I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but I think I was meant to be the next Pope. Let’s look at the chain of events.
1) Yesterday I mentioned to someone at work that I thought I’d be a great pope. Within a few minutes, she had made a custom-made Pope hat for me. Miraculously, it fit perfectly.
2) Last night when I left the office, I placed the hat on the floor of my office to go out with the days’ trash.
This morning when I arrived at the office. I found this ‘sign.’ A perfect rainbow on my hand-made Pope hat.
Now, I take signs very seriously. So beginning right now, I’m campaigning for pope. Here are my qualifications:
On the PLUS Side:
1) I’m organized
2) I’m good with people
3) I’m tolerant
4) I’m mostly kind
5) I’m not too sarcastic – although a planner who used to work here would probably disagree
6) I like Italy
7) I know a few words in Latin
8) I played Jesus in ‘Godspell’ – so at least I know the gospel according to St. Matthew
9) In high school, I dated a girl who went to Catholic school
On the DOWN Side:
1) I’m not Catholic
2) I’m married
3) I have children
4) I have absolutely no experience with the Catholic church.
And while those may seem like huge obstacles to overcome, I’m used to doing the impossible. Just last week, a client said the work we create was ‘heavenly.’ I think that’s another sign.
So until I hear otherwise, I think I’m a pretty good candidate. Please comment here, as I’d love to hear your thoughts on my chances of becoming Pope.
Oh, and Happy Ash Wednesday. See – I’m already getting with the program.
R (Soon to be known as Matthew James the First)
Did this ever happen to you?
Last night, I was tired so I decided to go to bed early. I climbed into my bed around 9:30 PM with my iPad and headphones to unwind a little bit before turning out the lights. I began searching YouTube for a video guitar lesson of a song I wanted to learn how to play – Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car.’
I watched an 8-minute video, and was getting ready to go to sleep, when another video caught my eye. It was an a cappella group doing their version of ‘Fast Car.’ So I watched that 4-minute video.
That’s when I fell into the rabbit hole.
From there, I watch an a cappella group, The Vineyard Sound, singing Dion’s ‘Runaround Sue’ (which is great by-the-way). That video was 3-minutes long. I hunted through The Vineyard Sound’s catalog of videos. I watched ‘I’ll Be’ then ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ which was followed by ‘Midnight Train To Georgia’ and for laughs ‘Take On Me.’
By now, I was fascinated by the a cappella groups on YouTube. My next stop was a group from UMass called the Doo Wop Shop. They have an incredible video of them performing (in a classroom) a medley of songs from Disney movies.
Here’s where it gets weird. About 50 schools have done versions of an a cappella Disney movie medley. Now I took it as a personal challenge to find the best one, the most original, the most interesting. I watched as many as I could stand.
It’s now 11:45 PM. And I can’t sleep.
So I switch gears from Disney to a different a cappella favorite, Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ This group has over 3 million hits on their a cappella version. Its pretty damn good.
I ended the night with this version of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller.’ While it’s not as good as some of the others, you have to give these guys credit for trying.
So if you bump into me today, and I seem tired, it’s because I went to bed early. And fell down a rabbit hole.
OK – maybe this is funny because I know the person who created it. (She works with me at the agency)
Maybe this is funny because is so weird.
Or maybe, this is just funny.
The creator showed this to me about an hour ago, and I’m still laughing. In fact, her entire group was around me looking for my reaction. Everyone had to watch it more than once.
Click on this. Watch it. Rate it. Comment on it.
And yes, the star (not the cat) is an interactive art director at the agency. Please don’t steal her away.
Enjoy. Oh, and crank up the volume.
I have a great view.
While I’ve only been in this office a few days – here are a few shots from my desk.
Yes, I’m enjoying the view. I hope my son doesn’t see this. He’s been asking to go to the 102 floor for months. This will only make him increase his efforts.
