The View From Madaket
The finish line for this time of year — Video Music Awards season, which happens to correspond with the end of summer — always seems like the end of show itself. But after seven VMAs, as many Grammys, and an increasing number of other awards show coverage, it’s become apparent that the true finish line isn’t until the day after, when all the backstage reports are in, the photos are sized and sequenced, the polls and emails are in, up, and well-promoted. The MTV News Online production team wrapped all that up by 9 o’clock last night. Twelve hours later I was on a plane bound for Nantucket.
I report to you now from West Wind, our small two-room clapboard cottage on Massachusetts Avenue in Madaket, right next door to Mr. and Mrs. Roger’s Crooked House. The sea is to my left, a ceiling fan overhead, and U2 on the stereo. Finally, I can relax. Finally, I am home.
First, though, the VMAs. Wow. The whole show’s a big, sweaty blur to me really. By the end of the 48 hour period that constitutes our extreme close-up coverage, I had slept just four hours. I was — heck, I still am — pale, unshaven, sunken-eyed. My production teammates looked no better. But we created a ton of great content, covering the show — a gender-bending, self-conscious, style-obsessed and narcissistic circus, nay, freak show — from every angle.
From the red carpet, backstage, on stage, at the bar, and in the bathrooms, MTV News was there. Once published and promoted to MTVNews.com, the production team limped out together — reporter and editorial-types long since departed for Boulder, Brooklyn, Mantauk, and wherever else their Labor Day plans were taking them — through the rotating doors, and into a humid, relentless Time’s Square. The finish line.
I flew the Delta Shuttle to Boston this morning which departs out of the original Idelwild Sea & Airport, next to Laguardia. It’s a gorgeous old building from the early 40s, complete with an amazing WPA mural called “Flight.” The mural encircles the rotunda, some 25 feet high, depicting the evolution of air travel, from his primitive dreams of flight, through Icarus mythology, DiVinici, the Wright Brothers, and to the then-current era of beautiful Pan American sea planes. I was struck in the images’ optimism, the faith in technology and progress, and troubled by the stark contrast it draws with the ‘Blade Runner’ and paparazzi present.
I slept clear to Boston, then sat in the co-pilot seat on the 16 seat Cape Air Cessna to Nantucket. And despite my past fear of flying, and the CNN-supplied images of the Cape Air plane that crashed in the Nantucket sound last week, I rather enjoyed it, especially when the island broke through the clouds.
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Night has fallen. A cool breeze blows through the screen door. Crickets are chirping, locusts are buzzing, and the crash of waves periodically wafts over the grass-strewn dunes. Already today I have been to an antique auction at the American Legion (where I watched one lucky bidder drive off in a mint-condition 1997 Land Rover Avenger with just 17,000 miles on it for the ridiculous value of $28k), into art galleries on the Straight Wharf, swimming in the ocean, sleeping on the beach, and dining on flash-grilled fresh tuna.
The Video Music Awards are so… yesterday. New York City is a million miles away. I am here now, 100%, doing nothing, gratefully. And with enthusiasm.