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I'm with Stupid: Notes from your neighborhood writer/ comedian/rock star/playwright/screenwriter/novelist
Todd Hartley

I suppose I need to preface this column by explaining what Love Rocks is, as I assume some of you out there still haven’t heard of it. It’s basically the coolest thing Basalt has to offer (although, due to the town’s weird boundaries, it’s not technically in Basalt), and it brims with the kind of vitality that we all agree we need more of around here.

Love Rocks is a sort of performance space/art gallery/custom furniture and musical instrument showroom/dance hall/yoga studio lovingly carved out of a warehouse space in Willits Bend by multi-talented woodworker/musician/entrepreneur Steve Cook. In the roughly three years it’s been open, Love Rocks has played host to concerts, yoga classes, salsa dances, private parties and more. And it just keeps gaining momentum.

Anyway, I was there last Saturday night for an open house that drew an eclectic mix of creative types from up and down the Valley, and at one point a 15-year-old girl got up to play guitar and sing some of her original songs. She was really good, and I thought, “Wow, other than my lack of youth, attractiveness, talent and ability to carry a tune, that could be me up there performing.”

That got me thinking about what I want to be when I grow up, which might seem an odd thing to hear coming from a paunchy, balding 49-year-old, but though my physical appearance might seem adult, mentally I stopped progressing at about the age of 12, so I consider my sentiment to be legit. 

It ties into something I’ve been working on with my executive leadership coach, Jeff Munn of Carbondale (you can ignore the first two words of his job title in my case). One of the main tenets of life coaching, as far as I can tell, is to help people identify and pursue their “big thing,” the dream they have of who they want to be that they might not have the confidence or guts to go after on their own.

It took me some time to figure out what my big thing is, but I finally decided it’s what I jokingly thought it might be years ago. In short, I want to be a multimedia event unto myself, and if you’re wondering what that’s supposed to mean, I’ll give you some examples.

Jack Black – actor, rock star, comedian, fellow hefty guy – is one of my personal heroes. So is Rupert Holmes. (Who? You ask.) You know him as the guy who sang, “The Piña Colada Song,” but he’s also a playwright, novelist and television writer. And my newest bro-crush is on Ben Roy of Denver, who does standup comedy, stars in the TV show “Those Who Can’t” and has been a punk rocker in numerous bands since he was a teenager.

So, with those as my guides and with a coach to spur me on, I’m making it my mission to become a slash guy, much like Steve Cook, but in my case a writer/comedian/rock star/playwright/screenwriter/novelist. I’ve actually accomplished three of those things, though just barely, but this isn’t entirely about me. This is actually more about how this Valley gives you the chance to pursue those kinds of goals.

I’ve lived my entire physical adult life in this Valley, so I can’t speak to how things are elsewhere, but around here there are incredible opportunities for creative types to get started or keep their careers rolling. Whether it’s locally focused arts centers like the Art Base in Basalt or the Launchpad in Carbondale, performance spaces like Love Rocks and Steve’s Guitars, or theater troupes like the Hudson Reed Ensemble and Thunder River’s Consensual Improv, there are lots of ways to get involved. All you have to do is make the decision to go for your big thing.

So I’m going for it. I’ve got my sights set on polishing up a screenplay that I hope to make a movie out of. I’m going to redouble my efforts to finish the sci-fi novel I’ve been working on for years, and I’m going to do my best to be the kind of person I always secretly wished I could be. I’m hoping that by publicly airing that secret, I’ll make myself accountable to it and see those long-term goals through to fruition.

In the short term, I’m organizing a standup comedy show with a few friends at Steve’s Guitars on Sept. 13 (come out and see us!), and when I get over the laryngitis I’ve been battling for the last three weeks, I’m probably, maybe, possibly going to assemble a punk band and start rehearsing at Love Rocks, my lack of talent or singing ability be damned.

I’ll check back in with you in a few weeks and let you know how things are progressing, but in the meantime, feel free to go after your own big thing, with or without the help of a life coach. You’ll be making the world a more vital place simply by trying, and you’re in a great place to do it.