Monday, September 20, 2010

Madonna and Sean Invite You To Their Wedding (Very Late Breaking News)

by Stephen J. Gertz

Can this marriage be saved?
Only time will tell.

Granted, it has arrived more than a little late. But, should you be able to hitch a ride on Mr. Peabody's WABAC machine and catch a wormhole backward in time, here's an invitation to Sean Penn and Madonna's wedding:

"Welcome to the remaking of Apocalypse Now"
Sean Penn, addressing wedding guests.
Royal Books, one of Baltimore's premier rare book shops, is offering indie filmmaker Trent Harris's invitation to Armageddon in Malibu. It's printed on pink designer paper, addressed in ribbon type, and postmarked July 10, 1985. It is a very choice piece of Hollywood ephemera, almost as ephemeral as the marriage,  considered one of the most turbulent in Movietown history, turned out to be. The nuptials went nuclear immediately, before the "I do's" were done.

Please come to Sean and Madonna's
Birthday Party on the Sixteenth of August,
Nineteen Eighty-Five
The Celebration Will Commence at Six o'clock p.m.
Please Be Prompt or You Will Miss Their
Wedding Celebration
The Need for Privacy and a Desire to Keep You Hanging
Prevent the Los Angeles Location From Being Announced
Until One Day Prior

(...blah, blah, blah).

The invitation features a drawing by Sean's brother, Michael, of the dynamic duo, Madonna sporting a belt with buckle reading "Sean Toy." It's an image that out-gothics American Gothic. Perhaps it was  emblematic of a latent desire to ditch Hollywood for Green Acres.

Blue skies with a chance of air assault and heavy chopper-wash by news helicopters are forecast, and I don't think it indiscreet to reveal that the weather report will be accurate. Penn was right; it was like the helicopter attack in Apocalypse Now.

"I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like...victory." In retrospect, a more appropriate wedding benediction is difficult to imagine.

An additional Thank You note is included. In holograph red ink and written in the former Ms. Ciccone's private, non-celebrity, jus' folks handwriting, it reads:

Dear Trent
Sick card game...
We'll play
Thanks for being there
Sean and Madonna

(The referenced game is a variant of Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt's Oblique Strategies card set).

Just in case you can't make it, here's a photo album from the accursed event and People magazine's full report,  reprinted on acclaimed photographer Mary Ellen Mark's website, so you can relive the memories you never had of an event you never attended.

The marriage of Madge and Penn was doomed from the start. The actor later blamed the media for making him a nightmare to live with and impossible to remain married to. "Had we stayed together we would have driven each other mad," he declared sixteen years afterward.

"The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea,
and the destructive sword, are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man"
- William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
Hell was ascendant in this union.

Consider the invitation, at the time the most coveted in the world, marching orders to a combat zone,  a frenzy by media berserkers that everyone knew was coming but was uncertain of the enemy's plan. This was American celebrity-pop-culture at its most intense, a carnival of the condemned, at once glittered and ugly, a freak-show spectacle for the masses fascinated by a train-wreck in progress. For even the most jaded  and averse it was impossible to cover one's eyes without stealing furtive peeks.

We leave you with bootleg footage of the armed and dangerous army of news hounds invading the ceremony, en EspaƱol to avoid copyright issues. Though those pesky paparazzi sure know how to spoil a party, Malibu beach has never looked so beautiful, and check out that exclusive, private (albeit  muy peligroso), progressive school in Malibu Colony:

"The horror, the horror, the horror..."

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