It’s time to face facts: AI is here, and it’s going to change everything. From pizza delivery services to self-driving cars, artificial intelligence is getting the world ready for a future where machines do most of the work while humans are just along for the ride. While that might sound scary at first (and it should), it’s also exciting! We’re living in a future filled with incredible new technology like this, which means we all need to be prepared for what comes next. To make sure you’re ready for any possible situation that involves AI technology—from ordering doughnuts online or calling an Uber—here are five things you should know about artificial intelligence when it comes into play in your life:
Speaking to a machine is surprisingly easy
Once you’ve gotten past the initial shock of talking to a machine, it’s pretty easy. You can ask it to do things for you and it will respond in kind. And when you talk to it, it actually understands what you’re saying!
Try asking your AI assistant something simple like “What is the weather today?” or “What’s the best way to get from point A to point B?” It will give you detailed answers with maps and images and all kinds of useful information about where there are good places for lunch along your route. Or maybe all of this sounds too complicated; perhaps instead just ask how old someone is. The possibilities are endless!
AI is not good at context or nuance
AI is not good at understanding context or nuance. It’s a machine, and its job is to hit the right buttons in your app or website to get the desired result. But you know that sometimes people don’t actually want the thing they say they want. Humans know that sometimes people use language as a way of expressing emotion and tone. We as humans also know that sometimes people are joking or teasing. Machines don’t get that, at least not yet.
Let’s use an example: if someone says, “I’m hungry,” it could mean one of several things. They’re really hungry; they’re bored; they’ve just eaten lunch and need a snack before dinner; the thought of food makes them feel sick because their body isn’t getting enough nutrients from what little food there is available… The point is, it can take some mental effort for us humans to interpret what another person means by their words based on a combination of their facial expressions and body language along with other contextual clues like whether or not we just had lunch ourselves (and therefore might be feeling similar hunger pangs).
Don’t try to teach it with your own ideas
- Don’t try to teach it with your own ideas.
Executives and managers tend to try to teach the AI their own way of doing something. For example, if they want an AI assistant that can do research, they might explain what they mean by “research” and use their own examples of how to perform research. This is not only unnecessary but also counterproductive: The technology is designed to learn on its own and will be more effective when left alone.
Don’t get too excited about the results, don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t work as you expect, and don’t expect it to be perfect.
AI can seem like a magic box that just spits out insights into your data—and that’s exactly what makes it so addictive. You’re going to start seeing results almost immediately after you turn on your AI platform, which can make you feel like all of your problems are solved! However, there are some important things to keep in mind before getting too excited about the results:
- Don’t get carried away with the results: As tempting as it may be to run with what looks like a good idea from an AI model, keep in mind that this is still only one possible interpretation of your data. Always consult multiple sources when making decisions based on data analysis (including human experts). And always validate any recommendations generated by an algorithm with actual users or customers!
- Don’t expect perfection: In fact, expect imperfection—this isn’t a perfect world we live in yet! Be aware that even though AI software has no feelings or opinions (at least not yet), its algorithms do not know everything either. They may make mistakes; they may misinterpret information; they may misinterpret each other! Make sure there is room for error-checking before relying solely on these systems for decision-making processes.
It’s all about the data.
- It’s all about the data.
- You need a lot of it, and it has to be good.
- If you want answers to questions, you can’t just ask any old question—you have to specify which data you want your AI to use as input for its answer. This is called a “feature,” in machine learning parlance. The more features your system has, the better it can learn patterns in your data and make predictions based on those patterns—but only if they’re relevant! So if you have an AI that’s supposed to detect fraud or predict product sales or something else along these lines, don’t just throw everything at it and hope for the best; make sure your algorithms are looking at the right stuff first by asking yourself what questions they’re trying answer (and where).
Artificial intelligence has real benefits for some tasks, but don’t expect it to fully replace a human yet.
If you’re new to artificial intelligence and are thinking that it could solve your problems, think again. AI is good at some tasks but not others, so don’t expect it to fully replace you yet.
As an example: The best way to use artificial intelligence is as a tool to help you solve problems. It’s important to know what AI tools can and cannot do when they’re being used by humans.
