“There’s nothing about fame that I’ve ever seen that is healthy… it’s very hard to survive.”
When I read Kevin Alexander’s “I Found the Best Burger Place in America. And Then I Killed It,” a story about naming a #1 burger joint only to see it quickly shuttered, I immediately thought of “The Broccoli Tree: A Parable,” described as “some thoughts on what can be lost, and what can’t be, when we share what we love.”
To share something is to risk losing it, especially in a world where sharing occurs at tremendous scale and where everyone seems to want to be noticed, even if only for cutting down a beloved tree. […] And the truth is, if we horde and hide what we love, we can still lose it. Only then, we’re alone in the loss.
I think about The Broccoli Tree all the time, now, especially when it comes to fame. Emily Dickinson wrote some terrific poems asking why anybody would want it:
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!
How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!
Kay Ryan has a poem called “Lime Light” that goes:
One can’t work
by lime light.
the kitchen table.
The fruit purveyor’s
what daylight did.
Food critic Helen Rosner points out — along with the ethical pitfalls of the burger piece (turns out the owner was already in deep trouble before the list) — that some restaurant owners actively dodge any such list hype to avoid Instagram tourists, etc.:
Kenny Shopsin, the late proprietor of Manhattan’s idiosyncratic Shopsin’s restaurant, was famous for giving false information to guidebooks in order to keep ‘review trotters’ away from his door.
They know what Emily D knew:
Fame is a bee.
It has a song—
It has a sting—
Ah, too, it has a wing.