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Monthly Archives: November 2012

A modest proposal.

No, it’s not really purple.

The property: Martin Tower, 1170 8th Avenue, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The history: Former headquarters of Bethlehem Steel Corporation. Opened in 1972, just in time for the Steel’s prolonged and fatal tailspin. Famously designed in a cross shape to create more corner offices for mid- to upper-level managers.

The challenge: Vacant since sometime around 2004. No immediate viable options for reuse. Interior layouts said to be impractical. Asbestos also an issue. Currently being plundered for scrap metal.
But: Status as tallest building in the Lehigh Valley argues against demolition, as does close link to cherished industrial heritage.

The solution …

The American Museum of Corporate History, a cutting-edge historical destination summarizing Americans’ complicated relationships with their biggest employers — while also offering a unique, fastidiously detailed you-are-there recreation of the daily life of corporate fat cats, Seventies-style.

The rationale: Americans’ longstanding love-hate relationships with major corporations provide a rich trove of shared emotion and experience that deserves to be explored. And the potential pool of visitors is practically limitless: Who hasn’t spent time working for a corporation, or had a close friend or family member who has?

As for the historical recreation, “Mad Men” (just to name one example) proves Americans are fascinated by what happens at the junction of money, power, conspicuous consumption and pre-PC morality. At the recreation, visitors will step right into the pampered, hubris-cushioned world of an American corporate boardroom circa 1975.

The funding: Requiring every Fortune 500 company in America to ante up $50,000 would provide an instant kitty of $25 million for renovation and construction, with private donations adding to that total.

Funding for ongoing operations could be raised through modest admission fees, as well as levying a small surcharge on every personal sale of stock by a current or former Fortune 500 corporate officer.

The displays, floor by floor:

Floors 1-2: A sweeping two-floor entrance, highlighted by a massive abstract sculpture (titled “This Is An Exciting Time for the Company”) showing an engineer filling out a hard-copy vacation request. Visitors stop at the original, authentic Bethlehem Steel guard booths to get the lanyard granting them access to the museum. (The lanyard, of course, features an off-center, yellow-tinted, sickly-looking photo of the visitor.)

Floor 3: Interactive displays on the roots of the American corporation and the growth of regional, national and international mega-employers. Where did American corporate culture come from and who shaped its growth?

Floor 4: The little guy enters the picture. A floor full of displays on the average American corporate employee’s daily life and interaction with his or her employer, spotlighting the question: “Just what do we owe the company in return for health coverage, a dividend, and/or a roof over our heads?” (In an attempt to avoid cliche and cast a fresh eye, not a single Dilbert cartoon will be featured on this floor.)

Floor 5: A rotating series of up-close-and-personal displays on American corporate icons, from John D. Rockefeller to Jack Welch and beyond. Bethlehem’s own Lee Iacocca is a hands-down lock for one of the inaugural displays when the museum opens.

Floor 6: This being Bethlehem Steel’s old building, Floor 6 features extensive displays on the rise and fall of this most definitively American company.

Floor 7: The centerpiece of the whole museum — the executive suite/boardroom reconstruction. Think of it like Williamsburg, Jamestown or Olde Sturbridge Village, except set in 1975 corporate America.
Visitors move from office to office interacting with actors who portray fictional but realistic characters, including the chainsmoking, snappish CEO …
… the vice president of engineering whose racism only comes out when he drinks, which is often …
… the insecure, recently promoted youngest senior manager who knows the Japanese are about to eat the company’s lunch …
… and the thirtysomething secretary growing worried about her legs.

(To add verisimilitude, by the way, the parking spaces closest to the front door will be filled by lovingly restored ’74 Lincoln Continentals, while a scattering of Chevy Vegas will be seeded throughout the more distant spots in a silent tribute to America’s corporate foot soldiers.)

The cigarette smoke, the leather chairs, the office putting greens, the coarse jokes, the long lunches, the rotary phones, the newspapers open to the stock page — it’s all here, and it’s all real.

As an added bonus, one lucky crowd of visitors per day will get to see some unfortunate middle manager get dressed down, fired and escorted out of the building. Didn’t see it this visit? Better come back!

Floor 8: A good-sized theater that will host multi-day conferences featuring speeches by academics and corporate types, as well as dramatic readings from old annual reports. It can also be rented out for annual meetings.

Floor 9: The Memorial Roll. This floor will be stripped down to its outer walls, which will be covered by used computer punch cards — with each card bearing the name of a major American employer that has gone bankrupt or been bought out. Burly ex-shop foremen and fleece-clad retired human resources managers mingle together as they gently rub their fingertips over the list of hallowed names.

Floor 10: The gift shop. Popular items include stuffed mice wearing T-shirts that say “I WON THE RAT RACE” … a leather boardroom chair in which the visitor can have his or her picture taken … and gag notepaper pads that look like expense reports.

Floors 11-18: At first these will remain vacant; the elevators simply won’t stop there. As the museum gains popularity, these floors will be refurbished and rented to companies that understand the sheer meta/ironic/recursive awesomeness of having the American Museum of Corporate History as their office address.

Floor 19: See below.

Floors 20-21: The Golden Parachute Grill, a lavish steakhouse serving martinis and hand-cut Angus beef aged in a meat locker on the 19th floor. Those who prefer to nurse their girlish figures can choose the Secretary’s Special — cottage cheese and TAB.

The problem: Solved. You’re welcome.

Doin’ it to death.

30 song titles (or maybe TV specials) created by slicing, dicing and recombining the titles of “Peanuts” TV specials with the titles of James Brown songs.

A Lowdown Popcorn Thanksgiving

The Great Pumpkin Won’t Change You

It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s Arbor Day

Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Flashbeagle (People It’s Bad)

You’re Not Elected, Funky President

She’s Offa That Thing, Charlie Brown

Someday You’ll Bring It Up (Hipster’s Avenue), Charlie Brown

It Was A Short Cold Sweat, Charlie Brown

I Can’t Stand Myself (When You’re in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown)

Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn in Spring Training

It Was My Best Birthday Ever (Take A Look at Those Cakes)

Is This Goodbye, Mother Popcorn?

You’re a Super Bad Sport, Charlie Brown (Parts 1 and 2)

Happiness is Hot Pants, Charlie Brown

Talking Loud and Saying Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales

It Was a Sexy, Sexy, Sexy Summer, Charlie Brown

Snoopy Don’t Take No Mess

You’re Not Involved, Lucy

It’s Your First Spank, Charlie Brown

Someday You’ll Be Loved, Loved, Loved, Charles Schulz

Love Payback Nightmare (Part 1)

Be My Valentine or Turnit a Loose, Charlie Brown

Your Dog’s Stoned to the Bone, Charlie Brown

Try Me, Best Boy

It’s a Brand New Mystery Valentine Bag

I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me a Warm Blanket (Open Up The Door, I’ll Have My Best Birthday Ever)

Shout and Shimmy for Love, Charlie Brown

Get Up, Get Into It, Get Married, Charlie Brown

Sex Machine Easter Celebration ’76

What Have We Learned, Superslick?

Encore Performances: Nov. 28, 1970: I don’t know what I’m up against.

From the old blog, Dec. 5, 2009.

Not much to brag about this week — the best thing Casey can promote in his lead-in is a new song in the Top Ten.
Doesn’t bode well, eh?

Here we go, then, with favourites in bold:

No. 40: Flaming Ember, “I’m Not My Brother’s Keeper.” According to Casey, this was the fourth time this year Flaming Ember had had a hit.
I’m wondering how many more they had after 1970.
Hope they enjoyed it.
The lead vocal on this is a little mannered, but I liked the choked scream at the start, as well as the general sentiment. It’s sort of the opposite of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” and anything that’s not that is fine with me.

