25 November 2014

The Bills ... Cosby and Clinton

First and foremost, I wish a Happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours, Dear Reader.  I ask that you kindly indulge me for a moment on this whole Bill Cosby thing.  This being the "turkiest" week of the year, it seems appropriate whilst discussing the two Bill's -- one of them with the honorary doctorate and the other the dishonored president.

I'm of an age (a man chuffed to still be in his 40's) where I have friends and acquaintances in their 70s and 80s.  Even as a boy I enjoyed carrying on conversations about finance and theology and screenwriting with those several decades my senior. Their book recommendations meant the world to me, and often they would inscribe a tome or two to yours truly with an admonition about my future in some field or other.  Man did I admire these men and women, and over the years have warmly welcomed their mentorship and advice and criticism, and today appreciate them as living exemplars of how one gracefully transitions into one's dotage from an active career in academia, theology, law and entertainment.

One such individual was my friend, Mac (not his real name), who "came up" (his words) with Bill Cosby and several other famous and successful black entertainers who all made their way westward from the East Coast and Chicago out to the land of easy money, aka, Los Angeles. (I don't mention the others as not to tarnish the group.) It wasn't quite William Faulkner easy Hollywood money, but talent will out, Dear Reader, and talent did see them all rise to the top of their respective fields of television, voice-over, writing, film and even sport.

My pal (intro'd by my ex's mother -- they worked together) was a voice talent and actor, you know the kind who does "In a world ..." for our favorite movie trailers, etc., he of the baritone voice range, with dozens of years doing emcee/voice over work for the most prestigious Hollywood award shows.  He was also a regular on several television shows, and was able to create a marvelous career after a fine jazz radio DJ career in Chicago.  Mac asked me to play golf with him semi-regular, and we'd always lunch at the club after our round.

Quick admission, because I'm nothing if not transparent: I sort of lost my playing privileges with my pal after an afternoon of playing rather badly and losing my cool.  I blew off some steam in a rather vocal fashion, and may have even tossed a golf club (okay, maybe two) with vigorous aplomb (I'm nothing if not vigorous).  Peter Falk, the most famous one-eyed actor in the history of Hollywood, was routinely in the twosome in front of our foursome over the years that Mac graciously extended invitations for me (and occasionally my brothers) to join him at "the Riv" (Riviera Country Club) in the Pacific Palisades.  And every once in a while, on that bad day of bad days, Peter would turn and give me the ole stink-eye with his good eye.  When you get the stink-eye from a one-eyed acting legend, it's really noticeable because to make sure he's got you in his sights, he had to crank around the ole noggin with that still-great-head-of-hair to give me the good once-over.  Damn, that Falkian glare!  I knew that my acting the fool would some day get me once'd-over but good. Yes, on that day I was that guy, and am still embarrassed by it.  We live and learn, am I right or am I right?

Anyway, on a typically perfect Los Angeles day at the Riv we were with the scions of Flip Wilson and Don Cornelius.  Mac knew both of their fathers, and these two men, who were successful in their own right, just happened to be the sons of two entertainment giants who knew Mac and enjoyed his company on the golf course. There was also one other entertainment executive from one of the studios playing with us, and I, newly out of law school working at MGM Studios, listened whilst they shot the sh*t about the comings and goings of famous whatnots and whoseits. 

Then a story or two were fleshed out and exposed (double entendre doubly intended), with a couple of the men relating to us how ole Bill C. (you know the one I mean) had a penchant for maltreating women, especially young, blonde women, who were called upon to fellate him behind his desk whilst he entertained friends on the other side of said desk, plying them with the usual accouterments of fine scotch, cigars, and pink party hats.  Okay, I'm not sure about the hats, but their detailed discussion of the fellatio and other stories were more than matched by similar sounding offerings in the news the last few weeks.  What were once unctuous whisperings about the Coz's sexual proclivities are now full-throated news headlines of rape.

