I am a person who’s had a lot of self-described million-dollar ideas. There was Party Amazons, a company that specialized in jungle décor for hospitality suites at trade shows. I was the crazed woman with the clipboard and the phone glued to her ear, screaming things like “An elephant head? What am I supposed to do with just the head? We ordered a whole plaster elephant!” while Carole transported the dry ice, Lorraine artfully Krazy-glued sequins to pieces of fabric, and Audrey arranged tropical flowers. We charged a hefty fee, every penny of which was spent on renting tropical plants and plaster animals, headless or not.
Then there was “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” Records, originally created to bring the song stylings of Jessica Mitford to the world as Decca and the Dectones. Ms. Mitford’s booming rendition of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” was going to take the music industry by storm with its joyful, aristocratic charm. This release was followed by others: Stranger than Fiction featured forty authors singing their favorite songs; Potty Animal offered ten funny songs about you-know-what by Auntie Poo and the Porta-Potties; You Bug Me—songs guaranteed to annoy your parents by Tony Goldmark; several other strange and wonderful contributions to the world of popular music. Only somehow, they didn’t turn out to be that popular. Go figure.
My Manchewitz Jello shot and popsicle recipes (actually the Jello shots were my daughter-in-law Marissa Goldmark's idea) were published on 7X7 Online during Passover, but the commercial potential just never manifested, sorry to say.
But the best idea I will ever have in my life was—and is—the Rock Bottom Remainders. During my seventeen-year tenure as a publicity escort for publishers, I met a lot of baby-boomer authors, many of whom sold six million books a week, telling me how lucky I was to play crappy little country-western gigs. So I invited a dozen of my favorites to join me in putting on one rock & roll show, it was a huge amount of fun, we are still together eighteen years later, and have raised nearly two million dollars for grass-roots charities.
One thing that happens when you get a bunch of brilliant people together is that they tend to have ideas, too. And as time went on, everyone contributed to the idea that was once all mine. One of guitar player Dave Barry’s great ideas was a guy named Ted Habte-Gabr, who stepped in as the Remainders’ manager when no one else would, and who handles all of the logistics of our annual tours.
Turns out Ted had some ideas, one of which was “interns.” These are young people who somehow apply to work for free doing things like finding the shoes we left in the hospitality suite or copying set lists or taking photos before some of us have had a chance to put on our makeup. One of the interns on our April 2010 “Wordstock” tour was a guy named Mike Medeiros, a particularly likeable fellow. Like me he’s a “PK” (no, not a Preacher’s Kid—though Sam and Dave are that kind of PK; but a Photographer’s Kid who, like me, grew up with fingers turned yellow from helping Dad with the hypo tray and participating in mad dashes on Christmas Eve getting those family photos delivered in time to give to Grandma.)
Yesterday Mike sent us a package including dozens of video clips and photos he took on tour, in addition to a brilliant and hilarious Onion-style parody of our band and activities on the road. I laughed out loud reading it, even though he obviously didn’t check his facts very well. For example, Sam would never leave a half-eaten sandwich on a table, nor did he ever appear in “Cats.” But that’s quibbling. The article titled “Stephen King Dumps Remainders for Polka Gig” alone is worth the price of admission.
Which in this case, I suppose, is having great ideas and then sharing them with others and letting them go where they will.
Causes Kathi Goldmark Supports
Support for Families of Children with Disabilities Friends of the San Francisco Public Library National Kidney Foundation of Northern California Litquake...