Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It Was A Very Good Year

Max Eisen, 91, press agent of a bygone Broadway era, has passed away.

"This is the crowning achievement in lunacy,” is how a staff member described Max Eisen's staging of a Broadway Olympics in 1964 through Shubert Alley, involving eight events and 30 performers from seven shows.

Say what you will about that, but 1964 was an Olympic year and Max was either in the USA Olympic spirit because he expected a good showing, or was in one because of a good showing, which the Americans did have.

Apparently some of Max's eight events included a 50 yard, and a 100 yard dash. This is notable because Shubert Alley, cutting north/south between 44th and 45th Street is not 300 feet long. So, whatever dash there might have been, it must have had a bend in it. No matter, Max doesn't read like a man who was burdened with technicalities and infinite details.

There was even a half-mile, back and forth walking event. It turns out one female performer won these three events. There is no mention of drug or gender testing, even given that show people were involved. This is a testament to the 60s that shows that fun was possible, even then.

And, like any genius, Max was ahead of his time. Just look at the stunts on TV that get coverage and prize money these days. Running a self-styled Olympics promoting shows would now have to compete with some pretty weird stuff. It seems quaint.

Which of course is what makes the phrase so timeless. “This is the crowning achievement in lunacy.”

Should be etched in stone. Awarded often.


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