Thursday, January 31, 2008

if you don't look up


New York City is a great city if you raise your eye-sight a bit.
I don't like to follow advice.
Never been my strong suit.
I rarely follow my own advice.
I've been looking down quite a bit recently.
There are pictures there too.
I've been looking down in cities all around the world.
This amazing view is from 6th avenue,
somewhere in the village.
Some people tells me they like the x better than the o.
Personally I'm more into the space between the two.
Without it the x wouldn't be so visible as it contains no information.
Just a colorless void.
and the o would just be a little dark hole.
So when you look down, don't forget to look in between.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Why?


Once upon a time
we used to ask the question:
"What's the meaning of life?"

In the beginning we woke up in the morning, went out,
clobbered some animal, went home, cooked it,
and shared it with our kids and women.

Somehow sometime someone figured out how to write.

Then we invented the printing machine.
We started to read about other peoples lives.
In earnest.

Many a lousy book has since been printed.
Gossip rags have invaded our lives.
We've become dependent on information.
Useful or useless or senseless or charmless or harmless or
less.

And now we blog.
But nobody reads our blogs.

What is the meaning of blogging?
Why spread all this crap right out into cyberspace?
Because we can?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Power skating


A winter day.
The air is crisp, the sky is clear.
The sun energizing.
A couple skating on a frozen pond.

Waiting for a train


8.25 A.M.
Monday.
January.
2008.
It could have been 8.25 A.M.
1963.
It looked the same back then as it does today.
Did yesterday.
Will on Tuesday.
Provided nothing completely unexpected happens.

Unexpected happens all the time.
To at least one of the persons waiting for the train.
On every given day.
One day a few years ago some of them never came back.
That was September 11. 2001.

Generation of people have raised their eyes to the clock on the wall.
4 minutes left until the train comes.
2 minutes.

These are the thoughts.
it's not in sync with my watch?
I wonder if it's on time.
I can't miss that important meeting.
The meeting that will change everything.
I wonder if I have time for a cup of coffee before the train comes?

Or?
Lives have changed in that station.
On the train to New York.
Time stands still.
Time moves without mercy minute by minute,
hour by hour,
day by day,
week by week,
month by month,
year by year.
Generation by generation.

The train arrives 8.26 A.M.
Final destination New York Penn Station.
Is this the day that will change our lives?
Will we be the same on the train back.
Will we be there 8.25 A.M tomorrow?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Greenpoint, Brooklyn.


Now when it's a thousand years ago
young artists could afford to live
in a loft in SoHo, and East Village and Alphabet City are drug free zones and hi-rent, and Billyburgh
gone yuppie, everybody's looking for the next neighborhood to go hip.

Some bet on Greenpoint in Brooklyn.
A working class neighborhood adjacent to docks and warehouses and factories.
Many of which are abandoned.
The draw is great spaces.
A fabulous view of Manhattan.
The Subway line that crosses Brooklyn and links to the L train to Manhattan.
It's really only about 20 or so minutes from Union Square.


A few pubs and local stores can be found in the area.
The closer to the waterfront the emptier it gets.
But it's there the great spaces are.
It's not a pretty hood.
Not many people in the streets. Not yet.
No designers stores. Not yet.
Not that many cosy coffee shops.
A few well established pubs and drinking venues of course.
This is working class after all.
Polish.

A few new hip businesses in the area marks a change.
A photo studio. On par with the best in Manhattan.
Better view form the roof terrass than any of them.
A couple of design studios.
And a printer that serves the young and hip.
Those who don;t want their business cards and letterheads
to be cheap digital crap. but rather prefer old fashioned
book printing on fancy stock.
Like i the old days.
i'll get back to that.

Meantime enjoy a picture of the neighborhood
as it was before it started to get hip.
It's got a sense of humor that we hope
won't get lost when the young and serious move in.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

multiplication


i added a few links to sites i like.

I saved once. But hey.
They appear like 4-5 times each????

I'll fix it tomorrow.

Right now I'm a bit dizzy after having done a tooth procedure earlier today.
No, it isn't the reason the links appear double and triple and quadruple.
Or am I seeing double?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

the unbearable beauty of ugliness


I can't help it.
I find photographing what's conventionally ugly
more interesting than what's beautiful.