There was a man who worked for Bill Cosby for many years at NBC Universal whose job included paying off these women by the handful, with monthly hush money payments.  Bill Clinton had a similar sounding team of men and women whose job it was manage the "bimbo erruptions," i.e., to perform character assassination on any of the many women who dared to come forward when Bill Clinton's shenanigans would come to the light of day.

Bill Clinton, aka, President Interbush (thanks Alec Baldwin!) No. 42, could frisk a woman up and down as good as any undercover officer working a crowd to ensure that no n'er-do-wells were carrying any concealed weapons.  Bill Clinton was checking for concealed weapons all right, on seemingly any woman he met.  And sometimes when he was comfortable or bold enough, it was his own weapon that was no longer concealed.

Two very attractive women, friends of mine from law school were both groped by Bill Clinton.  One, Ms. A, was propositioned whilst in DC out on her morning run, where the President's team approached her and asked if she wouldn't mind chatting with ole Bill.  She declined, but eventually they chatted briefly on both of their supposed morning runs!  In a rare moment of chivalry, rather than press Ms. A himself, he had his chief pimp (hard to believe this was secret service) detail ask her for her phone number so that they could contact her subsequently for "lunch."

The second friend from law school accompanied a Senator's son from California to a wedding at the White House.  In the receiving line, Bill gave Ms. H. the full body search with his aw schucks, "Nice to meet ya, Ms. H." (cops a feel on shoulder.) "What part of California are ya'll from?" (slides hand down to feel curvature of the Ms. H's derriere.) "I look forward to seeing you inside after the ceremony!" (looks longingly into her eyes whilst double clasping a handshake.)

So, what's the difference between these two Bills?  Apparently very little in their private lives and behaviors. What's different is perhaps how the media are treating them.  Bill Clinton suborned perjury, lied to a grand jury, and was eventually disbarred and impeached.  But, worst to my way of thinking, was that he was a serial abuser of women, not to mention how they were then impugned, besmirched, and called "trailer trash" by James Carville and other men and women who worked for Clinton #42.  The media, like they did under JFK, looked the other way.  Ben Bradlee knew of the women during JFK's time, as did many of the other "good ole boys" in the Beltway media.  Pigs all, then and now.

If you took the transcripts on today's news shows, and swapped out the name "Cosby" for "Clinton" you'd have the headlines as they should have been 20 years ago and should be today.  Rape allegations that were presented against Bill Clinton are still swept under the ole Sam Donaldson rug, er, toupee.  If today's animated media chasing after Cosby put the same effort into the same number of women with allegations against Clinton, then we'd have some sort of justice.  The Clinton women were overwhelmingly ignored by the feminists, to their own shame and discredit.

I hope the "Bill's C" both get their day to face in the cold light of day the women they abused, and I hope the media are called to account for their complicit and scandalous participation.

17 October 2014

It's them ... ahem

It’s them.

Ponder, ponder, ponder, ponder, ponder, ponder. Yonder, yonder, yonder, yonder, yonder, yonder.
Wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder, wonderbread. Dunder, dunder, dunder, dunder, dunderhead.
Slender, slender, slender, slender, slender, slender. Tender, tender, tender, tender, tender, tender.
Gander, gander, gander, gander, gerrymandering. Pander, pander, pander, pander, pandering.

Ponder yonder the wonder of those dunders, er, slender tenders, gerrymandering to pander. One finger at them and three, ahem, at me.

Untamed Beasty ... Redux

There stood beside me a grove of yellow mango shrubs, each the size of a small boy.

In each moment I stood motionless watching, the weight of it all pressed down on my head, shoulders, and feet (burrowing deeper into the dark wet soil). An increased burden of helplessness; an impotence in its purest state overwhelmed as I heard the waves upon the shore somewhere behind me.

