Time Is Not On Our Side

Atlas3 (Atlas Ventures. Capability brochure.)

We do not work in stone although we may use stones to make a point. No, we work with ideas, and ideas, even the best ideas, even brilliant ideas, have a shelf life. The shelf life may be as brief as that of a baguette or as enduring as a loaf of Wonder Bread, but a shelf life all the same.

Early in my career, ideas, and the media we used to express them, may have been employed for as long as two years. Taglines and positionings might last a decade. Today, ideas may blossom only once like the flower Queen of the Night. And words, our precious words, read under the unforgiving and quick-to-punish light of new prohibitions and readings, have all the weight of a fledgling. Continue reading “Time Is Not On Our Side”


From “The Names” 2

RRunner  RRunner2 (A postcard sent to me from one of two German Women I met in Ireland 1976, I received it after I returned to U.C.S.C. I foolishly never followed up.)

1982. Haphazard but not indiscriminate.

Drop off copy and invoice at Frankfurt.

Pryor Dodge, a Malvolio manqué. He had played the Flute in Paris, acted with the Comedia del’arte, studied mural painting and was so enamoured by Tango he bought a place in Buenos Aires. A collector and expert on vintage bicycles.

5:00 meeting/cocktails with Mini Hickman.

Dinner Party at Robin’s, no, no other name or identifying feature.

Call M.Gill, D. Cicero, K. Johnson.

Kate Augenblick’s opening.

A M.Marks at Madelyn’s

Walter Benke.

Tuesday the 12th: Jeff Brosk at 12. At 2:30 Edwardo. At 5:15, my father at Hemsley Palace.

Michael Marks, Jane Hartford, Susan Halpern, I would not recognize one of them
If he or she was sitting opposite me on the 1 train.

Call Dan Chamber.

Who is Mr. Lioacono? An address on Lexington Avenue.

A reminder to call Dan Chambers. Who is Dan Chambers?

My father’s cousin Eddy and his wife Carol.
My father’s cousin Stuart and his wife Phyllis.

Debra, no last name or distinguishing mark.

9:00 with Dan Chambers. Bruce’s b’day. Lunch with Tom Murphy.

John Bloomingthal of Benton Bowles, later that same day, John Washington.

Dinner Debra et al.

Breakfast with Jason. Dinner with Bruce. To the Lear party with Karl Johnson.

A Sunday appointment with Robin and Co.

Jay Chiat said, “Call me when you’re serious about advertising”.
I replied. “Jay, I’ll never be that serious.”  Continue reading “From “The Names” 2″

From “The Names” 2

From “The Names.”

EndNotes(From Yellow Book, 20 Years Hard Labor, a half life in Advertising.)


There is Pamela Burlingham, who came with me from the West.

Robert McDowell, c/o The Reaper.

Ina Kahn, a woman of whom I have no recollection.

Steve Cardin, a man I knew over drinks.

Judy Wold, a headhunter,

I would not know her now if she were handing me a bowl of soup.

Ben Bova, a sci-fi writer and Editor of Omni.

Lyle Greenfield, a copy chief at Compton who would become a vintner.

Sally Patterson, Telly Talley, Kathryn Murphy.

Hildy Smith. Continue reading “From “The Names.””

From “The Names.”

Ideas First. Words Follow.

Whisper  As I wrote in Kiss & Sell: Writing for Advertising (Revised & Rekissed) AVA. 2006.—”Ideas first. Words follow.”

Ideas possess a peculiar magic. That said, how does the magic work? The best explanation I know comes from Jean Baudrillard, and can be found in his book “Seduction” (p. 107):

This obliquity of seduction is not duplicity. Where a linear movement knocks against the wall of consciousness and acquires only meager gains, seduction has the obliquity of a dream element or stroke of wit, and as such traverses the psychic universe and its different levels in a single diagonal, in order to touch, at the far end, the unknown blind spot, the secret that lies sealed, the enigma that constitutes the girl [or boy], even to herself. Continue reading “Ideas First. Words Follow.”

Ideas First. Words Follow.

The Infinite Pain Caused by an Infinitesimal Distance

Tear sheets were delicate, and paper ads, torn from magazines or cut from newspapers, were prey to sharp points, ink stains, unwashed hands, and coffee rings. At first, we slipped the work into plastic sheets enclosed in folders of various quality. It was less than ideal—the sheets yellowed, grew brittle. They couldn’t accommodate different-sized ads.

