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Julie Newmar

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A Gothic Bacchanal

Posted: 11/05/10 01:05 PM ET

Last night I went to a wedding. I thought I had come on the wrong night and had wandered into the bachelor's party. Bodies were grinding on a darkened dance floor. Speeches were made with innuendos from the groom's father, raucous tales from the best man -- wait a minute, it was the wedding! During their first dance, the bride and groom groped each other self-consciously; it was intended for crowd reaction. Things at this wedding definitely weren't as I remember weddings to be.

The bridesmaids wore black. The wedding invitation was done up in black lace as was the cake -- yes, black frosting. The wedding planner had the participants enter the rented hall in a YouTube frenzy. The whoop-up call being: "All right folks, everybody SCREAM when they enter the room!" I held my ears, the way I do for the morning news programs; when the audience screams, I change channels.

I noted this type of unsavory behavior for the first time when I was a guest on Oprah some years ago. Her audiences had been directed to throw themselves in the air, stomp and scream when the show's guests walked on stage. What for? Why? We hadn't saved Europe from the Nazis. It was a wholly undeserved greeting; it was unnerving and, worse, positively off-putting.

"You're too big for your britches," my father would say when my nine-year-old voice was too loud at the dinner table. What's going on in this country? Billionaires are disrupting the system, being above paying taxes; then we see "starving" people in bread lines who weigh 200-300 pounds. It's almost bizarre to see turn-back-the-clock Republicans stealing our life boats for political purposes. We've made poor choices, you think ... wrong roads have been taken. I would love to say it is the media's fault -- and it is. However, before we deflect to that infamous mirror, I suggest we slow down, lower the decibels (maybe not to Canadian standards), and try to openly meditate on the word civility.

America is the cynosure for energetic ideas and it is true that great genius and lively performances are animating this country. Lady Gaga, huge and talented as she is, though less so in her interviews, proves this. As in prerevolutionary France, she wears wigs as big as our egos today. Are we getting close to the edge or do we have just boorish ideals? What I am waiting for is some quiet long enough for people to awaken to their better inner voice, rather than wallowing in the residue of the stuff they can't change. Blame, attack, fear and greed ... we had better be quick to unhitch these mistakes and their consequences.

Especially fear ... we need to release fear and those that use methods of control through fear, as did the ruling political party of 2000-2008 in America. We've been at war too long. Countries kept at war soon destroy themselves. I watch it happening from the inside out. Everyone shouting: "The enemy is them, not us." "Wrong is right." "Black is white."

The wedding party was a bacchanal. On the dance floor, the groom's thirty-something boyhood friends with their uncontrolled spirits had us in their grip. The party was for them. Meanwhile, for all the others at this affair, the general cohesiveness was strained. My friend, the mother of the groom, was from Texas. "We're leaving the Union," she mused. I understood why. Maybe it's time to stand back from America, away from the din of the Tea Party, the cacophony, the destructive noise, the futile claptrap of televised "news," and other bottom feeders to society. Where to go? How to listen? Blogging and online chat groups take too much time. The ever wise Arianna Huffington adroitly makes her points. The system is clogged. One must disconnect almost entirely from the opinions, the political parties, the incessant peddling on TV by the drug companies of fear.

Turn it off. Go do your thing. Do you want a better life? Do you want mastery, success, admiration, all of the best things? Then do more and more of what gives you great joy. Take what you have in this life and make it better. Plow your own field. The world will take care of itself. Master your own gift. That is what you have to give the world. Your courage and satisfaction will build from within. Then with that happiness, you will have contributed that elusive portion you considered so important. You won on your own, the majority of votes, the lottery even. You did what you came for.