Don’t Forget… You’re Invited

November 11, 2010 at 2:29 pm · Filed under Copy / Writing, Photography / Film, Print / Editorial, Type / Fonts

2003 law school graduation party invitation (side A); 4.5 x 6in. / 2003

In studying the prevailing American mindset on the subject of career success, perhaps the most insightful text on the matter is the collected works of TV Guide. Skim past the prologue of red-eyed shills, the hazy caffeine of morning droll and other timefill of pandering feel-good talk, geriatric game shows and irrelevant local news, and and start taking notes at prime time. Discounting the relatively recent, unfathomable minefield of “reality” as desperate scatter-shot, you are left with memes so powerful and enduring as to have riddled prime slots snowy and black and white all the way through 3DHD: Doctors and lawyers. Television’s ethereal blue glow has taught us to revere these two professions more than any other, and, in the interest of the court, I was guilty as any.

This TV-fed fascination with doctors and lawyers comes not from their contribution to society, but on their sheer entertainment value. Prime time has served up their appeal on silver platters. We see doctors tussle with human life, which is kind of like what God is all about; the appeal is obvious. Lawyers are the cunning oral marksmen, toggling between cool recitation of obscure precedent and impassioned appeals for basic decency. Each have their own brand of exotic diction that elevates them from the rest of the bread and butter world, leaving us to assume their impenetrable turns of phrase are ingenious shows of mental strength. Moreover, both are assumed to make boatloads of money…

I should mention a third meme that has proved similarly time-tested and Nielsen-approved, but it has a different cast: Cops. We are led to cite these street talkers as “everyday heroes” and they may even earn some awe for their moxie, but we’re shown little reason to give their job any aspirational value. Their foul-mouthed dishabille is picked-up and only spirals. It takes everything in their power to just beat back death every day. Moreover, it doesn’t take long to figure out that they are just doing the dirty work for the lawyers, who’ll “take it from here, thanks.” There is never any talk about cops’ salaries, unless it is painfully insufficient. Any fleeting, youthful intrigue in guns and American cars was never enough to drive me toward working a beat.

Taking both doctors and lawyers on equal ranking in terms of American reverence, doctors really get the short end of the stick in reality (the real reality). They have to go to school for eons and, with all that blood and gore? No, thank you. Lawyers, on the other hand… that’s three years of post-grad and you’re out cleverly badgering witnesses into submission. The mavens of the small-screen courtroom, from Matlock to McCoy—hell, even McBeal—all made lawyering look pretty choice.

Nevertheless, despite never having seen a single television show about it (was there ever one?), graphic design eventually snuffed out any latent interest in the legal arts. As sexy as all of that fancy arguing may look on TV, the process is interpretive and repetitive—creativity in law is only for the corrupt; I’m just not wired for it. Plus, with all that required reading? No, thank you.

But if you can’t be ’em, join ’em, I say. At a certain point, I happened to fall into a crowd of law students, one of whom happened to be my girlfriend for quite some time (told you it was sexy). I went through the process vicariously, from being “scared to death,” to “worked to death” to “bored to death” (and a lot of drinking to death in-between). Completing this morbid rite meant all the closer to the cool glow of the courthouse—a “win” as they say; certainly cause for celebration. I put my creative genes to work to help make that happen.

Tying a string around one’s finger is a timeless symbol of remembering something important. To help you remember that the important thing has something to do with graduation, the string is actually a tassel. And to help you remember such detailed information regarding time, place, numbers and whatnot, it was best to just keep it on hand. After such a deadly course of study, nobody had any of their own memory left.

2003 law school graduation party invitation (side B); some information purposely obscured; 6 x 4.5in. / 2003

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