I learned today that one of my closest Udall campaign pals, (Mark Brand aka Moodle) passed away a year ago. It so sucks that I found out this late and in the Carter/Mondale Newsletter. You don't need to speak to Campaign friends even once a year. When you finally do you pick up where you left off. Years ago I wrote a story about us that I would like to share with our readers.
On the Road with Lekish and the Moodle.
There are those relationships that you know might not be permanent, but do have real meaning. Sometimes they are important because like summer romances or college infatuations they have no connection to real life. That does not make them unimportant—quite the opposite. They are very important because they give comfort and excitement to individuals who are removed from their everyday, often ordinary lives.
Sometimes these are romantic relationships but often they not. Either way they do provide memories that will last forever. Such was the case with my friend Mark.
I remember that room, everything was blue and tasteless. It was hard to work, be diplomatic and keep a straight face. Mark was much better at it then I. All I could think of was Lekish - the imaginary character my mother and her sisters referred us too whenever we had a request or a complaint. "Mommy", I need a new Tiny Tears. Mine doesn't wet the way its supposed too".
"Go tell Lekish", she would respond.
"Mom, I need to use the car. It's not fair that you won't let me."
"Tell it to Lekish", she would reply. Who was this Lekish?
I spent all my growing up years trying to figure out who he was and where I would find him. But now, standing here in this maze of blue I finally knew. I was Lekish.
For months after I signed on the campaign, I spent most of my time alone talking to myself or with Mark trying to get him to listen. On this occasion he was negotiating entrances and exits with the man in charge of the blue. Mark, who symbolically represented the campaign for my family, had come to be known as the Moodle. Seth, my then four year old son could not say Mo Udall. He had never seen Mo Udall. All he knew was that I was always on the road with Mo Udall. He knew Mark, and it seemed I was always going somewhere with Mark. He assumed Mark was also called Mo Udall- or as Seth could only say, Moodle. And he would tell everyone, "Mommy is on the road with the Moodle".
"I'd like to use a different back drop", I heard Mark saying. "That particular shade of green just doesn't look good on camera.
“ Maybe we could use an American flag behind the podium." I yelled over.
We had done this a million times. We looked around. Asked questions. Gave Advice. Made final decisions. Sometimes it was more fun than other times but usually the job of Advanceman was pretty much the same. Find out everything. The how, what, when, and, where of the candidates trip. Analyze it and get the event into shape for the candidate.
I always explain the job this way; Remember the last time you watched the President on T.V. What did you see. There was the speakers platform. A backdrop behind the speaker, a sound system into which he was speaking, people on the platform, people in the audience holding signs, press people strategically located in order to have the best vantage point for reporting on the event, and balloons or some artifact to create excitement. What you didn't see was how the president and the press got to the event. The security and communication people who insured to progress of the event through equipment and credentials. The diagrams illustrating entrances, exits and bathrooms. The hospital and health people standing by in case of an emergency and all the work that went into coordinating the time, location, movements and color of the event.
An event doesn't just happen. Once the decision is made to create an event. The Advance team made up of Advance people make it work. And there we were Lekish and the Moodle, creating an event that would be campaign and media worthy.
"I love the blue plates and the blue table cloths, and the blue napkins, and the blue plastic flowers. I just don't like the pea soup green of the backdrop"...
Moodle was still trying to create an adequate visual. I knew he would do it even if it meant appearing ten minutes before the candidate and changing it ourselves. But he was still trying the diplomatic route. I feel like I forgot something. Have I got everything I need?" I asked Moodle. Advance people are always doing mental check lists. "Do an equipment check". He never said it aloud but I knew what he was thinking.
l. Soap. In case something like a goose neck mike or a podium chair squeeks. Also good for washing clothes in the hotel bath tub when you don't have time to send them out or find a laundromat.
2. A candle. In case the fuses blow at the event the candle will help you to find the fuse box. Also very useful for greasing a mike or a chair if you forget the soap.
3. Gaffers Tape. Preferably at room temperature so it sticks better.
4. Swiss Army knife. With as many attachments as possible, but especially a scissor, corkscrew and can-opener. You will inevitably need one of them and will impress many people with the mere act of having it readily accessible. "No, green is my favorite color. I don't like the blue and green combined but that's personal preference, I just don't think it looks well behind the speaker. Our candidate is terrible in green and it's probably the same for most of the other candidates."
I was mentally sketching out the entrance we would use for the candidate. The one close to the press or close to the VIP table? What do you think Moodle?
“When would he do one-on-one interviews, before or after he spoke? Got any suggestions Lekish?” he asked.
“Should we feed him before he arrives or after. He'd probably want to eat so he could have a drink and socialize afterward. Do you agree Mood? Mood?” But he was halfway across the room chatting with the man in blue.
"I'm glad you see it my way", Moodle was saying. Yes I'll rent the flag. It will be great." Great, doesn't begin.... Are you ready to blow this pop stand Lekish"?
"I sure am Moodle. We've got lots of things to do today. I think it’s three or four other events, including a fundraiser and a shrivel hit speech with the old cockers. We better get back on the road." We're just sayin.... Iris