It was as if I could intuit each moment (not seconds, not time, but the single idea or notion of an individual and distinct nano event) as they passed by -- or rather were lit then extinguished -- one by one, like wood matches you get from a steak house, a half-empty box, rattling around. Each of them as important as its predecessor or successor, lined up like lemmings about to migrate to some eternal judgment that they surely would not pass. Each one wanted, yet wasted.

These moments pressed in on my conscience; the box never emptying, just rattling with fresh moments to be shaken to see if there were any left, then pulled hard against the box, then dropped down to the earth like manna from Heaven with a fleeting trail of smoke and a last gasp upon impact.




03 October 2014

My Corporate Communication Philosophy.

As a marketing and communications professional, I've written dozens of press releases (and ordered, edited, and published dozens more); created pitchbooks and presentations for VCs and angel investors alike; have drafted corporate communications on behalf of and from the office of CxO of some sort during celebrations and catastrophes, as well as massive hirings and firings; created and overhauled corporate vision; drafted and redlined hundreds of contracts and agreements of various forms; and have written responses to government agencies, judges, and opposing counsel.

How you phrase, parse, preach or pitch your message is hugely important, both to your organization as well as to you.  So, here, over Coffee Bean vanilla lattes in Malibu, I thought I'd put out a quick primer, as best as one can draft such a document sitting in 78 F degree weather amongst the beautiful, rich, homeless, recently spotted actors and athletes du jour -- talkin' 'bout you David Duchovny and Blake Griffin -- illegal aliens, er, I mean, non-documented though decently paid workers, unpaid though over-represented screenwriters, and bikers hellbent for trouble (lycra and leather alike).

Here now for your perusal, my very quick, yet heartfelt, communication bromide and offering:

I believe in thoughtful comity over cruel quips. 

None of us are perfect, no not one.

If we’re a liberal, very advanced company, and our consumers are not (some of them), we respect them and their traditional worldview. If we’re a conservative company, and our consumers are not (some of them), we respect them and their forward- thinking worldview.

We do not talk down to potential consumers simply because they think different from or hold opposing views than we do. Even potential consumers that will never be our customers are part of our body politic, market, and hemispheric.

We protect our employees, ALL of them.

We respect our consumers, ALL of them.

We respect ourselves, ALL the time, and therefore demand the best in behavior from ourselves and our employees, especially in the way we communicate with each other, our clients, our consumers, and our competition.

We have a worldview, we let others know what it is, we're proud of it, and we hold fast to it. We don’t change our principles because some, several, or serious numbers decide that they don’t like us, what we did/do, or what they perceive we stand for; we hold on to our moral compass whilst remaining true to our core of respect, even if / while others do not respect us.

We are having ongoing conversations with ourselves, our employees, our colleagues, our consumers, our community, our competition … at all times. We speak truth to power and we powerfully seek the truth in how we operate. Our conversation therefore is peppered with urbane wit and seasoned with compassionate drive to succeed in the marketplace of commerce – and ideas — whilst having fun.

Damn it! 


01 September 2014

11 May 2014

Charitable giving should be shrouded in mystery ... n'est pas?

Dear Reader, an engrossing article to be found/read over at Bloomberg by one Zachary Mider.  Loved every second of this petite mystery.  To be enjoyed on a wonderfully languid and relaxing "Happy Mother's Day!" day. Worth the read, I promise.  Link to Bloomberg below the tease/fold.  
The $13 Billion Mystery Angels  By Zachary R. Mider May 08, 2014
For many years, a Los Angeles psychoanalyst to the stars named Milton Wexler led the fight against Huntington’s disease, a rare and fatal congenital illness. His Hereditary Disease Foundation didn’t have much money, so he attracted scientists to his cause by inviting them to parties where they could mingle with his celebrity friends.

