frank, rich, and the binky.

We spent a lot of time sitting around in our apartment, bullshitting.

Sometimes, the conversations led to something productive.  A lot of the Dromedary ideas came out of discussions we had in our living room.  It seemed there were always four or five people hanging around, drinking beers, listening to music, and talking – not just lame “Boy it was cold this week” kinds of discussions, but real, substantive ones, with real, substantive ideas.

Rich always had ideas.  Tons of them.  Like I said, when Frank first told me about Rich, his big plans were to take over the government.  Rich never thought small.

One night we were sitting in the living room and Frank said, “Rich, tell them about your Binky.”


Rich said “Okay, the Binky is sort of a nonexistent thing.  It means something different to everyone.  Everyone goes through life, trying to find their Binky.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” I asked.

“For you,” he continued, “getting a job was your Binky.  Once you got a job, owning a record label became your Binky.  Now, you have a record label (he gestured at the CDs scattered around the living room and I laughed.).  And when this record comes out, it’s no longer your Binky.  Putting out the next record will be your Binky.  And you’ll keep looking for that until you get it.  Then you’ll have some other Binky.  Everybody’s looking for their Binky.

He was my best friend, but he was a weird dude.  “A Binky is that thing that you want – it’s not a tangible thing, like a nice car or a big house, it’s more of a theoretical thing, a lifestyle thing.”

He kept going.  “When I own my multimedia conglomerate, it’s going to be called Binky Media.  The publishing company will be Binky Books, the ad agency will be Binky Graphics, the record label will be BinkyTone Music…”

“Hey!” I said.  “You’re going to start a competitive record company?”

“Fuck you,” he said.  “I’m going to own the world.”

“You’re not going to own shit,” Frank interrupted.  “You just sit here in the living room, talking.  You never actually do anything.”

“What do you mean?” he asked, befuddled.

“I mean you haven’t followed through on a single thing you said you were going to do,” Frank was looking angry.  “How many bands have you been in since I met you?  How many times have you actually gotten off your ass and tried putting out a CD, or playing shows?  How many times have you said you were going to get a better job, or go to college?  Not once.  Never.”

“I’m biding my time,” he said.

“You’re not biding anything.  You’re lazy.  Al and Sandy graduated college, had an idea, and did it.  You’re just sitting there, watching.”

“Yeah?  What are you doing?” he asked.

“Me?  First of all, I never told anybody I wanted to own the world.”  This was true.  “Second of all, I have a decent job, and I make a good living on the side, repairing computers.  Third of all, I’m doing exactly what I want to do.”

Frank was into motorcycles and mountain biking at the time.  And he was right – he spent plenty of time doing those things.

The room was silent for a minute.  Then, Frank said “I don’t ever want to hear about another fucking thing that you want to do, until you actually do something.  Fuck your Binky.”  

Then, he got up and left.

“Wow,” Rich said.  But then he stared at the floor.

Frank generally didn’t pull punches – none of us did, actually – but as harsh as he was in this conversation, he was right.  Rich seemed to move from idea to idea, sometimes starting a project but seldom actually finishing one.  His bands never got out of his bedroom – at this point he was still writing music with Aural Scents, but they hadn’t even progressed beyond just Rich and the singer – and his business ideas never made their way onto paper, much less into reality.  

I know that it frustrated Frank because, in a lot of ways, Rich was more intelligent than the rest of us, and I think Frank felt like Rich was wasting his talents.  Rich was, most definitely, the most intelligent person I’ve ever met, and I hadn’t known him for as long as Frank had – I was still captivated by the discussions we had, and didn’t read too much into what they meant.

Frank, on the other hand, I had known for years.  I knew that a lot of the time, Frank overemphasized things just to make a point.  I didn’t think he was trying to be mean to Rich, I just thought he was trying to make a point.

One time, we were in a grocery store, picking up chips and stuff for a party.  Rich picked up a bag of pretzels – I don’t remember the brand, maybe they were made by Nabisco or someone like that.  Frank said “No, I don’t want those,” and picked up a bag of Eagle brand pretzels.

What was the difference?  I had no idea.  Pretzels are, pretty much, pretzels.  

“What’s the difference?” Rich asked.

“I don’t want to give my money to the big company,” Frank said, referring to the name-brand pretzels Rich had picked up.

Eagle products are made by Anheuser-Busch.  Biggest frickin’ company on the planet.  And Rich made sure he told Frank that – but he waited until after the pretzels were bought and paid for.  He didn’t want to give Frank any way to wiggle out of his statement about wanting to patronize the small company that was Eagle.

That’s sort of the dynamic that the two of them had.  They really enjoyed each other’s company, and would often just sit up until sunrise, talking.  But there was also a really competitive streak between them, and they didn’t think twice about dishing out a big smackdown.

Frank was very much a techie guy, before most people became techie guys.  He had become enamored of the NeXT computer system that was pioneered by Steve Jobs in the early 90s.  He had built an entire NeXT setup in his room, and enjoyed showing off its capabilities to everyone.  He took a lot of pride – or, at least I thought he did – in the fact that he built the computer that we used to run Dromedary.  It was, like, he couldn’t play a guitar or engineer a record, but he could build the computer that we needed in order to run the company.

At that point in life, Frank had really accomplished more than all the rest of us.  He’d lived quite a life, did lots of traveling and was involved in a lot of outdoor activities.  He had become a bit of a health nut, and had a lot more technical knowledge than the rest of us.  In a lot of ways, we were always struggling to keep up with him, and we both looked up to him.

So this outburst was a real bitch-slap to Rich.

But it also motivated him to get off his ass and do something.  Which he did.

~ by Al on January 23, 2009.

4 Responses to “frank, rich, and the binky.”

  1. It’s good that someone said something to your friend, Rich. I see people like that around me all the time, very talented individuals but they really aren’t good for anything. They’re awesome with ideas and they make you really feel as if they will own the world one day. But when you step back and take a look at them, they’re really just trying to keep talking. Keep talking and never stop because once they stop, the moment of silence is where they realize that they’re just fooling themselves.

  2. Thanks for visiting, and reading, and commenting. Stay tuned, this story goes on and on and on, and Rich is a huge part of the story.

  3. […] Publishing,” he said, as I recalled the discussion we had that winter about Rich’s Binky.  ”I’m also going to run a big ad in it for Binky […]

  4. […] wasn’t that Rich was holding a grudge.  It was that the conversation that he had with Frank months before really stuck with Rich – it really impacted him to the point […]

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