Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why Chauncey Gardner

If you listen to the attached piece from NPR, you will find some clues as to why I chose to name my blog Chauncey Gardner. The irony is that I named my blog the day before this NPR piece aired. It was a complete coincidence, and if one thinks on it hard enough, exactly the reason why my blog should be named Chauncey Gardner. Such is the way my life goes.

I remember once long ago eavesdropping on my older brother, his best friend, Jay, and my brother's girlfriend's dad having an intriguing conversation about which of them knew more famous people. This must have been 1984 or so. The names they were throwing out were completely bush league. My brother and Jay claimed June Jones, a local football hero who had coached them both. One of them mentioned a local newscaster. The only real name warranting any real list was that of John McEnroe, who my brother was being counted on to drive him safely across Portland from a tennis event to an after-party. Turns out my brother almost got them both killed when he made a quick turn in front of on-coming traffic. If memory serves me, Johnny Mac had a few choice words for my college-aged brother.

My long point is that the conversation had a profound effect on me. I remember wondering to myself if I would ever meet anyone as famous as John McEnroe. Or June Jones for that matter! At the time, the two most famous people I knew were the two people leading the conversation - my brother and Jay! Jay had been the all-state quarterback from our high school. If he was Ken Stabler, my brother was his Fred Biletnikoff. They were unstoppable. The two of them went on to Oregon State University, Jay on a full-ride, my brother a book buying walk-on.  He made the team though, and made his family proud.  OSU finished their freshman season with a record of 0-10. They used to have a poll that ranked the bottom 10 teams in the nation. Oregon State had worked their way all the way down to number 1. They were voted the worst team in the nation. My brother was on the roster, but was one of two players who wore the number 43. The other number 43 actually played regularly on defense. My brother rarely, if ever, made it into the game. Therefore, it was only fitting that we decided he was the worst player on the worst team in the country, which made him, of course, the worst player in the country. A dubious achievement, but one that brought him a fair amount of fame, at least in my mind.

But I digress! As I was saying, for whatever reason their conversation had a profound effect. Maybe I should say lasting instead of profound. I mean, profound makes me sound awfully shallow.  Anyway, as life moved on, my dreams slipped from being a professional golfer to being a director of films. That's right, I went from wanting to be the next Jack Nicklaus to wanting to be the next Steven Spielberg. If I couldn't make a living on the PGA tour, I would make it making movies. I followed that dream as long as I could, which has led me to where I am today. No, I'm not Spielberg, but I did turn down an offer to be his assistant. That's a story for another time, but one that fits into my greater point. My Chauncey Gardner point. My point that ever since eaves-dropping on my brother's conversation, I have found myself time and again Being There, right smack in the company of one famous person after another, and that's going to be the gist of this here blog site. 

I'll explain this weekend's photo with Katie Couric next time. I gotta get some sleep.

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At September 11, 2008 at 12:10 PM , Blogger max said...

The hard part about having met and knowing famous or infamous people is when they are brought up in casual conversation. Your first instinct is to say, "I know him/her and your being a complete ass by saying such mean things." then you bite your lip and nod and smile.

At September 11, 2008 at 12:45 PM , Blogger Jeff Selis said...

Yes, it's easy to fall into the complete ass category, however, it's also a sad commentary if you have to take your funny stories to your grave. My hope is that Chauncey Gardner will relay these stories in an entertaning, non-ass-like tone. But I hear your point, which is why I usually bite my lip.

At September 26, 2008 at 10:29 AM , Blogger Debbie B said...

Thanks for the explanation of the title. OSU rocked last night, so that just goes to show.. something.

So do you entertain the "what's he/she like?" questions?


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