After spending time with friends in Phoenix, it was time to head west right after we made one last stop. Last November when I was fortunate enough to hang out with Jax from Sons of Anarchy (Charlie Hunnam) I met a guy named John Shope. He's the owner of Dirty Bird Concepts, a company that builds custom bikes and cars. In fact, the green bike that Charlie Hunnam rode was one of his and his shop is in Phoenix.
The past few days have been unlike any other in my entire life. It's not like I haven't riddin a Harley before. Since I was 16 I've ridden motorcycles well over 400,000 miles, been to Daytona Bike Week, Sturgis, ROT, The Lonestar Rally and many more biker events. However, this trip out west has been different. Maybe it has something to do with where I am in my life right now. Maybe it has to do with my riding partner in crime, Eric Hemati. Heck, maybe it's the simple fact that I get up every day and have no plan, no schedule and I know I can do whatever the heck I want. Whatever the reason, I am taking in every minute, every mile and every experience and enjoying one of the best trips of my life.
After stopping early Sunday night because of a storm that was headed toward us, we got up Monday and changed the plan. Instead of heading west on I-10 from Ft. Stockton, we decided to take an alternate route. After finding out Carrie, the owner of the Comanche Motel & RV Park was a Harley rider, she joined us for a breakfast burrito and rode along side us almost 60 miles to Pecos, TX.
I think I'm cool because I say pimp,
I have a tattoo of the capitol,
that doesn't mean I'm cool.
I'm a very nice man (I think) because I have a tan,
But no matter what I will always love you my babies.
I think you're pretty,
but that's not what my daughters tell me,
I still think you're sexy.
Now it's my bedtime,
I have to go and have my mommy tuck me in,
after I put lotion on my skin.
I’ve always thought from the beginning that one day this whole thing would be turned into a real life Hollywood movie. “Let’s Get Famous: The Bling Johnson Story”. I’ve always told myself and some close friends that if it did turn into a movie, it was going to be hilarious, but it was also going to be honest and real, even if that meant painting me in a bad light. Oh yeah, and I want Bradley Cooper to play me.
See, I’m just a normal guy. My real name is Lee Burnette and I work as a Social Media Strategist for a Fortune 50 company. I produce video content, write technical blogs and perform a number of “nerd” tasks from 8-5, 5 days a week. What, did you think Kid Rock’s real name is Kid Rock? It’s actually Bob Ritchie. And like Bob, what you see on stage is not always the whole story. His on stage persona is carefully crafted to be genuine, but also to entertain, similar to mine.
I got married at 24, had 3 kids and was married for 13 years. I loved it. I was a great dad, I spent time with my kids working on homework, playing with them, taking them to church and everything a normal dad should do. I loved my wife. We had our differences from time to time, but I would have taken a bullet for her, and she knew it. I had a thriving business that I built with a lot of help from a great friend and successfully stayed self-employed for 10 years. We had nice cars, a Harley, a boat, a nice house. Everything that on paper pointed to a successful life at that time.
It’s always interesting when something triggers a thought or a memory, but the trigger had nothing to do with what you ended up thinking about. This Mother’s Day I woke up at my shop, Let's Get Famous Customs, where I call home. That’s right. I live at my shop full time. I have debated getting a “real” place, but to do that would mean giving up the shop to be able to afford to do that. To be honest, I would rather continue to pay the child support that I do on time so my kids have what they need, and to me, the shop is a part of the tv show that I feel is important. So, at 40 I find myself living in a metal building with no plumbing, driving a 12 year old car, and working my butt off for every dollar I can bring in.
Now before you start feeling sorry for me, know this. I am not a victim. I am not one of those guys wishing he didn’t have to pay an ex-wife so much money. In all reality I am more content and at peace with myself than I have been my entire adult life and after a day like yesterday, I am thankful for what I do have.
I went to Central Texas Harley on Saturday for the Jaime Padron Benefit. Officer Padron was an Austin Police officer that was killed in the line of duty last month after responding to a call near Parmer & I-35. After the funeral, the police escort of his body and all the news coverage quieted down, I began to learn more details about Officer Padron, who he was & what he left behind. He was a customer of Central Texas Harley-Davidson. In fact, he had purchased two bikes from them. He was also an ex-Marine and a father of 2 beautiful young girls.
