night in 2013. Just him and me. And some girl/friend. Who I sort of boxed out. Am I a tastemaker extraordinaire now? Do hot young women want to have sex with me now? Even better, will The Establishment notice me in the periphery and make me a star, too?! *duck face* *peace sign*
I admit. I feel so much more likable and so much cooler than I actually am (and I’m pretty freaking cool) telling my out-of-town friends and family members that some ethnically diverse creative type I know –– and, yeah, had beers with –– is going to be on the same stage as some famous actor dude whom apparently a lot of hot people want to have sex with and will perform original R&B/soul music on that variety show we all loved as kids in the 1970s and ’80s. (Does SNL still do Mr. Bill? Because he was hilare. That and “no Coke, Pepsi, no Pepsi, Coke.” They still do that, right? How ’bout Land Shark?)
A lot of my Facebook “friends” who are musicians are stoked for Bridges, saying that SNL is The Holy Grail of pop musicdom. Really? It’s true. Though SNL’s ratings may be in the shitter, the 38-seasons-old show’s cultural footprint is as massive and sprawling as ever. And you’ve got to wonder: If my family and friends back home tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and they tell two friends …
That’s a reference to a shampoo commercial that was pretty popular right before MTV usurped commercial radio as the medium for pop music. Ah, the good ol’ days. When TV and radio weren’t on-demand, when meta-communities formed around nationally televised broadcasts. (That’s one thing SNL has going for it. The live element. Like a sporting match or Voice episode. We all tune in at the same time and all feel the same vibe. Community for the 2010s.)
My message to you: The only way we’re going to help Bridges become as popular as, I dunno, Drake? –– he’s black, so his music has to have a soul/R&B element to it, right? –– or, uh, Beyonce? –– she’s still popular, right? and still black? –– is by telling our family and friends to tune into NBC at 10:30 p.m. on December 5.
If this sounds like I’m unhappy for Bridges or just being a jerk to entertain you (are you not entertained?!), don’t be ridiculous. Bridges is fabulously talented and fabulously sweet, and, when you compare him to every other musician in the great republic of Texas, success could not have happened to a nicer, sweeter, gentler dude. I mean, there are nice musicians in town. Hundreds of them. But compared to church boy Bridges, they’re Nazi-rapists-baby-seal-clubbers. What’s that old saying about nice guys finishing last?
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