Wednesday, May 27, 2015

18 and Counting

At last report, there were eighteen declared candidates for the Republican Party's nomination for President of the United States; more seem to be entering the campaign every twenty minutes. The Democrats are still dominated by Mrs. Clinton, but a couple of surprise candidacies have been announced, and, as many have ruefully learned, in politics anything can happen. Debates in the U.S. will begin in August, which means fourteen months of political drama not as good as "House of Cards."

Best comment so far comes from Michael Kinsley in the current issue of Vanity Fair: "Being a moron isn't necessarily a disqualification for becoming president."

Meanwhile, on our home and native turf, it is unsure whether we'll have debates at all. The only people really enjoying the pre-campaign campaign are the parties' advertising agencies. Did we see Don Draper sipping a Martini with Stephen Harper? And then later at a retro disco with Elizabeth May?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Happy Birthday, Miles

If Miles Davis were still with us, he would be eighty-nine years old today. Of course, Miles is still as close as your CD player, on discs reaching from his early days as a sideman with Charlie Parker through the classic sessions with Gil Evans and his big hit--"Kind of Blue"--to his fusion years.

A most interesting man on various levels--his sense of fashion, for example. Like Fred Astaire, who sometimes wore a necktie as a belt, Miles invented his own style. He liked to box, which isn't surprising; what is surprising is that he rode horses on an Arkansas ranch his family owned. (He grew up in East St. Louis, where an early teacher, before he set off for Juilliard and 52nd street, was Clark Terry.)

Miles played Vancouver twice, first at Howie Bateman's Inquisition Coffee House. He drove up from San Francisco, and had Howie meet him at the border to guide him in. It would have been fine to have seen Howie's Morris Minor leading Miles's Maserati.

The second time he played Vancouver was during Expo '86. His band was cooking on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage when Wynton Marsalis, carrying his horn, thought he would join in. Miles requested that Wynton please leave the stage, although those may not have been his exact words.

Final favorite Miles Davis story: Riding to Kennedy Centre to receive an award, he found himself sharing the stretch limo with another award recipient and that person's wife, who smiled sweetly and said,"Your mammy must be very proud." Miles's response is unrecorded, but we believe the poor lady said not another word that night.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Shoes & Socks

News that the Cannes Film Festival has barred women from formal functions unless they are wearing high heels ("Birkenstocks, Gwyneth? Flip-flops, Meryl? Get outa here") reminded us of a day at Vancouver Life magazine when the manager insisted all male employees wear black or charcoal grey socks.

Then, to be sure his dictum was obeyed, he sent his secretary to check. It was a surprise to many of us to find this young woman crawling under desks to inspect men's ankles.

I believe one salesman was in danger of firing for wearing Argyles.

Monday, May 11, 2015

And now--heeere's Elizabeth!

Elizabeth May, despite having won the leadership of Canada's Green Party and becoming the country's second Green Member of Parliament, obviously felt that wasn't enough, and at the annual Press Gallery dinner attempted to reinvent herself as Janis Joplin.

No hook being handy to drag her off stage, the organizers sent Lisa Raitt instead.

But many viewers were favorably impressed, among them the booking agent for the River Rock Casino, who said, "We were hoping to get Sarah Silverman, but now we're going for Elizabeth May."

Ms. May later was contrite and repentant and offered explanations--"Must've been the flu, or maybe somebody dropped something in my kale smoothie." Still, she is determined to take her place in television's pre-election leadership debates.

Reporter: "Ms. May, despite this embarrassing incident, you're still planning to participate in the leadership debates?"

Ms. May: "#$*&*+$ right!"

Monday, May 4, 2015

Names for a Princess: The Runnersup.

Now that Britain's new princess has been given her names, those who bet on Charlotte will be counting their winnings and those who went for the favorite--Alice--will be down at the local crying in their pints.

Alice was not the only name that lost out. Many Britons were hoping for Boadicea, to honor the first century warrior queen, said to have done in 70,000 Romans in battle. Other names that didn't make it: Lulu, Petunia, Moonbeam, Jasmine, Yolanda and Tootsie.

But then, as Mr. Shakespeare wrote, "What's in a name?"

Only a bookie can tell you.

Friday, May 1, 2015

McCann moves in, Don Draper moves on

Many thought that all this writer had in common with "Mad Men"'s Don Draper was a retro 1950s wardrobe and a history of bad slogans.

But no--as the series winds to an end, with Draper's advertising agency taken over by McCann Erickson, there is this: we toiled for years at an ad agency that in what passes for real life was bought by McCann.

It was, however, a pain-free transition.

With "Mad Men" gone, we thought Don Draper's suits might find a home in Portland's American Advertising Museum, but, sadly, the museum also is gone.

In its place is a car dealership. Special deal on Edsels.