Sometimes, you just happen to see the right movie at the right moment in your life. Pretty much everything in the world was up in the air for me in late 2000—from where I'd move, to what I'd do with myself once I got there. And then I saw Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe's semi-autographical film about becoming a journalist in the 1970s.

For most people, Almost Famous is about the excess and outrageousness of the '70s, based on Crowe's real-life experiences touring with bands like The Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin. And there are some excellent Quaaluded-up rockers jumping-from-the-roof-of-the-hotel-into-a-pool scenes! But I identified with Crowe's on-screen persona. In 2000 I was just starting to decide what to do with my life—I was leaving school and I was pretty sure I wanted to be a writer, but had no idea what that meant. The real world was looking damn scary.

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Suddenly I got to watch the ideal career path unfold on the screen before me: Here's a kid with no experience and no connections, who got to travel all over the country, cover his favorite bands, and get mentored by legendary rock journalist Lester Bangs, played by a righteously cranky Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was all because of his passion for what he was writing about. Even better, it was all real: Crowe had his first story published in Rolling Stone at age 16.

The next year, I landed in LA determined to make it as a writer. But I had a clear idea now for what I needed to do. All I had to do was follow the stories I loved—find those bands I wanted to ride in a bus with, if you will—and the words would guide me somewhere good. [Netflix]


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