Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Czech Liszt

This story isn't really anything to do with betting, other than the importance of paying attention to detail perhaps, but it amused me. The book "The Checklist Manifesto" by Atul Gawande, relates how David Lee Roth of Van Halen used to insist that before all their concerts, a bowl of M&Ms (American Smarties, but not as good) be provided backstage, but with every single brown sweet removed. If this condition was not met, the band reserved the right to cancel the show with full compensation to the band.

Van Halen followed through at least once, canceling a show in Colorado when Roth found some browm M&Ms in his dressing room. But there was more to this than a celebrity going power crazy and making silly demands for the sake of it.

Roth explained in his memoir Crazy From The Heat...

...that Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We'd pull up with nine 18-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors - whether it was the girders couldn't support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren't big enough to move the gear through. The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. When I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl, well, we'd line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you'd run into a problem.
Roth's brown M&Ms were just a test.

Reminds me of my Dad and his trick of occasionally putting the toothpaste on my toothbrush for me at night without telling me. Off I went to bed, and either through laziness or forgetfulness would occasionally fail to brush my teeth, but there was the evidence when he came up later. That's probably considered abuse these days!

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