Several years ago I had lunch with an 8-year-old named Spencer and his father, Ron. We were at an outdoor restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, and one of that town’s favorite sons, jazz musician Ben Sidran, sat at a nearby table. Ron urged Spencer—who has Asberger’s Syndrome, a milder form of autism—to get Sidran’s autograph, and Sidran, accustomed to such requests, gladly obliged. But when he handed the autograph back to the boy, Spencer scolded, “Not your name. Mine!” After regaining his composure, the musician scribbled out his own name and rewrote the boy’s.
Four or five years ago, inspired by Spencer’s impromptu deconstruction of celebrity, I began asking artists, writers and political figures to sign my autograph. So far more than 70 celebrities have taken part, including Yoko Ono, Studs Terkel, Frank Gehry, the late Paul Wellstone, Jesse Ventura, Pat Buchanan, James Brown, Wim Wenders, Noam Chomsky, and Dan Castellenata (the voice of Homer Simpson).
Autograph Project: Hello, My Name Is...
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