I didn't grow up thinking I'd write for a living. I didn't study writing in college. I barely went to college, actually. By the time I was in my 30's, I'd been working in the health insurance industry for ten years and figured I'd spend the rest of my days there. It wasn't until I submitted my first pitch for a Cracked article on a total drunken whim back on Thanksgiving Day of 2007 that I realized I might have some other options in life. I immediately set about trying to turn being published on Cracked into something more, and by 2010, I'd quit my day job entirely and was writing full-time.
And my life has been mostly this ever since.
And you can do it too! I mean, maybe you can. It's not a guarantee, that's for damn sure. Some people are just born to dick joke, you know? Still, I'm definitely not the only person who figured out what to do with their life well after the point where you're supposed to have figured that kind of thing out. We talk about some of the more famous examples on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
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Like so many rappers before him, Action Bronson spent some time as a petty criminal before finally finding his true calling in life ... gourmet chef. After working in his father's restaurants for a few years, he took the plunge and enrolled in culinary school at Art Institute of America in 2004. From there, he filled his days and pockets by making a name for himself in the kitchens of New York City. He even had his own YouTube cooking show called Action In The Kitchen.
His career path changed on January 30, 2011, when he fell and broke his ankle outside a restaurant he'd been working at. Unable to stand long enough to work in the kitchen, he did the only other thing a person in that situation can do to make money. He started rapping.
Understand, I don't mean he'd been pursuing rap on the side and was finally motivated to go at it full-time. No, he had not rapped once in his entire life. It was something he'd always kind of fantasized about, but he was afraid he'd look stupid if he tried. This was just a little over four years ago. Since then, he's had a career's worth of releases credited to his name, including four mixtapes, two EPs, and three studio albums, one of them being his major label debut, Mr. Wonderful, which came out this past March.
Moving on to a new day job hasn't diminished Action Bronson's love of food in the slightest, though. The last half of the music video for his song "Strictly 4 My Jeeps" is mostly just footage of him whipping up the most elaborate cookout meal imaginable.
Pairs well with copious amounts of weed.
He also spends his downtime on tour filming a new cooking show called Fuck, That's Delicious, all while earning a reputation as one of the wildest live performers working today, mostly on the strength of his habit of clotheslining anyone who jumps onstage uninvited.
All that said, he was born in 1983, so it's not like he was that old when he gave up cooking for rapping. For proof that you can change your path in life at damn near any age, look no further than ...
The artist the world came to know as "Grandma Moses" was born Anna Mary Robertson way back in 1860, and for the first 76 years of her life, she barely did anything art-related at all with her time. She dabbled in needlepoint like so many other grannies before her, but it wasn't competition level or anything.
Yes, of course competition needlepoint exists.
After arthritis made holding a needle far too painful, her sister casually suggested she take a shot at painting. She did, and goddamn did she get into it. In a few months, she had too many paintings to just keep them lying around the house, so she started selling them off for three or five dollars each. Some of her work eventually ended up on display in the window of a drug store in a tiny town in upstate New York. They mostly just gathered dust until a NYC art collector named Louis Caldor spotted them during a trip through town in 1938. He bought them all.
He was so impressed he vowed to make her famous, and immediately set about shopping her work around to various exhibits and galleries. Grandma Moses was 78 years old at the time.
With the way she paints, I wouldn't have guessed she was a day over 65!
It was slow going initially, but her first break came when three of her paintings were featured in a display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1939. She made her public gallery debut a year later at Galerie St. Etienne. By the middle of the decade, her work had been displayed in 30 states and ten European nations and, against all odds, Grandma Moses was an international celebrity.
Interestingly, she was also one of the earliest beneficiaries of the dawning of the technological age. Her work, mostly pictures of fields and barns and whatnot, lent itself perfectly to greeting cards and poster-sized reprints, which she sold in huge numbers. Even better, in a rare twist on the usual artist story, she lived to the ripe old age of 101, giving her plenty of time to enjoy all that cash.