John Waters gave the 2015 commencement address as RISD and CRUSHED IT

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“Make something that will make even Pink Flamingos forgettable!”

(Also, I think that’s supposed to be “at” in the headline.)


I was there for the graduation (my daughter, the painter!). Waters’ address was terrific. Not only did it inspire the graduates, the really amazing part was the reaction of some parents and grandparents attending. Not at all what they expected.

I attended a party for another graduate after. Virtually all of the adults were expressing grave concern for these graduates. When I expressed both pride and admiration for the graduates and strong optimism for their future most just shook their heads and commented that they didn’t know how they’d ever get a real job.

To which, I pointed out, there are no safe jobs or careers anymore. Better to be in the arts. And, as it is often pointed out, RISD grads are some of the top creative problem solvers in almost every industry and business.


Congratulations to the both of you!


My other daughter, the eldest, is a jazz musician.

My wife worries about both, but I don’t. Then again, I have an MFA in playwrighting and spent my career in tech.

I could listen to Waters read the phone book, but listening to him give a speech that has substance and is inspiring just fills me with inexpressible joy.


The most successful people I’ve met in either very analytical or very creative fields, have been brain-side ambidextrous.

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'rents and gran’parents – not what they expected in a positive way or negative?

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My parents made me feel safe…

So that explains everything. Bring me my car antenna.

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