Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A tribute to My Moodle

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

1 comment:

Larry Windsor said...

A terrific tribute to Mark, Iris - and a great fun reminder of the fundamentals of being an "advance person".