Two thoughts on fame

July 10, 2018

One of Caroline's projects (Five88 Mission) received a bunch of architecture awards last month. We've been talking about "fame" and "being famous" since she won the awards; it's made me realize two things.

One: fame burns hot and fast. By complete coincidence, when I first moved to San Francisco, I ended up in a shared apartment with Andrew Lee, one of the cofounders of Firebase. We lived together from 2011 until he moved out in 2013; it was pretty awesome chatting with him as they grew the service from tens of users, to hundreds of thousands. You just can't get these experiences anywhere other than SF. And yet, after getting acquired in 2014, the excitement has faded. The service is growing like crazy under Google's leadership, and Andrew and James will be able to raise money for whatever they want to do later in their lives. But I don't hear people talking about Firebase in the streets of SoMA like I used to. Not that I've done anything that noteworthy, but after only a few years, it already feels like yesterday's news.

I imagine it's the same with Hollywood actors famous from A-list movies made 8-10 years ago, without a hit since. I wonder, do they still get invited to parties?

Two: fame lags reality. Guys like Bob Odenkirk and Noah Emmerich were great long before starring roles in Breaking Bad and The Americans, it's just that nobody had yet noticed. Same deal with poetry, restaurants, music, pretty much any form of creation; just because it's not famous, doesn't mean it's not great. Perhaps you're just first to notice?

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