Always Be Madonna
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My husband loves the movie, Glengarry Glenn Ross. As a man who has spent his life trying to sell a product no one wants to buy—insurance—he appreciates a great movie about the low-down and oftentimes dismal life of a salesman. 

The movie is one of those great ensemble pieces that unfortunately was rather overlooked in its day. The writing is crackling sharp; the cast, a crew of the world's best actors—Kevin Spacey, Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin and a young upstart who grabbed the movie away from the Boss Men of film and stole the show in one bad-ass ten minute appearance on the big screen. 
I'm talking Alec Baldwin or as I like to call him, Mr. Fabulous. 
And I don't care if Alec has anger issues: temper tantrums on airline runways, volatile meltdowns about everything and anyone who gets in his handsome, thick-haired way. I wouldn't care if he was putting Betty White in a headlock and shoving her sweet little bouffant head in the toilet for a swirly. I wouldn't care if he was verbally assaulting Brownie Girl Scout Troops until they put their great big Brownie smiles back in their pockets and started wailing for their mamas. 
I truly would not care if this man was was one of those face-eating cannibals that seem to be all the rage these days, because Alec is fabulous. FAB-ulous. Even his Capital One commercials are riveting. 

One of the things my hubs loves most about this scene is Alec Baldwin's motivational line, "ABC. A-Always. B-Be. C-Closing. Always be closing. ALWAYS be closing."
My hubs has spent a lifetime uttering that phrase. 
As you know, Internet, for the last few months, I have spent most of my time wandering through query purgatory. 
In other words, I've been futilely trying to find representation for the novel I've birthed. 
Note the key word, futilely. This isn't a drum roll announcement of good news, just in case you're holding your breath here. 
I've had some good luck in terms of getting agents' attention and requests to take a look at my novel. But each thrilling request is inevitably followed by an email that always begins with, "Dear Ms. Mannix.
Formal salutations are the death sentence. My heart sinks every time I see the Ms. 
And I know it's tough right now for writers. The world is reading less and less as the internet takes over the collective world's souls. 
And I know that bigger and better writers before me have persevered through countless rejections, numbers in the double and triple digits, many more no's than my paltry few. 
And I know "If it were easy, everyone would be doing it." My husband's wise words, his gentle push to get me to shake it off and keep going every time I get another rejection. 
And I know that I can string words together in a somewhat pleasing way. And I know that my story is pretty good. Actually, my story is pretty f**king damn good. So good, it deserves a few profanities in its description. Maybe, one day, if the gods of publishing ever smile down on me, I could get a certain celebrity to endorse me with that same line. Wouldn't that be pure awesomeness? 
Imagine a book cover with the endorsement: This is a f***king damn good book. So stop pondering its value, motherf***ker and toss it in your Target cart right the f**k now. Seriously, what the f**ck are you waiting for? Do it now, you commie-loving whoremonger~Alec Baldwin aka Mr. Fabulous.   
I so want that on my book cover.
But I certainly can't get that dream endorsement until I sell my book which all begins with obtaining an agent. 
Every rejection stings. There's no getting around that, but I'm learning to handle the no's more effectively. My latest rejection technique worked like this: I needed one day to be sad and eat Ding-Dong's—the cupcake, you 12-year old boys, you—to my heart's content and then I'd pick myself up and begin again. 
But then I took a little stumble. 
After the last few rejections came calling, I felt defeated. I lost my Ding-Dong mojo. The resolute armor around my heart that all writer's must have, cracked and began to crumble away and I was left with this desolate piercing ache, this little ping in my brain whispering to me that sometimes dreams just don't work out. 
I spent a few days seriously wallowing. I mean seriously. If there's one thing I do well, it's wallowing. 
In fact, I consider it one of my greatest strengths. 
I even considered shuttering my manuscript away permanently. 
I stumbled about for a few days in a sad haze, until one early morning when I walked into the garage to see my daughter off for school. And as she pulled out of her spot, I could hear the strains of Madonna's "Holiday" coming from the radio in the corner of my hub's man cave. 
I stood there for a moment, singing the words under my breath: 