While in Las Vegas at the American Chopper Live event back in December, I saw promotions around the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for an epic show coming in February. The most notorious rock and roll band in history was playing 12 shows in 2 weeks. Mötley Crüe was taking over sin city and there was no way I was going to miss it! The "Bling Johnson Weekend of Rock" was on.
I flew into Las Vegas last Friday and met up with two of my best friends since we were kids. Chris “The Voice” Christian flew in from Austin and Wade Eggebrecht drove up from Phoenix. We were
joined by members of our Bling Johnson Show tv crew, Spenther and one of our producers, Grafton, for what was shaping up to be a
great weekend that we all needed.
We got checked into our hotel and got ready for our Friday night plans starting with one of my favorite metal bands, Steel Panther! I met these guys about a year ago when their tour manager Nick hooked me up with a backstage interview (Check out the video). I called Nick before my trip and he was nice enough to have tickets waiting for us at the door. With their brand new cd, Balls Out, Michael, Satchel, Lexxi & Styx were ready to rock the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, and they didn’t disappoint.
Blog written By Bling Johnson 1/24/2012 - Follow Bling on Twitter @BlingJohnson
Who doesn't like Taco Tuesday's during the summer at Carlos-n-Charlies on Lake Travis? Ok, maybe it's not an official weekly event, but for a few of us it was a night we would get together at the Lake, have a few margaritas and enjoy hanging out with great friends. Once we made it to the second round of drinks inevitably the ideas would start flowing.
Blog written By Bling Johnson 1/18/2012 - Follow me on Twitter @BlingJohnson
Last Saturday I got in my new 2001 Cadillac DeVille and headed out of Austin. Yes, I said I got a 2001 Cadillac! Since the 1965 Cadillac Fleetwood Limo I have at my shop is going to be a major project I knew it was time to get one that could be a daily driver. I'll talk more about it later, but just know that what is now your grandpa's 4-door luxury sedan will soon become a flat black Let's Get Famous Customs Blingmobile and will be ready for season 2!
Season 1 is a wrap! It's hard to believe 12 episodes are behind us and season 1 of The Bling Johnson Show is complete!
It wasn't that long ago after filming episode 3 that I got the call from the previous tv station letting me know that due to a scheduling change in their late night programming they would not be airing our show. I found this out just 2 days before we were set to air episode 1. A ton of money had been spent, advertisers had been lined up and expectations were high, and I didn't have a tv deal. I had spent months promoting the show, including the time and network and just like that I was back to square 1.
I'll never forget that day because that day is the day that I KNEW I was meant to be on tv. Now that might sound crazy after just getting a call from a tv station letting me know that I
wasn't going to be on tv. I got back to my shop, Let's Get Famous Customs, and setup my video camera and recorded exactly what I was feeling at that moment. While I was visibly furstrated, I also
knew that what I did from that point forward would make or break the tv show that we had worked so hard to build.
September 15, 2011 - The day I found out about the show not airing.
Blog written by Bling Johnson 12/13/2011
Let’s start with football. Yes, your switch from tight end to quarterback after leading the team in receiving yards and touchdowns your freshman year was stupid. I mean, everyone knows when you have a pulling guard, that does not mean he’s a running back and you hand the ball off to him. Everyone except you apparently. You will ride the bench for the next 3 years, but here’s something that will keep you going. After the team you’re on wins the district championship your junior year, the guy who made fun of you the most for your lack of playing time for years will write you a hand written letter. In that letter he will tell you how you inspired him for years because no matter how many games went by that you didn’t play in, you worked harder than anyone else on the team and your heart and passion for the game is something he wishes he had. He will let you know that your involvement in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and commitment to God made him want to be a better person. He will apologize for ever making fun of you. This is just the beginning of the challenges you will face where you never gave up.
The car detailing business you are about to start up next year will teach you what business is all about. You will work your butt off on Saturday’s from 6am until midnight while your friends are
out having fun but the lessons you will learn will forge you into the man that you will soon become. Your Dad will get a job in Orlando before your senior year of high school and you will move
away from your friends in Houston. Do me a favor. When you get to Florida don’t give your parents a hard time about having to move. They have and will continue to show you what
unconditional love is all about. And guess what, you will be faced with the same situation with your kids. We’ll touch on that in a minute.
You will begin dating a beautiful girl and she is everything you have ever been looking for. You’ll date her for a year and a half and even talk about marriage…until she nails 3 dudes in 3 weeks and your world falls apart. That hole you feel in your stomach, it will go away. And that time you spend living with Mammaw during college, cherish it. I know she will try to guilt you in to never leaving the house, but she loves you like few others ever will. When she dies in a few years, you’ll wish she was there to guilt you into staying in on a Friday night so you could talk to her and give her a hug.
