Friday, January 29, 2021

A building razed.

A few of my friends lately, the few who still commute, or who aren't afraid to leave their apartments, have posted a thing or two about the new Moynihan Train Hall in Manhattan. It was built to alleviate the filth and density of the ill-conceived and ill-executed Penn Station--the busiest train station in the country.

I was alive when Mead McKim and White's palatial Penn Station was demolished. It fell to the wrecker's ball between 1963 and 1966, but I really don't remember it. My family was more apt to drag me by my ear through Penn Station's rival, Grand Central. During my youth that was our urine-scented transportation hub of choice.

The great Yale architecture professor and historian, Vincent Scully, had this to say about the original Penn Station. "We used to come into New York City like gods. Now we come into New York like rats." 

I thought about rodent skulking, then watched this seven-minute video on the destruction of the station.

I've been more than a little disconsolate lately. But I couldn't help but thinking that this short documentary excerpt ostensibly on a train station was really a documentary about everything old that's been razed and demolished, including me and my industry.

"One by one, the enormous Doric columns, winged eagles and granite angels that had ornamented its facade, were cut down, carted away and dumped in a foul-smelling swamp in the New Jersey Meadowlands....It's a sad commentary on the ideology of modernism, the belief that new is better, the belief that modern efficiency or that the profiting from new construction is an adequate replacement for the traditions and heritage and the real meaning of places in peoples' lives."

Though GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company is doing better than I've ever dreamed possible (I fully believe my account roster is more prestigious than the agency that threw me out at the age of 62 after eleven years of tireless service) it's hard, on gloomy early mornings not to feel disregarded, disrespected and disposed of.

It's hard to have your own personal Doric columns carted out to a smelly swamp and left to decay. It's hard to no longer be something people look up to. It's hard to be structurally and spiritually "de-institutionalized."

Maybe it's just me--just my sensitivity, and my need to be needed, but getting Willy Loman'd sucks. They've taken the orange and thrown away the peel.

It especially sucks when you feel like the old Penn Station. And you see how linoleum and neon and particle-board your replacement is.

And how thorough the destruction by people rich in money and impoverished in soul.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Putting the "con" in consequences.

I read something the other day about unintended consequences. Thinking about unintended consequences is a round-about way of saying you're going to consider history as written not by winners, but by losers.

The item I read was about how glorious life will be when we've got real 5G and real self-driving cars. We'll be able to work as we drive into the office. We can maybe catch a nap on the way home. And because machines purportedly will make fewer mistakes than people, traffic will move more steadily and there will be fewer accidents.

That sounds good.


There are unintended consequences no one wants to consider. Suburban sprawl will increase. There will be a Home Depot and a Starbucks every nine feet. Small farmers will be priced out of land-ownership. And almost invariably there will be some technology issue that leads to a semi-tractor-trailer crashing into a classroom of second-graders.

But speaking of the ostensible subject of this blog: advertising, all over my social feeds these days, I see news of Martin Sorrell, and his new holding company S4. They're buying up agency after agency amassing more and more, growing larger and larger.

S4 is buying not old-line agencies, but places I've never heard of--I don't know a media monk from a media rabbi--but I'm sure people are marveling at Sorrell's genius. In just a few short years, he's created an advertising holding company that seems to have the money-hemorrhaging old-guard shivering in their $1100 sockless loafers.

People see Sorrell as the person who made WPP the world's largest communications company. A money alchemist who took a shopping cart company and turned it into a company that owned more than a handful of the most-storied brands in advertising.

What they don't see is the unintended consequences of Sorrellism.

They don't see that when he paid himself $100 million a year. That meant the holding company had to forgo paying 1000 $100,000/year employees. They see that he drove up shareholder-value. They don't see that he essentially transferred revenue from workers to shareholders. Leaving his holding company's workforce commoditized and ill-paid. They don't see that the $100 million he gave himself essentially eviscerated the company he ran. (It's hard to take the $100 million off the top.)

They see that WPP was strong while he was there. They don't see his unintended consequence--that he dismantled the foundation and sure-footing of the business. Leaving a shell in his wake.