Extreme beauty or opulence are
interesting in a perverse sort of way.
The interior of a French chateau.
The crinoline dresses and wigs.
A perfect body.
All that do well as camera food.
But it's out of reach most of the time.

Ugly however can be found everywhere, any day.
It's just a matter of looking at it with different eyes.
Not shying away from it.

I've passed this derelict factory at the outskirts
of Newark for years.
On my train ride to NY.
A skyline far in the background.
The silhouette of the Empire State Building the only
visible sign we're just minutes away from Manhattan.
New York so close to the hinterlands of a run down industrial New Jersey.
Soprano land. Jersey.
Not the singing kind of sopranos
like at the Carnegie Hall, New York City.
Dry tall grass in the foreground.
It's at its most beautiful ugly in the mornings.

Oh, well, maybe i'll go to Provence in France
and change my mind.

There the beauty isn't ugly. Just rugged.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

policy


George Parker had this on his blog AdScam.
He'd got it from somewhere in his turn.
Didn't say where from.
It's a perfect description of how company policy works.

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result -- all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.
Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.
Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been done around here.
And that, my friends, is how company policy begins.

Air tram


It's not only ski resorts that have cable cars.
Parallel with the Queensboro Bridge, between Manhattan and Queens,
goes the cable car, or the tram as it's called.

The Roosevelt Island Tramway was built in 1976 as a means to shuttle residents to and from Manhattan.
The tramway, which is a cable car traveling high up over the river,
was only supposed to be temporary until the subway station opened.
But when the subway finally connected to Roosevelt Island in 1989,
the tram was too popular to scrap.

As its name suggests it goes to Roosevelt Islands.
A thin slice of an island between Queens and Manhattan.
Like a twig left floating in the river.

The island's history is rather colorful.
It has featured what was called the New York Lunatic Asylum.
Housing 1,700 inmates. Lunatics one must assume.
Supervised by what one might likewise assume being another group of lunatics.
Convicts from the nearby penitentiary.
Maybe they looked after each other.
Quite practical if you ask me.

This sliver of an island has been home to a smallpox hospital as well.
It seems to have a history of attracting what Manhattan tried to get rid off.

The tram's been featured in several movies.
And the old King Kong Tramway ride at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida,
featured the Roosevelt Island Tram.

Even today it's still strangely far from Manhattan albeit only minutes away.

It doesn't feel like New York at all.
There's space for one. Despite it's size.
It takes only a few minutes to walk from the west waterfront to the east one.
Life is quieter, slower, and never crowded.
Like life in a dull small town.
A small town with the New York skyline as a backdrop.
Almost movie-like.

Well, I've only been there once to be honest.
I don't think there's much to do really.
Other than walk along the shore-line.
Which can be nice enough of course.

The cable car, sorry tram, is the only attraction
of the island as far as I'm concerned.
Maybe it's cool to live there.
Haven't tried.
I have the feeling it might be a bit annoying to know
that nothing is open on your block at night,
and just across the river everything is.

They say the public school is excellent.
Oh, well.

I took the tram so that I could photograph Manhattan from above.
Sorry Roosevelt.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Where pragmatism rule


Junk.
The pillar of the modern society.
Admit it.
Photograph courtesy of Stefan Pertz, Singapore.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

NY in a nutshell


The Empire State Building.
An old up and coming neighborhood.
A yellow cab.
A fire truck.
And a bicycle messenger.
All in one shot.
New York at its most compact.
Which is how this city often feels.
So big, but still peculiarly small at times.

The fact that so much of the city is vertical actually makes it very livable.
As opposed to what many city planners in other parts of the world may think.
It ensures there's always a lot of people in the street.
The verticality keeps the street and the neighborhoods alive.
There's business for a lot of small businesses.

This is perhaps why New York feels as safe at night as it does daytime.
Which is not something you can say for most cities of size.

Tourists are still surprised about how safe the Metro is.
The stations may not look like much, old as most of them are.
Although most of the graffiti is long gone.
The fact that the train cars are almost always
relatively full makes even a late night ride feel perfectly okay.
I don't get that feeling in say Stockholm, or Paris.

It's easy to love New York.
Especially if you come from Europe loaded with heavy duty Euros.
The taxis got a price hike about a year ago,
still, compared to Europe it's a bargain.

