How to Be “Eccentric” Instead of Crazy

Beethoven thrashed pianos. Van Gough sliced off his ear. Einstein smoked cigarette nubs left on the street. Pythagoras believed beans are evil. Tesla avoided touching any round-shaped object [insert dirty joke here].

I bet you’re smiling or chuckling good-naturedly. That’s because I cited some of humanity’s most revered geniuses. We all do weird stuff, and worse − we get caught, but if I told you I put a leash on my pet lobster and took it out on walk (Oscar Wilde did this) you’d say I’m plain crazy, unless I’ve earned the distinction of being eccentric.

Eccentric is the term we use for possibly mad people whose intellectual or artistic prowess warrants excusal from bizarre behavior. They get a pass. I’m not complaining, I just want in. Considering I’m a few algorithms short of genius, I’ll have to cheat. I need a surefire way to be eccentric instead of looney-bin-crazy.

In researching prolific geniuses, I noticed a trend: wild hair. Every cowboy needs a hat, a lady matches her purse with her shoes, and you can spot an eccentric genius by his wacky hairdo.

Case in point: Which of these famous conductors would you guess is also a mad genius?



Herbert von Karajan


Gustavo Dudamel

Leonard Bernstein


James Levine

Keith Lockhart

Seiji Ozawa

The answer: They all are, but only the Wild Hair Conductors look like card-carrying Mensa members. If one of the Fabulous Hair Conductors confessed to electrocuting the dinner turkey (Benjamin Franklin actually did this), you’d call him a nut job.

So it’s settled. I’m going to dye my hair a freakish shade of red (haha), and when you catch me conversing out loud with my alter ego, you’ll write it off as eccentricity.


  1. micahpersell says:

    I passionately love this post. Sadly, all of my conductors have been normal-haired. BUT I will proudly tell everyone I know you when your epic hair makes you eccentrically famous.

    • Micah, I’ve had a lot of fabulous hair conductors too. And most of them were crazy. People with wild hair seem to have all the fun, anyway. And thanks for visiting, my friend. You made my day!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I saw the San Fransisco Symphony in April, and Stephan Deneve (google picture him) was a guest conductor. I didn’t pay attention so much to his conducting style, as so much as his hair bouncing around. [and he kept running his fingers through it too… kinda gross..]

  3. Interesting. I’ve met plenty of true “nut jobs”, and plenty of eccentrics. However, never an eccentric genius. I’m not saying they don’t exist. Clearly, some, if not all of our most revered musical and artistic compositions are evidence. It’s a fine line between eccentricity and being locked up on a 72 hour legal hold. Good luck on your endeavor!

  4. I prefer the word, “quirky.” LOL

    You clearly never saw Lennie conducting anything the least bit boisterous. We would watch when I was a kid–it was distracting the way he’d go at it. His hair might have had a more conventional style at the beginning, but it flopped around like a dead gray fish in the process!

      Magdalen, you just made my day.
      And, I’m jealous. I’d give a year’s supply of chocolate to see Leornard Bernstein live in all his glory.
      Thanks for visiting my blog. Exciting to see another Firebird here!

  5. Bad hair? Check!
    Crazy behavior? Check!
    Intellectual or artistic prowess? {Crickets}

    But if I SAY I’m eccentric enough times, people will start to believe it! Right?

    Great post, Moriah!

Go ahead, tell us what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: