Philip Seymour Hoffman Taught Me It's Okay to Be Uncool
I have never been any good at math. Algebra was fine, geometry was passable and calculus was pure hell. My lack of numerical prowess proved to be an issue as I entered into college and had to decide on a major.
I had always wanted to be doctor, mainly because scrubs look like pajamas and I would love to wear pajamas to work. But being a doctor requires knowing science and a lot of science necessitates knowing math, and, as I said before, I have never been any good at math.
In times of uncertainty, people have a tendency to gravitate towards the teachings of philosophers and theorists. People will look to someone like an Aquinas or a Caulfield or a Lennon. I sought advice from a Lester Bangs.
As I sat there watching Almost Famous for approximately the 77th time, I looked for some onscreen guidance from the bad ass, real-life journalist expertly portrayed by a real-life, bad ass. Bangs made me want to be a journalist, to write. Not just to write, but to write passionately. And, most importantly, to believe what I was saying, even if what I was saying wasn’t very popular.
For a young William Miller, Bangs was the sherpa on a spiritual journey of epic proportion. For 17- year-old Mia, Bangs was a sherpa on a spiritual journey of a more meager proportion.
He taught me that The Doors were drunken buffoons and that the best way to wake up was to Iggy Pop. He taught me never to make friends with the talent. He told me it’s okay to be a homebody and, when in doubt, to tell my editors that I’m writing a think piece. He taught me to be honest and he told me to be unmerciful.
Lester Bangs showed me that life could be messy and unfair and relentless. That I was going to encounter a few swill merchants from time to time. He said it was going get rough but he said that there was always gonna be some Lou Reed to get me through (But he said I should go for the early stuff. In the later stuff he was trying too hard to be Bowie).
But, Lester Bangs was just a character. Actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman was the spirit. Lester Bangs told me that the only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone when you’re uncool. But Hoffman made me believe it.
I have dabbled in being uncool. Hey, I am pretty uncool. But thanks to the writing of Cameron Crowe, the advice of Lester Bangs and, most importantly, the performance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, I learned how to invest in my own life and never withdraw my passion.
Being uncool will make me richer than I will ever be able to calculate. But I have never been any good at math.
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