But New York is really made for walking.
It's small enough horizontally.

If you don't like to walk,
hang on a corner for a while and New York will pass by.
Just keep your eyes open.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Death and Life in New York


New York City is one of the most
interesting cities
in the world
to walk in.
Duh.

It's also one of the easiest
to walk around.
Easy to navigate.
Hard to get lost in.
Easy to get lost in details and history.

Just raise your eyes just a little bit
and keep moving your head.
And don't just rush ahead to make the next green light.
Red is good too.
Gives you some rest. And a moment to discover.
Embrace red.
Especially in the middle of a block.
Not only the corners are worth stopping at.

I can't think of any other city so ever changing
right in front of your eyes.
No matter how many times I walk down the same street
or avenue I discover something new.

If we could walk on different vertical
levels even more would reveal itself.
Castles and Mansions are built on top of buildings.
Havens in heaven. Gardens in the sky.

It wouldn't surprise me if there are
cemeteries up there as well.
Closer to God.

On a more humble level I yesterday discovered a new cemetery.
Well, new for me.
It's quite old for such a new city.
The Third Cemetery of the Spanish Portuguese Synagogue
Shearith Israel in the City of New York 1829-1854.

Located on 21st street between 6th and 7th avenues.
Bang in the middle of the hip and highly desirable Chelsea neighborhood.
Chelsea is home to a vibrant, creative gay community,
and well off hip straights with an artistic leaning, large wallets,
and an open-minded world-view.
It's the world's leading art gallery area.
The area is full of small creative offices.
Interactive, photography, design.
Some of the most valuable land in the world.
One of the most vibrant neighborhoods in America.
Here some rest in peace.
That's New York.

And that's why we love it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

just one more random shot


One thing struck me with those random pictures shot backhanded.
There was almost always a person looking into the camera.

They sensed they were observed.
When photographing street-life I have often taken my time,
aiming the camera purposely at groups of people,
or individuals, and it's like they never notice.

The obviousness of it might make them feel at ease?
i don't know. But that straightforward approach seems to make people more relaxed.
Or less suspicious.
Whether it's on the subway, in the streets of New York, or Hongkong, or elsewhere.
Maybe it just looks like a silly camera tourist snapping about.

But try to be sneaky and the antennas sprout out in alertness.
The news stand in the subway station at 14th street.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

exactly how random?


This photograph is not what one would call
an example of The Defining Moment.
It happens exactly when you don't expect it.
Or it happens approximately when you expect it to happen.
So you can set yourself up to catch it.

There's no way you would catch the defining moment
of a basketball match if you weren't there.

You could shoot the the whole thing in a variety of angles on moving film
and then afterwards pick out THE moment.
Weirdly enough you probably wouldn't find it.
There's definitely something else to it.
A sort of connection between the person behind the camera and the world out there.

I'm not sure I've ever caught anything on camera at the exact right moment.
I walk around the world with a camera in my hand and my eyes as wide open as possible.
Looking for pictures. Pictures to take.
Sometimes I just look for scenery, compositions, light.
Stuff that'd look good.

Other times i try to look for people that are interesting or doing interesting things.

I like to find symbols. Patterns.
Humor. Stuff that's a bit quirky.

I always try to use the camera in a way that isn't too commonplace.
Adding some little twist.
My personal touch.

Sometimes I just get so frustrated with my limitations.

So the other day I decided to try a new approach. New for me at least.
I carried the camera in my right hand,
pointing backwards, arm hanging down, camera vertical.
I snapped randomly during a walk around Union Square, down 5th towards Astor Place and back up along Broadway,
down into the subway, the L train to 8 avenue, switching to the E up to Penn Station.
The result?

Oh my. Totally boring.
I had to trash most of it.

However much I tried to imagine is at artful it wasn't.
Just plain ugly, out of focus, messy, badly composed, etc.
it was not better than a monkey could have done it.
Which I guess was quite comforting on one hand.
Photography takes more than luck and a total disrespect for the moment.

