I asked the vendor if I could take some pictures of his nice truck completely covered with ice cream wrappers. He quickly and flatly responded, "Not mine".

Since it wasn't his truck I figured it was fair game to take some photos. I took several shots. Then the man asked me for $5.00. Though he was a serious soul, I thought he was kidding. (Hey, dude, your selling ice cream.) He took the money without hesitation. I was surprised, expectin...
g that he would decline; but, I accepted the outcome nevertheless.

It hit me later he was not telling me it wasn't his truck; but "Not mine" in fact meant "You can't take pictures of my truck". So I guess it evened things out for him to get some compensation from the smart ass who was rude enough to take pictures after he said no.

Lost in translation.

Notice, however, my name in the center on one of the packages. So, it was meant to be. Today, after all, is my birthday celebration. The universe had a little fun with me.
 
I Was an Ad Biggie


Let's get the doctored photo image out of the way first. That's my face in the photo allright. But not with those lovelies. However, I did have my own share of tempting taxi cab rides.

Before the time professionals in advertising came to be referred to as "Mad Men", we called ourselves "Ad Biggies". The "Mad Man" moniker comes from when a lot of the advertising agencies in New York City were headquartered on Madison Avenue. Does anyone not know that?

Calling ourselves Ad Biggies was somewhat of a self-mocking thing to do. The kind of boast "Young Turks" like to make. An inside joke. Not something we actually would claim, unless we thought it would bring a laugh. And, the term "Young Turks". I remember there was a headhunter who would typically specify in her NY Times classifieds, "Wanted: Young Turks". This was code for eager beavers who would go 100% plus right out of the box, and be put on the so-called "Fast Track". Carrots before horses.

Lots of jargon in the Biz. We "Targeted" "Optimized", "Maximized". Definitely, "Synergized". We got "Penetration" and "Saturation" and "Efficiency" and "Bang for the Buck". We "Blitzed" and made sure there was enough "Reach" and "Frequency". There was "Duplicated", and then there was "Unduplicated". Sometimes we would "Put it on the train to Greenwich to see where it gets off". "Put it on the back stoop to see if the cat licks it up." "Run it up the flagpole to see who would salute it." But, we only used those phrases in jest. You get the meaning. And, the cynicism.

We all liked a good advertising joke. During the blackout of 1965 the story went around about a young lady claiming to have been deflowered by an advertising account executive while trapped in a pitch black elevator. When asked how she was certain is was an advertising guy, she stated, "I had to show him what to do".

News came through the mill that a certain advertising man had died. Someone over cocktails asked, "What did he have?" "He had $10 million with Procter and Gamble and $6 million from Prudential."

I did a stint on Madison Avenue myself, at my last job in the business with Doyle Dane Bernbach. Bill Bernbach was still roaming the halls then, and Ned Doyle and Maxwell Dane had offices in the building, those two rarely seen. That was before DDB went public and then was subsequently gobbled up into a huge holding company. Media billed at 15% commission, production costs at 17.65%. That's it; no negotiation. Now everything is negotiated. 

It was the time when that brilliant author, Patty Volk, was a hard working copywriter, with antimacassars on her office couch. She had a thing for lace and wore lace collars frequently. She is a nice Jewish girl, and if it weren't for her public acclaim as an author, she could have fallen back on her inherited fame as the descendant of one Sussman Volk. The gentleman is said to have served the "foist" pastrami sandwich in America way back in 1887. Read Ms. Volk's book Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family. Props to Patty.

Technologically, when I was last in the business we were just getting typewriters in from IBM with the capability of storing documents in memory. Believe me, it was all directly from the typewriter during that time. An original business letter had to be perfect, no mistakes. There was such a thing as having a good secretary. Mistakes, if any, were whited out or taped over, but only in documents meant to be photocopied from the original. Particularly troublesome was when you had an exhibit for a presentation which was all numbers, ten rows across, twenty down. If you were projecting the presentation on a screen you had to go to a dedicated A/V department to have your material photo copied onto a slide. And, if there was an error in a chart, back it went for type correction and a new slide. Rush, rush. Panic mode. We didn't even have a glimmer of what in the digital world now takes minutes and is as easy as pie. Now you can practically correct a slide mid-presentation. It's hard to convey the kind of anguish with the time pressure you had to go through to get ready for a presentation with that ancient level of technology.

Alright, so I'm sounding like an old timer. Hey, so what?! There was a time when all that was new and fresh to me too. And, though ultimately it wasn't the field for me, I did learn a lot; interacted with some very nice (some not so) people, and super sharply smart folks.

My first job in advertising was at the venerable J. Walter Thompson Company in 1968. JWT was headquartered in the Graybar Building on Lexington Avenue, across the street from the magnificent Chrysler Building and directly connecting to Grand Central Station. At that time Kodak displayed a giant photo mural covering the entire East wall of the terminal. 


Four years before I arrived in 1968 JWT had celebrated its 100th year of operation. At the time it was also the largest ad agency in the world. It too has since been gobbled up by a conglomerate.

The executive offices at JWT were pretty swell. I was a newly minted Account Executive and I had an office with oak paneling, a coffered ceiling, furnished with Early American antique furniture. The big execs had offices with custom artistically made wrought iron panels floor to ceiling backed with frosted glass. The agency even had a snooty arty type on permanent staff to manage its in house art collection. I don't remember her name, but she looked the part and breezed about in flowing caftans. I am grateful to her. At one Christmas party, there was a raffle and I took home a huge original Jules Cheret poster.  It was under glass in a slim gilt frame, something like 30 by 40 inches. I took it home to Park Slope on the subway, genuinely fearful it might break in two with the crush of riders.