No. 39: “Here’s the man again,” Casey intones. “The tiger, the Welshman, the hitmaker.”
Oh boy! John Cale?

No: Tom Jones, “Can’t Stop Loving You.”
This is one of Jonesy’s big bravura ballads — you know how those go. It’s OK but not boldworthy.
(This is not the Elvis song of the almost-same name, for anyone who doesn’t know it.)

No. 38: For the folks listening to WJTO in Bath, Maine, it’s Freda Payne with “Deeper and Deeper.”
For a moment, it is pleasant to think of Motown-style soul-pop as a ribbon of sound uniting young America, from the teenagers on potato farms in Maine to the kids cruising down Hollywood Boulevard in their new AMCs.
An illusion, no doubt, but nice to think about.

No. 37: Candi Staton, “Stand By Your Man.” This is a wretched song (old country music is dead to me, no matter how many critics tell me how Authentic it is.)
But I like the more soulful treatment of it here.

No. 36: A first-wave British Invasion band, Casey tells us, that’s still popular because it’s “willing to try different things and try new sounds.”
Over the next few years,  the new sounds they would try — including country and musical theatre — would fall flat on their faces with American listeners.
But this week it was all good for the Kinks and “Lola.”

No. 35: Andy Kim, “Be My Baby.” Every countdown has at least one cheesy cover, and here we fulfill the quota.
In his attempt to rock us gently, Mr. Kim makes a fatal mistake by rearranging the song’s rhythm.
This song is nothing without the baion. Without the baion, it might as well be polka.

No. 34: Neil Diamond, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”
Well, speak of the devil.
I had forgotten Neil even sang this, and was not pleased to be reminded.

No. 33: Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, “Heed the Call.”
I was afraid this was going to be another upbraid in the tradition of “Tell It All, Brother,” but instead it turns out to be an ode to the power of music.
The tambourine is the best part.
Right at the beginning, and then again right after Kenny intones “heed the call” for the first time, there’s a nice little breakbeat that would be marvelous for someone to rap over.
Seriously. Check it out at 1:23 or so.

No. 32: Neil Diamond again with “Cracklin’ Rosie.” (“There’s still a sip of cracklin’ rose left in Neil Diamond’s cup,” Casey tells us.)

No. 31: The four Canadians of Mashmakhan with “As The Years Go By.”
This sounds like Sugarloaf jamming with the Association, or somesuch other square male vocal group.

No. 30: Ray Price, “For The Good Times.” “You don’t have to be a country music fan to like this,” Casey intones reverently.
Yeah, as country goes, this is OK.
I’m hearing an arseload of strings and horns on this countdown, though: 1970 was a pretty good year to be a studio violist.

BTW, Wiki says there are four separate Kenny Rogers greatest-hits collections called “For The Good Times,” two of which were released in the same year by different labels.
Makes your holiday shopping a little more complicated, eh?

No. 29: Eric Clapton, “After Midnight.” Eric had just announced the formation of a new band, Derek and the Dominos, Casey announced.
Not a bad song; it moves along nicely.
I’m almost willing to forgive Clappers for re-cutting it for that beer commercial, back when every fortyish rock star in the world was selling their souls to Miller and Michelob.
(Edit: I have recently learned, courtesy Jim Bartlett, that Clapton’s association with beer advertising started long before the mid-1980s.)

No. 28: Four Tops, “Still Water (Love.)” Weird overdone arrangement — it is possible to make a clavinet sound unpleasant — but some pleasant enough vox going on.

No. 27: Up from No. 40, Santana with “Black Magic Woman.”
I didn’t listen long enough to hear if they played “Gypsy Queen,” which for me is what makes listening to “Black Magic Woman” worthwhile.
(OK, I overstate a little bit. “Black Magic Woman” is a pretty good song. Maybe even the best single representation of Santana’s positive qualities — the cutting guitar and the Latin rhythms. Still, I love how it catches fire when they shift into “Gypsy Queen.”)