Luck is important. It may come your way now and then.
But be prepared.
Otherwise it'll pass you by.
Which might be a life lesson too.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New York nuts


Have you noticed that New York
has more squirrels than nuts nowadays?
That might be bad for the squirrels long term.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bloodbath


It gets people all excited.
Blood. The mere mentioning of it. The word.
Like hyenas licking their tongues, drooling,
in anticipating of who's next to be led to the slaughter.

Relationships will be tested.
True friendship will be tested.
Loyalties being dishonored.
False loyalties it turned out. We're all a family. Ha.
Hey, to be kicked out of a family means you must have done
some really, truly, serious damage to the family's reputation.
Stop this bullshit already. Talk's cheap. Peoples livelihoods aren't.

Sure, it's a reality that a company can't sustain its business if
there isn't enough to sustain it.

Likewise, for whomever who's being sacrificed it's equally painful.
Talented or not.

So I will not necessarily argue only for those who were competent
and should have been left untouched.
I'm far too ambivalent for that.
Most of us can't help if we're not as good as others.

Of course, being good at what you do is no guarantee.
Not anymore. Neither is working long and hard.
Sometimes the opposite.
Especially if your bosses are completely incompetent themselves.
Which they will of course never admit.
Or even discover,
as they more often than not are equipped with personality traits
that make them unable to see and admit their shortcomings.
It's a mirror, mirror on the wall...

Okay, to be a bit fair, for some of these guys its rough to let people go.
Sure.
They have hearts too.
Some of them.
Or used to have
Well, now they have life styles.

Most have discharged their human traits somewhere along the way.
The worst of them have chosen to.
The others are merely corrupted by power and pecuniary temptations.
Which is part of the problem when change is necessary.

Change, by the way, never should have to come from the bottom up.
If the top was as competent and responsible and intelligent and wise as it's supposed to be.
It needs to come from the top. .

True change never happens from top down.
Why eliminate yourself?
You think the problem isn't you, but rather a result of all those hacks
you somehow got burdened with, right?

Actually, a lot of people have surprising resources to fill in the gaps and add value if given the chance.
Organizations that fail to reinvent themselves constantly fail to do so because
they are not letting people grow and expand.

What truly bothers me in today's world is
that those who are ultimately responsible are rarely those who get the axe.
Why give yourself the pink slip?
Even if you're totally in-adept.
Even if you could afford it?

Highly competent people who mostly gave their all to the company
are the ones bearing the brunt.
We tend to call them middle management.
And by that we can detach ourselves from feeling bad.
Middle-management is a bad word.

First went the workers.
Their jobs went elsewhere or were taken over by machines.
Now it's the white collar class that is walking out the door.

They do indeed represent a large part of the pay-check.
As a group.
They rarely have much to fall back on.
White collar slaves.
Their fall is high and hurts a lot.
Especially as they often have reached an age when ousted
they find it harder than most to get back on track.
They don't know how to use a hammer or to fix a toilet.
They could afford to hire someone to do that job.
Which was good. It was spinning the wheels for everyone.

They live in decent homes.
Middle-class homes in middle-class towns.

So don't pity them you say.
Well, they've payed most of our taxes for their entire lives.

And spend the surplus on the girl scouts cookies and other good will projects
they feel obliged to support.

They have mortgages and kids in schools in well functioning towns
and often far too expensive responsibilities added.

Rarely do they take their full vacation.
They eat their lunch at their desks
and check in to every meeting, meaningful or not.
Just to show their good will and loyalty to the Company and the
so called Family they were lead to believe they were part of.

The people who they've served, and relied on for most decisions
being made as far as their work went,
are the ones who laugh all the way to the bank.
Cutting costs by 7 percent might warrant a bonus.

Let down. Had. Screwed.

So much for being nice to the boss.
Loyal to the Family.
Well, either way they'd be fired.
Catch 22 it is.

They followed the directives. All the way to the cliff's edge.
Pushed over.
To give their bosses yet another respite.

The meek will certainly not inherit the earth.
Other than as a miserable heap of leftovers.

Today, several of my friends, highly competent and hard working people, were to their surprise
let go from a big company.

As have happened too many times the last few years.

Sure, there's a shift taking place.
However, with quarterly results, even monthly, being God,
all God-ness and goodness have gone out the window.

Different skill-sets required. Younger too.
Give me a break.

Are those big corporations not supposed to train and prepare
their people for ongoing change?

