So there is a movie that I absolutely love and I plan to watch it, once again, before this day is done. The move is Almost Famous and for me it is a film that holds a mix of personal and emotional connections to this day. Let me paint a picture that just may bring you to the reason why I love this movie so much.
At many points in my life I’ve felt the pull to hit the road. It can come out of nowhere and sometimes just a quick trip to a side city can quench the thirst. Sometimes though, I desperately want to head west, see the Painted Desert once again or hang out in the mountains of Washington state. It’s been a while since I made such a trip by plane and even longer since I made it by car. I’m okay with that, but I sometimes wonder which summer I’ll feel pulled to grab the loved ones and just wander the country for a while.
As Ginny and I discussed on a recent episode of the podcast, it’s been that way since I was little. A map of the United States always reminds me of growing up but I think I’ve also quite naturally come by a bit of wanderlust in my blood. When I was doing sports promotion work with boat racing, I would travel from town to town sometimes six and seven weekends in a row. I still kept my day job so I would jump on red-eye flight on a Friday, then hop back on a plane late Sunday just in time to stagger into the office the next morning. Boat racing almost wiped me out from exhaustion more than once, but there were moments when it was all worth it like standing in front of a waterfall or touching snow in the summer in Mount Rainier National Park. They happened so regularly; it only fueled the fire in me to see the country coast-to-coast.
Boat racing and later touring the comic book convention circuit are the closest I’ve ever come to that “run off and join the circus” kind of feeling. That sense of a traveling community is something I think I always wanted in my life. No matter where the race or shows were taking place… Seattle, San Diego or Saskatoon …it was always the same group of officials and racers or later comic creators and friends there waiting when you arrived. We ate, we worked, we drank, we traveled and we survived it all together. Especially for the boat racing, it was an amazing, community in motion kind of experience.
So how does this tie into the movie Almost Famous?
As I mentioned at the start, this film just resonates with me on many levels. There is the obvious feeling of a traveling brotherhood. There’s the point in the movie where William Miller says “I have to go home” and he’s told “you are home” while rolling down the road on a tour bus. There is that moment when he is leaving a concert filled with excitement calling out “Hey Red Dog” to a roadie he just became friends with. It’s that moment where the world shifts and you really feel a part of the show for the first time that, at many times in my life, I’ve lived for. I don’t think you can ever experience it quite as well as when you are on the road and it’s even more intense when you’re part of a group traveling from event to event. That band of brothers/sisters, no matter how strange the cause, is a feeling I love and one I think has carried over into my personal life as well. I’m happiest when I’m part of a strong community of friends and I’m often at my worst when I’m alone.
The film does a wonderful job of tracing that feeling of being an intense fan of something then taking the steps to make it a part of your life. I’ve done this over and over again in life. First with music (ended up running a radio station), then comics (ended up owning a series of stores, a website dedicated to industry news and now a comic convention) and then boat racing (going quite literally from the grandstand watching the race to becoming a media contact for the sport) it’s been there. There are other stories to tell, but that I will save for another day.