By ANDREW ADAM NEWMAN
Published: January 7, 2013, New York Times
A NEW print ad by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America shows a closed bathroom stall, with the gap below the door revealing the enormous clown shoes of the occupant. “I.B.D. is no laughing matter,” says the headline.
“If you have inflammatory bowel disease (I.B.D.), life can feel like a three-ring circus,” continues a block of text. “Chances are, you know one of the nearly 1 in 200 Americans who suffers from the debilitating pain and constant disruptions that come with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.”
Other stall-door ads show a shin-to-floor view of a woman in a wedding dress (“I.B.D. gave her a day she’ll never forget”), Santa Claus (“I.B.D. doesn’t care if you’ve been naughty or nice”) and a young girl whose feet don’t reach the floor (I.B.D. can make growing up a real pain”).
While the photos and headlines sound a note of whimsy, the text below the ads is decidedly serious, all of them noting, “The physical and emotional toll can be devastating.”
The public service ads encourage readers to learn more about Crohn’s disease by visiting a microsite, EscapeTheStall.com, which has been created for the campaign. The pro bono effort is by the New York office of DraftFCB, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies.
In a commercial for the campaign, the viewer hears, “Chances are you know someone with I.B.D.” The voice turns out to be that of the actress Amy Brenneman (“Judging Amy” and “Private Practice”), who says near the end of the spot, “Someone like me.”
The organization hopes that the public service announcement will run widely on television and in movie theaters. Other elements for the campaign include billboards and ads online and in airports. Ads printed on transparent adhesive film will even appear on mirrors in public restrooms.
The nonprofit group projects that it will secure from $20 million to $23 million in donations of broadcast and print advertising over the next year. But it did not initially want to show bathrooms in its campaign.
“We really started this campaign by saying we wanted to stay away from the bathroom, because we thought the bathroom would underrepresent our disease,” said Richard Geswell, the president of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.
Along with needing to evacuate frequently, symptoms of Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract, include abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, fevers, weight loss and extreme fatigue.
“I was worried that our patients might think it was too lighthearted, and some aren’t in public restrooms because they can’t even leave the house,” said Mr. Geswell, who added he was won over by the new campaign, which he said struck the right tone and would spur awareness.
Rich Levy, chief creative officer of DraftFCB Healthcare, said, “When we first started this project, the last thing we wanted to do is what I’d call bathroom humor.” But he said that although the campaign was set in restrooms and had whimsical notes, its impact aimed to be more profound.
“What was the universal truth was that behind those doors are thousands and thousands of people who are suffering, and you don’t know who they are, but they know who they are,” said Mr. Levy.
Although the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation was founded in 1967, only 18.7 percent of Americans have heard of the group, according to a survey commissioned by the group.
As for Crohn’s disease itself, the survey found that 44 percent of respondents knew at least a little about the disease, below the number familiar with diabetes (86 percent), multiple sclerosis (58 percent) and lupus (46 percent).
Mr. Geswell, the foundation president, said that by raising awareness about Crohn’s, his group hoped that along with helping those who don’t know they have the disease, it would help others understand that friends and relatives might be too embarrassed to disclose their condition.
“Aunt Sally who never left the house or came to social occasions” may, far from meaning to snub her family, “turn out to have had Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis,” Mr. Geswell said. Some with Crohn’s disease must visit the bathroom as much as 40 times a day, the foundation says.
Carol Cone, co-author of “Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding” and managing director for brand and corporate citizenship at Edelman, the public relations firm, acknowledged the challenge any agency would face with such an awareness campaign.
“How do you talk about bowels and bowel movements, and do it in a way that’s not so slight and flip that it’s not taken seriously?” said Ms. Cone.
After reviewing the new campaign, Ms. Cone was impressed.
“The way they showed the feet and footwear was a wonderful analogy that Crohn’s and colitis affects anybody in any walk of life,” Ms. Cone said. “This is a sophisticated, hip and modern branding campaign.”