Thomas Friedman in Wednesday's Times (oddly enough, the failing Times is still in business while Donald Trump is not) cites Ruchir Sharma, chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and calls this dynamic “Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest.” 

Market intervention like Sorrells does more to stimulate the stock market than it does to stimulate agencies.  Who benefits? Shareholders. Who pays? You and I.

Sharma says, America's richest 10 percent own more than 80 percent of US stocks. They've seen their wealth go up more than 300% in the last 30 years. The bottom people (the people who do the actual grind of work) have had virtually no gains--if they still even have a job.

This data is from 2012. I suspect the trends have accelerated since the
reverse Robin Hood trillionaire tax-relief law was passed by the Trump administration.

Newton's 3rd law is usually rendered like this: "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction."

In most things, we focus on the action--in this case the consolidation of independent agencies into giant global entities that create vast wealth (due to their size) for the scions at the pinnacle. 

What we miss is the equal and opposite reaction.

The destruction of middle-class careers.

The unintended, but inevitable, consequence.


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

What to expect when you're expecting (a job.)

Back when I was in the traditional agency business I noticed it was never easy to find good people with the fervor necessary to do good work.

I've noticed this when I was teaching advertising, too. Everyone thinks the road ahead will be easy. That they're preternaturally talented and the breaks will just happen.

I suppose it's some evolutionary vestige, but we tend to think that new endeavors will be simple. I promise you, Leif Ericsson or Sacajawea didn't begin their treks with any plausible idea of what hardships and terrors they would face. If you're fully cognizant of what lies ahead, you'll likely be paralyzed by fear. I don't think too many people would opt-in for fatherhood, or home-ownership, or a career in advertising if they were completely apprised of the "blood, sweat, toil and tears" needed to endure.

Early one morning, I decided to make "getting" people easier on myself.

In the spirit of the best-selling pregnancy guide, "What to Expect When You're Expecting," I wrote a short piece on what it was like working on the account I was helping to shepherd. While I wrote it for that particular account and a particular agency at that particular time, most of the concepts make sense no matter what, I think, your profession, account, agency or whatever. 

(As Tolstoy wrote in "Anna Karenina", "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." I think somehow that Tolstoy applies to most everything.)

Anyhow, enough Cyrillic for now. Here's what I wrote. The names have been changed to protect the imbecilic. You can probably adapt this for any job, from a great job like dog-catcher to a cruddy one like CCO.

(BTW--most bosses and companies expect loyalty from their employees. They rarely do anything that shows their loyalty to you. Something like this might help.)


When you’re working on _________.

(Some thoughts from a ten-year vet.)

When you’re working on 
you’re working on the biggest and most important account within 

When you’re working on 
you’ll be a part of 
_________'s transformation and _________’s revitalization.

When you’re working on 
you’ll be contributing to a long legacy of award-winning, career-making work

When you’re working on 
you’ll work with some of the smartest, most demanding clients,
account people and planners in the business.

When you’re working on _________, you’ll produce.
(Last year 00/00 creatives produced one or more tv spots, directed by people like Fredrik Bond, Matt Aselxton, Randy Krallman, Errol Morris.)

When you’re working on _________, you’ll produce.
(Every creative produced a major film project.)

When you’re working on 
_________, you’ll produce.
(We built a movie premiere in 
_________, a _________ branded pop-up shop in Williamsburg and 66 real time billboards in _________.)

When you’re working on 
you’ll be faced with the most pressure and opportunities in your career.

When you’re working on 
you’ll find the clients thank you for your work, even if it doesn’t get produced.

When you’re working on 
you’ll find yourself among a band of sisters and brothers
who help each other out and don’t point fingers

When you’re working on 
you’ll be proud to tell your friends what you’re doing,

When you’re working on 
you’ll be challenged, stressed, exasperated.


When you’re working on _________,
you’ll grow your portfolio career and self like never before.


So many of the things we do at work are replicable--they happen four or five times a year, year after year. But very few people take the time to be methodical about things and write them down. We should make our own algorithms. We'd get some time back.

And maybe help people along the way.

I've done that for about 30 years. 

