Evading Mere Logic
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Here in L.A., we're good at evading logic. Usually this only requires high production values and snappy dialog. I mean, if the explosions are big enough, the audience will forget that the car ran out of gas before the last commercial break. Give the hero a black leather trench coat, and no one will realize that he could have, you know, gone to the police three scenes back. And yes, if the lyrics of her song are well-phrased, no one will notice that the heroine has no way of actually supporting that sweet orphan.
Often we practice the art of obscuring underlying logic not just on screen and stage, but on the job, in the boardroom and the bedroom. Surely, the reason so many actor and musician types have rocky marriages and unstable business relationships is that they have learned to put on a show but not to, like, deal with the facts.
Even normal people seem to learn this approach. "Hey, if I just dance a little faster," says the properly-trained local, "all will be well."
Again today, the Urban Man finds himself performing for an audience of one. This is not an unusual circumstance. Like most in the metropolis, my best shows tend to be solo appearances for a single customer: A boss. A client. A spouse. An investor. Just think of all the great, but unheralded gigs performed each day by the average citizen: no mic, no playbill, no rehearsal. There you are, tapping around on a lonely stage in hopes of a solitary nod.
Just now, we're high above the city in a too-bright conference room, where the Urban Man offers a full-length matinée to a single wary exec. I say, "Listen, I have some bold new concepts and transformative directions." Then I sparkle for a full hour.
Come the first intermission, however, this exec starts worrying about trivial plot details and yes, mere logic: "I'm impressed by your vision," he says, "But I notice you haven't turned a profit in over a year."
Me, I whip out my top hat and cane: "The deals I'm working engage customers on multiple levels," I say. "It may take another six months to show results, but we have the opportunity to remodel industry infrastructures and become deeply entrenched."
Shakespeare could not have put it better. Sondheim never composed a sweeter tune. I expect applause, but my audience says:
"Actually, I'm looking for some immediate results."
Come Act Two, the Urban Man projects his action items for the coming fiscal year in a series of startling slides, and trust me, these aren't just any action items. They're bust loose. They're chorus line. They feature a 20-piece band. I say, "I'm sure you can see the significant upside potential of these projects."
Still, the wary exec replies, "Let's look at the P&L."
And lo, like any performer, I am terrified to see that in the eyes of this particular audience, only plot seems to provide sufficient drama. Only demonstrated outcomes appear to swell his orchestra.
As the exec examines my spreadsheets, I begin to worry that all my best moves have gone for naught. "Why haven't you carried forward these expenses?" he asks. "If you did, the margins wouldn't look nearly so good."
I glance at my watch and see that we're closing in on some terrible triumph of common sense in the final act. Should I dance a little faster? Or is it time to change the scenery and yes, call in some backup.
"Why don't we get some dinner," says the Urban Man. "I know this great new place. They do Asian fusion. They have an open kitchen. They feature small plates, live music, tequila shooters, zinc bar, celebrity sightings, and shabu shabu. Really, it's a hell of a show."
Copyright © 2008 Marc Porter Zasada. All rights reserved.
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