Friday, March 30, 2018

Money. Ruination. Redemption.

Casey's Freaking Cold  with apologies all-around


The outlook wasn’t brilliant for baseball fans that day.
The temperature was 40, the wind caused the trees to sway.
From the towers of New York City, to St Looie’s silver arch,
The money guys of baseball, they began the games in March.

Who cares that it’s the Summer Game--you play it when it’s warm
If it makes us extra bucks, they said, we’ll play it through a storm.
We’ll play from Winter to November, we’re after ev’ry dollar.
So what you need your heavy coat all turned up in your collar.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land, the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are coughing, and somewhere children sneeze,
Cause this ain’t no time for baseball, when your ass you’re sure to freeze.

I'm sad that the money guys have taken over baseball as they have taken over other things I love, namely advertising and our country.

I'm sad, that in the taking over, they have ignored what made baseball, and advertising, and America unique and special in the first place.

I'm sad that there are no more day games.

I'm sad that I no longer have an office.

I'm sad that the president is a whore-monger.

It's sad how the pursuit of mammon has damaged so many entities and institutions I hold dear.

I'm sad.

But I'm not disconsolate.

Because when I hear a wooden bat meet that leather-covered sphere, when I write and sell a good ad, when common decency returns, as it will, then the money guys will be left with nothing but money.

While we, poorer, will have our souls.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Marking time.

Almost 40 years ago, in my first advertising job, the production manager, Rocco Imbriale had a way of managing the things that was way better than anything I’ve run across since.

I worked for the Montgomery Ward catalog—a Sears-sized catalog from the days long-before Amazon had devoured everything. Our small creative department—there were maybe ten writers, ten art-directors and ten mechanical artists, responsible for creating literally one-thousand catalog pages a year.

Rocco was in charge of making sure all the pages moved through production on time, a task not without its complexity and complication. One late page could mess up an entire printing form. What’s more, pages of a spread had to graphically align, so you couldn’t readily swap one page for another.

On a wall in the “light room” (a well-lit room where we could look at print proofs) there was a giant oak pegboard, maybe 20-feet wide by ten-feet high. Width-wise the board was divided into about half-inch sections, each division demarcated another step that went into making a page, all dated accordingly. On the length axis were all the pages we had assigned to us.

As a job moved from one step to the next, Rocco would take a little peg and move it along one square or two. This allowed people to see at a glance which pages were progressing, which were languishing and where we could have trouble.

I know that for about the last couple of decades or so companies have introduced a host of software programs that promise to help people keep track of what’s going on when. When I ask for a schedule I usually get something printed out on 11x17-inch paper in 14 different colors with 6-point type. I can’t make head or tails of anything on those print outs.

In short, they’re nowhere nearly as good as the system Rocco used way back in 1980.

This is not to say that all the old ways were better, faster, smarter or more efficient. The film below shows how "The New York Times" was produced in the days before computers. It's nearly 30-minutes long, but worth it, if only to hear real New York accents and see the toil of men with printer's ink on their hands.

Nobody asked me but....(Out like a lamb edition.)

Nobody Asked Me But is my periodic tribute to the great New York sportswriter, Jimmy Cannon, who would write one of these pieces when he had nothing to write about.

Nobody asked me but....

...Facebook's ad asserting its commitment to privacy and security was about as convincing as a press-conference by Sarah Sanders.

....If you download the information Facebook has on you, you're bound to be upset.

....It all makes me long for the days when you paid money to subscribe to something, rather than having your personal data brokered.

....If you want to read a good book about what's going on in America today, read Barbara Tuchman's "March of Folly."

....It was written in 1984.

....Brilliant historians, like Tuchman, not only see the past, they foretell the future.

....Of all the wonderful things that I've experienced in March, the highlight will be my eldest daughter coming home for Passover this weekend.

....My skin crawls whenever I hear a right-wing spokesperson call the Democratic party the Democrat party.

...I know there's a strategy behind this semantic ruse, but I can't figure it out.

....The 7,000 shoes on the lawn adjacent to the White House representing kids lost to gun violence is a brilliant symbol.

....Whatever the state of the world, baseball season starts in about a week.

....And right now, every team is tied for first place.

....which is as it should be.

Monday, March 26, 2018

In a parking lot in the Bronx. (A musical interlude.)