The most basic thing AI can do is take data you put into a machine-learning algorithm and make predictions based on that data—for example, predicting what products someone will buy based on what other people like them have bought in the past (this is called unsupervised learning). This kind of “predictive” task is easy for computers because all the information needed for prediction lives in the computer’s memory; there’s no reason why machines should be able to do this better than humans can unless there’s something wrong with how we think about our world (which may be true).
Other types of tasks require more creativity from computers because they rely on concepts that aren’t easily represented as digital bits or numbers—like recognizing objects in images or understanding human language (these are called supervised learning). These kinds of tasks require powerful computing hardware like GPUs which are made specifically for making sense out of big datasets by analyzing patterns within them—but even then it still isn’t trivial.
I hope these five tips have given you a good sense of what to expect from AI. Get excited about its capabilities, and don’t be afraid to try it out for the first time. You might be surprised by how easy it is!
To put all this AI talk into context, AI wrote 95% of the above post. I went to Copy.ai and I created the Headline, then the program produced an outline. I then asked a few questions regarding that outline, pressed a button and it created most of this post.
I did go back in and edit 11 things that were, “wrong,” with the article, but I use another free AI program called Grammarly that checks everything for me, and I can decide if I want to keep the suggestions or not.
You don’t have to use the content that AI creates for you word for word, but it definitely speeds up the process. I wrote a post yesterday that took 2 hours and was 1159 words. As of right now, this post is 1340 words and going to go up with every keystroke and AI wrote most of the words above the Conclusion in less than 2 minutes. In fact, it wrote the whole article faster than I wrote this last paragraph.
Some call AI’s writing, “soulless,” but I wouldn’t call it that. If you didn’t know that a machine wrote most of what’s above the Conclusion section, could you have told a machine did it?
For all you Apocalyptic people out there, don’t put your head in the sand on this AI revolution. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not and you might as well start familiarizing yourself with some of what’s going on now.
Good places to start are OpenAi, Chat GPT and Dall-E2. Google them now, because soon enough, Google will look like MySpace.
This is more about the video I made for this than it is the actual title of this post. I have recently started using OpenAi’s Chat GPT. I’ve been running down the rabbit hole on this one. In case you don’t know what Chat GPT is, I’d say Google it and go play with it, because it’s going to surpass Google in the next elevation of search.
I’m not going to try to convince you here. All you need to know is it’s the newest latest and greatest on the internet. Basically, you type a question in the search bar, and it will spit out an answer. The more detailed you get the with question, the more interesting answers you’ll get.
I asked it, “What are 5 things you should do first when starting your business?”
It gave me about a 1500 word essay with several points that you should do.
Then I went over to a video editor call Veed.io (<–See what they did there?) I then hit the New Video button. I cut and pasted the 1500 character essay from Chat GPT into the Text to Speech box. But on Veed, you can only use 1000 words with the free version. So I paired down Chat GPT’s essay to 1000 characters or less. I believe it is in the high-990’s when I finished my edit. It may even be 1000 exactly, and if you actually count that, you have too much time on your hands.
I then picked some scenarios to go with the words. I was able to drag and drop them on a timeline. I could shorten up the scenes, drop in others and create intros and outros.
The video you are about to see is my first attempt at creating a video. A.I. wrote the script from the question I asked it. I then edited that text and created the closed captioning. I didn’t have to type the whole script out, it literary was a click of a button and I went in to make sure the words matched. There were only a couple small mistakes I had to fix.
The voice on the video is an A.I. voice that I picked. Looking back, I should have slowed her voice down a little, but it was my first crack at it.
I also figured out that questions don’t always sound good with A.I. when they read them aloud. Then when I went back to change the wording in the question, I couldn’t figure out how to re-record it from the Text-to-Speech box.
The point is, it took me about an hour of sitting down, firing up my computer, going back and finding the sites, researching them, getting my video link, signing into WordPress, thinking about things I should change on the home page, which this all started off searching for early works of Leonardo Di Vinci for another essay I was writing…my point is, humans get side tracked. Chat GPT spit out a 1500 character essay in about 25 seconds and this post took me almost 2 hours to create with the video embedded into the site.