In 1997 a single donor began charting a new direction for the research effort into Huntington’s. He poured millions and eventually hundreds of millions of dollars into an aggressive search for a cure. At first he worked with Wexler’s organization, then split off and established his own network of nonprofit foundations. He hired a former banker named Robi Blumenstein to run them. In place of Wexler’s salons, where the talk had flowed freely from chromosomes to the arts, Blumenstein offered conferences with PowerPoint presentations on promising therapies and partnerships with major drugmakers such as Pfizer (PFE). “The word on the street was, wow, this is great. There’s this rich guy who’s creating this virtual biotech that’s tackling H.D.,” says Nathan Goodman, a scientist in Seattle. “My God, our prayers have been answered.”

By 2011 the donor was spending more than $100 million a year on Huntington’s, more than the National Institutes of Health was investing in a cure. Like everyone else, Goodman was grateful for the infusion of money—the disease had killed his father-in-law. He nevertheless found it frustrating that he couldn’t talk to the donor about his spending priorities. He says he grew more curious when he noticed Blumenstein at research conferences accompanied by a middle-aged, bearded man. A few years ago in Palm Springs, Calif., Goodman says, Blumenstein introduced the man to a group of attendees as the “donor’s representative.” He gave the man’s name as “Andrew.”

The unknown man’s donations to the fight against Huntington’s, it turns out, were just a small part of his generosity. 

(continue reading at Bloomberg!)

10 April 2014

the 4th Hour in the shade of a tree

April No. 10

just stay, at this hour.  let the light stop where it is.
a moment more, and it is changed.
mood, sentiment, breathless hope exhaled.

pull on the razor sharp hands of the clock.  stop time’s train in its narrow gauge.
for when history’s momentum jerks back clanging against this perfect setting,
a hazard’s worth of future turns its gaze back toward us.
with all of his cousins of hurry-ups and urgents, plying us for

our moment.  here. lovely and never to be again.

04 March 2014

I Know You, A$$hole ... Putin's Russia

In the words of Gene Hackman from The Royal Tenenbaums:  "I know you, asshole!" Rather, we know you, Putin's Russia.  Royal Tenenbaum is having an early morning leisurely smoke, looking out the 3rd story window of his manse, joined by his aide-de -camp "the Pagoda," when he flicks a butt out the window and, looking down, spies Eli Cash (Owen Wilson) defenestrating himself through a lower-level window.  

Just prior to Royal's highly appropriate vituperation toward the unctuous Eli, he asks his pal Pagoda (RIP, Kuman Pallana), "what's that jackass doing?"  And so it is with Putin's Russia.  We first wonder what is this third-world jackass doing?  Then we remember all too well that we know this boorish turd in the punch bowl all too well. We're all too familiar with the current Russian kleptocracy of corrupt oligarchs and former Soviet apparatchiks who have been and will always be happy to keep Russia a third-world coulda-been-a-contender -- albeit one that retains an atavistic and powerful hegemony in the region.  

Statecraft is the expert policy maker's chess game. And, Obama is not a nuanced policy guy; sorry, but he isn't.  And, he doesn't have the best folks around him to fill-in the gaps as most recent presidents have had.  He's got Rice, Clinton and Kerry.  Whilst Hillary and Kerry are terrifically smart, in my opinion they're policy wonks domestique, more comfortable at home carving out a beachhead for their power bases.  And, as much as I admire the career track of Susan Rice, she's not of the same caliber as these cats:

  • Carter had Warren Christopher and Z. Brzezinski;
  • Reagan had Schultz, Powell and Poindexter;
  • Bush 41 had Baker and Scowcroft;
  • Bill Clinton ("Inter-Bush" as Alec Baldwin once observed) had Christopher and Albright;
  • Bush 43 had Powell and Condi Rice.  

Obama 44 remains an activist and a great speechifier, but he's also the first ADHD president the US has ever had -- why hasn't anyone opined on this yet? -- who doesn't have the stamina, nor the attention span to play this foreign policy chess game out to its required long-game length.  Give Obama a few setbacks on his ObamaCare and before you know it, the family is off to a vacation, or, more likely, BHO is off on another record-setting round of golf (not for his low scoring, but for the number of rounds he's gotten in over the last 5 years).

