I don’t believe people when they claim, “I’m not impressed by (insert name of rich and famous person). They’re just like everyone else!”
Because they’re not. They’re rich and famous.
I find it hard to imagine what it would be like to be able to buy anything I wanted. Sometimes I’m wondering how I’ll afford another roll of toilet paper. And while I always say there are two kinds of people, those who have imagined themselves on Johnny Carson’s couch (of course I am once again dating myself if you’re asking who’s Johnny instead of thinking here’s Johnny) and those who would be mortified to be on the couch, the truth is most us will never experience Andy Warhol’s oft quoted, “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”
I admit it, I can’t help but be impressed when I actually encounter anyone rich and/or famous in person besides paying to see them on stage. Once I saw Debbie Harry of Blondie in the bathroom at Raul’s, a punk rock club located on Guadalupe Street across from the University of Texas in the late seventies and early eighties. Another time when I was living in London I talked to Jim Henson of the Muppetts on the telephone (he had our mail and sounded just like Kermit the Frog).
Going back to the Johnny Carson Tonight Show era, I grew up “Dazed And Confused” in Houston, Texas in the seventies. The movie of the same name starring Austin home boy Matthew McConaughey is set in the year I graduated from high school (and yes, I have seen Matthew McConaughey in person, too). If there was a bigger band at the time I was in high school than Led Zeppelin, I’m not sure who it would have been.
So when I round the corner to see the lead singer of what Wikipedia describes as “widely considered to be one of the most successful, innovative and influential rock groups in the history of music” and with a net worth of approximately a jillion dollars in the aisle at the South Lamar Target in Austin shopping for shower curtains or bath towels or whatever he and his girlfriend were looking for, I’m not sure that impressed is even the word to describe it.
Impressed maybe, but not surprised, because as lots of people already know, Robert Plant has been living in Austin for a while with his lady love, singer songwriter Patty Griffin. A picture made the rounds on the Internet last fall after he popped out on a porch Halloween night handing out candy to local trick or treaters. He’s been spotted in East Austin at the Sahara Lounge eating BBQ with Sahara’s owner Ibrahim Aminou. In fact, he’s become such an Austinite that he was quoted by Margaret Moser in the Austin Chronicle a couple of weeks ago complaining about the Austin Music Awards and you know someone’s gone native when they’re complaining about the Chronicle run Music Awards.
According to accounts both online and from people I’ve talked to who have waited on him or come across him while out on the town or shopping like I did, Robert Plant is polite, fairly approachable and is in fact seen all around south Austin at coffee shops, stores and bars. A friend of my son said a friend of his was blasting Led Zeppelin one day from his car stereo and looked over to see Robert Plant in the car next to him with the window rolled down.
Maybe you’ve had a close encounter of the Robert Plant kind and didn’t even realize it. To be honest, he pretty much blends into the local scenery like any other gnarly long haired South Austin aging hippie in scuffed up boots and frayed jeans you’d see down at Maria’s Tacos on Sunday morning.
The beautiful thing regarding my personal brush with Rolling Stone Magazine readers’ first place pick of “Best Lead Singers of All Time” (Wikipedia again) is that I had been talking for weeks to my erstwhile unpaid intern and assistant Monica M. about how I was going to do a blog post on Robert Plant living in Austin and there he was, between the yellow rubber duckies and owl shaped toothbrush holders. I had MANIFESTED HIM. And if I can manifest Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin in the Target on South Lamar, surely I can manifest an abundant and joyful life where I can afford all the toilet paper I could ever wish for. It was a sign.
Did I talk to Robert Plant? Did I ask him about his favorite hair conditioner brand or swap stories about the seventies? Hells to the no!
As I said, I saw Debbie Harry in the bathroom at Raul’s. I have enough remant of punk rock ethos to be too cool for that even if I do look like somebody’s mother now, though I did drag Monica M. over to the next department for a whispered consultation on if we were really seeing who we thought we were seeing.
Besides, let the man buy his owl shaped toothbrush holder in peace. Or maybe it was the one with the pink hippos. In any case, Mr. Plant, I’m happy you’re in Austin. Hope you stick around because I’ll never be too cool not to love the sound of “local Austinite Robert Plant.”