If we took a holiday
Took some time to celebrate
Just one day out of life, 
It would be, it would be so nice. 
And as I did, I thought, "Wow, that is really a shitty song."  
The lyrics are so piss-poor, my Bella dog could have written them, that is, if she could use her paws in a dexterous fashion and if she knew the alphabet. 
Although, I don't think she'd be able to spell celebrate. She eats her own poop. It's probably safe to say poop eaters aren't very good spellers. 
But I was talking about Madonna. 
I remember the first time I saw her. It was the early days of MTV. 
And yes, for all you young ones who think you own the world, MY generation is the original MTV generation. 
And since we're on the subject, I need to rant about something that's been bugging me. I'm so over a certain young generation—those who consider themselves adults, yet don't have the life experiences to back up the title—and their false sense of entitlement, the one where they think they own the world. 
Here's a newsflash to all of you baby adults out there: You don't own the world. My people do. And when I mean my people, I mean those of us, you insufferable idgets have perfected your eye-rolling on. Those of us sporting crow's feet with our yoga pants. Those of us who know who Mark Goodman and Martha Quinn are and how integral they were in shaping the face of music. Those of us who were lying on our beds to zip ourselves into skinny jeans and singing along to Journey—that's right we own Journey, too— long before you were even a lustful thought in your parents brains.  
And why do we own the world? Because we have the two things you young people who think you discovered life itself, don't have—the judiciousness that comes only through life experience and more importantly, the money*. So just stop with your self-inflated smugness. You have nothing to be smug about except your toy-car Prius and your collection of childhood participation trophies and THAT is not enough to own the world. Now go wipe off that ridiculously overdone eyeliner and your snarky smirk and get off my lawn. 
*Just because I usually have to borrow cash from my own baby adults and teenage children, doesn't mean I don't have the money. It's usually because I don't have a ten-spot on me at the time and one of my kids has taken my debit card again and I have no way to pay for that fun pack of Dark Chocolate Milky Ways that I really must have. 
In those days, we kept the TV turned to MTV 24/7, so enamored by the constant flow of videos that had busted down our doors and entered our homes, forever changing the landscape of pop culture. I remember walking into my tiny apartment living room and seeing this girl on the TV with her crucifixes and cross earrings, her wrists adorned with hundreds of bracelets and her bed-head hair tied up in a sloppy bow. I sat down on my coffee table and just watched her.
It was a budget video for even those basic days, just this sassy creature with some backup dancers, but she was captivating, humming with this undefinable shiny allure. 
I was more of a Clash girl myself and her music didn't appeal to me, but I knew, I could see it, this girl, practically jumping off my screen was going to be somebody. 
Fast forward 30 years later and as I stood there in my garage, listening to her song, I realized Madonna might have had an amazing ride, but the Material Girl has been trashed viciously by just about everyone throughout the years. Her critics have ranged from the general public, music critics, her peers, politicians, every religion on the planet, the acting community, literary critics, fitness experts, parents, adoption agencies, foreign governments, Elton John and most importantly, Pope John Paul II. 
In fact, Pope John Paul encouraged Catholics to boycott Madonna and even went so far as accusing her of blasphemy. And we Catholics don't take blasphemy lightly. That one had to have hurt. No matter how many red string bracelets Madonna ties around her wrist, she's still an Italian, Catholic girl at heart. And for us Catholics, Pope JP was our rock star. A pope among popes. He's the closest thing we've had to Jesus here on earth. 
(Well, there was that Blessed Mother pancake, but I googled it and, trust me, it didn't look anything like Jesus's mom. In fact, I thought it looked just like Tupac Shakur.) 
Just the other day, an official in the Russian government tweeted about her, calling her a "former whore." 
And when the Russian government officially calls you a former whore, you know you've made it to the Bigtime. But when did she become a former whore? I think even Madonna would agree she's not ready to give up that title, no matter how many hot flashes she's having these days. 
Sir Elton's latest bitch slap in their ongoing war was an absolute delight. He called her a f***ing fairground stripper. 
