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Blue Collar's "The Ego Carburetor"
By Mick Polich - 04/28/2009 - 08:36 AM EDT

Keeping your ego in check, when to step aside and let it go, the ‘ego carburetor’……

But I’ve got Something Really Important To Say!!!

Well, cousin…..DON’T WE ALL????

Ego can be a good thing (and notice I stress ’can be’) – it can be a motivator, a mover. Then again, an out-of-control ego can reak havoc (Nixon, Napoleon, Courtney Love – you get the picture). So, what do we need to do – especially since this is coming from the inside-out – what do we need to do in order to keep ourselves in check, yet feelin’ good about the ol’ Id?

Thus, the Ego Carburetor!!!

The Ego Carburetor is something I’ve been developing myself for years (no government bailouts or grants, thank you) – kinda like a Zen Master Program For Artists, Musicians, and Everyday Schleps. It’s a control device, like your car’s carburetor, to keep your ‘self’ from getting too far into Yo ‘Sef, and taking the entire she-bang over the cliff into the ravine. It’s honing a degree of judgment to be fair with folks and situations, yet say, ”Like, dude, I’m a Valid Being here, too!” It takes consistent work (I could use a little bit of the Valid Being part at this time myself, pilgrims!), and a consistent form of balance and control.

O.k., here’s a little secret why I’m writing what I’m writing at this point – like 90% of the world, I’m looking for work. Don’t get me wrong – in spite of deflated stock, and a one-income family, we’re not on the streets. But some extra added monthly income would help fill some holes ‘round the ranch, so I’m back to doing everything I can for music and art gigs. And, unless you’re at the top of the food pyramid, music and art gigs are few and far that don’t pay SHEE-AAAAAT!!! In fact, I was seriously questioning why I had gotten myself into a profession 30 years ago that seems so consistently inconsistent for income. Of course, I ALWAYS question myself on my profession, but the insecurities and fear run a little deeper now that I’m older. I’m not lying around pondering my navel, or the microsocieties within it – hey, I’m workin’ on WORKIN’!!! And being the stay-at-home parent, I need to find work that works with the ‘family schedule’. It can be enough to make you say what-the-flargunart, but hey, give grace where you should – you’re alive and able, right?

So, at this point, my Ego Carburetor is regulated to approach situations with as much humility, grace, and humbleness as possible. Given the tone of my articles at times, I know that sounds crazy, but this is where I intend to go – in life and art.

Ego builds bridges and buildings, and has charity programs named after it. Ego can alter the course of history, and move mountains. Ego can also spiral into megalomania, drug use, and extremely bad vibes in relationships. It’s good, AND it’s bad……

To some degree, everyone has some sort of ego regulator.

That’s the variable in this concept – it’s left to YOUR discretion and judgment. But, it’s like anything else: who’s to say if your judgment on if you’re being a total schmuck or not is valid?

Let’s say you’re out getting gigs. You’re selling yourself to the club owner – your band would be the best thing that ever to hit their place – everybody is going to have a great time with great music, and make some money. Now, as our old friend Jaco P. used to say, ”It ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up.” So, if you are the Great White Hope, and you’re making good music and money for the bar owner, then, you’re backing that statement up. Where the discreet nature lies is in if you can control that Big Ego of yours because you’re riding the Wave Of Greatness at this point. Confidence is one thing – megalomania is another. As we see now in global economics, we’ve hit the glass ceiling, and enough is enough for hoarding. When can you tell you’re Ego Hoarding?

Well, again, outside regulators, such as spouses, parents, kids, friends – the usual suspects - can help. This can involve not only your daily lives, but your music, too. When you’re out of control with demands, unfairness, and over-the-top self - absorption, then it’s time to get a handle on the reigns, Little Joe. I think of a recent article on the new supergroup, ”Chickenfoot” - Chad Smith (drums, Red Hot Chili Peppers), Michael Anthony( bass,vocals – Van Halen, Cabo Wabo Band), Joe Satriani ( great 25 year solo carrier), and Sammy Hagar ( Van Halen, Sammy Hagar, Ronnie Montrose, and Cabo Wabo). The guys are all pumped – and with this line-up, if you like to rock, who wouldn’t be – but the guys are saying how different this band is relationship wise from other groups. Satriani and Smith are under control from a standpoint of bashing old bandmates, Michael Anthony…well, maybe a bit (not sure about the entire story of his ousting from Van Roth). But I had to laugh when I read Sammy’s comments – the same sort of “it’s going to be different, cooler, and better this time” stuff that I read about when he joined Van Halen years again. Revisionism is a cool thing, especially when you’re doing the driving……

Hello Margaret, goodnight nurse! Jee-bus – give me a break! Especially when you’re 61, and should know better, Mr. Hagar. Oh well, rock and roll means you never have to grow up……

About time for a little Ego Carburetor, ya think?

