September unemployment was at 4.9%. October it’s climbed to 5.4 %. It made me wonder. Did the Terrible Horrible No Good Day bring on .5% more gray hair on my head? I think it did and I think that’s GOOD! Let me explain. I am competing for screen-time with the gen-y generation who can make a feature film and edit it on an ibook for pennies on the Old Hollywood Dollar. But what gen-y doesn’t have is gray hair. Maybe Manic-Panic pink, or blue or green….but definitely not gray. Some of them even run networks. In the old days we used to grumble when we had to pitch to The Fetuses. Well, those have become the GOOD old days because now we’re pitching to The Stem Cells!
Years ago, when Stem Cell’s only had lowly positions, I worked on “All In The Family” as a writer’s secretary. It was my job to care for all the gray haired Men In Charge. One of them was Milt Josephsberg who actually wrote the classic lines for Jack Benny.
“Your money or your life!”
“I’m thinking it over!”
Milt also had a knack for making us youngsters on the show feel loved. One time he said to me … “Sue. I wanna tell you this joke. It’s so funny you’re gonna laugh so hard your tits’ll fall off. Oh. I see you’ve already heard it!” I was in heaven. He NOTICED me!!!
Being noticed by The Elders was a good thing because they had all the power. Carroll and Jean were the stars. Rob and Sally were the second bananas. Just the opposite of today. Carroll was always quitting smoking, so he’d mooch cigarettes from everyone. We Stem Cells made in one year what he made in one hour. I, personally, had to ration my smokes. One day he mooched off me and I said “Know what I’m going to get you for Christmas? A pack of cigarettes with 20 different brands in it!” (Let’s face it, I was pissed.) His piercing blue eyes burned a hole in my head. He said “Are you insinuating I’m a mooch?” Tick-tock tick-tock. My whole damn life flashed before my eyes. I had angered an Elder and my life was over… I was kaput in Hollywood so I might as well go out in a blaze of glory. “Yup.” I said! Two. Three. Four. “Ha, ha, ha!” he bellowed, slapping me on the back. “You come sit with me. I like you.” The Elder had anointed me and from that day on, the Second Bananas actually said hello and decided to learn my name. Those were the days.
But these are the days now. And they’re great days. I am so excited that half the news reported from Kabul is on home video. It’s not about protocol or expensive technology that only the Grown Ups have. It’s about story telling and being there. It’s about shooting on mini-dv. It’s about knowing how to be fast and cheap.
Let’s take the “Wizard of Oz.” Note it’s the” WIZARD of Oz.” Not “Dorothy of Oz” or the “Scarecrow of Oz.” But the WIZARD. HE was on the cutting edge, desperately trying to invent e-mail and hybrid technology! Ok so he had to settle for a hot-air balloon…but the point is he kept trying. And he had something that all the others in the movie didn’t have. Gray hair! Wisdom. Keep in mind that we’re all very happy that Donald Rumsfeld is Secretary of Defense, not Macaulay Culkin. So if you’re among the 5.4% unemployed and up against a Fetus or a Stem Cell for a job, simply make sure you’re six months ahead of any current technology and point out that you’ve got the magic bag with a Brain, a Heart and the Courage.
If September 11th can show us anything, let it teach us that time is the only valuable commodity. I know it doesn’t pay the rent and put food on the table. But it’s shifted our priorities and reminded us that as Americans, we’re all in this together. Side by side. Gray next to Manic-Panic purple. And gen-y’ers? If you help us understand Mac OS X, we’ll help you shape your raw energy. And we can all get gray together!