Life and how to live it, Part IV

Posted: Aug 08, 2005 12:00 AM

One afternoon in the summer of 1989, I was sitting in my living room playing my 12-string Yamaha guitar. I was learning a few songs from the latest James Taylor album. About that time, my roommate Harry Wilson came walking in the apartment with his tennis doubles partner Shannon Ruscoe. I had no idea that the course of my life would completely change that afternoon.

I had never seen Shannon before that moment when, suddenly, he started to belt out the lyrics to one of the Taylor songs I was playing on my 12-string. I tossed him the lyrics to some other songs and he pulled up a chair and sang several more with me that afternoon.

Later in the week, I called Shannon and soon we started to get together in the evenings to learn a few more songs. We thought it might be a good thing to try our best Simon and Garfunkel impression at a party sometime. At the time, we were always thinking of unique ways to meet women - preferably blond sorority girls with bad taste in men (in other words, an interest in guys like us).

A few months after I started rehearsing with Shannon, my grandmother Virginia unexpectedly sent me a check for $1000. It was a portion of a small insurance policy my grandfather had taken out a few years before he died in December of 1988. That $1000 was to become the basis of my first real-life experiment with capitalism.

After I deposited the $1000 in the bank, I called Shannon with a plan of action. I told him there was an Alvarez Yairi guitar on sale for $650 at Backstage Music (, which is near Mississippi State University where we both went to graduate school. I told Shannon I could buy it and still have enough money to rent microphones, speakers, and amplifiers from Backstage owner Jim Beaty for at least our first half-dozen gigs. ?Gig? is a hip musical term for ?job.? I was a long-haired Democrat in those days.

Our next move was to convince some foolish businessman to let us set up our rented equipment in his bar for at least one night. I was already risking everything I owned on this venture. Nonetheless, I took another risk in the form of an offer to the manager of a small Mexican restaurant called J.C. Garcia?s on Highway 12.

When we met with one of the managers, I asked him to pick the slowest night of the week. He said that was Tuesday. We offered to play two one-hour sets between 9 and 11 p.m. for the low price of $0.00. The catch was that if he sold $2000 worth of drinks that night - which he already said was his slowest - he had to hire us to come back and play the next week for $200 cash and free beer.

That Tuesday night, I packed the restaurant with scores of my Sigma Chi fraternity brothers. Shannon, who worked part-time at the Chi Omega House, made sure the place was packed with loud (and thirsty) sorority girls. By the end of the night, they had consumed $2100 worth of drinks. Needless to say, I had a new job.

Within three months, three bars in town were hiring us regularly. The third to hire us, the Bully III, was run by a guy named David Odom who would become a very close friend. David upped our pay to $250 per night and added a free meal to the free beer offer. By the end of the summer, fraternities were hiring us to play two-hour Bar-B-Qs for $350, free beer, and, of course, free Bar-B-Q.

Then there were the out-of-town gigs. And later on there was even Nashville. During my last full month of graduate school I was hired to play 22 of the 30 nights of April. My little experiment with capitalism let me leave graduate school weeks later with a doctorate and a pocketful of cash. I didn?t have one red cent of debt. Not a single student loan.

Most people reading this American success story already understand the basic principles that govern the occupational aspect of my philosophy of life. For those who don?t, I?ll spell it out for them:

1. Capitalism is the worst economic system ever invented, as long as you exclude all other economic systems used over the course of human history.

Of course, capitalism is not for everyone. It rewards people who are able to realistically assess their talents, just as it rewards risk-takers. It also punishes cowards, day-dreamers, and those with justifiably low self-esteem.

2. The secret to occupational happiness is tricking others into paying you to do things you would probably do for free.

Obviously, when I was in my twenties, I would have played my guitar, consumed beer, and talked to good-looking women for free. But tricking people into paying me for it was a stroke of genius. Today, I still follow the same general principle. If you don?t believe me, read some of my columns or watch one of my speeches. I am, essentially, a professional smart-aleck who makes fun of multiculturalism and political correctness. I also drum up protests and lawsuits against liberals. It?s all fun and people pay me for it. In fact, every penny I have made since the late 1980s has been made doing something I intrinsically enjoy.

3. You must continue to follow principle #2 until you save enough money to pay people to do all the things you don?t like to do.

People often ask me how long I intend to speak out and write about politically correct liberals and their crazy antics. But take a look at me. I don?t have a chauffeur to drive me around. I don?t have anyone to light my cigars, much less flick my ashes. And, tomorrow, I have to walk right out and mow the lawn in 90 degree weather.

In other words, folks, I may have a few more columns to write. But I hope you enjoyed this one because I sure enjoyed writing it. Just don?t tell anyone I would do this for free. It?ll be our little secret.

Mike S. Adams ( will be paid handsomely to offend liberals at N.C. State University on August 30th. Go to his website for more details.