Look where it got me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

27 semi-confessions.

1.    I have no idea what human-centric design is or what sort of ____-centric design would be considered a viable alternative.

2.    Likewise, I really don't know what a Chief Experience Officer does, 1875 hours a year.

3.    Or for that matter, a Chief Risk Officer.

4.    Fewer than 1% of people in an ad agency will ever admit to not knowing what a commonly used buzzword or acronym means. 

5.     I don't think that if someone is a CEO--really a CEO--they shouldn't need the modifier "global" in front of those letters. If you do, you're an EO, not a CEO.

6.    I believe anyone (that includes agencies and clients and viewers) with a conscience should be actively boycotting every aspect of Murdoch-owned media. Trump is gone but Fox's ongoing campaign of fascism, misinformation and enabling white- supremacy continues unabated.

7.    I haven't watched the Super Bowl in five years. And will never watch it while it is on Fox.

8.    I hate fascism. But it also helps to hate organized brain damage, aka football.

9.     I wish there were a legitimate advertising trade-press. I'd like to know how many people agencies like Ogilvy have jettisoned in the last three years. My guess is their New York offices have about half the employees they had five years ago.

10.    Likewise, I'd like to see a graph showing the decline of wages from 1980-present in real dollars.

11.     Likewise, I'd like to see some bonafide accounting on "progress" in diversity.

12.     I believe 75% of meetings take place because of Microsoft meeting maker.

13.    And 95% of that 75% are un-needed.

14.    I've given up on the Tokyo Olympics. The 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

15.    Half of next-years' Cannes entries will have faux Amanda Gorman-style scripts. 

16.    How can a giant technology company run a banner ad that brings you to a landing page like this and then asks you to watch a 16 minute and 22-second video.

17.     Agencies and advertisers would do well to consider the Greek notion of "hubris."

18.    A 16:22 video is another good definition.

19.    I don't trust people who use words like asynchronous. How is it better than saying, "not at the same time"?

20.    I believe the advertising industry will never again be creative, profitable or valued until the timesheet is eliminated.

21.    Good clients pay well.

22.    Bad clients don't. And never will. 

23.    I think the dumbest thing Ogilvy ever did was remove David Ogilvy's thoughts from their offices. A bit like America forgetting "of the people, by the people, for the people."

24.    We'd all do well to remember, every day, "the consumer is not a moron."

25.    Why keep a dog and bark yourself? And

26.    First-class business in a first-class way.

27.    I could rewrite those and more to satiric effect. But no one who should get it would.

Monday, January 25, 2021

A day in the life.

It's Friday morning as I write this. A sparkling day. The air is cold. The sun is bright. The sea, just thirty feet beyond my windows is glistening--a white light reflecting off the low chop of the Sound. 

Moments ago, out for a walk, I heard then saw a flock of 50 geese honking overhead, flying crazy like rush-hour traffic on the Major Deegan. Honking like a cabbie just seconds before the light changes. 

I suppose given that it's 2021 and the world seems to have taken a hair's breadth step away from doom, what passes for peace has settled over my small nook in Connectinook. 

Yeah, ok, I'll quote Rodgers' and Hart. They did things better than I could do. And prettier too.

Here's Diana--since when have you ever had too much Diana? Then Blossom. Then June Allyson, a bit of Hollywood corn, but wonderful all the same.

"I'd feel so rich in a hut for two,
Two rooms, a kitchen, I'm sure would do.
Give me not a lot of just a plot of land
And thou swell, thou witty, thou grand."

I've been a solo player in the advertising multi-plex for a year now. And I'm still trying to figure out what it all means and if I at all like it. 

When you spend your life working for others, playing on a team, being inside a machine, having a company's name on your business card, you get used to it. It's what you know. It becomes part of your identity. 

You can resent certain portions of it, of course. But it's all a little bit like being on a ball-team. And working for IBM and Ogilvy was a little like putting on the pinstripes of the Yankees each day.

I'm sure a lot of Yankee players and coaches hated Steinbrenner, or hated commuting to the broken-bottled-balled-fist Bronx. But still, there was something magical about putting on the same uniform the great DiMaggio wore and sharpening your spikes and your teeth for yet another game.