What the fuck happened to the responsibly of the firm?
Fuck them. They can't care less.
They are no longer good citizens.
They're greedy holding companies serving the few.
Added value to whom, exactly?

No wonder communism have had such an appeal
at certain periods in modern history.

It's not black and white. It's black and red.
Unfortunately that color scheme have been adopted and hi-jacked by the worst of forces.
Unfortunately it's illustrative of what's happening in our industries right now.

Incompetent and greedy leaders built organisations they couldn't handle.
Only for their own short-sighted so called accomplishments.
And now they let the innocent pay the price.

Blood is flowing. The wrong blood.

Let the right kind of blood boil. And stop this bullshit.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The office


As we have all discovered the paperless office never even got close to materialize.
Well, materialize it did. Piles and piles of it.
With a PC on every man's (and woman's) desk page after page of dross became simpler than ever before to produce.
We embraced it as a sex addict would embrace a harem.

Paste and copy and print and print and print and change our minds
and discharge and spellcheck and print again.

36 pages.
6 copies to be on the safe side.

Send out an e-mail to 200 colleagues as well. 54 of them will print it out.
Half of them forgetting to pick it up from the printer.
So they print it again later.
At which time the document has already been changed.

Select print. 2 copies.
And so on.

The headless office is here.
The body-less office isn't however.

With the introduction of the paperless office,
intranet and email and all sorts of connectivity was
supposed to make the physical office redundant.

So why is it that the only people ever leaving the office cubicles once in a while are the smokers?
Leaving your chair empty for a mere 5 minutes is suspect.
Either you're a smoker or you are playing hooky.

Now more than ever before people never ever leave their cubicles.
Evenings and weekends and holidays and vacations included.

Lunch. Order in. Sandwich and a coke at the desk.

6.30 P.M. Pizza, cheese and pepperoni. In the conf.room on 5.
6.47 P.M. Back at desk. Oh shit, that took more than 15 minutes.
Lost a lot of time there.

Not that people do much more than read each others e-mails and copy and paste and print.
But it has become more important than ever before to be at your desk. At all times.
Leave your desk for too long and it may be gone, or more likely,
occupied by someone else who shows more loyalty to the company.
Someone a bit hungrier. Probably demanding less pay as well.

How could you possible justify your time-sheets if you haven't been at your desk?
You may have been engaging in other things than work.
You may actually have enjoyed a minute of street theater,
or worse, simply forgotten yourself on a park bench for a while. Lost in thought.
God forbid. Oh, sorry, CEO forbid.

I read somewhere that we tend to think better and clearer if we take a brisk walk.
I did that once.
When I came back everything was clear.
Even my desk. Cleared. Cleaned out.

If you're absent you're supposedly absent-minded too.

So there went the beautiful idea of working where ever all modern technology would allow us to.
Which is basically anywhere on this globe, the lo at the Holiday Day Inn in Nowhere included.

Guys, time to get back in. 5 minutes is enough already.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

why?


I started writing this blog because a a few friends encouraged me to do so.
I think George Tannenbaum was the first.
I read his blog every day.
It's amusing, well written and thoughtful.
It stoked by his pathos. A fire in the belly.

On the surface it's about advertising and it's cousins.
On a deeper level about passion and decency and honesty.
Advertising is part of our lives.
So it's not so farfetched.
I also read a blog by Mike Lally.
It's also about honesty and decency.
But comes from a different angle.

As far as my blog goes it's all over the place as you may have noticed.
It's in search of something at all to write about.
It's in search of a language.
In search of a premise.

I'm just learning to express myself in a language that is not my natural language; English.
I'm fumbling.

I would like to write about the little person's struggle against the bigger powers.
I don't know how to.

I want to write about unfairness.

About racism.
About prejudice.
About corruption.
Of minds and of institutions.
I'm just not capable of finding the words.
Or the stories that best tell those stories in an engaging way.

About lies and half lies.
About small mindedness.

Steve Hayden. Legendary writer of advertising, also encouraged me to write a blog.

I don't think he had this blog, as it's been written so far, in mind.
I figure he thought of a blog that would be about my experience so far in advertising.
As I am one of the few in advertising who has actually been on a constant run from success.