What’s more, even hands with the best intentions removed the ads, and many of those same hands lacked the dexterity to slip the work back without creasing or tearing the paper. The worst of it? Creative Directors plowed through dozens of books at once; habitually flipping through them. He or she stopped only when an image caught his or her eye, or when a headline made them smile. Continue reading “The Infinite Pain Caused by an Infinitesimal Distance”

The Infinite Pain Caused by an Infinitesimal Distance

Anatomy of a Career

FaceOnce upon a time I worked in advertising. 90% of my work—my ideas and words-rested on paper. Paper had charms and, in particular, a quiet that digital representations can not reproduce. It also possessed qualities we associate with intimacy.

(Piece developed at Arnell/Bickford, with Arnell, Lucy Sisman and Fayette Hickox for Revlon, a very very long time ago. No, I don’t remember the model, but, yes, she was lovely.)

Anatomy of a Career

I Surrender to the Privileging of Digital Media

I will concede here and now the privileging of digital images over the physical representation of ideas, desires and ambitions. From this day on I repudiate my faith in printed objects for the purpose of advertising, or for collateral, or promotions.

As of yesterday, March 27, 2016, my attachment to paper has exceeded its shelf life. Yes, I played the fool for too long. I have tossed my printed words and denounce the media that confined them as completely as the bars of the cage that tore the heart out of Rilke’s panther.

(Work from top right and circling clockwise: R/Greenberg Assoc.-R/GA, Rothstein Kass, TDK, Otis Elevator, Assorted work, & Polk)

I Surrender to the Privileging of Digital Media

All This, For That?

Wall3Final WallTo say I’m disappointed would not be entirely accurate. I had few expectations. But still I felt compelled to ask, all this, for that?

I suppose as an exercise the sampling had some merit —even a touch of poetry.

Yes, a little merit—no more than that which was demanded—as we’re talking about the side-street wall of a commercial building, which no one takes much notice of as they pass—almost always talking or texting. There was no intent to add anything of note or anything decorative on the wall. The building itself is notable only for its mass and a few Art Deco decorations, which are, or so I’ve observed, largely unnoticed.

Nevertheless, as I walked passed the building on my way to the bank or to the post office or to the # 1 train, I enjoyed the pleasure of observing and documenting something of the work of serious minded men and women.

All This, For That?

Berlin Symphony: Fantasia or Fantasy

Walther Ruttman’s Berlin, Symphony
Image from: GHDI.

A cinematic fantasia? A salute to modernity? A hyper-kinetic montage of Berlin life, circa 1927? What is revealed and what is hidden in a seemingly naturalistic rendering of a modern city?

A train appears out of nowhere and I am immediately filled with a sense of dread. It is an eerie feeling—an emotion at the opposite end of the spectrum that I imagine the filmmaker hoped to stimulate in his audience. I could not separate the images on the screen from a flurry of others that simultaneously rushed my mind’s eye. Images recalled from countless feature films, documentaries and photographs. This made it impossible for me to share in Ruttman’s delight in acceleration—toward what are we accelerating? Nor could I sit back and equate the speed and power of a locomotive simply with new perceptions and sensations of modern life. I could not read the train’s (and with it the audience’s) passage from rural to suburban to urban center as a metaphor for the civilizing power of industrialization. No. German trains of that particular era, hurling through space, can only have Auschwitz as their ultimate destination. Continue reading “Berlin Symphony: Fantasia or Fantasy”

Berlin Symphony: Fantasia or Fantasy

It Was the 60s and New York City was the Epicenter of Change

Photo: Girl on Limbo's stoopChange of cosmic proportions. The center of that center was St. Marks Place, and at the Center of St. Marks Place was a store called Limbo.

Marty (Limbo) Freedman and I have toyed with the idea of telling this story in various media and recently had conversations with two sets of TV and movie producers. They were excited by the idea of a show built around Limbo, and its cast of authentic characters, who individually and collectively define the mores and practices of the 60s. There was serious talk but also disagreement about how to proceed.

These “meetings,” not to be confused with happenings, led Marty and me to believe the time to tell this story has come, and we want to reach out to producers who have a passion for the 60s, the most passionate decade of modern times.

We want to tell a true story, in an episodic format, about some very funny, sexy, brilliant, curious, serious, strange, far-out, wasted, obscure, and also celebrated people who wanted to change everything, starting with the clothes on their back.

Curious? To learn more, visit Limbo St. Marks’ Facebook page here, or its Wikipedia page here, and if something clicks, contact us here.


It Was the 60s and New York City was the Epicenter of Change