Learning to make the video was very intuitive. I watched a video on YouTube that briefly explained the above in about 4 minutes. It then took me about 5 minutes to get the text and pictures picked out. The hardest part was editing the Closed Caption to match the scenes and outros. The whole thing took me about an hour to create for about 1:20 seconds worth of video material. But again, it was my first time. All said it done, I spent about 3 hours on this project, including explaining it here. I could probably crank one out the next one in about 10 or 15 minutes, and the next time after that will be even quicker. You have to start somewhere and teaching someone else is the easiest way to get a skill down even faster.
Ok, enough of the technical. If you haven’t played with the stuff talked about above, I’d encourage you to START!
Every weekday I wake up about an hour and a half to two hours before I have to start getting ready for work. I haven’t been a religious person for over 30 years, but I recently heard about, Waking up and getting your gift. Meaning, that when you wake up before your alarm goes off, that’s the universe telling you to get up and claim the gift it’s trying to give you.
Since I heard that, I’ve been waking up between 5:00 am and 5:30 am every day for weeks now. The first thing I do is, lie there thinking, Do I really want to wake up?
Then I hear my voice in my head say, “Get up and get your gift.”
I kick the covers off and put my feet flat on the floor and I thank the Universe that I’m alive, that I’m able to enjoy this time for myself and then I think of a few more things that I’m grateful for before I get up and go to the bathroom.
After I do that, I usually go to my library and pick out a random book. It kind of depends on my mood. Today I picked the book, Work with Passion—How to Do What You Love for a Living, by Nancy Anderson.
The book was written in the early 80’s, but there was a quote from G.K. Chesterton’s Autobiography that read, “…The chief idea of my life, I will not say the doctrine I have always taught, but the doctrine I should always have like to teach, that is the idea of taking things with gratitude and not taking things for granted.”
It’s very easy to take things for granted, especially when it’s an everyday occurrence. Whether it’s your job—which you probably really wanted and needed when you applied. To your significant other, which you would have moved mountains for and driven 100 miles to see when you first got together. When these situations become commonplace, we end up taking them for granted.
One way you can combat this is by taking notice and being grateful for the small things. The other day when I woke up to, receive my gift, I remember being grateful for my condo and for not being homeless, which I could have easily been because of my past problems with alcohol.
From there, sitting on my bed in the dark with my feet flat on the ground, I started listing out all the things I was grateful for just in my kitchen. I am grateful for ice and that I have a refrigerator to keep my food cold. I’m grateful for clean water to drink. I’m grateful for my dishwasher and that I have one. I’m grateful for my stove and oven and that they both work. By the time I got to the fact that I have two microwaves in my kitchen, my grateful meter was off the chart and I knew I could be done.
The Gratitude Project
My girlfriend had completed The Gratitude Project in the past. We had talked about it the other day when my daughter and I were visiting her at her house. She had a picture from a coloring book, which she had colored with markers that said, “Have an Attitude of Gratitude.”
I thanked her for putting up with all my shit over the past 8-years. (Tomorrow is the 8th anniversary of us dating.)
I was conscientious that it took a serious incident for me to see it all so clearly now and I texted her today on my way to work to tell her about the quote I had read this morning.
Reading The Signs
When I got to my office this morning, one of the ladies had put this rock on my desk.
I hadn’t told her anything that I’m writing about here. But now that I’m not drinking and I’m taking notice of things, I have realized that the Universe is giving me little signs that I’m heading down the right path.
So the next time you wake up before your alarm, remember, to wake up and receive your gift from the Universe. You never know, it could be the winning Power Ball numbers. (Believe it or not, many Power Ball winners received their numbers in a dream or believe they manifested it.) Don’t miss your chance tomorrow.
You have an idea for a business and you want to create a name and logo that reflects that business. When I was thinking of a name for my business, I spent many hours pondering over the idea and image that I wanted to convey.
The funny thing is, one of the videos that I watched talked about not wasting your time thinking about the name or the logo, instead spend that time and take action in actually getting clients and selling either the goods or the services that that business provides.
Here are the two logos that I chose for my own businesses. When I worked in the mortgage industry, my co-workers called me, “Diamond Doug.” I thought it had a ring to it and so I incorporated it into my business names–Diamond Digital Properties and Diamond Digital Publishing.
