This happened once.
A major new venue was to be opening some time in the next year. A major existential threat was menacing the planet. A major star, one of the biggest ever, was said to be interested in performing a benefit concert, somewhere interesting, to help an important cause.
I suggested that the major star perform as the first ever act at the major new venue, in order to raise major money and awareness and stuff to address the major existential threat that was menacing the planet. Everyone involved in the conversation was pleased with the idea. A message was dispatched in the direction of the major star, via an available contact.
What happened next was interesting, disturbing, and expected.
The One Person — the individual who was the interface between the major star and the rest of humanity — went bonkers. His message was simple. The major star would not do this benefit, and the reason had to do with the fact that the major star needed to be very selective about which benefits to do. But that simple message was embedded in unbelievably major histrionics of the likes I’ve hardly ever seen. The rest of the world did not understand, we were told, how difficult and delicate this situation was, or how deeply offended the major star might be were he to learn of this conversation, and how nobody understood the difficult sensibilities of the major star, or what he really needed to happen and not happen.
I’m pretty sure that the One Person didn’t end the conversation. As I recall, I hung up on him, and put a block on my phone account so he could never call me again, and I send an email around to the various people that were involved in the conversation with a simple missive: Don’t bring this shit to my doorstep again. I was majorly annoyed at the major star’s One Person, and at the same time, frightened. One of the most famous people that ever existed, presumably with great wealth and a fair amount of power, was either a total nutbag, or his One Person was a total nutbag. Either way was a dicey situation.
The Major Star of which I speak was not Michael Jackson. But, because of Michael Jackson’s very high profile, you know about his oddities, or at least, you have a sense. When he was accused of sexual impropriety because he had a penchant for sleeping with very young boys (literally, he claimed — just sleeping, nothing else) a lot of people didn’t quite know what to make of it. A normal person doing that sort of thing would be assumed to be a sexual predator. But with Jackson, it was not clear that any label could be applied to him, because everything about him was so — different — that one could not be sure what to make of any of it.
These individuals and many other famous people have spent their entire lives so isolated form normal society that they have become dangerously odd. One of them happens to be the President of the United States at the moment. Have you noticed that?
It is like this, or at least, if feels like this. When you approach a famous and successful person, you often feel yourself getting closer and closer to a higher level of thought and rationality than one found in the average bear. This is especially true in traditional professions where a combination of intelligence, connectedness (to other people and to reality), and savvy are essential to the business. For example, on a number of occasions I’ve worked with the outer ring, sometimes the inner ring, of major elected officials, serving as a source of specialized advice. The closer you get to someone who is in high office, the more capable are the people you interact with. It feels like you are going up a hill, where higher is better, more qualified, smarter, more professional, etc. You have to work to move the next level, and once you are there, there are rewards, in the quality of the conversation.
But approaching closer and closer to these insular freaks, like Major Star or Donald Trump, and you get a different feel. You feel like you are approaching a sort of black hole, where there was so much immaturity, selfishness, and isolation-induced oddness, that it all fell in on itself and created a spinning gravitational suckpump that anyone that came near would fall into. Annoyingly.
iTunes is like that too. It is a piece of software that was born in a highly insular world and has developed and grown there for years and years, becoming more and more odd and strange and unusable for all those not in the know all along.
Yes, I’m saying that Donald Trump and iTunes are kindred spirits. That should worry you.