Grab Your Fifteen Minutes of Fame, Quick!
by Marvin Payne

In this era of instant Teen Idols (not Teen Idles, even I was one of
those), Barbie-esque screen personalities (I use the word “personalities” cautiously) who merely portray themselves over and over in the movies, and the wanton proliferation of street-corner plastic surgeons, Andy Warhol is said to have said that we are approaching the time when every person in the world will enjoy fifteen minutes of fame. Let me say that I want to be said to have said that you ought to grab your fifteen minutes while the fame allotment is still that big! (If it gets much shorter, you could get famous and suddenly think, “What shall I do with my fame that will transform the world for the better?” and before you had gotten halfway through writing your Meridian Magazine column, your time will be said to have run out, and no one would read it, because you were no longer famous.) I also want it said that I have just said (for the record, because records is what this column is about) that “rich” and “famous” are not related conditions, even for fifteen minutes, but that’s another column.

Here’s how to grab your fifteen minutes of fame:

Get a web site, as I have done, only with a different name, because is taken. Entice people to a page within your site with a suspenseful and sophisticated name like “Read Stuff.” Then offer, as one of the choices, a feature called “Journal Bits.” Find funny things about your life (now this should not be difficult) and stick them on there. If you build it, they might come! At least a cumulative fifteen minutes worth of them.


Read your journal on the radio.

I have a friend at a radio station in Salt Lake City that has asked me to produce a weekly bit following the pattern of “intone two minutes of inspirational thoughts through a wash of inspirational music, morphing into an illustrative LDS Pop song.” The station is KOSY (pronounced “cozy”–does this win the cuteness ribbon? Its weekday programming format is generally called “easy listening,” which is a blatant misnomer because the music isn’t nearly so easy to listen to as it is not to listen to. That’s its primary value, “easy ignoring.” Music to ride elevators by, music to perm poodles by, music to do anything by except listen. My own two newest music acquisitions are the latest by my imaginary friend Bob Dylan–his drummer was once mine–and my actual friend Tom Shults. The Dylan CD is so edgy and real, and the Shults CD so bristlingly intelligent and funny, that it’s nearly impossible not to listen to them while they’re on. I tried to glance through US News and World Report this morning over Shredded Wheat and had to close the magazine and listen. I almost had to stop chewing, even. Nobody rides elevators or pulls teeth to Tom Shults. It wouldn’t be safe. Steve Perry and I are hoping with all our hearts that no one will classify our Family Proclamation CD as “easy listening”). KOSY’s Sunday programming, however, is Latter-day Saints bearing their testimonies with their guitars, which certainly has the potential to do more good than harm.

So I took the gig, and seem to be getting away with it.

Now, if you’re out of range of KOSY, or if you don’t listen to the radio on Sundays (I sure don’t), imagine inspirational music with lots of sweeping strings and then me, sounding as much like Earl Nightingale or Larry King as possible, which isn’t much because I haven’t smoked ten thousand cigarettes (That would be, technically, “myriad.” I think it’s something radio station managers expect to see on resumes: Broadcast degree from Biloxi Polytechnic / Ten years polka DJ in secondary markets / Jenny Craig infomercials in primary markets, especially Juneau, South Juneau, Duluth / Fifty-eight auditions for CNN / Three packs of Lucky Strikes daily since age eleven) saying:

“Welcome to another week of Sabbath Stories, where I will intone
inspirational, memorable, and poignant moments I would have utterly forgotten if I hadn’t written them down in my journal, which you should all be doing, particularly readers of that urbane, penetrating, and usually a couple of days late column in Meridian Magazine, tantalizingly entitled ‘Backstage Graffiti.’ And now, having no more time before the LDS pop song starts, I leave you once again in the shadows of the everlasting hills, having enjoyed one more minute of fame, with fourteen left to go.”


Strike a deal with General Mills to get portions of your journal printed on the sides of Cheerios boxes, because everybody in the known universe reads every word on them. (How else would “riboflavin” have insinuated its way into your vocabulary?) I have not yet pursued this avenue myself, although it shouldn’t be difficult, because any of our journals would be riveting to Cheerios eaters compared with anything that could possibly be written about riboflavin.


Do what has been suggested to me by columnreader Charmaine, who lives @ Juno. (I guess that people who live there somehow feel comfortable about abbreviating the spelling, sort of like with “Alpine” I sometimes just write “A.” Plus “eau” is a pretty silly way to write the sound “o.” I mean, you wouldn’t write “seaup opera” or “Eau, neau! I can’t believe I wreaute that!”) Charmaine says:

“I have written a history of the cars we have driven. I called it an
‘Anthology of Junkers.’ My family really liked it… I wrote: ‘My Dog’s Life History.’ I am working on my ‘Pregnancy and Childbirth’ experiences. (I think she means ‘writing about my Pregnancy and Childbirth experiences,’ which is astounding to me, because I remember practically nothing about my childbirth.) I thought my daughter (‘her daughter’–we’re back to her now) might enjoy reading it when she is pregnant. Last Christmas I wrote a history of our family Christmases. (THIS IS THE RELEVANT PART) I gave a copy to my children who are on to their own Christmas experiences.”

I repeat, for emphasis, the words “I gave a copy to my children.” This alone will ensure that Charmaine will be famous for WAY more than the fifteen minutes to which she is entitled, and (get this) famous with the Most Important People In Her Life!

I can’t overstate the delight-inducing and fame-ensuring effects of
reading something someone has written about you, even something like, “I saw old Marvin in the store today. His head is smooth as a grape, which means he is cast in The King And I, Annie, or is having chemotherapy. I was glad to hear it was The King and I, because I don’t like Annie or chemotherapy.”

Several times I have given someone a page or two of things I have written about them. A couple of times many more pages. Once I gave each member of a cast of “Baby” a copy of the feelings I had written over the course of the run, which, of course, included feelings about each of them. It would have taken them about fifteen minutes to read, anyway–don’t know how long the fame lasted, but we all still love each other, which might even be better than fame. Twice I’ve given somebody a whole book of entries about our adventures together.

A Let me share a couple of lines from my journal, 24 July 2001. I was in a production of “Funny Girl” at Sundance, which I wrote about here in excruciating detail. The leading lady was a stunning Broadway actress, Judy Blazer.

“As I sat writing at a little picnic table that stands under the pines
behind the stage, Judy hollered out from the green room door, ‘Hey, are you writing your life’s story?’ I said, ‘Actually, I’m writing yours.’ So I was obliged to read her what I’d written. She said, ‘Wow, it’s amazing to think some of us may be in other people’s journals!’

(This much I actually shared in Meridian a couple of years ago. But I left out then what she said next.)

“Write in that book that I love you very much.” I thought that if she
hadn’t heard me talk about my wife and actually met my little daughter Caitlin (a magical moment), she would have whisked me off to New York with her. I was famous to a famous person! All I did was write stuff, and share it! On to a story that warms me more.

One night after a birthday dinner with my son and his fiance, I hauled out some old journals and regaled the young lovers with entries about said son doing cute and moderately embarrassing things as a child. Did that make me famous with his fiance or what?! I thought she would marry me, instead! Except that I, like, am already taken.



“…come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift…” (from the last page of the Book of Mormon)


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