That's all gone now. 

That rug was pulled out from under me. 


No amount of prescience, therapeutic or otherwise prepares you for that loss. In fact, like the warmth of sunshine off the nearby Long Island Sound, the feeling isn't just different every day, in fact, it's different every hour, or every minute, even.

GeorgeCo., a Delaware Company, LLC is doing better than I had ever imagined it would do. I have a friend and long-time colleague who helps me cope and keeps me in-line and keeps clients clienting. I have a large-handful of clients who keep me busy and seem to enjoy the spinning gears and neural connections that pass for my mind. 

Touch wood, the phone rings. I'm getting in-bound without doing out-bound. I've fought the urge to get outside writing help, though it seems I have legions of planners, producers and art-directors on stand-by.

Fortunately, I don't have to fill out timesheets, take orders or, show up smiling to the things I'd rather not show up to. I also have no petty bureaucrats who are Soviet in their love of protocol, foolish regimen and harshness. No spiritual whip welts my amplitude.

I work with people I like, for people I like and I keep telling people I believe that the golden rule even applies to advertising, at least how I'm practicing it.

Of course, I have, every day, miles to go before I sleep. I have "deliverables." "Zooms." "Iterating." And a thousand worries and points of view I have to weigh, consider and respond to.

I have confusing directions to un-ravel, eighty-one page decks to make sense of, and the convoluted wiring diagrams of old soviet nuclear subs to Rosetta-stone. Assignments are like that sometimes. Always will be.

I also have, often, an unwieldy amount of pressure. My aforementioned "two rooms, a kitchen" don't come cheap. When Rodgers and Hart wrote those words, there were no $10,000 Sub Zero refrigerators to think about and no ambitious architects seeking to turn a humble clatter of 1920s two-by-fours into an authentic-looking New England seaside cottage enhanced by all the fortitude the mid-twenty-first century can wangle from your leatherette wallet, not to mention a hungry architect with a Hawthorne-esque last name and a high-end Range Rover to assuage.

It's a lonely world for me right now. Agency-life had surrounded me with people who enjoyed me and liked spending time with me. There was never any shortage of NKO (nearby kibbitz opportunity) and that's all gone now.

It's me and my 1955 Underwood manual typewriter, clacking away.

Oh, the typewriter is quiet.

That's me clacking.

Friday, January 22, 2021

The best I can do.

If, god forbid, it ever happened that I was forced through some sort of cosmic high-colonic to re-enter the Holding Company business that threw me out on my ass as obsolete at the age of 62 and at the height of my creative powers, and I were asked to once again help run a creative department or reinvigorate a creative department or an agency, I think I'd do one thing.

It would piss a lot of people off for being too confusing. It would piss other people off for being too simple. It would piss still others off because it's antithetical to how most everything works today, no matter what your vocation or avocation. 

I'd say the words I learned from Errol Morris the first time I shot with him.

Talent, such as it is, would enter the casting session nervous. I can understand that. In my mind, entering a casting session must be like showing up for a party alone. There's nowhere to hide. You're on your own.

They were also, being in front of Errol, expecting some sort of eloquence or profundity.

What they got was two words.

"Do something."

That was Morris' way of discovering how people think. Do something. 

If they did something and it was unique, funny, heartfelt, weird, Errol had more adroit direction. One-third longer. Or 50 percent depending on your math.

"Do something else."

Some years ago I flew to Berlin with another notable director to shoot a spot for IBM. My wife decided to hide herself in my duffle bag and see the city while I was busy idioting in video-village and waiting 97-minutes for German Starbucks, which is not nearly as convenient as American Starbucks. Both of which suck.

After a week, we were done in Berlin, and my wife and I decided to spend a week in Amsterdam. We had never been there before and we were curious.

One of our first stops in Amsterdam was the Rijksmuseum, which has as much great art per square angstrom as any museum anywhere. Because I am a collector of great links that may someday entertain, help or amuse me, you can visit the Rijksmuseum just by clicking here. For all the woe and horror in the world, planet earth remains an amazing place where shit like this happens pretty much for free.