I don't even know what that is. They have strippers at fairgrounds? Since when? I chaperoned a high school field trip to the state fair once and I did not see a single fairground stripper.
I did see a teenage couple pulling their baby (clothed only in a diaper) around in one of those wire folding grocery carts, though. And that was a pretty good sight. But, sadly, no strippers.
And even if there is no such thing, I think it's a righteous insult. If anyone ever called me that, I'd make myself a big button, I'M A PROUD FAIRGROUND STRIPPER and wear it for the rest of my days. 
Sir Elton called her a fairground stripper because Madonna has been giving her fans a nipple show throughout her latest concert tour, even though the entire audience groans and covers their eyes every time she peels her bra open onstage. 
One newspaper said it best in their headline: MADGE, NO ONE WANTS TO SEE A 53 YEAR OLD BOOB. 
I know I sure don't. I don't even want to see a 40-something year old boob. It's why I close my eyes in the shower. 
The point of this ridiculous ramble is that Madonna has faced a lifetime of people shaking their heads at her, sneering at her music, lambasting her in the press and just all around hating her. 
Is there anyone who actually likes Madonna? A few years back at my daughter's soccer practice, we soccer moms got into a discussion about Madonna. One of the moms who favored Team Jacob t-shirts, mom jean shorts and a visor with cats all over it, said, "I hate Madonna. She's so tasteless." 
And so I ask you, if a woman with a cat visor can't tolerate Madonna, who can? 
But in true, ballsy tenacious Madonna fashion, the Material Girl just shakes it off, holds her silicone injected head high, straps on another leather bustier and keeps on showing off her old ass-pups, singing and doing exactly what makes her heart happy, which evidently is nipple flashing and pissing off Elton John these days. 
I have to admire that. 
I never thought I'd find my inspiration in a fairground stripper, but on that day, as I stood in my awfully dirty garage, my heart leaden with despair, my brain reeling with thoughts of Madonna, this one sentence came to me, crystalline clear: 
Always Be Madonna. 
ABM. A-Always. B-Be. M-Madonna. Always Be Madonna. ALWAYS be Madonna. 
I plan on it. 
I'm not saying I'm going to start pumping out mediocre pop tunes and mask them with outrageous acts of whoredom like a sex book or simulated masturbation on stage, because trust me, no one wants to see that. Not even the Tupac Shakur pancake. 
But what I am saying is, I will continue to fly in the face of rejection, to shake off what others might think or say, no matter how many no's, no matter how hard the words are to take. 
That old thing about sticks and stones? I'm going to remember that. 
And I know it sounds silly, but as I repeated my new mantra, Always Be Madonna, I felt that haze burning away. I walked back into my house and went straight to my computer, determined. Determined to make my story stronger, better. Determined that one of these days, hopefully sooner than later, I will get that yes.  
I'm working diligently on my revisions and I hope to have it ready to send back out into the literary world very soon. But in the meantime, I'm strapping on my leather bustier, that is as soon as I find one, and reciting my mantra:
Always Be Madonna. We should all, Always Be Madonna. 
Show off your goods to the world. Be brave. Make a mark, no matter what anyone else says. Keep it real. Keep it alive. And keep it going. Always Be Madonna. I'm game. And you?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to google leather bustier for saggy-ass pups. It shouldn't be too hard to find. The Internet has everything. 
I'll see you soon. 
Today's Definite Download: I couldn't decide between two Madonna songs, so I'll give you both. 
First, it's "Ray Of Light" which is one of her more tolerable songs, in my opinion. But for the longest time, I thought the chorus was, "And I feel like a distant drum." And the first time I heard that, I thought—Finally, Madonna's songs aren't sounding like my dog wrote them. It wasn't until last year that I discovered she's actually singing, "And I feel like I just got home." I'm pretty sure that's exactly what my dog sings to herself every time she returns from a car ride. But still, a pretty good song. 
Second, "Music." I never had much love for this song, until my hubs got a new car with a very fine stereo system. On our first drive, he blasted this song and let me tell you, "Music" should only be played at maximum volume so every kick-ass electro-poppin' thump and groove can ring out gloriously. It is a Hallelujah chorus of techno magnificence. Madonna rules the pop princess world with that song, even if she is in constant danger of breaking a hip while dancing to it. 


