My favorite people and things are what I call “the real deal”: people and things true to their purpose and nature in life, without pretension, artifice, aloofness or self-aggrandizing agenda.
Some examples — real deal and not so.
September of 1970, the year of Bobby Orr’s legendary Stanley Cup-winning “winged victory” goal. I’m creative director of K&E ad agency, and we’ve signed Orr to do a TV commercial for B&M Beef Stew.
Three highly polished count executive suits and unpolished creative cuckoo me bop into the Bruins Boston Garden locker room with a tape recorder to get Bobby to do some demo readings of his voice-over script to get an idea of how he’ll do come studio time.
Orr’s at his locker dressed in civvies. Teammates Pie McKenzie and Derek Sanderson hover nearby, grinning apishly, as Orr gives three great readings — and then volunteers to do another.
Bobby takes the mic: “So kids, be sure to tell your mom to get you some of that good old B&M Beef Stew for supper tonight … ” and, flashing an impish grin … “it’ll make ya poop (the barnyard version)!”
Pandemonium! Every form of insane hilarity imaginable. Locker-banging players, hoots, yowls, howls, barks, shrieks, snorts — me, even the suits — rampant hysteria!
All along the corridors of the Garden as we’re leaving I’m going on and raving about what a great down-to-earth fun guy Orr is. And with every rave and “wow!” the suits are mocking hero-worshipper me.
“So I’m a hero-worshipper … he’s a great guy!” I say.
Right after that, from behind us on the stairs this voice filled with golly-gee enthusiasm sings out, “Are you the guys just interviewed Bobby ORR?”
We turn around, and it’s Bobby coming down, a mischievous grin on his face and a “see ya, guys,” as he heads off to his car.
Needless to say, his ability to make fun of himself sealed the deal for me, and I’m 10 steps ahead of the suits so I can give Bobby an up-close wave as he eases along in his brown Caddie.
He stops, pops the window, reaches around in back: “Any you guys want one of my old practice sticks?”
Bobby hands out the Victoriaville Pro with the signature strip of black tape on the sweet spot of the blade … to the hero-worshipper, who thanks him.
The now-arrived suits inform the hero-worshipper we will play rock-paper-scissors for the stick. Guess what did not happen.
* * *
This story’s told by Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford.
“The occasion was a dinner in Boston honoring Celtics legend Larry Bird, and Bobby Orr and I were sitting together. When Bird got up to speak, he said that before every game, as he stood there during the national anthem, he’d look up at all the championship banners hanging from the ceiling. And, Larry said, he always focused on one. ‘Number 4,’ he said. Everybody is trying to remember what great retired Celtic was number four, when Bird paused, perfectly … then added,’ ‘Bobby Orr.’
“Even before Bird said the name, Orr caught on. His face had frozen in shock. The two players had barely met. And when Bird started talking about how he idolized Orr, this guy from a different sport, Bobby’s hand reached over on the table, and he almost involuntarily grabbed mine, stunned, his fingers tightening over the back of my hand. ‘Oh my God, Frank,’ he whispered. ‘Oh my God.'”
A real-deal twofer in that story, Bird and Orr.
Though true to its purpose in life but sadly deficient in its nature (i.e. appearance), the Marblehead Light Tower could easily become the real deal — and the timing couldn’t be better.
The issue is that, although it fulfills its beaconing function mandate admirably, the Light Tower’s physical appearance is not only subtractive, made so by the dominant structural element, the dull-drab brown cylinder — which is not only ugly, but counterintuitive to ocean blue … and/or in Marblehead, Birthplace of the American Navy’s historically symbolic case … NAVY BLUE.
With the black-painted watch and light gazebo atop the cylinder showing wear, it’s an ideal time for the town and Select Board to consider making Marblehead Light the real deal.
Bob Baker is a creative and branding resource and author of memoir, “When Life Was Wow!”