I watched the below videos before settling on the name and logo. My daughter helped narrow down the logos that I had designed. (You can use Canva or hire someone to do it for you on Fiverr.)
If you look carefully, you can see my initials DTW in the diamond. If you can’t see it, don’t worry about it, it’s my own private nod to my name. (My daughter thinks the “D” is a stretch as it looks like an upside-down triangle and that triangle is also the base of the “T”. But if you’re into typography as much I am, you can make letters out of anything.)
Here are the videos I recommend watching. The first one is about the psychology behind the name or creating an unforgettable name.
The next one is great for logos:
Hi. It’s been a long time. Five years and 1 month and a few days actually. That’s how long it’s been since I’ve written anything on this blog.
I’ve kept the site up and running because I knew that I would return to it. I had previously written 263 posts, essays, short stories, poems, and videos here. When I returned to it, the behind the curtains, didn’t even look the same; meaning the format is different. Cleaner.
My life looks totally different today than it did six weeks ago. I’m living in a new condo with my daughter where I have her half the time. My girlfriend and I’s relationship is in a much different place than we were six weeks ago. More distance literally, but closer mentally. I’m now living much closer to my daughter’s school and where she lives with her mom the other half of the time. I’m back to researching and writing about my passions and whims. And overall, I’m in a much more creative space than I’ve been in a while.
Today I was watching a bunch of YouTube videos and I realized that nine years ago, I wrote about an author named Austin Kleon, who wrote a book called Steal Like An Artist (feel free to click the link) and another book called Show Your Work. What Kleon writes about is his journey as an artist and how if you do something every day to get you closer to your dream, by the end of a year, you’ll have a significant amount of work done. He also suggests that you Show Your Work.
So today I thought, I should document all of the YouTube videos that I watch everyday to show how people how I got to where I am in a year from now.
As soon as I typed that, I realized that it should be modified to, I’m going to use this platform to show my my work. Whether that’s posting all the YouTube videos that I watched that day that I thought were useful to me and I think will be useful to someone else, to posting my own writings, this will be my 365-Day Project.
I might as well start Showing My Work, because I’m back to working on myself and my writing. And even though I’m doing it by myself, that doesn’t mean I have to do it alone in vacuum.
I’m going to stop here because I don’t even know if this is going to let me post or not and I’d hate to do all this writing for nothing, just to find out this isn’t even the right place for it. Please enjoy the videos if it does work out on the first try.
ON 2nd THOUGHT…I just went and looked at all the videos that I watched on YouTube today and I’m up to 21 videos. Having said that, I’ll pass on the one’s that I think are leading me toward a better path.
I was looking for video editor and I watched this…and this lead me to the one below it, which has a weird story…
For some reason this Manifesting story was next to this video on the side of YouTube. I click on it and watched a few minutes of it. There was a quote in the comment section that I wanted to copy, so I went to my program and right about Word, was my Video Editor that I’ve had on my laptop the whole time.
I had already spent at least 3 to 5 hours researching video editors.
Those interviews turned into this one where a early-20’s something drop-shipper vlogger turned $1000 into $8 million and that turned into this guy who stops people on the street in Beverley Hills and asks them what they did to earn their money. That’s when I realized, I needed to stop wasting my time for the day on watching videos and I needed to start creating something.
Hopefully you will find something useful to watch on here. Or maybe you can skip all of that create your own thing for the day.
There are some days when you just want to wallow around in an argument that you had yesterday. You start by re-reading a text or email that was sent to you, or you replay that argument over in your head. Then you start thinking about all of the, “I should’ve said…”
You do this kind of behavior for fifteen or twenty minutes and before you know it, you’ve put yourself in a bad mood for the rest of the day.
The below article was sent to me from a co-worker. When you feel yourself going down the negativity-road remember that positive action is the choice that will set you free from negativity.
Positive action is only a single, momentary choice away from a negative mindset.
Make that choice and suddenly you are free of the negativity.
When you are feeling cynical, dismayed, angry, frustrated, decide to abruptly interrupt that pattern.
Point your considerable amount of energy in a positive direction.
Whatever may have already happened, there is nothing at all that says you have to continue on a destructive trajectory.
You have every reason in the world to turn it all around with positive action.