No. 26: “Let’s Work Together,” Canned Heat. This is Alvin Lee-level stuff but I like it anyway.
I think this is Canned Heat’s only Top 40 single with Bob “The Bear” Hite singing lead.
Essay question: Did Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson have the weirdest, most non-AT40-style voice ever to sing lead on a Top 40 single?
Use both sides of the monitor if necessary.

No. 25: Fifth Dimension, “One Less Bell To Answer.”
I’m gonna go all Tom Nawrocki and take issue with some of the square, uncomfortable vocal phrasing: “each time the DOOR-BELL rings;” “THINK-ING of HIM.”
I dunno. You have to hear the song to understand what I mean; and I ain’t linking to it ’cause I’d rather just move on to better songs.
Like …

No. 24: Badfinger, “No Matter What.”
Pure pop for now people, no matter whether your “now” was 1970 or 2009, or 2039 for that matter.
(Along with this prime piece of power pop, we get Casey’s obligatory Beatles reference, when he observes, “It sounds like the Beatles.”)
Hey, that’s two Welsh artists in the Forty. Is that a record?

No. 23: “Yellow River” by I.P. Daily … no, actually, by a British group called Christie.
Undistinguished pop, really.

No. 22: Free, “All Right Now.” Before which Casey announces that the survey is based on sales figures from 100 record stores across the country.
(100 record stores? That’s two per state. Was it weighted, I wonder, so that New York got seven record stores and North Dakota got zero? Or did the North Dakotans unfairly gain the same influence as the New Yorkers? Inquiring minds gotsta know more.)

No. 21: Supremes, “Stoned Love.” Despite its title, a production strongly flavored with old-school Motown. You can just imagine them banging the snow chains against the studio floor to keep the beat, like they did back in ’65.

No. 20: For our friends at WNOX Knoxville, Chicago asking the musical question “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”
Biggest mover on the survey — up “17 points,” Casey says.
Ah, for the days when Robert Lamm sang lead and you only heard Peter Cetera on the harmony.
I don’t care about time.

No. 19: Bread, “It Don’t Matter To Me.”
Ya know, these guys had pretty good hooks, solid vocals and strong instrumental ability.
Is it just me, or could they have been a damned good Badfinger-ish pop band in some alternate universe (if they hadn’t been such wimps)?

No. 18: 100 Proof Aged in Soul, “Somebody’s Been Sleeping.” Snappy. The lyric “Cigarettes in my ashtray / And I don’t even smoke” coulda been B.B. King, or maybe even Robert Johnson in a happy moment.

No. 17: James Brown, “Super Bad (Part 1.)”
I love how the first 10 seconds of this are given over to the Godfather repeatedly hectoring his band to “WATCH me!” … and how you can hear him chiding his guitar player for missing his entrance (“HEY! I said I’m SUPER bad!”)
A lot of people would have waved the band to a halt and started again; but James knew that one mistake doesn’t stop a killer take.

AT40 Extra: From the Number One album in the country, Santana’s “Abraxas,” we hear the loungey “Oye Como Va.”
I used to love the “Abraxas” album in high school, especially the Side 1 closer “Incident at Neshabur,” which starts out all pot-boiling and gradually drops down in speed and intensity until it sort of eases out in a gentle sundown glow.

No. 16: Guess Who, “Share The Land.”
I can’t love this one as much as I usually love the GW. Maybe it’s the jarring contrast between the minor-key verses and the big happy alma-mater-style chorus.
Or maybe it’s the opening lyric about “have you done your share of coming down?,” which reeks way too much of the early ’70s.
Reminds me of “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” or that Beach Boys tune with the lyric about “I can feel the weight of coming down.”
You’d think people did nothing between 1970 and 1972 but drift from buzzkill to buzzkill.