My first two years after high school were spent at Rider College (now Rider University) in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. I lived on campus in a cinderblock door room with metal furniture. The first thing I did was offer to work at the college radio station. WWRC-AM. Yes, it was an AM radio station. They wouldn’t get an FM license for years. (It’s now WRRC-FM, 107.7) After a quick trip to Philadelphia to get my FCC broadcast license, and an even quicker tutorial on how to run the equipment, I was on the air.
The first song I played was Elton John’s ‘Mona Lisa and Mad Hatter’ from the Honky Chateau album. I remember that because someone called into the radio station midway through the song to tell me how much she liked the song. That’s all I needed was a little encouragement. My next song was Eric Clapton’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ from 461 Ocean Blvd. That was followed by ‘One of the Nights’ by the Eagles. The song had only been released a few months earlier – and was still relatively unknown.
You may wonder how I remember all this. That’s because I recorded my first show. I have a reel-to-reel copy of an 18-year-old version of me spinning records, talking about liner notes, and discussing music. But the funny part is the commercials. Even then – I had to read commercials and public service announcements over the air. The boring – ‘Jim’s bar and grill just across from campus has a wide selection … – to the embarrassing ‘VD is for everybody, not just for a few.’ Yikes.
And don’t think I was some incredible music junkie. I played a lot – and I mean a lot of crappy music on my first show. The studio had a ‘playbook’ – these were the required songs you had to play sometime during your 90 minutes on the air. I think we needed to play them to continue to get free albums from the music labels. I played Bad Company’s ‘Shooting Star’, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’, Electric Light Orchestra’s ‘Evil Woman’, and the album of my freshman year Jefferson Starship’s ‘Miracles.’ That album was a staple of college radio.
But the album I loved to play was Peter Frampton’s ‘Frampton Comes Alive.’ Released in the middle of the year, I played that endlessly. One night, when I thought nobody would notice, I played the entire album start to finish without any commercial interruption. (It allowed me to take the elevator to the student pub and get a beer.) That album sold 6 million copies in that year. Amazing.
I worked at the radio station for two years. Had numerous time slots – including a poorly thought through morning radio show with a dorm mate – Wayne Hodges. (Hodges and Levy in the morning). AM, three days a week. I don’t think we wanted to admit that nobody is listening to a college radio station at 8 AM. I broke up the partnership quickly and changed to a better slot.
My time on WWRC taught me a lot of valuable lessons. How to present material to an audience. How to read something for the first time and make it sound good. How to get people to engage. It was a fun time. It was hard work. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
The one thing I didn’t do was have a signature sign-off. It never crossed my mind. I just ended the show with ‘that all the time I have, see you tomorrow.’
So, until tomorrow.
This morning, on my way to the office on 33rd Street, three things happened that I found weird, ironic and touching, although not necessarily in that order.
I decided I needed a haircut. Since my usual barbershop closed in Grand Central Terminal, I needed to find a new place. So today, I walked into a barbershop on West 35th Street. This place was a throw back to a time where men would hang out in the barbershop all day. The only difference was that instead of Floyd the barber, the men sitting around the shop all looked like Russian Mafia. You know, guys that you don’t want to owe money. Lots of black leather. The smell of cigarettes, which are not local. Interesting accents that reminded me of watching Boris and Natasha cartoons from my childhood. (Would you like glass tea?) And of course, when Serge pulled out a straight edge razor, I thought I might have said something to offend. Instead, he proceeded to give me a very nice haircut. He couldn’t have been nicer. I think I’ve found my new barber. I’ll have to ask a friend to teach me a few choice words in Russian for my next haircut.
No more than 15 steps outside of the barbershop, someone calling my name, stopped me on the street. I look up from my phone and I see an Art Director I worked with for a short time. “Peter? Wow it’s been a long time – how are you? What are you up to?” We stood there for a few minutes and exchanged work stories for a few minutes. I asked if he kept in touch with anyone, he asked how I liked my current job. You know those sort of questions you ask people who haven’t seen in 10 years. Then, just as we were about to walk in our separate ways, he stops and says the nicest thing anyone can say to a creative director. “I’ve always wanted to tell you something, when we worked together, you had an incredible influence on my career. You kicked my ass in ways nobody ever kicked it. You made me dig deeper than anyone before or after. Thank you. I’ve always wanted to tell you that.” I was floored. You always hope you have a positive influence on people. I was touched beyond belief.
