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How Did Your Idols Turn Out?

Did you have a hero or an idol growing up? I had a few, and I’ve collected a few new ones along the way. One thing I’ve noticed, is that heroes are harder to find as you get older. Probably because it’s harder to be impressed and easier to cut through the bullshit.

So I decided to do a follow up with some of my early influences and see how they look in hindsight and the eye of scrutiny.

How did they do? Let’s see:

bill gates mug shotBill Gates: Love the man, hate the operating system. When I was in high school, I remember reading about Microsoft and Bill Gates and how the personal computer was set to change the world. I credit Bill Gates and people like him for sparking my interest in an industry that enabled me to have a hobby that’s also my career, even though I would eventually turn my back on Microsoft entirely for more Linux-like horizons. He’s set the bar high, but new billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg are following in his footsteps in innovation and generosity. Kudos. 8/10

stephen kingStephen King: I’ve always had an interest in reading, but Stephen King was the first author who I truly became a fan of. When I look back to a period when I actually had the time to read for hours on end, I think of King. I don’t read him as much as I used to, but whenever I do, it’s like catching up with an old friend. King is a vocal advocate for education and the promotion of reading, and that’s a good thing. I still respect him as an author and human being, even when he reveals in the first  paragraph that everyone is going to die. 9/10

jimmy pageJimmy Page: Jimmy Page taught me that a guitar player could be messy and still sound great. I’ve looked up to many guitar players over the years, but Jimmy was always the coolest. I was obsessed with finding every album that Page played on, whether with Led Zeppelin, solo, or as a session musician. Jimmy still plays guitar and now uses his wealth for good. In 1998 he made a large donation to The Abandoned Street Kids of Brazil Fund (TASK) which helped them buy a house (Casa Jimmy) to provide safety and care for 500 children. He continues to lend his name to the cause. Way to go Jimmy! 10/10

eric claptonEric Clapton: Clapton was also pretty cool and I’d often sit around trying to learn his classic riffs, too. He had some great songs and a shadowy past full of debauchery, which I guess appealed to me in some ways, and not so much in other ways (like the doing heroin part). So I had Page for the messy Les Paul riffs, and Clapton for that smooooth Stratocaster sound. But over the years, the appeal of his body of work began to wane. Then he came out with that acoustic version of Layla which, by the billionth time hearing it, was really starting to get on my nerves. Then I found out that he once made some very racist statements, and I just couldn’t get past that whether they were taken out of context or not. He also appears to be friends with Bernie Ecclestone, who’s another class act. Way to ruin it for me, Clapton. 3/10

white square question markElise Desautels: Mme Desautels was my grade 4 French teacher and she never raised her voice at us. Until one day, when us kids just wouldn’t shut up, she slammed the door as hard as she could. That got our attention, and we all snapped up straight in our chairs and watched as the clock over the door broke free and landed square on her head. The girls all ran to her aid, and the boys, well…we simultaneously opened our desks and put our heads inside to laugh. Still, Mme Desautels picked herself up and taught the class and even made jokes about the incident. I don’t know what became of her, but I always admired her for not giving up, even when half the class was laughing. 10/10 for unintentionally introducing me to slapstick.

How about you? Do you still respect your heroes?

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