Imagine how great that transformation will feel. Know that it is absolutely within your power to make it, immediately.
When you’ve sunk into the deepest depths, even a tiny positive change can feel like the best thing ever.
Make that change, feel its goodness, its rightness, and build on it.
Activate the control you have, utilize the choice you have and transform a negative perspective into positive action, positive power.
Take the energy you’ve paid dearly to generate, and turn it all toward something beautiful.
— Ralph Marston
A subscriber wrote me and said that there wasn’t a link to yesterday’s video. It appears it was only embedded on the site. Click here if you care to see the video.
(And I’ll have to remember that for next time.) Thanks.
“Live each day as it were your last.”
“Live like you were dying.”
“What would you do if this was your last day on Earth?”
These are all quotes that we’ve heard, but chances are none of them stuck unless the doctor just told you that you have cancer. Well, that’s exactly what happened to comedian Steve Mazan.
After Steve was diagnosed with liver cancer, he went through the 5 stages of grief. When he finally got to the acceptance stage, he decided he was going to go after his lifelong dream of being on David Letterman.
You can see his story in the video below. But just in case you don’t have time to watch it, Steve has a couple of messages for you. The first is, “Bad news, I am dying. But I have more bad news, you’re all dying too.”
How does that make you feel? Probably not as bad as the next quote where Steve says, “If your not chasing your dream, you’re already dead.”
For some of us it’s hard to define what our dreams are. I know in my mind when I die, I want people to know what I thought about this world. I want people to remember me as a good dad and good lover, a bad-ass writer and decent pool player. So that’s what I’m trying to do with my life right now as much as I can, whenever I can. Hanging out with my kid and fiance. Writing. Playing pool. And living the dream.
Or click here.
I’ve been writing a series of very short articles that are about weird business ideas that are making people money.
If you think you have a good business idea, chances are you do. One thing for sure is your idea can’t be any crazier than some of the ones that I’ve been reading about. This is a recap of the last three articles I’ve written on my other site. Here are a few ways people are making money that we would not have thought about:
Recycling and Up-cycling used moving boxes
www.boxcycle.com is a nationwide site that encourages people to recycle and buy used moving boxes. The site’s mission is to educate people that recycling boxes only helps landfills a little, whereas if we reuse them we have a more beneficial environmental impact. The site makes money when you order the boxes online and go pick them up at hundreds of participating locations.
Boxcycle started in San Francisco but is available in most states. Just go to the site and enter your zip code. I did notice they are not available in Honolulu, HI yet, but they were available in the other six or seven states I entered into the box-finder filter.
Think your idea’s crazy? Have some faith in yourself, do your homework to get yourself prepared, and most importantly of all—START! Like now.
The next “Weird Ways People Make Money,” is The Wedding Wagon in Las Vegas. The idea behind the Wedding Wagon is that anyone should be able to get married anywhere they want for an affordable price. How affordable? How about $129.00? (Flowers usually cost more than that.)
The Wedding Wagon is a fully decorated wedding on wheels. An Officiant and photographer will meet you at your location. The back of the van opens up for an elegant backdrop and that’s where the couple takes their vows.
Now granted, this business is in Las Vegas which is often called, “The wedding capital of the world.” (Side note, one of my brothers was married at Red Rock Canyon just outside of Las Vegas. The marriage didn’t last long though because unfortunately, she went back to doing drugs.) Moving on…
Vegas weddings can be fun and whimsical. There are drive-in weddings, “Little Chapel” weddings, and even weddings with an Elvis impersonator as the Officiant. This type of business model is great for Las Vegas, but what about other geographical locations around the U.S.? Would this idea work?
I happen to know a lady named Samantha who does, “pop-up weddings,” in St. Louis, MO. A pop-up wedding is usually a small wedding at a restaurant, park, or scenic viewpoint where the bride and groom can invite their close friends and family, have a quick ceremony, have a little food, and then get the heck out of there.
My friend who does these types of weddings usually charges about $2500 and has a 20-person max. All food is included and you also get a person to officiate the wedding. This is about 12 times cheaper than the average cost of a wedding these days, which is roughly $32,600.
The point is there are all kinds of ways you can make money. One of the many ways is through weddings. Whether it’s through pop-ups, DJing, Officiating, being the photographer, or the caterer, weddings are usually once (or twice) a lifetime event that people don’t mind paying for.