Our next stop was the Van Gogh Museum. 

While there, in addition to seeing Van Gogh's breathtaking work, I learned something really magical. 

In the last 70 days of Van Gogh's life, he painted 77 paintings. Your taste in art and knowledge might be more exalted than mine. But to my eyes, there wasn't a clinker in the lot.

Painting one. May 1890.

Painting seventy-seven. July 1890.

As I near my 6,000th post in this space, I'll admit that at times it gets to be a chore. I have clients and colleagues breathing down my neck. Whiskey wants to play, or I'm tired and just want a rest.

You hear a lot of excuses like that from people in all sorts of professions. Especially advertising. 

I'm not in the mood.

I hate the client.

The brief sucks.

There's no money, there's no time, I have no partner.

OK. I get it.

But, as I said, somehow Van Gogh painted 77 paintings in 70 days. 

So, paint.

I've found that the best way to do something is just to do it. If you're a writer, start writing. If you're an art director start following your visual thoughts, go to the Rijksmuseum, above. If you're a planner, pull at the loose threads from conversations you've had. Write a dialogue.

Everything you do doesn't have to make sense. When you're starting and getting over stuckness or getting out of molasses or just getting going, it doesn't even have to be good. It doesn't even have to make sense. Pretend you're blindfolded--don't even self-edit.

If you know anything about how your brain works, how the mind makes connections, how one stray bit of dumbness can lead to a blinding flash of smartness, you'll find that doing is always better than not doing.

If I had two hours and had to write something on, say, quantum computing, I'd quickly read as many articles as I could in an hour. 

Then I'd type: computing used to be a set of ones and zeros. It was binary. Off or on. Like a light switch.

Quantum changes that. 

There's no off. 

No on.

No one. No zero.

Everything happens at once.

That makes fast faster.

I'm not 100% sure I can wrap my head around that--everything happening at once. But here's what it could mean to you.

And so on.

That's not perfect.

I'm not even sure it makes sense.

But somehow, it's a start.

And a start is better than a nothing.

And besides, it's the best I can do.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Bacon. France. And more.

Death comes to a society, death comes to a relationship, death comes to an industry when it can no longer distinguish between fantasy and reality. 

When it can no longer tell truth from reality, when it is no longer able to distinguish between doing and saying, when it can no longer tell the difference between success and failure or measurement and propaganda, the infrastructure falls apart.

Last week, for instance, WPP's Mark Read won some cockamamie award recognizing his success. His success, to my eyes, is virtually destroying four of the greatest advertising brands ever: Ogilvy, Y&R, J. Walter Thompson and Grey. A 25% revenue drop. Award-winning.

Here's a clip compiled by the Washington Post of 40 times donald trump claimed the killer of nearly 400,000 Americans, Covid-19, would just go away.

One way we in advertising can bring back (to quote Rosser Reeves) Reality in Advertising is by watching our words. 

Watching our words.

I'm disgusted by our words.

Our empty words.

Our blandishments.

Most of all our embrace of jargon and hyperbole.

I never want to hear or read the word agile again. Or robust. Or scalable. 

I never want to hear or read best or safest or any other half-truth that's fart-asserted without evidence.

I never want to again see fake ads--ads that either never ran or that weren't paid for by paying clients--dominate award shows and send dilettantes into the advertising stratosphere.

Most of all--and the impetus behind this tirade--I never want to hear the word "brilliant" again.

I am bored by it. 

It is overused.

It has become meaningless.

Like the word "awesome." There have been about ten brilliant things that have ever been done, written or said. And none of them by me in a blog, post or tweet. 

Not uttered in an ad.

Or a freaking deck.

Or on a zoom call.

We need to come back to moderateness.

Citizen Kane was brilliant. The latest "Capital One" spot is not.

Herman Melville was brilliant. This blog has moments of clarity--that's it.

As I have often said, there is a difference between doing something heroic and being a hero.

There is power--and therefore potential danger--in our words. In our business, no matter what our roles, we have power. And we must learn to use it more judiciously and wisely.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Thinking last.

I read something the other night, I'm not sure where or what I was reading, but it was about the origins of many last names in the western world.