The Sisters' Hood said...

You and your mojo and your words and your talent ... Madonna was a first love for so many of us and as she hangs in there with the constant reinvention - so can we.
But when it comes down to s.e.x. - I will fight you for Alec - just saying xxx

Jessica Lemmon said...

YES THIS!!! I'm sitting here as I read listening to MDNA (Madonna's new album.) I'm a rabid M fan, and have been since '85 when I was 10. Crap. Forget you know how old I am. *anyway* I love it. ABM. YES. ;-)

Tracie Nall said...

With a husband who has been in sales for most of his adult life, I can't tell you how many times I've seen that movie (and even more for that specific clip). So.Many.Times.

I have been wondering what a fairground stripper is since I saw that interview. Clearly I've been hanging out at the wrong fairgrounds. Or maybe the right ones? I should ask my husband about them, he was a carny before he did the sales thing. Or maybe I don't really want to ask him. Some things might be better left unknown.

Always Be Madonna. I love it. I need to do it, too (even though I've never been much of a Madonna fan until this moment).

You can....and this. For reals.

Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal said...

What, 30 years ago? How could it be 30 years ago? I need some ding dongs!

Oh, and Alec can do no wrong in my eyes either.

Rebecca Grace said...

I love Madonna. Sure, she's done some stupid things, but haven't we all? The only difference is that normal people's lapses in judgement are quickly forgotten, whereas celebrity f*ck-ups live forever. Here's why I love Madonna:

1. She has a mediocre voice. God did not bless her with the Golden Pipes like Barbra or Celine. I'll bet a million people told her she just wasn't talented enough to be a pop singer. She did it anyway.

2. She stayed grounded despite the roller coaster ride of celebrity, always keeping her business head, always in control of her own career, never sliding into drugs or head shaving (ahem -- Britney!).

3. She's an innovator -- there would be no Britney or Gaga or any of the others without Madonna blazing the trail. Also, she always has cool hair.

And now... Why I Love JoAnn Mannix:

1. Her vivid writing takes me away from all the crap that's dragging me down, to crazy Bono-stalking-bar-dancing-Mexican-drug-smuggling hijinks and I feel like I'm right there with the cool people, living a life of comedic adventure that always has a happy ending. Every post; even the blue ones like today. Sagging ass-puppies in leather bustiers? How do you come up with these gems?!
2. JoAnn has a kind and generous spirit, exuding warm fuzzies throughout the blogosphere and supporting and encouraging others.
3. JoAnn has cool hair.

And one more thing: JoAnn NEVER gives up. Ga'head and wallow with the ding-dongs for a few days, maybe, but then the force of your determination, willpower, and personal discipline will reassert themselves. Eventually, this will all pay off, because unlike Madonna, you actually DO have a great talent. If she can go so far on such meager gifts, thumbing her nose (or her nipples) at every rejection, than nothing can stand in the way of JoAnn Mannix and her dreams!

JoAnna said...

I never liked Madonna and I still don't. I do remember the first time someone talked about watching "my MTV" and I said "oh, we dont' have an MTV." And I spent weeks imagining her watching a special little TV in her mobilehome.

Alexandra said...

You know what they say about all published works?

"I just knew that if I gave up, I'd never be published."

We can never give up.

Gigi said...

I flippin' love you. Especially after these three paragraphs....

"And yes, for all you young ones who think you own the world, MY generation is the original MTV generation.

And since we're on the subject.....

Here's a newsflash to all of you baby adults out there:..... "

And keep on plugging away - because if you don't try then you'll never know.

karen said...

Wow... and all I was thinking about was changing my hair style, and maybe the color... Now you've put visions of bustiers and nipple flashing in my head. (Well, maybe not nipple flashing - I'm 59 and that would just be wrong on so many levels.) But my head is up, and my eyes are bright - and they're looking for Ding-Dongs.

MrsJenB said...

1) I love that movie. I love the Alec Baldwin scene. I'm so glad you referenced it.

2) Never give up. Ever. Hang in there. Show the world what you've got. You're worth it. Your story is worth it. Millions of future readers are waiting to read your words. I know you can do it and I'll be first in line to buy your book.

Unknown said...

I have not seen the movie, but I waas blown away by that clip. Now I have to find it.

Christine Macdonald said...

