Friday, January 28, 2011

"Days of Wonder"

Full Disclosure:  This posting is a replacement for a posting I was going to post, but decided instead to delete.  The other one was too gloomy. 

Sometimes, you can’t help that.  Everything you write, or at least everything I write, or at least everything I write in a blog, is a direct reflection of your – my – inner…weather pattern.  You feel gloomy, you write gloomy.  But you duzzn’t has ta publish it.  Who wants to read “gloomy”? 

I choose instead to look out the window, on a mint perfect January day in Southern California.  And to be reminded, of how, on many a similar sparkling January day not that long ago, I could be found, camped out on the steps of the Writers’ Building at The Mary Tyler Moore Company, dressed in a t-shirt, cut-off jeans shorts and sandals, armed with a ballpoint pen, yellow legal pad and a clipboard

…working on a script.

These were truly the most glorious days of them all.  The days of wonder.  (The days of younger.)  The days of illusion.  The days when a just-starting writer could feel blissfully content being exactly where he wanted to be – writing for the best show on television, and getting a tan in January.

The Mary Tyler Moore Company was industry-famous for insulating its “creatives” from the lacerating incursions of network interference, primarily through the crisis-deflecting auspices of company president, Grant Tinker. 

Compounding this feeling of protection were my bosses, who restricted my activities to only what I enjoyed and was good at – writing scripts – free from the stress and messiness of temperamental actors and debilitating late nights. 

No overwhelming pressure, no “crisis of the moment”-inducing stomach aches.  I was the luckiest guy around.  I just wrote, and went home. 

Later, as my duties and my paycheck expanded – the former still unthreatening to my sensibilities, the latter barely noticeable on the budget – I giddily retained my excitement.  On the occasions when I was required to attend runthroughs (rehearsals), while some writers would walk from the office to the (sound)stage, and others climbed into available golf carts, I alone

Would run down to the stage. 

(Or at least as close to running as a non-running person can run.)

I could not wait to get down there.

When asked “How are you doing?”, my inevitable response was an irrepressible,

“Happy to be here.”

One of my bosses, seasoned and battle-scarred, seemed particularly offended by my Gomer Pyle-ish “Gawww-lee” enthusiasm, whining, whenever it flared up, ”Enough with the shitkicker routine!”

But I couldn’t turn it off.  Because it was real.

Later, as a warm-up man, unpolished and entirely lacking in jokes, I faced an audience of strangers coming to see the show with nothing but my “happy to be here” mentality and made them happy to be there too.  It was a powerful experience.  The feeling was infectious.  And the “carrier” was me.

As a chronicler, it is difficult to leave the story there, unturned and incomplete.  But I think I will anyway.

It’s what I need today.  And on this blog, if nowhere else, it’s not Tony Danza, and it’s not Judith Light. 

On this blog, readers and commenters,

I’m the Boss. 


Gary said...

Yes, you are, Boss Blog, which is probably a little too close to The Dukes of Hazard. Want to ask you a MTM-related question. When Hot in Cleveland had its 2nd season premier, MTM was a guest star. I really don't think the show was funny in the 3 or 4 episodes I sat through during their first season, but having MTM reunite with Betty White, I thought the 2nd season might at least start better. It didn't. However, Mary used a line straight from the premier episode of her own show. It was the "you've got spunk"..."I hate spunk!"...bit. When someone takes as little as 2 lines, do they have to get permission from the original show's owner? I assume that Mary has the rights to her shows, tho that is an assumption. It was, of course, the best part of the show. However, having Mary in jail just didn't fly. No matter what they name her in Cleveland, she's Mary Richards, and she would not be in jail. Rhoda, maybe, but not Mary. (I didn't watch the whole show, so I did not see the end credits which might have told me the answer to my question.)

Max Clarke said...

Thanks for the memory.

I don't care for gloomy, and I almost never read rants. This was good.

I've had days of wonder like that, and even decades later, there is something magical about the feeling.