July 1st, 2005

I Will Not Defame New Orleans.


I understand that in the teeming metropolis of Minneapolis, they have constructed a statue on this site of that kicky career-girl, Mary Tyler Moore, throwing a bronze tam in the air to commemorate all the filming of her show that went on there.

Which was about 10 seconds of filming, the rest happening on a backlot in Los Anguhleeze, of course.

You remember the montage. Mary Tyler Moore briskly walking through the streets of Minneapolis. Mary Tyler Moore out on a brisk walk through the park, briskly checking out the asses of passing rollerskaters. Mary Tyler Moore briskly rolling her eyes at the climbing price of red meat. Mary Tyler Moore briskly hugging Ed Asner, Ted Baxter and Captain Stubing. And, of course, Mary Tyler Moore, briskly, kickily, one might even say jauntily tossing that god damned infamous tam in the brisk Minneapolis air.

What always fascinated me about the opening credits sequence to the MTM show was the freeze-frame of the tam-tossing. Specifically, this glowering, unapproving woman—

Just a random extra passing by? Doubt it. Extras are instructed not to look into the camera on pain of not getting paid their $12.50 that day. I much rather think this tam-tossing moment happened without the contribution of paid extras, without sectioning off that corner that day, without a proper film lockdown. In other words, I think they just plunked that kicky MTM on the corner amidst real people and told her to briskly go about her brisk business.

So there's this woman. Just walking home from the hairdressers perhaps. Or maybe on her way to the hairdressers — thus that ominous, concealing scarf on her ratty 'do. Just wandering on by, minding her own Minneapolis business. Not thinking that this day would live in infamy for her. Yea, for the next 100 years, she would be internationally broadcast between the producers James and Allan, frozen in time with that disapproving glare as she unwittingly witnesses a moment in time that will be so treasured in the hearts of all Minneapolites that, 30 years later, they would erect a statue to the moment.

But where is this woman's statue? Is she not just as present as the tam in this miraculous moment? Are we being led to believe that Mary Tyler Moore cares more for a yarn-woven tam than an actual human being? How kicky and brisk is that? And we're supposed to like her calloused, fashion-fetishistic personality?

Yes, I often lie awake at night, wondering about the history of this bescarfed representative of the disapproving moral majority, where downtown tam-tossing is clearly frowned upon during commuter hour.

Did she ever discover her place in history? Perhaps a friend called her when the show began airing in the 70s: "Mabel, you'll never believe! You're on the television!"

Or perhaps she lived in ignorance of her pivotal role in American pop culture history. That's just too sad to contemplate.

I fancy she died in 1983, shortly after her husband gave up the ghost due to liver disease. She wasn't particularly ill, but when she lost her counterpart since 1945, she just lost ambition to continue with the dull day-to-day drudgery of putting on the scarf and going to the hairdresser's.

What was her name? Where is she buried? I very much would like to put flowers on her grave.

Or maybe a tam.

That would totally piss her off!