I didn't write yesterday, or even Sunday night, about my impressions of the Super Bowl or the massive hype leading up to it.
I haven't watched the game for a number of years because it was being aired on the Fox Network. I don't want to give my money (in the form of eyeballs) to any entity in any form that supports the anti-democratic, anti-truth, anti-Black, anti-woman, anti-choice agenda as Fox does. It's a small sacrifice not to watch a game that everyone else is watching. My recently deceased friend, Fred, chastised me for my Old Testament stiff-neckedness. "Life's too short," he would say "to hold such a grudge." My rejoinder was always the same, and as usual, antipodal. "Life's too long not to hold a grudge."
But I watched the game on Sunday night, even though I had already seen most of the commercials and further seen them hyped by friends and connections who were involved. I am friendly with a lot of Key Grips.
The idea of showing a commercial before the game seems to me the very definition of a let-down. It's like getting a couple thousand hours of sex-tape video before going to see a strip tease. As John Keats wrote over two centuries ago in "Ode on a Grecian Urn,"
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on
In other words, never, even if you're in advertising, overlook the value of a build up. Or as Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) said in the baseball picture, "Bull Durham," "A guy will listen to anything if he thinks it's foreplay."
Of course, while the game was on, my mind was in a million and one other, quieter places. It might be a function of my ever-advancing years, but I am more and more annoyed every day with the noise of our turned-up-to-11 universe.
I more-than-half expected Russia to invade Ukraine during the game knowing full well that 99-percent of all Americans, including NBC and every advertiser would not break away from the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy-Bowl to an event of ostensible global importance. First off, about three-in-four Americans think Ukraine is the first-name of a Jamaican Olympic champion, and the other quarter don't want to miss a spot for spicy red hot nachomachochitaritas.
I turned the game off at half-time with the distinct feeling that while the world is too much with me and I am no longer in the world. I know more about Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh than Mary J. Blige, and when commercials for drugs on TV tell me to "ask my doctor," I'm sure they don't mean Dr. Dre.
I am reading now a very impressive book called "Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages." If you can't bear the thought of spending the next month or so reading an important book, at least take three minutes and read the review. You'll learn something about the world--both the Middle Age world and our world today that could shock you into living more mindfully--or at least with more awareness. In any event, I practically guarantee you'll get more out of half-an-hour spent with the book or review than you would from a similar 30 minutes spent with a bag of spicy red hot nachomachochitaritas.
The point today is a simple yet complex one. Most of life--most of our battles, struggles, trends, ideas, loves and hates have happened before. History lays them out in front of us for us to learn from. And because human influence on this dusty sphere is very short, nothing is long ago and nothing is far away. There's nothing that we can't learn from if we don't take a moment and push away from the soul-sucking noise of modern life.
That's the thing about reading--whatever it is you decide to read. It is, intellectually, semiotically and otherwise, a pushing-back from the moment. That pushing back can be called distance or perspective. It's what we too seldom give ourselves when we are looking at a contemporary happening or need to make a quick decision. Most offices, agencies or otherwise, actually discourage the taking of a walk to anything that would allow you to make a decision less snappily.
For me, I try to breathe. I like to walk Whiskey and skip stones in the sea. Maybe I drink a glass of cold seltzer, read a bit, talk to a friend or do some sort of puzzle.
Whatever it is, a moment to think, quietly, is usually good.
Back to advertising. Coca-Cola used to call it "The Pause that Refreshes."
I'd bring back that slogan.
BTW, if the highest praise in advertising is "I wish I did that ad," I'm not sure I saw anything last night that made me think that. There was no zigging--except maybe Coin Base--amid the hundreds of zags. No one who opted to do something different, classy or--the point of advertising on the Super Bowl--something big.
What's more, as Spencer Tracy said to Ernest Borgnine in one of my favorite movies, "Bad Day at Black Rock," "You're not only wrong, you're wrong at the top of your voice." Everything was too loud, as well.