“I don’t see architecture coming from you.”
September 22, 2019

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I don’t see Seinfeld coming out of our lives. And not because Netflix just shelled out $425 million to be the one to continue airing the smash show 20 years past its prime-time end.

I say that because of the media-saturated 30th anniversary of TV’s greatest sitcom back in July.

Take that, Lofty Literary Agent in New York City.

Wait. Sorry. Here’s the back story to that…and a teaser from my forthcoming book, Seinfeld-ism: How the Wisdom, Philosophy, Yadda Yadda Yadda of TV’s Greatest Sitcom Can Help You Live Survive Life:

“I don’t think anyone outside of New York City cares that much about Seinfeld anymore,” a NYC literary agent emailed me a decade ago, rejecting my proposal of a book based on this blog (which the New York Times cited in 2015, tipping the hat to Seinfeld).

The 30th anniversary obviously proved her wrong, I’m delighted to say.

And it proved that Seinfeld has become, in our time and society, a sort of holy writ.

Not in the biblical sense, of course. But “utterances of unquestionable authority” nonetheless. Moreover, the show is, as one pop culture maven put it, an “iconic, culture-defining show.”

Consider its comic canon of 9 seasons comprising 172 episodes. Sure, some of the situations and references (and clothing and…) are antiquated. Some details are baffling, including unresolved plot points. Further, you can quote the simplest of the most famous lines…No soup for you!…and people who don’t know the show will grin and nod politely and eyeball you like you’re some crazy believer in a cult they want nothing to do with.

And yet.

Countless are the people who quote the show daily because it speaks with verity—ensuing hilarity—over every facet of life, be it physical or mental, emotional or spiritual.

It’s silly writ, really.

And here, three decades later, people are still discovering the collective of voices from Jerry to J. Peterman, permeating our reality today as though the show were unfolding for the first time. That timeless relevance means Seinfeld stands to sway minds and win hearts and save souls in generations to come.

Hence the opening line here: I don’t see Seinfeld coming out of our lives.

That, of course, was not the sense in which Jerry used the words at the top here, to George.* Throughout the show, Jerry’s career-challenged friend pined to wield a planer as a professional planner of buildings that awe the world. The first we hear of it comes in the first season—and that was Jerry’s reaction.

I don’t see architecture coming from you.

By now, faithful readers, you may have thought of me, I don’t see a book coming from you. (That goes back to my June 2015 post on aiming to publish Seinfeld-ism the Book.) Most assuredly, I can say…the book is coming. Soon.

It may be a Christmas gift, but it’s coming.

All new material woven through a selection of the best of the material here—the most popular posts, that is, like the one that a law professor at Georgetown University passes on to students who don’t understand a certain Elaine line he drops now and then.

Nine years to the day on July 5 this year I launched this blog for the same reason millions reflected with a smile on Seinfeld turning 30 that day. This semi-swan-song post was originally slated for that day…but watching the aforementioned celebratory hullabaloo unfold online that week delighted me to no end—and changed some of what I wrote here about this end.

The end of the blog, that is, which will coincide with the publishing of the book.

Stay tuned. The publish date is certain to be tied into another Seiniversary date.

I’m speaking, of course, only to those who live in New York City.

 

*From “The Stake Out,” Episode 3, Season 1
Seinfeld Volume 1, Disc 1 | Time code for the scene: 12:38

 

“I had to take a sick day, I’m so sick of these people.”
August 6, 2011

(another Seinfeld-in-culture note to readers before you read on to the latest Seinfeld-ism, below)

Like most people, Elaine loved her work and hated her work, the latter evidenced by the above comment she made to Jerry (in the episode “The Frogger”) after a particularly hard day. The difficulty? Co-workers pushing cake on her as they celebrated…yet again…somebody’s something or other.

ABC’s 20/20 thought enough of that episode to include it in a story they aired this month in 2008, about people working out while they work—using such equipment as a treadmill with a desk attached to it. “Remember the ‘cake-pushers’ from Seinfeld?” the commentator began the segment, showing the clip from the episode.

Watching Seinfeld and living it–now that’s what you call “having your cake and eating it too.”

Let’s have another piece!

“If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”
July 6, 2011

A logical observation for helping someone find their way when they’ve lost it, and what they need to be shown how to use is not their GPS transmitter, but their BS detector.

No job, no money, no place but my parents’ house to live, George sighed to Jerry and Elaine one day. “Every decision I’ve ever made in my entire life…has been wrong.” His direct admission led Jerry to this indirect exhortation–Do the opposite–which led George to change everything. Suddenly, life was no longer taking a bite out of George; now it was the other way around.

We, like George, often don’t learn until later that some steps we’ve made in life were the equivalent of stepping in it. We take that job. (Later: “What BS. I should’ve taken a break.”). We dated that person. (Later: “That dating service was BS.”). We pursued that degree. (“Why did I pursue this BS? I should’ve gone for the BA!”) And we should’ve seen it coming. If only we’d had a Jerry initially to point it out–to help us separate the bull from the viable.

When you use a line like this to help a George you know–that project manager, prodigal sibling, or fast-food-drive-thru worker, to name a few candidates–expect that not every one may be as receptive as George, who took to Jerry’s sage-like words like an acolyte to a mantra. (“Jerry,” George said later, euphoric from his opposite successes, “this is my religion.”) For all of its likely rewards, the opposite has its risks of humiliation, retaliation, loss of membership at the health club, etc. And that’s okay, the sage-like smile on your face will say.

You’re okay, that is, with your risk in saying this for their reward, which is that they would actually arrive at something for once in their lives…which explains why you’re quoting Jerry here in the first place.

You had to, or else you were going to lose it just listening to them.

From “The Opposite”
Episode 21, Season 5
Seinfeld Disc 4, Volume 4
Timecode for the scene: 1:38 (for Jerry telling it like it is); 12:10 (for George taking it as his religion)

“Jerry, it’s Frank Costanza…George is dead. Call me back.”
October 25, 2010

A provocative challenge to leave on someone’s voicemail when you want to get their attention–even if what you have to say is not that important.

When George discovered that accidentally locking his keys in his car in a primo parking place at work made him look like the primo employee–first in, last out–he took off for a little R&R…until George’s boss thought he was R.I.P. And this was the WTF response that George’s father left on Jerry’s answering machine when he found out.

With texting, e-mail, and caller ID replacing voices in sending messages, voicemail demands the kind of creativity that George demonstrated when he once sang a famous TV show song with a twist on his answering machine (“…believe it or not, I’m not hooome”). But that was a voicemail greeting. Leaving a voicemail is another story–one that must often happen in mere seconds.

You can use George’s same creativity, courtesy of George’s dad, with this line that works on anyone. Substituting the proper names and even explaining the death reference is no problem because this is a shameless reference to the Seinfeld show–making this one unique among Seinfeld-isms: it doesn’t fit directly into conversation, so you’re likely to get a What was that? And that’s good, because you just got yourself a call back.

Equally good: you get to explain the origin of the reference and, perhaps, why you refer to this show at all.

And leaving a voicemail like this is a great illustration of why that is: referring to Seinfeld is the equivalent of having a bevy of comedic writers at your disposal, so you’re never at a loss for words. Not even when you call expecting to get someone on the phone and what you get instead is 15 seconds to explain yourself.

From “The Caddy”
Episode 12, Season 7
Seinfeld Volume 6, Disc 2
Timecode for the scene: 16:00

Dedicated to Chris and Matt

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