Cole Porter

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

As I'm writing this, seven minutes ago Michael Jackson—who was (and may still be) a mesmerizing musical talent—announced a series of appearances in London, and perhaps around the world. I say good luck to him.

I simply cannot look at Michael Jackson. Too much deeply intimate stuff about him has been shoved down my gullet by the media: his admitted proclivity for sleeping with young boys, the photograph of him dangling a baby out a hotel window, the apparently botched surgery that disfigured his elegant face, the child’s fantasy world of Neverland Ranch, the lurid court cases and the endless speculation about his health. All these weird associations run through my head at the mention of his name. I would never pay money to see him perform, and I switch channels the instant he appears on TV.

This is the era of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, texting, “sexting” (sending salacious self-portraits over the Internet and cell phones), blogs and memoirs where tens of millions of us glory in “letting it all hang out.” As a March 5 headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer proclaimed: “Stars Micro-Blog Their Lives on Twitter.”

Somehow we feel it's our God-given right to know everything about everybody—Britney, Lindsay, Alec, Tom and Katie, Monica and Bill, Octo-Mom ...

So why am I deeply saddened by the death of a little-known, young musicologist, researcher and conductor whom I never met and about whom I knew absolutely nothing?

His life’s work touched many deeply.

Take a gander at this paragraph from a Wall Street Journal story by Robin Sidel on Oct. 20, 2008:

AmEx recently slapped a $1,100-a-month spending limit on John and Monica Bell's platinum AmEx charge card. The reason: AmEx customers who pay with plastic at the same places where Mrs. Bell shops and have the same mortgage lender have poor repayment histories, according to a letter sent by AmEx.

The couple pays $450 a year for the card—which promises "no pre-set spending limit." The couple routinely spent $5,000 a month—that's $60,000 a year—and has never been late with a payment.

If the data goons are allowed to start treating blue-ribbon American Express Platinum Cardmembers like chronic deadbeats, what will happen to the rest of us?

The excess of zeal that fueled the subprime real estate debacle has turned into an excess of fear.

My friend, Goldberg, had a subscription to the old Metropolitan Opera on West 40th St. For years he sat next to a lady whose husband, on the other side of her, fell asleep through most of every performance. When the Met moved to Lincoln Center, Goldberg decided he’d had enough and informed the lady he was giving up his seats. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed having two men sleeping with me for the past 20 years.” Now—at age 72—I have become hooked on opera. Who’d a thunk it? Typical Opera Experience Opera was never my thing. Several years ago, my wife,

The story of Warren McDowell, publisher of The Fire Island Journal, delivering 6,000 copies of his semi-weekly newspaper by boat to the retailers of that summer resort grabbed me. Fire Island is a quirky barrier island off Long Island’s South Shore, 32 miles long and half a mile wide. Cars are not permitted on the island. The only way to get there is by ferry, private boat or swimming. The wheeled vehicles of choice are kids’ wagons that carry everything—your luggage, groceries, dry cleaning and babies. Sure, the publisher could get a permit for a delivery truck to drive the beach. But this

For years, audiences have suspected that Britney Spears was lip-synching at her live performances. As one fan wrote in a blog: In her concerts when her microphone is turned on for her to talk to the audience, you can hear Spears gasping and trying to catch her breath and seconds later when she breaks back into song, she is smoothly singing without a problem, yet somehow her fans are just catching on that she might not be the “live” singer they thought she was. Last week, America’s hottest little pop tart was hoist by her own petard. During her show in Orlando, Fla., the

The idea that any new film that depicts someone smoking will be given an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America [MPAA] is an example of yet another buttinsky group of zealots worked into a lather about a tangential issue when the world is falling apart. Is this wonderfully free society being gradually subverted by multitudes of muddled prudes who want to dictate how we think and act just like the Taliban in Afghanistan? I am reminded of Cole Porter’s delightful—and deliciously racy—musical comedy, “Out of This World,” which opened in 1950 and was based on Greek mythology. I saw it at

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