The Mothership Connection: Funktastic Career Tips From Funk Legend George Clinton

George Clinton has been in the business for 60 years, and is still going strong. The founder and shamanistic frontman of the seminal funk bands Parliament-Funkadelic and the P-Funk All Stars reflects on his long career and shares lessons he learned along the way.

 

Original Art by Edel Rodriguez for The Art of Doing Artist's Interpretation Project
Original Art by Edel Rodriguez for The Art of Doing Artist’s Interpretation Project

He’s been in the business for 60 years and he’s still growing strong. The founder and shamanistic frontman of the seminal funk bands Parliament-Funkadelic and the P-Funk All Stars reflects on his long career, and shares lessons he’s learned along the way. 

George Clinton was born in an outhouse in North Carolina in 1941.

At 13 he persuaded four friends to form a doo-wop band, the Parliaments. Years later Clinton moved the band to Detroit to try to get signed by Motown. But it was too late. The ’60s, with its cacophonous rock ’n’ roll, race riots and psychedelic drugs, had changed Clinton. “One day I put on a sheet and cut my hair in a Mohawk and walked around town,” he said. “I thought if nobody kicks my ass or arrests me, we’re gonna take this craziness to the stage.”

Within a couple of years, Clinton had become a grand funk provocateur. Under his management style of anarchistic humanitarianism, the musicians of his sprawling funk collective have flowed in and out of the bands that Clinton formed, splintered and merged, putting on outrageous shows and recording music that reflected America’s counterculture and black consciousness. Now in his 70s and still touring with the P-Funk All Stars, Clinton’s musical legacy that began in the era of doo-wop is a still a staple of the era of hip hop. Prince once said of Clinton, “They should give that man a government grant for being so funky.”

1. Someone has to be the ringleader. I was always pushing something. I was just a kid when I started our little doo-wop group, the Parliaments because we were all in love with Motown. I’d go into New York City, knocking on doors to try and make the deals. After we got our hit “(I wanna) Testify,” I moved the band out to Detroit because I wanted us to be the Temptations. Years later we had so many people coming and going on different labels with different acts, I got us our own studio and label. Sure it felt like responsibility, but the guys always left it for me to do all the business stuff. Someone’s got to be in control and if you know what you want, it might as well be you. Continue reading “The Mothership Connection: Funktastic Career Tips From Funk Legend George Clinton”

How to Shape a Story with Celebrity Spin Doctor
Mike Sitrick

Everyone understands the importance of shaping a story but few are as shrewdly proficient at manipulating the media as L.A. crisis manager Mike Sitrick, who the Los Angeles Times called “The Wizard of Spin.”

Mike Sitrick Art of Doing How Superachievers do What They Do and How They Do It So WellEveryone understands the importance of shaping a story but few are as shrewdly proficient at manipulating the media as L.A. crisis manager Mike Sitrick, who the Los Angeles Times called “The Wizard of Spin.”  A celebrity, arrested for soliciting a prostitute or going on a drunken rampage, confronted with a frenzied pack of reporters, is likely to call Sitrick whose firm has defended and rebuilt the reputations of scores of entertainers, athletes and other high-profile clients caught in the media glare. (His clients have included Paris Hilton, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Vick and Chris Brown to name a few, as well as embattled companies and high profile executives, many of whom Sitrick can only discuss off the record if at all.) Sitrick, whose uncanny ability to assess and understand the intricacies of how the media behaves and what makes an individual journalist tick, has a lot to teach anyone about how to deal with the media. His advice in a nutshell: “If you don’t tell your story, someone else will tell it for you.”

Continue reading “How to Shape a Story with Celebrity Spin Doctor
Mike Sitrick”

When Failure Is Not An Option,
Typical Career Advice Does Not Apply
[Philippe Petit Part 2]

“Art happens when you work millions of hours not to make it look hard but to make it look effortless,” says famed World Trade Center high-wire walker Philippe Petit. Read on for more insight that applies to entrepreneurs as well as daredevils.

In 1974, Philippe Petit committed the “artistic crime of the century” when he wire-walked across the void between the two world trade center towers. Since then, Petit has gone on to perform many other spectacular wire walks, authored over half a dozen books and singlehandedly built a barn using eighteenth-century tools and design. But, for all of his meticulous preparation, Petit bristles at any attempt to systematize his methods. Asked to explain his artistic process, he says, “It can be boiled down to a few words–from chaos to total control to perfection.”

We found Petit’s philosophy of how he lives his entire life as if he’s on the high wire could be applied to anyone’s work or personal life. Continue reading “When Failure Is Not An Option,
Typical Career Advice Does Not Apply
[Philippe Petit Part 2]”

How to Live Life on the High Wire with Philippe Petit [Part 1]

Photo: Flickr user Carolina Pastrana

On a summer day in 1974, a 24-year-old Frenchman stepped onto the world stage with one of the most astonishing performances in modern history–walking back and forth on a wire illegally rigged across the void between New York’s World Trade Center Towers, three quarters of a mile above spellbound onlookers. It all began six years earlier when the young Philippe Petit was inspired by a rendering of the not-yet-constructed towers he saw in a magazine. He spent the following years refining his wire walking skills and making countless visits to the towers to plot how to surreptitiously enter the buildings and solve the complicated logistics of rigging his wire between the swaying towers. Petit has gone on to perform many other spectacular wire walks, authored over half a dozen books, was the subject of the acclaimed documentary Man on Wire, and singlehandedly built a barn using eighteenth-century tools and design. Whether on the high wire or not, Petit’s philosophy is epitomized in his response to reporters shouting “Why?” after his dramatic Twin Towers crossing. Petit’s answer: “The beauty of it is, there is no ‘why.’” Continue reading “How to Live Life on the High Wire with Philippe Petit [Part 1]”

How to Grow Killer Weed with Ed Rosenthal

The Guru of Ganja Ed Rosenthal’s 10 tips on “How to Grow Killer Weed.”

It was the Sixties, and Ed Rosenthal, who listed his future career as “plant geneticist” in his high school yearbook, had discovered pot. After college, living in an oversize apartment in the Bronx, Rosenthal decided to grow his own. The rest is marijuana history as Rosenthal went on to become “The Guru of Ganja” and a godsend to both the home growing hobbyist and the commercial grower. He has authored a dozen books on marijuana cultivation and his popular grower’s advice column Ask Ed ran in High Times for two decades and is syndicated internationally.

Here are Rosenthal’s 10 tips on “How to Grow Killer Weed,” excerpted from our book, “The Art of Doing.”

1. Know the consequences. Face it, pot isn’t legal in most places yet. There are almost a million marijuana arrests in America every year, so know your local laws, both state and county. If you get busted in Oklahoma for growing a single plant you can get two years to life. In some states a medical doctor can lose his license for cultivation. A student can lose rights to scholarships. You can even lose your driver’s license or right to vote. Ask yourself: “Is growing worth it?” The police blotter is full of stories of people who didn’t think it through. Continue reading “How to Grow Killer Weed with Ed Rosenthal”