Thursday, December 3, 2009

OPINION: Monk Would Not Have Been Content In Magdalena

Magdalena Potluck
By Don Wiltshire

Long before Monk had started to compulsively straighten framed pictures on the walls, I had laid the foundation for a very useful tool: “The Anal Factor.” It started out as a simple question: “just how much care does this project require?” At the time, I was working for several scenic shops in Orlando, Fla. We worked on projects for the Disney and Universal theme parks and on scenery for the many convention centers. The Account Executives needed a no-nonsense, straight-forward method to sell jobs to these clients with a feeling for just how “refined” the finished project should be.
The scale ranged from 1 to 10, “one” being “slap-and-dash” and “ten” being “polished-to-an-excruciating-level.” Scenery which would be seen for only a few minutes and from “forty-feet-under-the-lights” could range from a “2" to a “6".
Universal Studios required a “7" or “8" for their theme parks, while the Disney Art Directors would not be content unless the final project had been polished to a “9" or “10". It was generally understood that a “ten” project would never be good enough to leave the shop. We would resign ourselves to long nights of sanding, gallons of “Bondo” and very tight sphincters.
It’s unfortunate indeed that we still mix Freud’s diagnosis of a compulsive disorder with a method of determining the “care-needed” to undertake a project. This is not to say that all of those who aspire to “perfection” are necessarily suffering from “tight sphincters”. I have witnessed many an artist who can deliver that perfect highlight or a perfect blending of color with confidence, ease and even a sense of humor.
Here in Magdalena, a “4" or a “5" will suffice just fine. It’s not that we “don’t care” or that some of us have “given up” on perfection but with floors that slope and uneven adobe walls, a “7" or “8" just looks out of place. With floors and ceilings that converge like subtle optical fun-houses, art on the walls has to split the difference. Monk would not be content in Magdalena.
All of this came back to me recently after being inundated with Big Pharmaceutical ads that have to rate a “10" in the ad agency circles.
Big, full color, carefully orchestrated, glossy ads are followed on the next page by the mind boggling, micro-print disclaimers that I presume absolve the company should a fatal reaction occur. The 60 second (or longer) spots on TV are even slicker (and much more expensive).
The gentle, concerned, almost whispering voice tells you that you can be in perfect health or live almost forever and have the correct mental outlook if you would just take their brand of drugs. The whispering voice then mentions the serious side effects that may occur (like uncontrollable muscle spasms, convulsions or even death) but would most certainly be outweighed by the benefits.
It’s been estimated by some (but who can tell for sure) that the Big Pharmaceutical companies spend about $60 billion a year on advertising, lobbying and doctor “incentive” programs in the US. That’s just about how much we spend on public education in the US for our children. It makes me want to just run out and ask my doctor if Lipitor, Viagra, Pristiq, Levitra, and Advair are right for me.
The last big Healthcare “fix” was Medicare Part D. The Big Pharmaceutical companies have thereby tapped into $724 Billion in revenues between 2006 & 2015.
I for one, refuse to send $15 a month to the Drug Company of my choice. I hope we do better with our healthcare “fix” this time around.
On “meds” or not, everyone in Magdalena is perfect, just the way they are. I’d give them all a “10".
As always, if you have any Comments? Problems? Solutions? Up coming Events? Trudy’s Killer? Contact me at or (575) 854-3370.

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