There’s a lot of talk of “branding” in Scottsdale these days. It’s a time-tested buzzword in marketing. And it evokes visions of the Old West which–like it or not–is part of the cache of Scottsdale.
However, in the context of developments over the last few weeks regarding my service on the Scottsdale Airport Advisory Commission and the rather nasty war of words I’ve had with Mayor Jim Lane, it hearkens memories of a different use of the word.
When I was a kid I used to love western TV shows. Some were silly (F-Troop), some were schlocky and predictable (Bonanza). However, one of my favorites was Branded. I was reminded of it recently when someone jokingly said to me a few weeks ago that the City Council was going to “rip off my epaulettes,” for sending a letter to the FAA over the issue of apartments in the Airpark.
This show had a relatively short run by the standards of “success” of the day. However, it was probably one of the best of the genre. Chuck Connors (The Rifleman) starred as a Civil War cavalry captain Jason McCord, who was the only survivor of a battle in which the commanding officer made a tactical error and was killed along with everyone else but McCord.
McCord refused to soil the reputation of his commanding officer by pointing the finger of blame. Instead he silently accepted the blame himself. He was drummed out of the Army for supposed cowardice under fire and for leaving the rest of the men to die.
In the opening credits of every show, McCord was called front-and-center of the assembled troops in the fort, had his rank stripped off his uniform. The fort commander broke McCord’s cavalry sabre over his knee and threw it out the front gate. McCord marched out of the fort and into a life trying to live down the brand of ‘coward’ without besmirching the reputation of his dead commanding officer.
This situation isn’t nearly as noble as that depicted in the show. In fact, it is a bit ironic in that I think the folks who made the error here in approving residential land use in the Airpark are both those who appointed me and those who are probably going to remove me tonight.
I’m not standing up for them and their mistake. I’m standing up TO them and for the Airport, which can’t speak for itself.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support I have received in the last week, much of it from people I barely know, and some of whom I’ve never met. I am thankful for their words of encouragement, and more importantly for caring about Scottsdale.
One of the best lines I can remember from Branded: “A brave man makes a choice while a coward steps aside.”
I’ve made my choice and I’ll live with the consequences.