(This analysis may, indeed, be correct.)

No. 15: The Presidents, “5-10-15-20 Years Of Love,” or whatever it’s called. Pleasant enough but the counting gimmick reminds me of “Schoolhouse Rock.”

No. 14: Wilson Pickett, “Engine Number Nine.” The Wicked Pickett finds new flavor in — you guessed it — Philadelphia, in the company of Gamble and Huff.
And it’s a train song.
Can you say “automatic boldface”?

No. 13: Joe Cocker, “Cry Me A River.” Nice version of that Aerosmith song.
No, really, this is a pretty good reinvention; I’ve just never been a huge fan of the earnest caravanserai that was the Mad Dogs and Englishmen band.
(We have two drummers, a percussionist, and five gospel-chick backup singers who wail away on EVERY SONG! Isn’t that soulful?)

No. 12: The Who, “See Me Feel Me.” As I’ve probably said before, this isn’t a patch on the Woodstock live version in terms of energy, but I don’t begrudge the ‘Oo a ride into the Top Twenty every now and again.
I actually think this works pretty well stripped of its context — just for fun, I imagined myself listening to it as if I were completely unfamiliar with “Tommy.”

No. 11: Elvis with a two-sided hit (both sides of which Casey plays), “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me/Patch It Up.”
The A-side you all know — another of those big sweeping ballads that I’d rather hear Tom Jones sing.
The B-side is cluttered country-funk in which Elvis sounds a little buried under everything else going on.
Apparently he and his producers had forgotten all about the simplicity of the Sun Sessions by 1970.

No. 10: Sugarloaf, “Green-Eyed Lady.” Another of those tunes I’m bolding b/c I liked it when I was 15. Mysterioso.
Something I never knew: Wiki tells me that Sugarloaf’s Jerry Corbetta went on to become a member of the legendary Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes.
That’s quite the resume.

No. 9: Stevie Wonder, “Heaven Help Us All.”
Why can some people write effortless topical lyrics that soar, and other people write topical lyrics that fail painfully?
In other words, how did this guy make everything seem so easy?

No. 8: Bobby Bloom, “Montego Bay.” Nice percussion. This Caribbean idyll stomps “Kokomo” like a grape — not as though that’s difficult, of course.

No. 7: RD Taylor, “Indiana Wants Me.” That must be, like, a real comedown, man.

No. 6: Brian Hyland, “Gypsy Woman.” A pretty good song, given that it’s performed by a guy who made literally one of the worst 45s of the rock era.
Wonder whether his producers could have redeemed Los Del Rio, or Right Said Fred?

No. 5: James Taylor, “Fire and Rain.” Nice piece of writing. Is this really the same guy who was recording sodden Motown covers just four or five years later?

No. 4: Carpenters, “We’ve Only Just Begun.”
Contrary to popular belief, it was not repeated exposure to this song that drove Yukio Mishima to plunge a sword into his guts earlier in the week.

No. 3: Jax 5ive, “I’ll Be There.” Part of the holy trinity of Jackson Five singles … actually, it might be a four-part trilogy, Douglas Adams-style, if you include “The Love You Save.”
Great song, beautifully arranged and superbly sung; there’s not much else you can ask for, except maybe some connection to Philadelphia.
Also, maybe the best pop record ever with a harpsichord on it.

No. 2: “Tears of a Clown,” Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Hey, y’know, all of a sudden this is a pretty sweet run of records.
Really, any song Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson both worked on would pretty much have to be killer.
It just wonders me why nobody pegged this as a single in 1967, when it was first released as an album track.

And at Number One for the second straight week:

“I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family.
Yes, I think “I’ll Be There” is the best pop record with harpsichord on it.
I enjoy David Cassidy’s artlessly harried vocals — he does sound like a 15-year-old kid who’s madly in love and doesn’t understand it — but the whole concept and arrangement is just too cheesy for me to endorse.

