Monday, March 7, 2016

An apology wrapped in a mea culpa inside an 'I'm sorry.'

After almost 4,200 posts on this blog, I'm finding it harder and harder to find things to say about advertising that I haven't said before or that Rich Siegel over at Round Seventeen or Bob Hoffman, the Ad Contrarian aren't saying better.

I'm also in the unfortunate position where it seems like half of the people I work with on a daily basis are reading Ad Aged. I don't want to reveal any antipathies. I don't want to grumble too loudly. I don't want to choke on the teat that nourishes me.

As a consequence, I find myself in this space often chasing down a whirlwind of digressions. I am spending more time talking about my sojourn south of the border when I played ball in the Mexican Baseball League. Perhaps my Jorge Navidad is to me like Updike's Rabbit Angstrom, except when I am down in Saltillo, I am not, like Rabbit, growing older. I am stuck as a 17-year old, playing a boys' game for workman's wages.

The same is true with my long nights and short days drinking Pike's, "The ALE that won for YALE!" at the Tempus Fugit. Of my hundreds of visits to the place, only once have the bartender and I spoken about advertising. That, you may recall, was a disquisition on resisting the ever-loving appeal of mammon when the bartender was tempted by an offer to "franchise" the Tempus Fugit and make it something like a Chili's or a TGI Fridays.

I also spend time, not on Madison Avenue, but with my Uncle Slappy and Aunt Sylvie. I thought of them, of course, this weekend when I tripped upon a place at the junction of Allerton Avenue and East Gun Hill Road in the Bronx that serves a really superior bowl of kasha varnishkas with an artery-clogging gravy that is, quite literally, to die for. And this just four days before my visit to Dr. Blumenthal, my cardiologist.

I tell my work partner every day that the hardest thing about being in an agency when you're the oldest one around is my personal abatement of anger. It's not that things don't piss me off and make me want to howl at the moon--of course they do, agencies are stupider than ever, chasing their tails and spending 11-cents of man hours to get the last dime of client budgets, but I am no longer rabid.

I know we will muddle through. And at the end of time, most agency problems, and most client problems, too, can be solved by a really good rectangle--that  is, a good tv spot or print ad. I know if I get caught in a maelstrom of hate, anger and venom, that good rectangle will be harder to come to, harder to create and harder to sell.

So rather than fulminate and huff through my mouth, I go quietly back to my desk. I try with headphones and concentrated brain-power to blot out modern agency din. And I try to do my work. I guess you could say that part of my  p  r  o  c  e  s  s  is visiting with the characters mentioned above.

That's all for now, really.

Sorry I couldn't write something that would make you chuckle knowingly about the banality of agency life, or something that would put you in high dudgeon, whatever that means, or something that would entice you to throw your laptop through the nearest plate glass.

Preston Sturges once wrote, "A man works all his life in a glass factory, one day he picks up a hammer."

No more hammers for me. No more crashing and bashing and trashing.

For that you should have known me 20 years ago.

I am just not there right now.

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