An interesting point here, the original guys who started The Wedding Wagon sold out. They thought they would franchise the idea. Unfortunately, they didn’t plan the exit very well and then went to Shark Tank to try to sell the idea. If you’re interested, you can click here to see the rest of the story.
We’ve all had that, “Why didn’t I think of that,” moment. Well, this next weird business idea is so far-fetched that I think almost everyone would have dropped it like it’s hot in the planning stages – but we all would have been wrong.
The Potato Parcel is a company that ships potatoes to your doorsteps. And these aren’t just any potatoes. These potatoes have messages written on the with Sharpie markers. Some of them have pictures attached to them as well. Those are called Potato Pals.
Need a Mother’s Day gift? How about a potato that says, “Love you, mom! From your little Spud.”
Or how about, “Happy Birthday Babe! Now cook this up for me.” I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t go over in my house and the website specifically says not to eat the potatoes.
Do you think this business is crazy? Well, they sold over $200,000 worth of potatoes their first year and you can watch the video of two Sharks from Shark Tank fighting over the idea.
The point of these quick articles is to show you that no idea is too crazy if you know how to sell and market something. Now get out there and figure out what your Potato Parcel is.
As you probably heard by now, Chuck Berry passed away this weekend on Saturday, March 18th, 2017. He was born in St. Louis, MO, and lived in a suburb just west of St. Louis for many years.
I remember being in 3rd or 4th grade singing, “My ding-a-ling, my ding-a-ling, won’t you play with my Ding-a-ling-a-ling.”
My mom said something like, “Doug, that’s not an appropriate song for a kid to sing.”
“Why not?” I said. “It’s just about a bell on a string.”
“No it’s not,” she said. “It’s about a man’s ding-dong.”
I remember from that day on knowing that the song was a double-entendre and that I couldn’t sing it as freely as I used to, especially around adults.
Flash forward 30 to 35 years and the news of his passing. The first thing I did was put on his Ding-a-Ling video where he’s singing somewhere in Europe. What the YouTube video doesn’t show is that Mr. Berry just showed up to the show minutes before going on stage, which he was known to do. The host and producers were nervous he wasn’t going to make it.
I think his thought was, You don’t pay me to be here early, you pay me to perform at a certain time. I got here on time, I played, and now I’m done, give me my money—in cash, and I’ll be on my way.
So I’m watching him on YouTube with my daughter as he’s getting ready to play the Ding-a-Ling song and he’s calling out the key of the music to the band. He introduces the song and says something like, “This is an innocent song made for kids in about the 4th grade. They have an innocent minds. It’s us adults that ruin everything…”
Meanwhile, he’s flipping off the camera as he’s talking about how “You guys are number one, you’re number one…” someone yells from the crowd and Chuck says, “Oh come on people, I have to hold my guitar pick with these two fingers, this is the only one I have left. See that’s what I’m talking about with the whole innocent thing…”
Berry then goes into the lyric about how, “When I was a little bitty boy, my grandmother bought me a cute little toy, silver bells hangin’ on a string, she told me it was my ding-a-ling-a-ling…” and then the whole crowd started chanting it back at him.
My seven-year-old daughter asked, “Why are all those people singing back about a toy?”
I said, “You think it’s about a toy?”
She said, “Yeah, that’s what he said.”
Being who I am, I just couldn’t let it go at that. I didn’t even think about how my mom ruined the song, or I should say, tuned me into what the song meant. So I said, “Well Jaya, some people call a man’s penis a ‘Ding-a-ling’”.
“What? A penis?! Oh my gosh!” Then she started laughing uncontrollably as the verse had come around again and all the adults were chanting, “My ding-a-ling, my ding-a-ling, won’t you play with my ding-a-ling-a-ling!”
Seeing Chuck Berry play live was on my bucket list. He played once a month at a bar in the Delmar Loop area in St. Louis called Blueberry Hill. Tickets were only $20, but you had to pick them up at the box office and they sold out the same day they went on sale.