There are a lot of Coopers, Sawyers, Carpenters, Smiths, Farmers, Cartwrights, Brewers. All last names that indicate the profession of the patriarch of one's particular family. Somewhere, I suppose in the past of my blighted family tree someone was either from Tannenberg, Germany or cut fir trees for a living.

Maybe there's a word for this kind of genealogical etymology and I just don't know it. But it struck me as a somewhat interesting and harmless diversion.

Then, all at once my social media feeds were taking over by the shocking brilliant revealing of a new Burger King logo. It's so different and so brilliant that it seemed everyone and their cousin was having it their way. 

When I looked at it, I saw no big deal. I certainly didn't see breakthrough. I saw a slight revamping of a logo from 1969 and that was about it. I saw nothing that would make me think about going to Burger King and having a meal. In fact, if everyone wasn't gushing about it, I wouldn't have noticed at all. And if I happened to see the new logo on a roadside litter-basket known as a QSR, I'd have probably said to myself, "oh, they never updated their logo from 50 years ago."

Of course, my point in bringing up the old/new/old Burger King logo is to illustrate how much time we in our industry spend on things that make no difference to people, sales, organizations--anything.

Think of the late nights you've spent in edit suites. Or rewriting something that was shorter, sharper and better two weeks earlier. Think of all the hours we spend listening to the Gregorian chanters of opinionizers--each one who has to be heeded or you'll be accused and damned for not being collaborative. Think about all the minutia that takes up our lives, that fills our timesheets and empties our souls.

I wondered if all our last names were wiped out in some celestial conflagration, if all at once we were without last names, and were to be assigned by the socialistic anarcho-syndicalist Biden administration new last names based on our current occupations--how that would go.

Not George Copywriter. Or George Adman. They'd have to be more specific than that to be identifying.

"Hi, George, I'm Fred Framefucker, nice to meet you."

"Hey, it's Pete Powerpoint."

"Dave Deck."

"Mary Incomprehensibleandcontradictorycomments."

"Hi, it's James Throwmyweightaround."

"Hi, I'm Katie Timesheetpolice, this is my assistant, 
Mia Kissmyass."

"Bill Corporatejargonese."

"Ernie LetsstayallnightbecauseIhategoinghome."

"Tom Bigworduser."

"Pam Pontificator."

"Shelly Notinuntileleven."

The list goes on and one. But I'll end with my two favorites.

"Mark Harkenback."


"Mark Decreasingrevenuebytwentyfivepercenteveryquarterdestroyinggreatadvertisingbrandsandfiringeveryoneovertheageofthirtytwo."

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Revealing myself.

For the last 40 years, as I labored within the badly painted halls of various agencies, 13 of them in total spread over four holding companies and 97 bone-saws, I always was squeezed into a box.

I remember back in the early 80s, during my first agency job, a raft of senior people darkened my door and said, "George, we have an emergency." Even though I was still wet behind the ears all those senior people came to me with their emergency.

When they left I took a breath. I looked at the notes I took from our meeting. I considered what it was they asked me to do.

I spun over to my IBM Selectric. 

And I typed.

This can't be right, I murmured to myself. This doesn't seem like an emergency.

I unrolled what I had typed. And I typed a bit more.

In a short while--the cleaning crew was just about through making their nightly noise--I was done. 

I made a Xerox or two of what I had typed. And left a copy on the desk of each of those aforementioned senior people.

By nine the next morning, I was at my desk. In short, order that raft of senior people darkened again my door.

"George, how did you do it? These are great. These are award-winning."

I didn't tell anyone, until now, that they took me 32 minutes.

That example is my career in sum.

No matter where I toiled I always got the fuzzy end of the lollipop. The shit other people couldn't do.

I've always been funny. But I was never allowed to be funny.  Funny isn't something top-five banks usually want. Or giant technology companies. Or crashing airplane manufacturers.

Emergencies don't like funny.

And I get emergencies.

But the demand for unraveling Gordian client knots is strong. So that's how I earned my daily bread and my hourly abuse.

