Every once in a while my mother will return home from work with theatre tickets that her clients passed on. During these not so rare moments in the advertising business where supply exceeds demand, I’ll get a call from her overflowing with excitement that it’s “date night.” My get out of work early card came in the form of School of Rock tickets this time, the Broadway adaption of the early 2000’s classic. I’ll assume that we’ve all watched Jack Black lead a classroom of preppy 5th graders to the Battle of the Bands enough that I don’t need to delve too deep into the plot. Simply put, rockstars will always “stick it to the man.”
Who is The Man you ask? Well in the musical, The Man is the principal who says a guitar can never replace a textbook. To me, The Man is my boss saying that Columbus Day isn’t a holiday that warrants a day off. The Man is a black tie dress code on a hot summer evening, your 6:30am alarm, Apple abolishing the auxiliary jack, Murray Hill rent, your 5 year high school reunion, and Chopt salads. In plain English, The Man is the force stopping you from doing what you want when you want it. No one can completely rid themselves of The Man, but rockstars know how to stick it to The Man when The Man needs sticking.
Here’s how it’s done:
One of the best pieces of advice I received on my way out of the collegiate door was a simple quip etched into a little skipping stone that still sits on my desk. The gypsum reads “own velocity,” a phrase which really doesn’t require any explanation from little old me. Simply put, there is no time table nor schedule attached to life. While there are certainly benchmarks and expectations, Jack Black would argue that these pressures are simply the manifestation of The Man. The Man is the world telling you WHAT to do, but more importantly, WHEN to do it.
I was floored by the musical. Here I sat, 22 years young, watching kids less than half my age display more talent in their prepubescent strumming hand than in my entire entity. Honestly, I felt like an underachieved asshole, watching not only the characters fight The Man and deviate from their parents prescribed life choices, but simultaneously watching the actors themselves living their dreams at the ripe old age of 10. It was a debilitating blow that pained me with a desire to hurry up and actually figure it out.
Then I looked at Dewey Finn, the 30-something year old wash up STILL chasing his juvenile dream to win the battle of the bands. The overweight, derelict Dewey gave me some relief; “at least I’m not broke. Or single. Or, you know, depending on other people’s talent to earn my bread and find fulfillment!” Happy medium? Found.
Again, I’m not going to waste ink explaining the plot but the movie and musical climax when the children rip Dewey from his depression and force him to the show. It was Deweys ah-ha moment (he was appreciated), the kids ah-ha moment (they stuck it to the man), and less importantly, my ah-ha moment….
Own velocity. Two words that go on to bolster the belief that age is but a number. Why be envious of someone else just because they found their niche at 10? Why patronize a man simply because he’s still chasing his at 30? We all move at our own velocity…the rockstar within us all will dispel The Man and his pressure for timeliness and status quo. Two claps for the child savant who can hang with the likes of Hendrix before Middle School. Two claps for the old soul still chasing his dream on the back 9 of his life. The Man will tell you what he expects and when he expects it. The rockstar will say FUCK THAT and find what he wants and get it, whenever that may be. Stick it to him folks.