I continue my walk to work, and I popped in my earphones to listen to music and mute the outside NYC noise. Right near my building were two women giving away bibles. Their display asked, “What can the bible tell you?” I found it ironic at that exact moment I was listening to REM’s “Losing my Religion.” I laughed to myself.
That all happened during my 10 block walk from Grand Central to 33rd Street. Perhaps I’ll kick someone ass today. But hopefully only in a positive way.
I was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about a guy who sells very high-end audio equipment ($200,000 was mid-range) and it got me thinking about my musical tastes. It also got me thinking of the first albums I purchased with my own money that I earned on my own. (Probably mowing lawns or something) Looking back – I can see how my entire musical taste was formed by the purchase of these three albums. All bought at the same time. All released in 1970.
This album had everything. Just look at the songs – it was enough to drive my parents crazy. Drug references. Dance music. It had multiple Top Ten hits to make it approachable, yet enough cool R&B sounds to keep it interesting. I wore this album out.
The concert happened in 1969. I bought the soundtrack as soon as it came out in 1970. I loved screaming the ‘F” word to Country Joe McDonalds ‘Fish’ cheer. This album began my lifelong love of Crosby, Still, Nash and Young, The Who, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone (again), Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix, and Richie Havens. I could never figure out how Sha-Na-Na made it onto the album and Janis Joplin did not.
1. I Had A Dream (John B. Sebastian)
2. Going Up The Country (Canned Heat)
3. Stage Announcements
4. Freedom (Richie Havens)
5. Rock & Soul Music (Country Joe & The Fish)
6. Coming Into Los Angeles (Arlo Guthrie)
7. At The Hop (Sha-Na-Na)
8. The ‘Fish’ Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’- To-Die Rag (Country Joe McDonald)
9. Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man (Joan Baez featuring Jeffrey Shurtleff) Joe Hill (Joan Baez)
10. Stage Announcements
11. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
12. Sea Of Madness (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
13. Wooden Ships (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
14. We’re Not Gonna Take It (from Tommy) (The Who)
15. Stage Announcements
16. With A Little Help From My Friends (Joe Cocker)
17. Rainstorm, Crowd Sounds, Announcements & General Hysteria
1. Crowd Rain Chant
2. Soul Sacrifice (Santana)
3. Stage Announcements
4. I’m Going Home (Ten Years After)
5. Volunteers (Jefferson Airplane)
6. Max Yasgur Medley: Dance To The Music/Music Lover/I Want To Take You (Sly and the Family Stone)
7. Rainbows All Over Your Blues (John B. Sebastian)
8. Love March (Butterfield Blues Band)
9. Star Spangled Banner/Purple Haze & Instrumental Solo (Jimi Hendrix)
I loved Elton John’s early music. Elton John (the album), Tumbleweed Connection, Honky Chateau, Madman Across The Water all earned very high marks in my record collection. Loved them all. I think I stopped buy his albums with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. He had changed. I didn’t like where it was going. But his second album – Elton John – was filled with incredible tunes
None of these three albums were the top sellers of 1970. Bridge of Troubled Waters, Led Zeppelin II, Chicago, Abbey Road and Santana dominated that year. By the way – the #11 album of 1970 was Crosby, Still, Nash & Young’s “Déjà vu.” I still love it today.
Please let me know you first purchase in the ‘comment’ area.
In case you’re interested I did the following (but not in this order):
Things I didn’t do
So that’s about it. I spent the past week doing a lot of nothing. Which is exactly what I needed. I’m looking forward to the new year. Here’s to doing a lot of good stuff in 2013.
By the way – My new office has a view of the Empire State Building. I’ll post the view out my window from time to time.