Last Sunday I spent an hour alone with Whiskey in my 1966 Simca 1600 parked in the Fairway parking lot on the Bronx/Pelham border, waiting in the car while my wife did a $400 Passover shop.

It’s not that I don’t like to go grocery shopping. We just don’t leave Whiskey alone, so I turned on the radio, rolled down the windows and read the “New York Times,” on my iPhone 3.

There was a large late-model Buick SUV backed into the space alongside me. This configuration meant we were driver’s-side-window-to-driver’s-side-window next to each other.

I had WNYC on the FM and the host, Paul Cavalconte, one of the great voices of New York radio was playing what’s known as the American song-book. Coincidentally, the guy in the Buick also had on WNYC and we had a fairly-nice quadrophonic sound going.

I think, Jo Stafford, one of my favorites was singing something mellow like “Moonlight in Vermont.” I looked over to the Buick and the old man in the driver’s seat had two drum-sticks and was accompanying the orchestra, brushing gently with the sticks on his leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Cavalconte shifted from Stafford to something upbeat and fast-paced—and the drummer started beating on his steering wheel and dash to the tempo. It might have been "Busted" by Ray Charles.

“You’re pretty good,” I said looking up to him. (My Simca is a small car, and his Buick, large. He was a good two-feet higher than I.)

“I’m just messing around,” he laughed.

“Do you play in a band,” I asked.

“Every Saturday night. I’m 75. But I want to do this another 15 years.”

“That’s great.”

“I play with all the old-timers,” he said, “But I do most of my playing right here, waiting for my wife.”

“I know all about that,” I answered.

Just then his ever-loving arrived with a cart spilling over with groceries. He pulled the truck out so she could load them in the back.

“Maybe she bought you a piece of cake,” I yelled to his window.

He laughed a full body laugh, drummed out a “Venture-like” solo. 

"Piece of cake," he laughed.

Then he drove out of the lot and into the Bronx.

Is your agency BLUE?

It is one of the great joys in life when your adult children display the wisdom to teach you a thing or two.

My eldest daughter, Sarah, is a doctor, a clinical psychologist and a mensch. Last Friday she taught me the acronym BLUE.

BLUE is an affliction that affects many of the people my daughter treats. BLUE can also hinder agencies, assignments and accounts, too. 

In this context:

B stands for those that "blame themselves."
L means they are almost always "looking for bad news."
U is "unhappy guessing." We already know we are going to fail.
E stands for "exaggeration."We ALWAYS mess up. NO ONE likes us.

Think of how often BLUE behavior gets in the way of doing good work.

B--we blame ourselves. "The client didn't buy it because I didn't give them what they want." Or, the client won't buy it because we aren't bending over far enough.

L--if we don't do what the client wants, they'll surely fire us. Or take their assignment elsewhere.

U--I know we're already going to fail at this assignment.

E--We always mess up that's why we're in this situation.

Of course there are occasions where all of the above happens.  Where clients don't buy things. Where they yell, or threaten to fire you. When you fail, when you mess up.

But when BLUE thoughts takeover--when your BLUE-self keeps you from your true self, you're apt to be in a situation where there is internal discord. You're apt to present safe or triple second-guessed work. You're apt to create an environment where optimism is overwhelmed by cynicism.


It's not a way to live.

Or to work.

Friday, March 23, 2018

More lost tweets from Gary Fuckaduck.

August 11
#Headache all day. Terrible migraine. Almost makes me want to take my knit cap off when its 97-degrees out.

August 23
#When you’re done crushing it, crush it some more. Good advice for life, careers and killing cockroaches.

Sept. 3
#Life is all about balance. Especially if you start it with your father’s banking balance of $50 million.

Sept. 14
#I’m really crushing it lately. Figured out how to have three-days of stubble after just two days.

Sept. 19
#Losers can be winners if they win at losing losing.

Sept. 29
#There’s no excuse for not getting what you want. Get up at 4AM work until 3AM, curate t-shirt slogans for an hour. Who needs sleep?! If you love the hustle, you crush it.

Oct. 2
#I misplaced my hustle this morning and went to work with merely a sidle. Fortunately, I found an amble which filled in till I found my hustle again.

Oct. 15

#Don’t just sip at life, drink from the firehose. Unless there’s a fire.

Oct. 22.
#Haters gonna hate. Graters gonna grate. Waiters? Where's my gluten-free kale and quinoa salad?