The Bush doctrine, as ably articulated by Sec. Condi Rice around the world, was to support nascent democratic movements in their respective climes and environs.  Especially those trying to shake free the shackles of tyranny and despotism.  However, Bush's foreign policy wasn't a 70's style CIA backed sub rosa, seeking to undermine sovereign governments, but he was in the business of nation building, which ultimately cost taxpayers at home untold billions still to be calculated.  But, Bush was strong and played the long-game to its logical end.

Now, am I advocating US involvement in the Crimea or the region?  Uh, no.  I wasn't in favor of Syria involvement, nor was I really all that keen on Iraq, truth be told.  Afghanistan was a tough call, but a necessary quagmire, and I'm glad we're getting out of Dodge as we speak.  If there is a distinct, limited, and well articulated US interest, with enumerated goals, then let's cowboy up and get the fugly done and done, because in this big, bad world, the grownups have to make tough decisions and move on.

Because Obama has been sized-up by Putin and his cadre of former KGB hacks now "legit" entrepreneurs, as being skittish on US involvement -- especially in light of Syria -- Putin will do whatever he wants in Ukraine and Obama will do little to nothing to reply in-kind.  Obama needs to realize that Ukraine and Poland are similar in their beginnings.  A feel-good ground swell, accompanying street demonstrations, with leaders from within risking life and limb to speak out -- not puppet proxies placed in Soviet Satellites by Russian leaders arrogating for themselves strategic territories.  Putin wants 1989 to go away.  He wants to pretend it never happened, and that the "domino theory" can never work in reverse, with regions and people groups laying claim for the first time a right to representative governments, whatever form they may take.

Note, Dear Reader, if you haven't seen this quaint Wes Anderson mise-en-scène, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.  The Royal Tenenbaums can be found on eBay or Amazon.com for purchase or rent. 

08 February 2014

Life is a Beautiful Sport ... Lacoste 2014 Campaign

In a world of fashion brands and magazines and Terry Richardsons (and the many impresarios funding those of his ilk) and reality TV shows and the Internet seemingly sexualizing our culture (and our young kids) at every turn, it's nice to see an advertisement that can celebrate the first kiss in such a bold fashion. That's it.  Just a kiss.  And what a kiss.  Note: to see the ad, scroll down below the fold.

The "first kiss" ... powerful thing, that.  My first kiss was when I was 5 or thereabouts. Samantha King, who lived across the street from our family, she and I were both in kindergarten, and it was a purloined kiss, stolen in front of the entire class.  Our teacher had us playing "around the world" where she would hold up vocabulary cards, and whoever said the word first, that child would stand behind the next kid trying to defeat the entirety of the semi-circle of kids.  One joker was making his way "around the world," slaying all comers.  He'd stand behind each child in a one-on-one competition, reading "cat" or "ball" faster than the kid seated before him, letting out a "hmmph!!" each time he'd clobber some hapless knuckle-dragger.

Samantha was seated next to me, and ole joker was now behind yours truly, with his cold little fingers gripping the back of my plastic chair. The teacher pulled her next vocabulary flash card.  "Classroom!" I shouted. He was no match against a future and confirmed sesquipedalian, and I pumped my triumphant fist in the air. Then in one singular motion and in the exact fashion of that 1970's game show, The Newlyweds (whenever the husbands would get an answer correct, they'd always kiss their wives seated next to them), I proceeded to plant a firm and unmistakable wet one on Samantha King, seated next to me, and her soon-to-be-bright-red cheek.  Boy, oh boy, did pandemonium break out. It was glorious. Today, there would be lawsuits, suspensions, and newly fashioned guidelines about how to properly play "around the world."

