We always hear about people going off to seek “fame and fortune,” but I don’t think anyone does. Go off to seek fortune, yes. I mean, to quote Mickey Bergman, Danny DeVito’s character from the movie Heist with Gene Hackman,
Everybody needs money. That’s why they call it money.
(I love that line. It’s such nonsense, it actually makes sense.)
But fame? I think most of us could do without it. Sure, there are those who seek fame, but fame doesn’t pay the bills. Unless you can parlay your fame into a fortune like Paris Hilton has. (Her great-grandfather is Conrad Hilton, who started the Hilton Hotels. One night, he was a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and Johnny asked him if he had any advice for people who were traveling. He said, “Yes, put the shower curtain in the tub.”) And certainly we don’t want to become infamous, like Lindsay Lohan or Tonya Harding, or for that matter Charles Manson or John Gacy. Infamy is the wrong kind of fame.
Closely related to being infamous is being notorious, which started out meaning the same thing as famous, but over the years has come to mean the same thing as infamous. Notorious is usually applied to gangsters, like Al Capone or Sam Giancana or Joseph Bonnano, also known as “Joe Bananas.” A friend of mine and I went to dinner one night when we were in Chicago on business. The restaurant was next door to the Biograph Theater, where the notorious gangster John Dillinger was shot to death by the FBI. The woman he was with tipped off the Feebs by wearing a red dress, just like in the song.
Where was I? Oh, yeah…
The point is, fame and fortune go together, but if most people had a choice, they’d take the latter. I know I would.
And that’s all I have. Don’t forget to put the shower curtain in the tub.