Monthly Archives: May 2015

Electric Word, Life

 

May 24, 2015

Welcome, friends, family, friends of family. Dearly Beloved:

We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.

That line comes courtesy of Prince and Annetta. When I asked the couple what they’d like in their vows, Annetta quipped that the first thing that came to mind was the opening line to Prince’s song, Let’s Go Crazy (which just also happens to be one of Spencer’s life mottos).

But when you think about it, Annetta and Prince have a point. The next line in that song begins “Electric word, life…”

Life is electric. For what are we, but bundles of energy and stardust, as brilliant and abundant as the heavens above?

And in those heavens — scientists say once every 500 years — two stars hurtling through the cosmos will brush by one another. And their gravitational force will commence a circular dance, as each draws nearer the other. And at that moment of contact, the supernova will emit as much energy as every star in the universe, combined.

Seasoned love is like that.

Certainly, new love is a miracle. It’s bold, adventurous, fearless in the leap.

It is also distracted by shiny things, startled by sudden sounds, frozen in rough waters. That’s why it’s called puppy love.

Seasoned love is a more profound and rare phenomenon. 

Like those hurtling stars, seasoned love joins two established worlds, already anchoring a solar system of friends and family, work and home.

But true seasoned love makes a choice. A choice to blend planets, share moons and swap shooting stars. If a supernova is one every 500,  seasoned love — true seasoned love  — has got to be one in a million.

We saw this dawn approach. We heard them  say, ‘I’m going on a date.’

Then it was, ‘I liked that. I think we’ll see each other again.’

Then, ‘This could be something.’

spence and annetta day

We saw their worlds change. Soon, they spoke in the collective. ‘We are taking a trip. We are going on vacation. We are moving in. We are getting married.”

And here we are, to witness their new daybreak.

May we please have the rings?

Much has been made of the symbology of rings. And who are we to question the poets?

But, if you catch them in the right light, you can’t help but notice how much they look like little stars we wear, within reach of our hearts.

Annetta:

Do you choose Spencer?

To be the sun to his shine?

To be the good to his night?

To be the heart to his beat?

Do you choose Spencer to get through this thing called life?

Spencer:

Do you choose Annetta?

To be the sun to her shine?

To be the good to her night?

To be the heart to her beat?

Do you choose Annetta to get through this thing called life?

By the power vested in me by the state of Arkansas — and by the power vested in you by the gravitational force of love — I now pronounce you husband and wife.

(plant a smooch)

Ladies and gentleman:

Spencer and Annetta Tirey

spence and anneta night

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I’d Like to Teach the World to Sting

 

Warning: spoilers and curves ahead

Mad Men was a profound show that flirted with a profound ending.

Instead, it chose a mildly ambiguous one. Which, by today’s standards, could qualify as profound.

But you couldn’t help but feel unfulfilled by the final chapter of the eight-year odyssey of Don Draper. The slick adman and reality escape artist was grinning like Buddha at show’s final scene, having come up with the ad pitch of all ad pitches: the I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke jingle.

Don-Draper-AMC-Buddha2

Much hay has been made over the finale (sorry, Don, there’s no escaping your farm roots), which has been heaped with praise for neatly wrapping characters’ story lines and giving viewers the Matt Weiner sendoff we never got in The Sopranos. And no finale ruins the legacy of a series (look at M*A*S*H*, or Seinfeld, or any series finale).

But just as Tony Soprano’s final scene remains under-appreciated (in a television first, the viewer got whacked), Mad Men‘s final episode has attracted fawning like a gleaming blue Cadillac; it’s over-praise, and fleeting.

The problem may have been in the show’s genius concept: How the appearance of happiness often trumps the appreciation of it.

And for eight years, Weiner and writers took an unflinching look at that inner-conflict, creating one of the most complex anti-heroes in television history in Draper (played with deft narcissism by Jon Hamm). His was a protagonist capable of great nobility — and unspeakable trespasses.