Starting in my native Sweden I've worked myself through half the globe by now.
i should have a few things to share about being a foreigner in advertising lands around the world.
I should have a few stories to share, and some knowledge to share.

i just don't know where to start and what to write about.
To me it feels as if everything has been said.
By others who's been more keen on sharing their experiences.
Or, perhaps, more keen on promoting their experiences.
Better at dramatizing them.

Problem is I am not sure I've actually learnt that much worth sharing.
Although I know that what I have lived through makes me reasonably competent.
However. What i've learnt is that nobody wants to listen anyway.

So today I share with you an image I took the other night in New York.
At the ice rink in Bryant Park.
Bring your skates.
It's the only ice rink in Manhattan where you don't have to pay to skate.
And you'll have the view of the Empire State Building for free as well.
That's New York.

Now, I'll try to skate my blog with a little more purpose.
If I just can find my legs.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

5th Avenue New York


There's nothing interesting about the picture above.
It was simply the only picture I took today.

However, a rare thing happened.
Just after I'd taken this picture I met a person right outside
the building I haven't seen for years and years.
Christina Knight.
A very nice person.
Very talented too.
Intelligent, if I am intelligent enough to tell.
A very beautiful woman. Still. After all those years.
I guess I haven't seen her for like almost 20 years.

We used to work together on some projects. She was a copywriter, I an art director.
At what was then considered the hottest creative shop of all in our homeland Sweden.

I regret I didn't have the camera ready.
She looks almost exactly as she did back then.
She was in New York with her family. Vacation.
I was in New York meeting some people.
Well, I live here. So that is what I kind of do every day.
Not at the same place every day though.
Today it was 5th Avenue. Between 15th and 16th street.

i mean, this world is big, New York isn't exactly tiny.
Even thought we refer to the world as small nowadays.
I mean, really. Bumping into an old work mate just like that in New York?
Hey, I ever rarely bump into people I know in the bloody office lift!

Happy New year.

It was a quick embrace. Hi,...aren't you.. oh.. shit yes.. you look just like....
And we did look just like, well, at least she did. We embraced. Quick hug.
Say hi to all I might know back home.
I actually do mean it.
20 seconds really.
It's small big world.

Actually, I wish we could have sat down
for a bit and sort of just. Talked.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hit the nail


It was there.
I saw it.
Fully visible.
Large enough.
I held it between my fingers.
Just a little afraid of hitting my thumb.
Just a matter of hitting it clean.
Drilling it into the surface.
Make it stick.
Enough to hang something substantial on.

Call it a metaphor if you like.

That's how I went through 2007.

And most every year before that.
Hammering away at that nail. As hard as I could.
Right on target.
Smack.

Wrong tool.
Always the wrong tool.

That's me.
Not always properly equipped.
Badly prepared.
Picking the wrong tool for the right job.
Symptomatic.

If I had a hammer.
If only.

Maybe the problem isn't a nail?

Ah, a new year has begun.


Raining. Gloomy. Looking rather miserable so far.
Not even the kids are up.
They cuddle up in their beds with their Nintendo DS games.
Pokemon's their cure against unfriendly weather conditions.

The house is quiet.
The entire neighborhood is quiet.
I don't even hear the birds chirping.
Either they partied too hard last night, or they too don't
find the weather
conducive to song.
No squirrels on the lawn.
It really is a gloomy morning.

2007 left with a bang.
People were killed. Bhutto one of them.
Headlines.
A death that will be felt in 2008. Some way or the other.

Phil Dusenberry took his last breath just about a day short of 2008.
Who's Dusenberry you may ask?

Well, I didn't know him that well.
I knew OF him very well.
I met him at a couple of so called worldwide meetings held by BBDO
for their key people around the world.
Phil was at the top of BBDO in NY.
One of the most impressive creative leaders of our time.
In advertising.

Advertising is what I do.
I never got to the top of the heap though.
Sniffing at it a couple of times.
2008 will be a year I'll try hard again.
My kids need this house.
They need bread too.

I wasn't ever really interested in money.
Never worked for money alone.
Money? To work for money? It felt somewhat dirty.

Ha, what a joke.
How I have been deceived. Self-deception.

I'm in advertising and has treated it like a call of sorts.