Oh yes, some of you skeptics out there in Web World might already be poo - pooing the sentiments here, but I tell ya, never before in human history have we had so much instant access to the display of the human ego as today. Oh sure, egomaniacs have been around since sliced bread, night baseball, and the dawn of time, but to have a garden of electronic media to see instant stars, out-of-control CEO’s (and their ex-wives who can't live on $52K per week – sign me up for that welfare state, kids!), and Third World dictators ranting about imperialism and war chests thru the safe technology ( because you don’t have to confront directly – yeah, you can consider this column in that realm also) of Blackberrys, You Tube, Twitter, Facebook, and bloggings is truly the Road to Nutsville at some point. It’s fascinating, scary, and disgusting all at the same TIME!

Well, gosh, Grandpa, are you gonna tell us about how we should all slow down, get it together, and get back to the land and hearth? Hell no, Junior, it’s NOT going to slow down, but get a handle on where you’re at, and what you are gobbing up for media. Television is the enemy, computers are the enemy, rock music, dogs and cats, living together – blame it on that junk, but, hey, to thy own self be true, boys and girls. A little time-out in the playpen for some self- introspection is all you need to do from time to time, is the way I look at it. Easier said than done, I know – I backslide all the time.

Humility comes in many forms, and I would hate to be the poor s.o.b.’s that just got cut from their job at GM as it rapidly sinks into the sunset, losing your house, car, and sometimes your family – hate to see it, don’t wish it on anybody. The fact that I’m here and now writing this to you all is proof positive that I have a horseshoe full of luck. Yet, in my own small way, I’ve gotten some humility in the past couple of years – I’m still looking for those gigs that I can do what I know how to do best over 30 years of honing skills, yet be there for my wife, son, and dog. Persistence, luck, planning, kaizan, and hope are working together. That glass full of regret I need to leave behind, start the engine, and kick in the Ego Carburetor. 

Unless the Great Spirit comes down, and physically changes the make-up of the human condition, people will be people, and history will repeat itself. I just think we need to take the reigns back, say, ”Hold on, Bubba”, and get ourselves in check on our own, or with someone’s help – I’ve seen it too many times to know better. Problem is, ‘humility’ is a concept these days that few care about, let alone understand. If you read in detail, all of the world’s religions preach some practice of the art of humbleness (yes, please research, and you’ll see). Unfortunately these days, we get a lot of saber rattling and ranting in place of humility in religion’s name (same as it ever was, same as it ever was). Humility is usually perceived as a sign of WEAKNESS (“Hey, yo! You callin’ me a wuss??!!”). So, the coin toss and the game of chance in regulating the individual Ego Carburetor lies in humbleness, I believe. And who’s got time for that bull hockey, sonny? 

Well, ya make time, o.k.? You make it happen. It’s no big secret that we live in a world of more uncertain terms than we have had to deal with in quite awhile – I think you need to get over yourself, reign it in, and move forward with an objective view of creating art and music without getting full – bore, ego - tripped about the process. Michelangelo? Dali? Edith Pilaf? Bob Dylan? Oh yeah, big egos all around, but can we learn from history, or are we doomed to repeat it?

When you forget, you’re doomed to repetition.

This little observation isn’t going to solve everyone’s problems with ego control – it’s an awareness thing that needs to be nurtured on a daily basis. And it sure as blazes isn’t a new thing, but we live in an age where stars are born on cell phones and Black berrys, as opposed to the theatre and concert hall. Keeping a check on things is just a good way to rationale and sound living (and dadgummit, you kids need that!!).

But who says making art and music, then promoting yourself IS rationale and sound? To quote Groucho Marx, it’s the silliest thing I’ve evah hoid……

Just do yourself a favor, True Believers, and install an Ego Carburetor – even if you don’t use it, it will be a good thing that it’s there!

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