One Wedding, a Funeral, and a Very Big Show
Your computer is always there for you when you wake up in the middle of the night. First you type, then you realize that the Royal Wedding has begun, and although you hadn’t planned to watch, you can. And you do. Never did get back to the computer, but moved over the the bed, transfixed. Mostly stayed awake, but nodded off a little when Kate’s brother was reading from Romans. Other than that minor defection, swallowed the entire thing, whole. What a meal!
Living in the middle of the world, where skimpy skirts, torn jeans, and tummy-baring tank tops that leave nothing to the imagination rule, it’s hard to remember pomp and circumstance, and hats. But here was a living, breathing, über celebration to prove that they still lurk in the UK and can be summoned forth for the right occasion. The sheer good will and exuberance echoed our Bicentennial Fourth of July, when the Twin Towers stood, all of lower Manhattan was closed to traffic, and tall ships from both sides of the Cold War made their majestic way up the Hudson River. There was music and food on every corner, and two million people on their best behavior, celebrating the day that marked the 200th anniversary of the United State of America and its severance from England.
But right now we had The Wedding—a reminder that the country that spawned us was infinitely older than ours, and truly capable of putting on a Very Big Show. Yet before it had even been been digested, there was more urgent news: Osama Bin Laden had died a bloody and murky death, his body buried at sea. That was another very big meal, with an epilogue still to be written.
And finally, another British coup on Monday at the Metropolitan Museum: the press opening of Savage Beauty, the Alexander McQueen spectacular, the closing parenthesis of the Kate and Pippa Middleton wedding gown triumph, with Bin Laden’s death all but erased from memory. A fashion show like no other—with lights, music, holograms and sound effects; a trip to outer space, with fashion made art by McQueen’s imagination and dark genius. The museum was on high alert, with thousands of press from all over the world, and even several 35mm news film crews (when was the last time you saw a 35mm news film crew?) An elegant Continental breakfast, and Remarks from museum officials and sponsors, and a jet-lagged designer Sarah Burton, fresh from The Wedding, all but obscured by the scrum of reporters desperate for an original word.
So, in a way, in one three-day period, we were temporarily custodians of three icons: the once-and-future king and queen of England, very much alive; the most wanted man in the Western world, dead by our hand; and the overwhelming legacy of a British designer, whose work will outlive him, dead by his own a year ago. This was only one long weekend in the wired world. What are we to make of it?