We think of Madge, how she wants us to - wholeheartedly. Whether negative or positive, there's no middle ground, when it comes to Madonna. It's part of her brilliant marketing skills.

Lady Gaga does the same, I think.

I wrote a piece on Madonna on Salon "Madonna, my partner in aging" - so, I totally get what you mean about growing up with her.

She's the cover girl for tenacity. And so are you.


Christine Macdonald said...

PS: have you seen To Rome With Love? Alec is phenomenal. LOVE him.

Sandra said...

THIS!...This line right here: You have nothing to be smug about except your toy-car Prius and your collection of childhood participation trophies and THAT is not enough to own the the reason why you must persevere. You are a genius writer, and your time is coming. I can feel it in the bones I had to squeeze into my skinny jeans and zip up with a coat hanger.

Julie said...

I love when someone uses wearing a cat visor for her barometer...

You, my lady, are perfection.

And you will ABM. I know it.

p.s. You know I know exactly how you feel in this post; in every way possible; about it all. Yes, even the cat visor. Love you. Hard.

Hulk-Regrowing his virginity said...

HEY! You be quiet! Some of us are at a point where ANY boobage will do...

Jessica {Team Rasler} said...

Ok, I did not see the Always Be Madonna part coming, so I burst out laughing. I am just enough younger than you are that I thought her music was awesome (didn't discover the Clash until later), so I'm always taken aback now by how completely lame the lyrics are. Still sing loudly to them, though, and dance around my kitchen like no one is watching, even though the neighbors probably are (and laughing).

Anyway, hang in there. I know you'll get something like that endorsement someday, and I'll be preordering your book the moment you tell me I can!

Meg at the Members Lounge said...

There is a special person out there just waiting for your book to land on their desk. And cue, Maoonna singing "Celebrate".

And PS, Alec Baldwin is one of my several fake husbands.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Fantastic! I am nodding my head when you talk about MTV (when it really had music videos *sigh*) and the Madonna generation! I miss this... :)

Madonna said...

She's really an innovator ! I love her!

Unknown said...

The video is blocked for me, but the one line I remember from Glengary Glen Ross (sp?) is where Alec Baldwin says something like "What's my name? F*%K you, that's my name". Awesome.

At least 3 of my top 5 actors are in there.

Keep persisting girl, your writing is too awesome to let clueless hacks deter you.

Unknown said...

Shall we expect to start seeing boobs here then? ;-)

Keep on keepin' on, my friend.

Shell said...

Everyone needs a little time to wallow as long as you don't stay there.

My hubs loves that movie and that quote, too. Must be an insurance thing. ;)

I adored Madonna and watched MTV, waiting for one of her videos to come on- back in the day when you just had to WAIT for them to come on and not just head to youtube.

I hope that you get some good news soon, my friend!

The Lady's Lounge said...

First. If I was still a literary agent, I'd take you on as a client any day. Sadly, I quit years ago because I was tired of plugging other people's work and neglecting my own.

And now... here I sit, agent-less and alone, in the dark, in the rain.. of the night... Oh the irony.

Second. I would eat Alec Baldwin's face while he had Betty White in a headlock and was kicking Brownie Girl Scouts in the knee at the same time because he is that delectable. And I mean eat-his-face in the most affectionate of ways. Love him.

Amara said...

Sooo glad you posted --from a lurker who has read every word you wrote. Keep on keepin' on! That story has got to sell because I've got to have more of you to read.

MOV said...

ummmmmmmm, self publish? I did. Am I a millionaire now? no. But my book is a book and I can hold it in my hands and it is for sale on amazon.

just sayin'.


Judie said...

Hey, you! How the f*** are you, anyway? We are all moved into our house in Brunswick, so I can finally get back to visiting with my blogging friends, especially since I know no one here to visit with yet.

As far as the Madonna thing, I always thought she put herself out there just a little too much. And Alec? Well, I know you adore him, but he really should try to lose about 25 pounds. O.k., so I do like him. There! I said it!!

Cupcake Murphy said...

Madonna has and always will kick ass. She's my ideal for What the Hell Are You Looking At? Don't give up, keep moving forward and BE YOU BE YOU BE YOU.

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