Tuesday, May 24, 2005


A Smart Rock Star? No, Genius!

WSJ.com - Rocker Jeff Baxter Moves and Shakes In National Security: "Jeff Baxter played psychedelic music with Ultimate Spinach, jazz-rock with Steely Dan and funky pop with the Doobie Brothers. But in the last few years he has made an even bigger transition: Mr. Baxter, who goes by the nickname 'Skunk,' has become one of the national-security world's well-known counterterrorism experts.
A wiry man who wears a beret to many of his meetings, Mr. Baxter, who is now 56 years old, has gone from a rock career that brought him eight platinum records to a spot in the small constellation of consultants paid to help both policy makers and defense contractors better understand the way terrorists think and plan attacks."

We often forget with all of the antics, etc. that it takes intellect to be really, truly good at anything. Admittedly, many rock stars are just idiots, but this is a wonderful example of self-refined raw intellect. I love stories like this! As someone who has musicians in the family, and one of them of genius-level intellect, I can truly appreciate that it is not only possible, but may be more common than often thought. To have the innate curiosity to become a master at anything intimates a deeper, more profound mind than just the kid who learns the opening to Stairway to Heaven. We often see slight to severe obsessive-compulsive tendencies, which seems reasonable to spur and maintain the level of curiosity it takes to master anything. Keeping that up, and dealing with how different that behavior is to the norm leads to the alcohol and drug use that is so common amongst these kinds of minds. It is obvioulsy more complex, but that simple start is usually a part of the draw to intoxicants. Any escape from a mind that runs constantly seems reasonable. Dulling the obsessive-compulsive side of their behavior is a relief. This is not an excuse for all of music's drug woes. In fact, this explanation only applies to a small number of these people, in my opinion. Drug and alcohol use and abuse has thousands of other explanations, not the least of which is genetics. But for the rare genius, of any specialty, it seems common for them to seek reprieve. I don't know Baxter, and am not suggesting any issues like this. I suppose I went off on a rant. In fact, use and abuse is well under control in those I know, but it is a pattern that I have seen in the greatest intellects that I have been blessed to know. In fact, the exception to my rule was good proof of it. As I got to know him, I asked why this wasn't his issue. He explained that, while he just didn't like to lose control, he also had a sense that it would be an immediate problem. I like to ponder these topics quite a bit, genius, alcohol and drug abuse, illness, and the like. This article may give you something to ponder as well.

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