Thursday, April 4, 2019

"The Day The Music Died"

My late Uncle Irving had this saying.  He’d say,

“There are “Takers”, and there are “Mis-takers.”

Though I am not entirely sure what he meant, and felt in no position – an “equal footing” position – to query my Uncle Irving at the time, what I have assumed he meant was was that there are people – the “Takers” – who believe in unfettered self-interest and will do whatever it takes to achieve it – while the “Mis-takers” are mistakenly unaware that “Dog Eat Dog” is the only participating game in town.

(Alternate Interpretation:  Mis-takers” try to be “Takers” but they’re not good at it.  Making them miss “Takers”, as it were.  My Uncle Irving’s now gone, so I cannot ask him to adjudicate.)

Anyway, I talked yesterday about Elizabeth Holmes, an arguable textbook “Taker”, who, through audacity, passion and outright deceit, built a large business on an invention that proved, in actual practice, not to work.  Instructed to cease and desist, she gave it a new name, and kept pitching.  (That is one ballsy zealot.)

This led me to speculate briefly about “Big Business”, and if they all lie, cheat and outrightly deceive.  To which my conclusion was, “I hope not.”  Though I was typing with faint ink.

How did I get like that?

I don’t know.

Probing the hinterland of personal experience, I have no direct evidence of blatant corporate malfeasance.  Throughout my career, when people promised to pay me, they paid me, and not a penny less than they promised.  (Not a penny more either, but come on.)

It is my understanding that studios have, in fact, done fiscal disservice to their creative partners, padding production expenses to deny profit participation, and selling syndicated series to their own subsidiaries (preventing “highest bidder” possibilities.)  True, there is Major Dad’s failing “Drive to Profitability” but, overall, I have no serious complaints.

Still, I have this unshakable feeling that things are not right.

And not just in “Big Business.”  (Complete “The system is broken” list available on request.)

There was, however, a particular moment, reflected by the allusion in today’s title – take a moment to look up – that set me down in the dumps from which I never completely climbed out.  (And not just because corroborating evidence has piled up in the interim.)

On the same page as the article about the HBO documentary on Elizabeth Holmes (“The Inventor”) – that’s funny; I just mistakenly typed “The Imposter” – there was a review of a new ABC courtroom drama, mentioning that the co-creator of that debuting series is Marcia Clark, lead prosecutor on the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial, which she lost.

Did you hear a big “Thud” triggered by that harrowing reminder?

I did. 

Looking back – and without question – I ascribe the startling outcome of the O.J. Simpson trial to be, identifiably for me,

“The Day The Music Died.”

I remember it vividly.   Such was its devastating effect. 

After months of watching the proceedings, I stood – I was watching on a treadmill – shocked and dumbfounded, as the jury foreperson announced that a demonstrably guilty person was, by their deliberative determination, “Not Guilty.”

In front of millions of people and possibly the world, justice had unequivocally not prevailed in that trial.

Which put me irretrievably down for the count.

In the end, the jury was unable to accept that a detective could be racist and the defendant could still be guilty of two murders.

And with that decision, the wind went gut-punchingly out of my sails.  (Retaining the boxing metaphor and adding a nautical one to the mix.)

Maybe I’m wrong.  Or hypersensitive.  Or a congenital “Mis-Taker.”

But in that stunning, memorable moment,

I lost half of my smile.

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