As many a reader of this space knows, I am the Anglophile at heart, but as a good Frenchman (Cajun boy, actually, by way of Canada, where they occasionally get the breezes) I will of course rock the Croc e'ry now and then.  Lacoste has boldly gone forward with their "Life is a Beautiful Sport" ad campaign this year the likes of which will only help pad their $2billion plus in annual revenue.  Good on them.

I read a recent article about the BETC agency in France that produced this spot for the campaign they pitched to Lacoste.  It's a nice read if you're into that sort of thing.  My gig as head of marketing keeps me firmly ensconced in such ephemera, but I like the storytelling aspect about this brand campaign very much.  When you watch this spot, notice his nervousness, the false starts and hesitation both on the rooftop and at the table.  It's a sweet, bold spot, that nicely captures his flailing about mid-air, bringing his legs and arms akimbo into something of a smooth landing for a first kiss. The rest of the campaign is equally spot-on, with men and women active, walking and perched in the air, strong vision and vantage of what's happening in the busy city, and what the future holds for those like-minded Lacoste loyalists and aspirationalists.

I shared this ad with my two sons (16 and 13 respectively).  The subject of first kisses and dating has come up quite frequently as of late.  My sons look like their mom, which is a good thing for them and their future girlfriends, believe me. I've shared some advice in this regard, but only because I've been asked.  My main advice?  Don't do as I did, but be a bit more suave. Don't bumble and stumble, but be brave, bold, self-assured, and .... humble.  It's not the cocky, but the confidently sweet who make the best first kissers, er, in this rather paunchy, squishy fuddy-duddy dad's opinion.

06 February 2014

always buy belts when they're on sale ...

$3.99 for a fine leather belt is a pretty good deal, especially when one considers the belt originally fetched $59.00 at my local Banana Republic in Malibu. When one comes across such a sale, as i did today, one would be a certifiable, interminable and insufferable fool not to jump at such an opportunity as one does not come across such moments of transactional thievery unless serendipity herself deigned deliver us the chance.

there is an immutable, irrefutable fact of life that the universe ebbs and flows at various times in our lives, bringing in all sundry of flotsam and jetsam of which to steer clear or embrace; occasionally, the tide rolls out leaving behind beached opportunities that striking at like a pitted viper is de regueur.  daily we find ourselves perched on the horns of our quotidian dilemma staring at us in our collective face, Dear Reader:  sometimes the once-in-a-lifetime fire sale is a chance to date the most beautiful girl in school.  other times it's the choices we face for an affordable college experience for our kids.  should we have put a portion of our paycheck into that 401-K 20 years back when we first started working?  does walking 4 times a week really impact my health?

to this day i have regrets about a cashmere scarf i purchased in New Orleans at a television producer's conference (NATPE, pronounced "napte" ... don't ask me why) where i was pitching an animated project my partners and i had invested in (which included my then in-laws!).  my regret?  not buying 5 of these scarfs (they were on sale for $9.99, a full $100.00 off) when i could have.  imagine how great the regret i have for the real decisions i fumbled in my life! i would embarrass myself to no end and bore you to tears, Dear Reader, should i enumerate that rather exhaustive and indelible list.  but, here's the truncated, top three on the list:  (1) going to law school with loans (2) my divorce, and (3) not risking all to pursue a writing career. somehow, i'm sure that list is related, intertwined emotionally in a knotty unspoken way.  good gawd that was a rather gauche list gushing way too much sentiment and seriousness, which i regret already (damn my regretting my regret!). do forgive me, won't you? 

je regrette, Dear Reader?  do they fall somewhere in between a $3 belt, a $9 scarf and a costly divorce in every sense (where our hero/victim/villain still dreams about his ex)?  if so, share with us down below, won't you?

for my next post, i promise i'll share with you the way I loooove how in certain British film men and women go around telling complete strangers that they have decided that they and said stranger are soon to become complete and utter best friends. i've seen it several times, and i like it very much each time.