Monday, August 14, 2023

The Grind Grind.

Usually on Saturday or Sunday morning, or both mornings to be clear, I have my work cut out for me. Those are the days I am up early and I try to scratch out, in some form, three of the week's five blog posts.

There's a lot going on in my drive to write. 

Most important, I can't help it. There was a time in my life when I arrived at my desk early. There was a time when I had a large office and a number of chairs and a sofa. 

Before nine, a core of people would gather in my office during these mornings, and we would talk about the news, or movies we'd seen, or books we were reading, or some connection that was bothering us or exhilarating us. Having that sort of companionship in the office might have been one of the reasons that throughout the first 40 years of my 43-year career people didn't have to be browbeaten to come into the office.

They had some space. They had some comfort. They had some relief from a business that's become increasingly grind-it-out-oriented and they could just hang, talk and kibbitz.

Of course today, we've lost all that. Every hour must be accounted for and fully billable. Usually making undifferentiated rectangles that say nothing to no one and have to go through twenty rounds of revisions for that privilege.

Those early morning sessions were a sort of therapy for a lot of us, or a methadone clinic--we'd get a palliative high that helped us cope. They gave us a shot of dopamine that kicked our brains in the ass and liberalized our axons and dendrites into original thinking-ization.

As work got more rigid, time got more pressed, as personal-space became more confining and corporate ambition more modest and gulagocratic, I gave up holding court in the agency. There was no more agency, really. Just a factory-floor with long identical tables where billable hours could be stacked so that they could efficiently turn out commoditized content units.

Along with that, our behaviors, moods, and range of expressions were homogenized. Our individuality and quirkiness was asphalted. We were judged on our ability to support, collaborate, build bridges, nod and never dissent, lest the worst of all monikers were attached to us: "hard to work with."

So, in mid-2007, I switched to blogging. It no longer made sense to show your personality in the office. Personality was better suppressed, and I tried to confine my ample subversive side to the realm of binary code.

In addition to giving vent to my personality--my anger, my curiosity, my intellect, my connections, my world view, my experiences in and out of the industry--this space has become, perhaps the ad industry's premier new business machine. 

Scarcely a day goes by when someone doesn't reach out to me with a somewhat meek, almost-timid note saying something like, "I love your writing. I wonder if I could talk to you about a potential assignment."

New business of course is like fishing from the small causeway over in the cove that separates the peninsula my Connecticut seaside cottage rests on from the mainland of Amerika. The Spanish-speaking men who fish from the causeway know that out of every ten creatures they catch, there's usually only two or one worth keeping. 

They're seeking bluefish, or stripers, but more often get a junk fish like a sea robin or something tiny and all-gills or they get a clump of seaweed mottled and bunched like aquatic dreadlocks.

That's the stuff you throw back. Affectionately.

And like those squat Spanish men who park their pickups over the bridge so they can fish, I have to throw back a lot of my bites too. They're too small. Or they're the wrong sort of species. Or they're something not close to what I need to consider the day a success.

In what is, IMHO, the greatest single chapter in all of American Literature, the "G In the Air" chapter from Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon," Spade tells Miss O'Shaugnessy the story of a man called Flitcraft, a man who had discovered something important after nearly dying when a piece of building fell ten stories and nearly struck him. 

What disturbed him was the discovery that in sensibly ordering his affairs he had got out of step, and not into step, with life. He said he knew before he had gone twenty feet from the fallen beam that he would never know peace again until he had adjusted himself...

Here's the bit I think about as I write my blog, as I run GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company, as I try to get by without shoving nobody. It's Spade, again, talking about Flitcraft and there's one word I zero in on:

A beam or something fell eight or ten stories down and smacked the sidewalk alongside him. It brushed pretty close to him, but didn’t touch him, though a piece of the sidewalk was chipped off and flew up and hit his cheek. It only took a piece of skin off, but he still had the scar when I saw him. He rubbed it with his finger—well, affectionately—when he told me about it.

The word, of course, is affectionately.

It's the bits and bytes of life that can castrate you or kill you or immobilize you or emasculate you (whether you're a man or a woman) that you have to regard affectionately. These are the
slings and arrows that you have to learn to learn from--that by learning from them you have to learn to love. 

This is how we grow.

This is how we live and die.

This is how we we.

This is why we write.




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