No Holds Barred: Adapt and Move On or Die Trying!

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Nicolas Poussin, The plague of Ashdod, 1630.

Everybody seems to be talking about “getting back” and hopefully rebooting their “pandemic interruptus” lives in 2022.  But look at the hit Beatles documentary Get Back (Disney Plus) about their final recording of “Let It Be.”

The series shows all their rehearsals, and the rooftop “Get Back” performance as they decide whether they wanted to continue as The Beatles anymore.  They “came back” for that moment only to break up immediately after — forever. Cautionary tale. There is no going back and “you can’t go home again” especially now when the landscape has so radically changed. Nobody can find their sea legs.

People are still trying to feel relevant in a life that has become unsettled and strange.  Even Instagram stars are over and out in a click. Warhol’s prediction of everyone being famous for 15 minutes is now too long a life span. And “comebacks” don’t count. They become last gasp retreads.

Covid has thrown everyone under the bus. Usually that feeling of dislocation happens to people over 65 – 70. Aging is about no longer being current. And in some cases, death is the best answer to being out of the loop. But now even 40-year-olds are feeling tossed aside in job opportunities and everyone feels stuck in neutral. Nobody can find a comfortable “re-invention” button. People thought they would BE something and somewhere by now. But who knows if that will ever happen.

We are still in a period of unprecedented pause. We can’t even say “see you next week” because who knows what might happen.  Perhaps all the housing relocation to Florida and Montana is about giving people something to DO while they figure out who and what they are.

Westward Ho!

Recently we’ve seen a lot of desperate attempts at reboots. Look at Hillary Clinton, who recently broadcasted her 2016 victory speech. Apparently, she never wrote a concession speech, only an acceptance speech. Now, who cares? Talk about living in the rearview mirror. It was a cringeworthy performance complete with tears. In a way, it wasn’t even a “repeat” — it was a “never was.” Part of being irrelevant is the inability to Move On. Maybe even Hillary doesn’t know where to go. And don’t even think about the Presidential Office!

Woulda, coulda, shoulda …

Then we have the “Sex and the City” return on HBO Max. Now called “Just Like That.”  The show suffers from the same deadly results as the recent Met Ball, Oscar and Emmy Awards — all red carpets — and even some charity parties. Some viewers just loved seeing “the girls” back at it in their mid-fifties. Some said it was “fun” seeing them deal with death and dying their grey hair. But is that really enough?

Is that “entertainment?” Seeing them dressed in clown attire proves you can’t over-style aging. And frankly the crossdressers and trans market have now taken over a lot of high-end fashion, and frankly do it much better than Carrie and Crew. The scripts include a lot of annoying “woke” accents and sadly there was not that much of The City included.  NYC was always the show’s celebrated co-star. Maybe they shot it in semi-lockdown. After all — and in real life — NYC has been suffering. Not a great visual!

That was then. This is now.

But the new show takes place in a completely “post-pandemic” setting with everyone over with their vaccinations and now into full party hardy mode.  Frankly that doesn’t work.  It’s too soon, and not believable.  The biggest show take-away was that the morning after showing 60-year-old “Mr. Big” having a fatal heart attack on his Peloton bike the actual Peloton stock tanked.  Now Peloton came out with an ad responding to that premature death.  Although I would certainly prefer the trending social commentary be about heart attack numbers and not the sales increases of 1986 Birkin bags.

17 years ago, “Sex and the City” scripts were insightful and revolutionary. We all learned about drinking Cosmos and buying Jimmy Choo shoes.  That was then. This is now.  I would rather watch Successions’ Roman Roy email his dick pics than hear about Miranda’s son’s used condoms left on his bedroom floor. Even sex has moved on.

Maybe Carrie will end up having an affair with her podcast cohost, a “queer non-binary Mexican Irish Diva.” Just like that!! It’s clear the winner in this production is Kim Cattrall (Samantha). She passed on having anything to do with this remake. Meanwhile, we now have a whole slew of Bravo Housewives who can now upstage any of these SATC gals on facework, clothes, and drama alone.

But my favorite will always be The Golden Girls. They were tried and true in their Florida home and shoulder pads, and the best of the best sitcom writing. They are now in rerun — 35 years later!  Which proves they are not only relevant, but iconic. The Golden Girls stands the test of time, but Sex and the City now appears as caricatures.

Making a comeback isn’t enough.  You have to re-invent the model or platform. Clearly, we aren’t there yet as the entire world is in free fall. I hear that Candace Bushnell (original book author of Sex and the City) is currently appearing in a Broadway one-woman show on the same topic as “Just Like That.”  And she is still delivering her “turning 60 and single” material in a mini-Band-aid dress and 10-inch Manolo stilettos. Why? And what for? Being relevant isn’t about taking one more lap around the stadium in celebration of having “been there done that.” That’s not enough. It falls into desperado, and who wants to see that?

Last week I read about 2 cultural shifts.  The first was “Barbie” (the doll, not the Playboy model) turning 85. A meme floated around with her “unchanged” face and body. Another had her sporting a transgender scruff. apparently, Barbie sales are down so even vintage Barbie is feeling the lack of currency.

Au naturel.

I also noticed that the famous Carlyle Hotel Bemelmans Bar (known for being an unchanged 1940’s lounge) is being taken over by a younger crowd. Old-time East Siders used that bar as their “assisted living” living room.  Now they are shocked at being shoved out by the invasion of the TikTok scenesters.

There’s even an ear budded bouncer, velvet-roped long lines, and a first-come, first-served pricey policy. No mention if the new “hoodie and sneakered” crowd is really into the Madeline wall murals or the American Standard tunes tinkling on the piano. Do they even recognize or know of the tribute painting of Bobby Short in the bar lobby?  That might have been removed already. Apparently, there aren’t even the old school hookers hanging around in the lounge anymore.

Now, when vintage bar hookers disappear — WAKE UP! It’s really time to adapt and Move On!

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