My ex-wife got us tickets for either our anniversary or my birthday, about seven or eight years ago. I was pumped to see him. I remember him coming out in his white Captain’s sailor hat and a long-sleeved button-up shirt. His beautiful daughter, who’s a hell of a harmonica player, was with him, as well as his full band. He said a brief introduction and then slid into his classic Johnny B. Goode guitar lick and it was on! The crowd was pumped and was dancing, big smiles all around as he finished that song and went right into Roll Over Beethoven.
A couple more songs into the set, his daughter grabbed the mic that Chuck had just finished singing into and did a mean harmonica solo. She was up there jamming on the harp and movin’ and groovin’ her feet and then Chuck started singing right into the empty mic stand.
His daughter ran back across the stage and held the mic up to his mouth until he was done with the verse and then put it back in the mic stand. Everyone kind of laughed, including Chuck and his band.
Chuck laughed it off and played around on the guitar for a minute and then hit a couple of licks and went right into Roll Over Beethoven again. Everyone in the crowd looked at each other a little confused. The drummer and the bass guitarist just smiled and shook their heads, but they went along with it and kept playing.
When they were done Chuck turned and said something to the bassists. The bass player said something back…probably to the effect of, “You played that one twice…”
Chuck started laughing hard and came back to the mic and said, “Sorry about that ladies and gentlemen, I guess I just really like that one.”
At the time this concert happened, I was in a Master’s degree program for creative writing. I thought I was going to be the next Mark Twain or David Sedaris as far as essayists went, so I wrote an essay of the night and laid on every detail of how Chuck had messed up. (There was a couple of other singing into an open-mic /harmonica situation.)
I presented the essay to my writing group a few days later and immediately got crucified.
“You can’t write this about Chuck Berry. He’s been a legend for over 50 years,” one person said.
“He’s done more for rock-n-roll than almost any one person who’s ever lived! Elvis practically stole his style and presented it as his own. If it wasn’t for Chuck Berry, who knows what we’d be listening to these days,” another said
I decided not to publish the essay after listening to the critique. I had mentioned in the original essay that he was still doing the duck walk across the stage. He also did the move, which I called the Galloping Guitar where he keeps one leg straight out and bounces across the stage with the other leg, and it kind of looks like he’s riding his guitar like a horse. Chuck also jumped up and did the splits almost to the ground and pulled himself up just using his core muscles while holding his guitar—and oh yeah, I forgot to mention, HE WAS IN HIS EARLY 80s!
Looking back on it, I’m glad I didn’t publish the original essay. Chuck Berry, even in his 80s, was a better dancer and guitar player than I will ever be and I’ve played the guitar for over 20 years.
Yes, a lot of his songs introductions sound the same. (Listen here if you want.) But it’s easy to criticize someone else’s art, talent, and skill. These days it’s hard to even get started in your art because people have instant access through social media and there are plenty of people out there who will tell you how much you suck.
(Of course, the flip side to that is, people, put out their stuff before they should these days.) In Chuck’s case, he was doing music before (and longer than) most of us have been alive.
Some of the articles you will read if you search them out will talk about his run-ins with tax evasion. Or he had a camera in the women’s bathroom at his club. These stories are true and if you want to find out more about that feel free to look them up somewhere else.
My thoughts and memories about Chuck Berry aren’t about all of that. I love walking down the Delmar Loop and seeing his name on the star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame right in front of Blueberry Hill, the same place where I saw him years ago. I love seeing his statue right across the street from Blueberry Hill holding that Gibson guitar and in a pose that you can tell is just 100%, Chuck Berry.
I also love knowing that the circle of life has spun around once again with me, my mom, and my daughter with the Ding-a-ling song. And I like the fact that part of this essay has gotten to see the light of day again, even if it took Mr. Berry passing away to reevaluate the piece, knock some dirt off it and then rework and recycle parts of it.
Chuck Berry influenced me in many ways and I hope my daughter will be able to say the same thing later in her life. One thing I know for sure is the next time she and I walk into Blueberry Hill together, I’m going to make sure that I point out the big fat Gibson that’s sitting in the display case next to the front door and I’m going to say to her, “You see this guitar? This guitar was Chuck Berry’s. You know, the guy who sang the ‘Ding-a-ling song”?
And I hope in 20 or 30 years from now she will be able to do the same thing with her kids.
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