On this Young & Rubicam produced radio disk, you'll find nothing less than ten syrupy renditions of hymns and popular Christmas songs. At the beginning of every song is an introduction by one of the following celebrities from the late 60's (named in their entirety to encourage their Googling fans to join us here at "the 'world"): Eddy Arnold, Phyllis Diller, Jack Webb, Norm Crosby, Florence Henderson, Robert Young, Gary Crosby, Shirley Jones, George Maharis and Edie Adams. Each of these very special people take the time remind us about the brave men and women "who make possible the reality of that 'peace on earth' we talk about" (My Lai notwithstanding), the ones "who've discovered that they can something special in the Navy" (don't worry, William Calley wasn't in the Navy).
Now, I'm not the kind of person who'll go to all the trouble to digitize an old piece of vinyl -- cleaning all the flaws the best I can, ripping the tracks into individual (properly tagged) MP3s, uploading the whole mess, then try trying to come up with a worthy paragraph or five of doggerel to hang on it -- just to invite my readers to make fun of it. Frankly, my time is worth more to me than that. This isn't to say the Bostworld record gallery is impervious to ridicule -- far from it. This week's cowardly and extremely bland selection is a perfect example. But only within the scope of the bigger picture does the disk take on its true sheen of glory.
You can laugh at anything if you take it far enough out of context. Even the great books would seem ridiculous if you, say, translated them badly into Portuguese and read them backwards. But to be considered a truly oddball classic, a work must retain its mundane foolishness even in the light of its actual circumstances. The first thing I want to know about some new head-scratcher is why it happened, who was behind it, and what were their motivations. Unfortunately, more often than not, it ultimately boils down to money. The cheesy treasure you love so much came into being for one simple reason: its creators were desperate to do nothing more than keep a roof over their heads and food in their bellies.
This is something any of us can relate to. I myself came late to the job market. After a decade of climbing into the limelight, and another decade crawling back out, I finally discovered what life was like outside of the fish bowl. What I learned made me afraid to ever check into a hospital or go up in an airplane, let alone trust another person to cook my dinner. Here in the "real" world, it seems even the simplest things get messed up by inadequate training, lack of communication, poor follow through or inattention to the details.
But there are people out there for whom incompetence means more than just a missed delivery, a lost sale, or even a shoddy product destined to become a kitsch classic. It means the difference between life and death. So add my name to the list of "celebrities" honoring the men and women of the armed forces this season, not because of their career choices (call me old school but "what if they gave a war and nobody came?"), but because the pain they're suffering at the hands of fuck-ups makes my own pain seem negligible in comparison.
As Florence Henderson reminds us during her segment, "these thoughts are year-round propositions, or at least they oughta be."