I remember about a decade ago being at a wedding and sitting across from one of the biggest names in the business--the writer of tons of really funny spots. We introduced ourselves and I said, "I work on brands like _____ and _____." 

"Oh, you're in real advertising," he said.

More recently after I was fired at 4:15 in the afternoon, an ex-colleague--a financial guy, believe it or not-- sent me a note:

"They should have kept you for the work; you did more than an army. That's why I said it was penny wise and pound foolish. Everyone on _ _ _ had you as the go-to person; especially for the tough ones. I think I mentioned to you, when I heard you were let go, that really signaled to me that they were not only cutting into the bone, but removing the backbone as well."

Yeah, ok.

I'm out on my own now. 

Somedays I feel like I'm surfacing after a long and somewhat harrowing scuba dive. I'm breathing again. And not in danger.

I'm still doing a lot of that Gordian knot untying. I've made a living wrestling advertising demons to the ground.

But along the way, I'm becoming reacquainted with my sense of humor, my long-suppressed sense of humor.

I've spend 40 years or so telling people I'm not funny. Sooner or later some client will call me and inadvertently ask for something funny. I'll be paralyzed for a bit. It's been a while.

But I'll figure it out.

Just watch.

And laugh.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Martin memories.

I, probably like most of white America, had never heard of Martin Luther King until the day he was shot.

It was a Thursday and my parents had gone out for the evening. My brother Fred was 12, I was ten, and my sister Nancy was just eight. 

I remember it was Thursday because that was the night the TV show Dragnet was on. It was on from nine to nine-thirty and my brother Fred and I had secured permission to stay up past our bedtime to watch the show.

When we turned on the set, when it finally warmed up, instead of "This is the city, Los Angeles, California," we saw a somber announcer telling us that Dr. Martin Luther King had been assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

Even though we were pre-teens, assassination was old news to us. You immediately had something to compare it to--JFK's. As a Borscht Belt comedian might say, "Now THAT was an assassination."

My brother and I were annoyed. 

How dare they pre-empt Dragnet for just another assassination. 

Of course we were white and our parents were well-off. 

We didn't know who Dr. King was. 

I was only five when he was speaking about "being to the mountain top."

So King's death didn't hit me like a bullet from some mercenary's high-powered rifle.

Over the years, I've read and learned. As much as any white man can, I think. I would recommend the book I'm currently reading to anyone who gives a shit. Here's the Times review.

Our country was founded on hate and subjugation. On cruelty, violence and caste. As Malcolm X said, right now, today "the chickens will come home to roost."

What's happening in America now is nothing new. The haters, so afraid of the race they enslaved, kept that race out. No schools for you. No pools. No restaurants, hotels or even a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. No votes, or rights, or opportunity.

They blew up churches. They killed little girls in white dresses. They blinded teenagers with acid and castrated them and shot them in the face and tied them to a large industrial piece of steel and threw their bodies into rivers. 

They bound them and gagged them and hung them from tree limbs like a strange fruit. Then they tore their bodies apart, burned them and sold the relics. They printed post-cards and wrote to friends. The whole town turned out, even the little ones, it was the social event of the season.

Then, on occasion, they convened their all-white juries and said "it never happened." Then they laughed the laugh of hauteur and hubris. Then they probably prayed in church and kissed their loved ones and went to bed with the sense of righteousness on their side.

Not many people, I think, will think of Dr. King today. Not as the American ship is being torn-apart by hatred and violence. They'll watch football or go to Raymour and Flanagan or the Toyota dealer because some jackass determined that what are meant to be sober and solemn days of reflection are better off being parts of a three-day-sale-a-bration.

But that's America now.

I think of King today.

I think of an ignorant ten-year-old annoyed.

I think of the hate.

We could all use a little thinking. And a little less hating. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Have a Zoom call with George. Without George.

Since Covid and the murderous Republican response to it drove us out of our offices in March, 2020, I've calculated I've been on 5,232 Zoom calls.

During those 5,232 calls, I've said only nine things. 

Rather than sending me a Zoom invite, I've posted those nine things here.

Next time you need me, choose one or more from the selection below. 

I will send you a bill in the morning.