The Guilty Party

Friday, October 11, 2013

"It's something when you stay at a thing"

The one magazine I read consistently, usually cover to cover, is Smithsonian, produced by a branch of the same organization that runs all those Smithsonian museums and galleries that dot the landscape around Washington DC, as well as the American Indian Museum Heye Center and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Center Museum in New York City. Sadly, all of these facilities, as well as its research centers and the National Zoo are, as of the time I am writing this, closed due to the government shutdown. Thank you very much to the responsible parties.

Back to the reason for this post. I try very hard not to be a pack rat when it comes to my magazines. So when I come across something, some nugget of wisdom or really interesting piece of information I want to keep, it is a challenge to figure out just how I can do so without creating clutter and yet making it easily accessible. For these paragraphs, taken from an interview with Al Pacino by Ron Rosenbaum that appears in the September, 2013 issue, I have chosen to keep them as out in the open and accessible as can be, which means I'm going to copy them to this blog. I hope Messrs. Pacino and Rosenbaum do not mind. In this interview concluding extended quote, Mr. Pacino is relating the time he saw Buddy Rich perform as the opening act for Frank Sinatra.

"I thought oh, Buddy Rich the drummer. Well that's interesting. We're gonna have to get through this and then we'll see Sinatra. Well, Buddy Rich starts drumming and pretty soon you think, is there more than one drum set up there? Is there also a piano and a violin and a cello? He's sitting at this drum and it's all coming out of his drumsticks. And pretty soon you're mesmerized.

"And he keeps going and it's like he's got 60 sticks there and all this noise, and these sounds. And then he just starts reducing them, and reducing them, and pretty soon he's just hitting the cowbell with two sticks. Then you see him hitting these wooden things and then suddenly he's hitting his two wooden sticks together and then pretty soon he takes the sticks up and we're all like this [miming being on the edge of his seat, leaning forward]. And he just separates the sticks. And only silence is playing.

"The entire audience is up, stood up, including me, screaming! Screaming! Screaming! It's as if he had us hypnotized and it was over and he leaves and the audience is stunned, we're just sitting there and we're exhausted and Sinatra comes out and he looks at us and he says. 'Buddy Rich,' he says. 'Interesting, huh--When you stay at a thing.'"

"You related to that?"

"I'm still looking for those sticks to separate. Silence. You know it was profound when he said that. 'It's something when you stay at a thing.'"

A few years ago Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, made famous the ten thousand hour theory, which he borrowed from the research done about forty years earlier by Herbert Simon and William Chase in a paper they did for the magazine American Scientist. Essentially it says that talent needs to be combined with preparation and practice, lots and lots of preparation and practice, in order for genius to shine, for true, lasting success to be the result. It's one of those "who needs a degree and a grant to figure that one out?" sort of conclusions, but it's always good when it's stated in a way that resonates, that has a chance of staying with you. For many people, "The 10,000 Hour Rule" is what resonates.

Me, I like "It's something when you stay at a thing." 

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A Bit About Me

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I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.