Celebrating All Things Kevin

Kevin. Simply utter the name and all in the travel industry know of whom you speak. Like Madonna, Eminem, Shakira and Prince in the music business, a single name embodies an enigmatic mystique that courts controversy at every turn. But this article won’t focus on the negative – it will celebrate the essence of Kevinesse.

Tnooz Editor in Chief Kevin May (without makeup)

Early photo of Kevin May – the eye gives him away. His critics often cite his sniping at Tnooz commenters, bird-brained perspectives and foul temperament…
Image Credit: Pixar

Old School Kevin

Saint Cóemgen (obviously an antecedent to the contemporary term “Curmudgeon”), is popularly anglicized to Saint Kevin of Glendalough. Saint Kevin is the patron saint of crows, and known as a man who did not like the company of men… Seems a good fit so far…

As much as Mr. May is considered a legend in the travel industry, his namesake Saint is similarly legendary. Not figuratively; literally legendary. Jesuit religious scholar Father Francis Baert describes the Acta Sanctorum document that documents Saint Kevin’s miracles, “that although many of the legends given to this work are of doubtful veracity; it was decided to let them stand in favour of the antiquity of the document which is placed as having being written during or before the 12th century.”

His famous miracles include a blackbird landing on his outstretched arm and laying an egg in his hand, with Kevin holding that position until the egg hatched – Foreshadowing his modern namesake’s spiteful determination. The Saint also commanded a willow tree to produce 20 yellow apples; an obvious analogy for commanding writers to satisfy his impossible bidding, like producing stories based on nothing of material interest.

Mister Cool Science
The name Kevin is directly derived from the Kelvin – A common scientific measure that uses as its base, the null point of absolute zero, a temperature at which all thermal motion ceases.

That makes nothing cooler than Kelvin, and by extension, Kevin.

It also explains the magical attraction of such a rarity as a Kevin casts a powerful spell over those he meets. It’s often compared to a tongue touching frozen steel.

Up – The Documentary of Kevin’s Discovery

Pixar’s decision to option the riveting documentary of the thought to be lost “The Discovery Kevin May” and its eventual transformation into an animated feature film is the stuff of Hollywood legend. While all names were changed (except Kevin’s) to avoid litigious royalty claims, the characterizations are thinly veiled.

Many aspects of the film are not only historically accurate, but feature verbatim dialogue and blocking. Dennis Schaal (portrayed as Russell) did indeed discover Kevin by luring him out of hiding with chocolate. And while the initial cuddling was awkward for those present to stomach in real life, the geniuses at Pixar managed to translate it to animation without creeping out audiences.

The role of Timothy O’Neil-Dunne was also exquisitely captured in the character of “Dug” a performance indistinguishable from the original archive footage. Similarly, the Carl Fredrickson character, based on me, was quite put-off by Kevin’s antagonistic squawking (a sentiment that continues to this day.)

However, significant artistic liberties were also taken in the film. Gene Quinn (portrayed as Charles Muntz) who led the expedition Spoiler Alert! never plummeted to his death, how else could he have co-founded Tnooz after the capture and taming of Kevin? Also, the controversial decision to Spoiler Alert! kill-off the “Ellie” character in the film’s preface does little to detract from the importance of Valyn Perini’s role in Kevin’s location and discovery. Interestingly, the film’s producers chose an ending that left Kevin in the wild – an outcome that I pleaded the others to consider at the time.

The following segment accurately recreates Kevin’s discovery in the Dickensian town of Rochester, Medway, although Pixar changed the film’s setting to the wilds of South America:

Despite the liberties taken with the narrative, one final editorial decision, as an homage to the original source material, kept Kevin female in respect to his original condition prior to his oft-forgotten transgender reassignment surgery several years later. Many credit his plucking, trading his spectacular iridescent plumage and topknot for the Moby-esque shaved pate, as the source of his foul demeanor.

A Good Kevin is Hard to Find

Kevins are unusually rare – and not often found in the wild. Case-in-point, Biography.com, drawing from the collective annals of history, identifies just a mere dozen as Famous People Named Kevin. It’s a rather sad list.

The list is rife with actors, including Kevins Bacon, Costner, Hart, James, Kline, Pollak and Spacey. One may also choose to include Kevin Federline in that list, but that may involve too broad an interpretation of the term “actor.”

Only one tech-related entrepreneur makes the list, Kevin O’Connor, founder of DoubleClick and a lone politician – former Australian Labor Party Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Finally, it also includes two professional basketball players (Kevin Garnett and Kevin Durant) who, much like Kevin May, are paid well to dribble and take shots.

There it is – the aggregate history of famous Kevins. Although the list dies include three Oscar winners, Perhaps a bit more pathetic than sad.

As a point of reference, Biography.com lists 95 Famous People Named Robert.

  • Film – Altman, De Niro, Duvall, Mitchum, Preston, Redford, Rodriguez, Wise, Zemeckis
  • Arts/Literature – Browning, Burns, Frost, Joffrey, Ludlum, Mapplethorpe, Motherwell, Rauschenberg, Louis Stevenson
  • Athletics – Griffin III
  • Music – Johnson, Merrill, Palmer, Plant
  • Military/Politics – Kennedy, E. Lee

The Formative Years
Early home videos, from the period before his acerbic plumage fully developed, provide a touching look into the the family relationships that helped mold such a unique persona. In this clip, Kevin exhibits his trademark impatience for obvious questions, as well as a degree of self-awareness normally reserved for those considerably older. The trademark cleverness is demonstrated by his twist on a game of hide & seek with his Dad.

Those Complicated Teen Years
The bestselling book, “We Need to Talk About Kevin” covers a period, described by Kevin’s publicist as “mildly exaggerated.” Frustrated that the film treatment focuses on a mother’s struggle to love her child, the publicist prefers to place his client squarely in the spotlight, “you’ll never see a more heartwarming portrayal of a boy who ends up murdering seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and the much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday…”

Pop Culture Kevin
Mention “Kevin the Pigeon” to any British schoolgirl, and they will gush enthusiastically about the reclusive 6th member of One Direction. The group’s creative muse was introduced to the band after member Louis Tomlinson became obsessed with kevinlukemay’s Audio Drivel compositions on SoundCloud . Unfortunately, due to decades of pleadings and court actions, neither Kevin May, nor his likeness, is permitted to be exposed to underage girls throughout the European Union. As a result, despite serving as the creative muse for the popular boy band, May must be represented in videos and on stage as Louis’ stuffed pigeon. Kevin figures prominently in the One Direction – Video Diary 4 video:

Meeting Kevin
In closing, when contemplating the powerful effect Kevin May has on the travel industry, it would be remiss to exclude the overwhelming visceral reaction from people encountering Kevin, in person, for the first time:

About Robert Cole

Robert Cole is the founder of RockCheetah, a hotel marketing strategy and travel technology consulting practice. He also authors the Views from a Corner Suite Blog and publishes the Travel Quote of the Day. Robert speaks regularly at major travel industry conferences, authors articles for leading travel industry publications, advises travel-related startups and the equity investment community. He is an evangelist for the global travel industry.