Thursday, October 18, 2012

Raised by wolves. And more.

Like so many of my generation, born during the Kodachrome days of the Eisenhower administration, I was raised by wolves.

My father, my drunken father was 99 44/100s absent. Away on business or chasing a skirt or drunk with his pals or working late. 

My mother was up on bennies or down on demoral and pill-popping only exacerbated what would decades later be called her "borderline personality."

Neither of my parents were raised by parents. They just somehow grew older. Learned English though it wasn't spoken at home and moved up up up and out of the depression poverty and want they were born into.

My father's father died when my father was twelve. He was said to be the only tailor in Philadelphia who couldn't sew.

And my mother's father was, in the parlance of the day, a "no-goodnik," an itinerant carver of gravestones who never worked steadily at anything but betting on the ponies.

I was raised by wolves like these.

Yesterday, Rich Siegel, the er uproariously funny Rich Siegel of "Round Seventeen" acclaim, wrote a post about his mentor in the business, David Butler. How Butler helped him get started, how Butler helped him on his way. You can read it here:

It occurred to me reading Rich's post that I was raised by wolves, until I entered advertising.

In the world of advertising I found people willing to help if you showed you had smarts, spunk and ambition.

I had a boss who hired me in my first job at Bloomingdale's, Chris Rockmore. I got paid to write. He taught me to be ruthless with my own copy.

I met a legend named Shep Kurnit who introduced me to four or five of his corner office friends, one of whom, Marshall Karp, eventually hired me.

Marshall's brother, Harold, was my first ACD. He went through my copy like the Germans through Poland.

Ed Butler at Ally had a different approach. He looked at my copy and said, 'you're good. I trust you. You don't have to show me copy unless you need help.'

I had Chris Wall and Steve Hayden at Ogilvy who taught me more about being a grown-up than a thousand real-life fathers would have.

Of course there are wolves in advertising as well.

And sharks.

And weasels.

And all kinds of vultures, buzzards and jackals.

But there are other sorts, too.

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