That’s it for this week. Keep reaching for the stars, and like that.

Mundane Moments: Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends.

My maternal grandpa was a well-meaning but mediocre photographer, skilled at bringing the shutter down a moment too early or late, or in taking pictures of things that were not as quirky or offbeat (or well-lit) as he thought.

I’m going to dredge some of his efforts out of the family scrapbooks where they sit unappreciated, and bring them out for contemplation.

Another installment, then.

Thanksgiving is probably the most unchanging and constant holiday this country has to offer.

At Halloween, the costumes differ from year to year.

At Easter, the kids outgrow their fancy clothes from year to year, and maybe the Easter basket holds some new or different treat.

And of course Christmas is defined, at least in part, by that year’s gifts. If you have a snapshot with gifts in it, you can extrapolate how old any given member of your family needed to be to receive that particular present.

Thanksgiving, on the other hand, can only be judged based on how many members of the family consort are there to take part in the festivities, and how gray they look compared to other years.

Thanksgiving snapshots fall into the realm of  The Eternal. All across America, there is One Turkey, and One Boat of Gravy, and One Tureen of Mashed Potatoes, forever and ever, world without end, amen.

The person who said “you never step into the same river twice” never took part in an American family Thanksgiving. It is the same river of lumpy gravy every year, as long as the background setting (your grandparents’ house) does not significantly change, and as long as cirrhosis or cardiac arrest or diabetes do not carry off any of the principal players.

(Someone once quipped that Thanksgiving is the one holiday at which all thoughts of sex disappear. And so it is — a rejection of the outside world, and an embrace of the family structure you have already built for yourself. Dressing in brown sweater vests and overeating on turkey and pumpkin roll doesn’t make anyone feel sexxay, either.)

Here, then, is an underexposed picture of a family gathering. It is probably Thanksgiving, though the labeling is not crystal clear.

If you are missing a year of Thanksgiving from your family photo scrapbook, feel free to borrow this one. It will do as well as the real photo — the long-lost one with your actual family members in it.

The turkey and gravy tasted the same to our family as your turkey and gravy did to your family. It was doubtless an hour or two late and maybe a little on the dry side, as yours was. There was football on a bulky TV beforehand, and pie and wiped-out conversation afterward, just like at your house in Pennsylvania or Wisconsin or Idaho.

There is no chandelier in America powerful enough to cast real light on the withdrawn, somnambulent suburban parade that is Thanksgiving.

Pass the cranberry sauce, won’t you?

Stamford, Connecticut, 1979.

Encore performances: Thankful.

From the old blog, November 2010. Edited in spots.

Things I am thankful for, besides freedom, home, family, good health and those other bedrock things:

* Ballparks, any size.

* The continued availability of 35mm film.

* Cashew nuts.

* Music. All of it. Even country.

* The Internet.

* Rational discussions.

* Rye whiskey.

* Bourbon.

* Beer.

* The fact that America tried Prohibition and got it out of the way decades before I was born, making it much less likely someone will try that silliness on my watch.

* All those bloggers who write better than I do. Even if they remind me of my limitations, they also entertain me, and inspire me to keep at it.

* However many readers I have on any given day.

* Continued employment.

* The Great Lakes.

* D.B. Cooper.

* The Fourth of July.

* A nice fat hamburger every once in a while.

* Old-growth trees.

* Public parks.

* Peace and quiet.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Shlabotnik, not stirred.

21 imaginary TV specials or movies, created by slicing, dicing and recombining the titles of “Peanuts” TV specials with the titles of James Bond movies.