Which is why Mad Men shouldn’t have ended on a punchline, however brilliant.

And there’s no arguing the cleverness of the joke. The real ad was conceived by the minds at McCann-Erickson in 1971. Draper was working for McCann-Erickson on the show, which also had reached 1971. And Mad Men can perhaps boast a television first: the only series to end on a commercial. Normally they’re followed by one.

But the real ambiguity of Mad Men is not in the finale’s contents, but its intent. What are we to make of Don’s last smile? That it takes a human touch to be a good salesman? That work can’t equal happiness? Or can it? That, if you run fast enough from your past, you can start over?

Perhaps Weiner telegraphed the ending in the opening graphics of the series eight years ago. Every week, the show began on a familiar graphic: A suited man, plummeting from a skyscraper hued by womens’ silhouettes, only to land neatly on a couch, still coiffed, cigarette perfectly in place. Maybe that was the setup to the punchline.

We may never know, which may be the point. Or perhaps the show ended on a punchline that Weiner had in mind years before the show’s final bow (he said often that he knew how he wanted the series to end).

Either way, there was no shaking the sense that we’d just seen a great sales pitch. And like most ads, the promise is far more grand than the payoff.

 

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New and Improved! Civil Rights 2.0 (Brought to You By Intel)

 

By circumstance and TV viewing habits, I’ve been particularly attuned to the advertising world of late. And while I still believe corporations will be the ruination of America (we seem to have forgotten that money burns), business may be unintentionally performing a public good.

Consider: Three years ago, six states recognized gay marriage.  Today, it’s 36 — plus D.C. And while the Supreme Court weighs the issue on the federal level, its eventual success, regardless of the conservative slackwits on the bench, is certain.

That’s because American business has deemed it so. Years before politicians, corporate brain trusts from Hollywood  to GM to Apple recognized the gay community. Not out of a sense of altruism or fairness. But as a business strategy; gay  Americans statistically form a powerful financial demographic. From Will & Grace,  Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, even as far back as Three’s Company, Hollywood embraced the corporate notion that there is one gender symbol: $.

That’s a powerful concept, one that recognizes the right of all Americans to spend freely, regardless of what your religious pamphlet says. Other businesses quickly followed suit.

Witness what happened in March in Indiana, where the huckleberries passed a bill permitting god-fearing shop owners to refuse service to the godless.

indiana

Business saw clear past this ruse, recognizing it as a weapon against gays (or any group Indiana representatives deigned loathsome, for that matter). Businesses, including the NCAA, which held its Final Four in Indianapolis, threatened to boycott the state. Apple said not only that it wouldn’t recognize the law; it would rethink opening new business in the state of hayseeds. “Lawmakers” quickly backed down, redacting the most offensive language. Hopefully, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi witnessed that on their World Wide Intertubes.

The original (and ongoing) civil rights battle didn’t have the backing of corporate America. If anything, corporate America was fine with discriminating against black Americans. It even worked racism into the business model, in the form of segregated bar stools, bathrooms, beaches and busses. Even today, analysts seemed stunned by how well entertainment sells in the “urban market.”

segregation

But, in addition to one gender, money sees one race: Patent Green. And money is just fine with gay marriage, transgendered customers, minority businesses and godless entrepreneurs. Hell, money even digs potheads: Colorado, which just legalized marijuana, reported a tax windfall of $53 million last year in weed revenues. It ain’t perfect, but at least it ain’t politics.

So pack that in your bong and blaze, Moral Majority diehards, and get used to domestically-partnered next door neighbors. You’re about to turn all colors of the rainbow as you blend into green.

Still, some things businesses can’t seem to advance. I just saw a commercial for Trident, which is still clinging to its “One out of every five dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.”

Who, exactly, is that fifth dentist? A pawn in the Bubble Yum lobby? Come on, Trident. Only 80%? You’re doing the polling — of puppets. You’d think you could do better than a B-.

dentists

 

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