You will start working at a jewelry store and work your way up to becoming the youngest manager in the company history. One day you’ll be working and a pretty girl will walk in and complain about a repair on her bracelet that wasn’t done properly. Don’t feel bad if you creep her out by calling her after getting her phone number off the repair ticket. That’s just weird dude. But it turned out to be a smart move. You’ll date her for a year and a half and get married. You’ll start a website development business and talk your best friend into moving to Florida to help you build the business. Here’s a word of advice: make paying him on time a MUCH bigger priority that you think you should.
That wife of yours will give you 3 beautiful kids. Taylor, Jordan & Blake will change your life forever and will introduce you to the kind of love that your parents have for you. They will think you’re crazy half the time, but they love you and you are a great dad. Your business will be going well and your dream of buying a big house will finally come true. You’ll pay $575,000 for it and you’ll think you’ve finally achieved success. Let me explain something to you. After the second month of making a gigantic house payment you’ll be sitting there one night watching tv after everyone goes to bed. The pressure of what you got yourself into will hit you and you’ll get emotional. That’s ok. We all make mistakes and it’s better to realize that sooner rather than later because it still gives you time to fix it. If it makes you feel better when you sell the house back to the builder who owned it, he’ll respect you for being up front with him and getting out before he gets hurt by it. And guess what, he sells it 15 days later for $25,000 more than you bought it for and will think that you are a stand-up guy. Good part about that is you’ll start seeing him at the gym you work out in pretty soon. Be glad you treated him right.
You’ll move to a much smaller house, you’ll fix it up and make it a home. You’ll learn what contentment is all about. Two years will go by and this is where it gets interesting. The business you’ve worked so many years on gets a couple big players that start competing with you. In less than a year you’ll lose most of your customer base and you will be in serious financial trouble. You won’t have enough money to pay your bills, and you’ll lose your house to foreclosure. You’ll have some serious marriage issues that you’ll be faced with and everything you thought you knew really isn’t what you thought. Just when you feel like you’re at the bottom, you have some great childhood friends that help get you a job in Austin. When you get the job offer, don’t be prideful because you think you’re worth more. TAKE THE JOB! You’ll excel in your role there and will regain the financial stability that you lost.
You and your wife of 13 years will decide that it’s time to get divorced. In this case it’s not about giving up, it’s about changing direction. It will be ok. When she moves back to Florida with the kids, you’ll be back there once a month for 2 years. You will be glad you did because your kids will have NO DOUBT that you love them and WANT to be a great father to them.
You’ll start making videos for this thing on the “internet” called “YouTube”. Might not make sense now, but this will change your life and the lives of many others. Now you do a lot of stupid things during this phase of your life and I can’t save you from everything, so I’ll just point out a couple of them. First, the girl you start hanging out with who says she works for a major magazine in Manhattan and travels to Austin all the time to help run the 12 salons her mother willed to her when she passed away of cancer last year. Yeah, she’s nuts. She lives in Dallas with her mom who is ALIVE and works at the mall. Enjoy that time though. She’s crazy fun! And the episode that you called “The Drinking Experiment”, this one will create a firestorm. I’m not saying don’t do it, because to this day I still think it’s one of the funniest videos you ever did. But when your middle girl Jordan calls you from Florida after watching it crying because she thinks your life is spiraling out of control, you might want to re-think how you edit it. And the text disclaimer you put on the beginning of that show saying that the following video is not representative of how you live your everyday life, yeah, APPARENTLY NO ONE WILL READ THAT!
3 years after losing your house, losing your wife and kids, feeling like your life was in pieces, a crazy thing will happen. Those “YouTube” videos I told you about will make people laugh and you’ll start getting people following you on a new social media internet thing called “Facebook” and “Twitter”. The momentum you will build will get the attention of a tv station and you’ll get your own tv show. Always remember that the friends that help you build the show into what it is are extremely special. You will highlight Austin, the music scene and the venues that provide a place for these artists to play. You will inspire people, you will help people in need, you will represent hope for so many people. The kind of hope that 3 years earlier you couldn’t see for your own life. The ONLY way all of these things will happen in your life is if you keep pushing forward.
Good luck over the next number of years and if you only remember one thing I’ve said in this letter, remember this: NEVER GIVE UP!