Die Another Arbor Day

You’re Not Elected, Octopussy

There’s No Time to Live and Let Die, Charlie Brown

A Goldfinger Thanksgiving

It’s Your First View to a Kill, Charlie Brown

The Man with the Golden First Kiss

He’s Your Spy Who Loved Me, Charlie Brown

Moonraker!!! The Musical

From The Great Pumpkin with Love

What a Nightmare For Your Eyes Only, Charlie Brown

It Was A Short Summer On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Casino Flashbeagle

You’re a Go0d Man, Dr. No

The Living Arbor Daylights

I Want a Dog Licence to Kill, Charlie Brown

A Warm Blanket is Not Enough

A Charlie Brown Christmas Never Dies

The Girl in the Red Truck Loved Me

Never Say It’s The Easter Beagle Again, Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown’s Thunderball-Stars

Quantum of Lucy

Leaving America.

News item: David Beckham will leave the L.A. Galaxy and U.S. Major League Soccer behind next month after the current season ends.

Farewell, David and Victoria Beckham. We hardly knew ye. And we hardly cared.

Five years ago this past summer, I watched a few minutes of “Victoria Beckham: Coming to America,” an NBC prime-time special that captured the English soccer star and his wife (otherwise known as Posh Spice) as they prepared to decamp for America.

David was to play for the L.A. Galaxy — hmmm, funny how he didn’t end up in a smaller market, like Houston or Salt Lake — while Victoria’s immediate strategy was somewhat less firmly defined. Her short-lived solo music career had already run its course by 2007; her next steps toward the spotlight seemed mainly to involve mingling and looking stylish.

It was no secret that both Beckhams had their eyes set on stardom in the States. The special was meant to explain to us glamour-hungry Yanks why we should pick up our end of the deal.

Even at the time, NBC seemed to concede that the mission might fail. Reports said the network had bought into a reality-style miniseries featuring the couple, but had truncated it to a one-hour special instead.

I watched with prejudice. The Beckhams’ apparent expectation that they would land in America and be swathed in a gossamer coat of celebrity rather grated on me.

“Coming to America,” then, was a triumph of schadenfreude. The Beckhams were young, in love, rich, skinny, reasonably good-looking … and, still, pretty much totally lacking in any kind of magnetism or duende.

And while the show received decent ratings by the standards of its time slot, Beckhamania failed to materialize in the States.

Even in a country willing to give unholy amounts of recognition to the likes of Kourtney Kardashian, neither of the Beckhams were able to build up any kind of widespread celebrity buzz.

(It should be acknowledged that David Beckham — unlike many celebrity aspirants — was legitimately talented in his chosen field. Unfortunately, his chosen field happens to be one that relatively few Americans care about. Several years of his best efforts have not changed their minds.)

This 2009 kiss-off from The Guardian turned out to be a bit premature — David Beckham went back to the Galaxy after it was published, and even won an MLS title with them a year or two ago. Still, I would say its assessment of the Beckhams’ cultural impact holds true:

“Nobody gives a shit about them in the US,” says Frank Griffin, of the paparazzi agency Bauer-Griffin. “It’s just a big yawn, quite honestly. I think the reason he came to America was that she [Victoria] wanted to become a personality here, but she was never going to make it. And he’ll never make it. He could never be a success on the talk shows because of his voice.”

Why am I going to these lengths to dump on two people who are guilty of nothing more criminal than having stars in their eyes?

Because I loathe celebrity culture like a plague. I hate news outlets and websites that feed it. And I have no use for people who intentionally, strategically court and pursue it.

Way too many of the spotlight seekers get what they’re after. I know too many of their names, just from using the Internet every day and going through grocery store checkout lines every week.

So, to me, it is a small triumph when a campaign for celebrity falls short.

The high-budget PR flacks, groomers and image-makers win way too often. It is cause for celebration when they find they cannot sell the people something the people do not want.

The Beckhams may be good human beings under their glamour. (They are much kinder and less judgmental than I, no doubt.) And I bear them no specific ill will as they set off for their next adventure, whatever it may be.

And yet, I am already looking forward to the moment, maybe five or 10 years from now, when some random mental lightning flash makes me think to myself: “Remember when we were supposed to be interested in David and Victoria Beckham? What was that all about?”