Thursday, March 7, 2024

Ain't No Mountain Chai Enough.

My father, wise if a drunk, had a belief. 

And once he had a belief he stuck to it like a vindictive Greek god.

He believed every town and city needed the last place to go before you went home.

Maybe a bar close-by the subway station. 

Maybe a clean, well-lighted place if you run toward Hemingway.

Or maybe, if you're a New Yorker of a certain age, an old Greek diner with a menu as involved as the Talmud.

Back in the 1970s my friends and I went to the Thruway Diner. We were private school kids and so our parents' houses spanned the megalopolis from the Bronx to pre-strip-malled Rockland County. Back when there were both rocks and land up there.

The Thruway Diner was just about equidistant between the two poles. And it was open all night. And the waiters were brusque and no-nonsense. 

They weren't the silly type who had to write things down. They had Alan Turing memories and Kobe Bryant hands so they could carry nine different plates, bowls, saucers and coffee cups with the dexterity of a Wallenda.

What's more, like Alice's restaurant, you could get anything you want at the Thruway Diner. 

Living during today's reign of systems collapse, I often find myself thinking what I would do if a political party came to me for positioning help. 

I have the answer. 

And no.

Though it's dumb, I'm not kidding.

We need to make Amerika run like a good coffee shop. We serve everyone, everything, every minute of the day. We aren't fancy. But fast, efficient, affordable for everyone. 

And we have good American food, like a grilled cheese with bacon on white toast and a vanilla milkshake. Or Greek food, like a souvlaki. Or Jewish, like eggs, lox and onions. Or soul food, like bbq ribs. Or Polish food like a kielbasa. Or German food like some sort of schnitzel or knockwurst. 

We've got hearty food and thin food. Steaks and salads. Cheap like a cuppa soup and expensive like Surf n' Turf. We've got beer, and alcohol and wine, and ice cream and apple pie and giant cakes in spinning displays.

We ain't fussy. We ain't decorative. We get things done.

We're not a place for small talk with the waitstaff. In fact, we don't have waitstaff. We have waiters and waitresses. Even linguistically we tolerate no bs.

We need a world that works like the Thruway Diner worked. It's gone now. Replaced, like almost everything else, by a Home Depot. Which I choose to call the Home Despot, because they seek to rule everything.

My friend, the great Barbara Lippert, posted this on her Facebook feed on Tuesday. This is what I mean.

Apropos of this, a friend and former Ogilvy colleague, sent me a note just now, complimenting an ad I just posted on LinkedIn promoting my agency, GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company.

I wrote back to him. 

"I've made myself the most-thought of agency in America because I act like an insurance salesman in a small town. Those guys go to every Kiwanis meeting. They join the Rotary and the Lions. They send condolences notes to widows and congratulatory notes to rising business-people and high-school graduates. 

"They do the hard work of being there and pressing the flesh. They let no one forget they're there and in business. They're thought of in large measure because they're present."

If your brief is like my brief, "Keep the phone ringing," it's not bad to keep those old-timey coffee shops and old-timey insurance salespeople in mind.

One more thing. 

I don't know anyone whose brief isn't "Keep the phone ringing."

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