I have bought and swallowed the myth that if you just do
as good as you can prosperity will follow.

I bloody did as well as I could.
Which was not necessarily always the best work possible.

By doing as good as I could I included loyalty.
Loyalty towards those who'd hired me.
Loyalty towards those I'd in my turn, in my position,
hired to work for the places I was hired to run.

I have fought for other peoples ideas.
Sometimes against better knowledge.
I have negotiated on behalf of big, rich companies.
Helped them stretch their money and get the most out of their budgets.

I have taken risks and challenged convention.
Little of it payed off, on a personal level, for me.
Quite the opposite really.
Even though the actions succeeded.
Problem is that challenging as such attracts attention.
The only thing left when success follows is a phew.
And the bad air left by those who never believed or trusted and fought against everything.
They're always against. They fight new. They fight ideas. They fight risk. They fight people with passions.
They don't fight for anything good. Other than their own prosperity.

Those are of course people on certain high levels. More politicans than doers.
They make your life miserable. And they tend to live long lifes.
Way longer than you'd ever last if you try to break the rule of "this is how we always do it".
Some of them started out well, but got honed and shaped, and let themselves so be.
Now they're essentially useless. But it's too late. They hold the strings of power in their hands.

At the end of the day, the first day of year 2008 A.D., I can simply
conclude that the only thing that would have had any value would have been selfishness
However. When acting in self-interest, remember to act as if it's not.
Don't let your words betray the real meaning. Good liars know that. Saying is one thing, doing is quite another.

Advice for those thousands of you younger readers:
Only spend time and energy on the actual work. The actual final work that can be seen and win awards.
Don't waste your energy on anything else. Avoid like the pest anything that can distract you from that.
Let the losers do the heavy lifting. For you, if possible.

And by all means. Go for the money. You'll need them. Save as much of it as you can. Or invest wisely.
The fact is: Nobody's going to fight for you.
It may seem as if someone might be fighting for you at times.
Remember, it's rather likely that's something is in it for the guy seemingly fighting for you.

Now, of course, there are some truly noble hearts in our industry.
Some of them are naive. And well meaning. They tend to come across as wiser than they are.
I've come to know a couple of them.

I've also come across some brilliantly smart people.
I never learnt a thing from them. To my regret.

There are also some real people. Even in advertising.
But that is so rare I don't think they have much
of an influence over anything or anybody really.
It's not that most people are bad.
It's just the way most people are at the end of the day.
Everyone's got to live and try to survive.
Most people are sheep. Just a number in a herd.
Whether in advertising or any other function.

It may sound stupid, and it probably is: I've been a bit of an idealist.
In bloody advertising. Man, I surely wasted my energy,
When I was much younger I thought of being a journalist.
Exposing the world for what it is.
I never did.

I got into advertising. Treating it like an art form.
Trying my bloody best not to pester the world with crap.
I've even declined working on some accounts
as I thought of the products as being destructive.

So.
This morning.
The first in 2008.
I made myself a cup of coffee.
Took a couple of pictures.

It all looks pretty much the same as last year.
The fireplace is there.
It does work. But we never use it.
Maybe we should this year?
There's something about fires.
It talks to something very ancient and deep in us.
Now we just keep a handful of large candles in there.
Looks nice when lighted.

Oh, do I have any resolutions for the new year?
Well, not really.
I know I don't have the capacity, or personality traits, to keep them.
They are always against my nature.

But I have a wish that my family will be happy and healthy.
I wish my friends the same.
I wish no evil on anybody other than those who are evil.
Yes, I know, I should wish everyone well. But I'm not religious in that sense.
The evil that lives within many people is simply evil.

Just one more thing.
One I always wondered about.
Well, it does tie in with my thoughts above.

Why is it that someone who's constantly uncomfortable to his surroundings, dominating, downright evil on a small scale, or even large for that matter, always gets forgiven and praised they day he does the tiniest of good?
It's like it really pays to be an asshole. Because you only have to crack one little crooked smile now and then to be embraced and praised.

And why is it that those around us who are constantly good and decent and well-meaning never get recognition?
Rather do they suffer, as people take advantage of them, taunt them, and use them as spring-boards. To cover up their own fears and shortcomings.

2008 will most likely not be very different.
But we can hope.