It seems the most prolific, legendary artists have one trait that unites them: at some point in their lives, they go crazy. Sometimes they OD; sometimes they just become incomprehensible to friends and family. It’s sad, sure, but it makes for a hell of a read. Who wants to hear that Brian Wilson had a successful career as a brilliant musician before settling down with a wife and kids in Connecticut? That’s a horribly written ending. Boring. No, we want to read that after producing what is arguably the best album of all time, Brian Wilson does every drug on the planet, fries his brain, balloons up to 300 pounds, loses nearly every member of his family and becomes completely inarticulate and incoherent. That’s just a good story. I can’t wait for my own awful decent into insanity. I’ll tell people I can turn things on with my mind. I’ll go out in public in my robe and attempt to sell vitamins to strangers. I’ll have elephants delivered to my house via helicopter. But as fun as all that sounds, it’s not that easy. If you’re not careful, you could go from enigmatic artist to irrational bum in seconds. In order to go insane successfully, there are a few points to ponder. There’s no way around it— you need money. If they didn’t have money, Howard Hughes, Marlon Brando, and Syd Barret would’ve just been eccentric assholes.

But since they didn’t have to worry about their next meal, they had the freedom to let themselves go. What a great phrase, to let oneself “go”. It’s always used in reference to either going crazy or getting fat. Because that’s our natural inclination. To be nuts and obese. In fact, money may be the only factor stopping me from letting myself go: the fact that I have to show up for work and I only have so many sick days. I have about four sick days. That’s really not enough to go insane and recover in time to report back to work. Sure, you can trip on acid or whatever for a couple of days and go back to work like nothing happened, but I’m not talking about a vacation. I’m talking full on, no holds barred insanity for the rest of your life. Which brings us to the next question, do you get there with or without an excessive amount of drugs? Most people just aren’t fucked up enough naturally to go crazy without them. Which is fine, but once you enter that realm, it’s a whole new lifestyle. You’ll be introduced to drugs you’ve never even heard of. And at that point, you have to do them, because you’re crazy. Insanity and drugs is a dangerous combo. Many brilliant madmen have OD’ed or killed themselves in a drug-induced frenzy. Personally, I don’t think I want to die that way. I plan on riding the crazy wave as long as possible, then going out via plane crash.

Also, in going insane, you must possess a willingness to completely sacrifice your dignity. There’s no coming back from whipping yourself bloody with a belt in the middle of the Sunset Strip. Once you make the decision, it’s a commitment. You will say things you never thought you’d say. You will sign your name as “poo poo”. You will pay McDonald’s employees to throw cheeseburgers onto your lawn. Your insanity will intimidate even the likes of Iggy Pop. Fuck running for office, you’ll probably never be allowed to vote again. And even if you feel a stint of clarity, you’ll still have to feign insanity just to keep up with your persona of being totally gone. Because if people think there’s still some reason in you, there’s no way you’ll be tolerated or endeared. But of course it’s worth it. I mean, there’s becoming a legend, of course. But there are other benefits. For one, you’ll never again have to deal with people you don’t like. You don’t like a person? You accidentally forget your lunch date with them. You’re insane, who’s going to complain? Crazy people really do take these things for granted. It all sounds quite simple, but there is one last, defining factor that one must take into consideration before falling into the depths of insanity. You must have accomplished something. And no, I’m not talking about the op-ed piece you did for your college newspaper.

It’s gotta be something big. It has to be so big, in fact, that you never need to accomplish anything ever again. Brian Wilson made Pet Sounds when he was 24. Elvis was simply referred to as “The King”. No amount of persistence or creativity they had could top what they did. And they didn’t need to. Once you reach the top, you have two choices. You can enjoy the ride downhill by finding a loyal, loving spouse and settling down in the suburbs, or you can go magnificently and blissfully insane.

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