Friday, June 21, 2013

Work and the Second Avenue subway.

I am in early once again.

It's Friday, and while most everyone seems to be orgying in Cannes, I am in the office before eight, prelude to an 8:15 call with the client.

It is beautiful in New York this morning. The sky is clear, if a little hazy. And though it's supposed to get warm and humid later in the day, the air now is cool--it was 64 when I left the house. A pleasant temperature, perfect for taking the long way to work.
A taste of New York. Knishes from a cart also selling hotdogs cooked in warm water.

However, I took a cab. To get there early. To not be late for my call with the client.

On the cab route down second avenue scores of men in neon-green tee-shirts and hard hats banged away willy-nilly, constructing their small piece of New York's newest subway line--the Second Avenue line.

It was originally conceived in the 30s, during the LaGuardia administration, but then the Depression struck, then the war, then Robert Moses and the automobile. Though they yanked down the Third Avenue El, they never got around the building the new promised subway line.

They started again around the time Bobby Kennedy was killed and made some progress starting at 125th Street. But New York's 1970s fiscal crisis aborted those efforts and the tunnel lay unworked for the past four decades. Under the stern visage of mayor Bloomberg, they're building it now and large portions of the Upper East Side looks like a set from Kubrick's "Paths of Glory."

Sometimes I feel I am building a Second Avenue subway for my client. Their assignments, their nervousness, their over-think means that the usual twelve-week process of creating a television campaign is stretched to three times that length. Along the way most of my year is consumed with creating three or five commercials and a couple of web videos.

The way work works now, no one in my agency notices these labors. Only heels do work, after all. The cool kids talk about it and fly to Cannes and fete it (mostly work that never ran) and then post their insipid quotidianess on Instagram.

I think if you do actual work that brings in actual income in an agency these days it's as if you're building the Second Avenue line. You labor and sweat and swear underground. Unseen.

They speed by in shiny European cars. Not caring much if at all for what you build.

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