The company occupied several floors in the Graybar Building. In the lobby we had the south bank of elevators. Vogue Magazine went to the north. I remember all those unattainable "stuck up" Vogue girls so fashionably going to their office. You work for Vogue, you gotta pose, right.

In the reception area on most floors at J. Walter Thompson there was a receptionist. Women of a certain age who were all very well dressed, carefully coiffed, and expertly made up. All those gals looked like they might have had, shall we say, history with some of the bosses back in the day. On the floor with the creative types, the receptionist was a slim old colorless woman, gaunt and gray with a huge beehive hairdo, lots of makeup, bright red lipstick, and black cat eye glasses. Her look said, "Creative". I never passed her that I didn't take special notice. In the 12th floor, where the top executives lived, the lobby featured Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs in black leather and a Richard Lippold wire sculpture adoring the North wall. He is fabulous. Take a look at his work "Flight", which adorned the Vanderbilt lobby of the PanAm Building back in the day.

I left J. Walter Thompson to get a substantial jump in salary. Ted Bates and Company, also now somewhere in a conglomerate, had just moved from its original site at 666 Fifth Avenue to 1515 Broadway between 44th and 45th Streets on the West Side. The address was then named the W.T. Grant building and it was constructed on the site of the old Astor Hotel. Many a lunchtime at Nathan's Famous down the road a bit, or Grant's on 42nd Street wolfing down a dozen clams on the half shell with a nice glass of beer. Or, the Governor Cafeteria farther down Broadway in the Garment District. When I left Ted Bates my farewell lunch was at the Governor. (When I left DDB we celebrated[?] at the Brussels where I enjoyed lobster ravioli with shaved fresh truffle. I didn't have a goodbye fete from JWT, but the headhunter who engineered my switch for more do-ray-me took me to a four martini lunch to celebrate.)

Ted Bates was were I really learned the advertising business. Strategy ruled. It is the famous home of the USP, Unique Selling Proposition. The claim was the thing. There was such an emphasis on scientifically valid claims we even had our own science department. Even with clients we sat in and discussed research design and consulted with their own clinical researcher on interpreting the data for advertising claim purposes.

Once when the bakers of Wonder Bread, the ITT Continental Baking Company in Rye, New York, wanted to market a high fiber bread, we watched as the recipe that included wood cellulose (the fiber ingredient that backed the claim) would burst into flames when it went into the toaster. Or, a sourdough bread that got its tang from the addition of vinegar. Actually, that one did better in consumer taste tests than real old fashioned sourdough made with fermented starter. Go figure.

The agency had gotten into trouble with the FTC showing Colgate Rapid Shave taking the grit off sandpaper. This was on our part I'm sure more about the visual than a claim of being able to remove sand from sandpaper. The legal outcome was that after each commercial featuring a shaving scene the agency producer had to sign a document attesting to the fact that the shaver only went over the demonstrated shaved area only once. In another situation a junior executive was called on the carpet for disclosing to a reporter that there was only 1/4 ounce of butter in the top cut of the whole loaf of Home Pride Butter Top bread. You see the issue, don't you. We made a big fuss over the taste. The small amount actual butter was just gave us legitimacy to make the claim. Then again, when we realized that the closing of Wonder Bread commercials used a foam rubber insert to have the bread showing up on screen springing back nicely for the camera, we went back to the studio to redo with an actual loaf of bread. CYA.  

From the foregoing you should get the clear idea the game was to generate a superior selling claim. As far as that goes, fine enough. However, whether in fact there was any real benefit or need, that was secondary to the goal of getting something hard hitting that passed legal (Oh yes, "Hard Hitting" was tossed out a lot too). I was a clean cut, honest looking Midwest kid, and I was usually the designated one to take advertising ideas to the in-house legal department.

We were in the business of selling goods and services. Completely neutral, as professionals should be as I was told, to any considerations of social impact, ecology, or conscience; and, perhaps with a rather fungible sense of ethics and morality. If it sold, it was good. 

Nowadays that ethic is way more out of the closet than when I was in the Biz. Of course we weren't so short term to not consider something called "Repeat Purchase". It's one thing to get someone to try a product or service; but, the question is, will they come back for another. Then another, and eventually become a regular customer. So, we weren't just out to fool folks. But, a large part of the advertising message is based on the underlying, if unstated, supposition that consumers in general can reliably be expected to be fools. Look at all that drug advertising on television with an arms length of disclaimers for sometimes terribly harrowing possible side effects. The voice-over blithely and sweetly chirps the list of possible horrors then happily suggests you ask your doctor if is this is right for you. Insert a "Hey, asshole!" at the beginning of that line and you have the complete message, fully stated.

Obviously, what I have shared here is just a smattering. I could write a book. For whom to read? That keeps me from going there. Net, net (oh, that's one of the pieces of jargon too) I enjoyed my time in Advertising. Maybe with equal amounts of dread. Job security is something you are constantly working on, and the pressure to to have your standards, integrity, and even ethics coopted can be intense. Especially when you're strapped into a mortgage, car payments, and a family to raise.

At one point in all that, I just had a moment of clarity and honesty with myself. I did not really want to be doing this. This Advertising business thing. Not long after, the universe did its thing and I was out. I had already become keenly interested in holistic health and healing. My own Rolfing experience was life transforming. Within a few years after leaving Madison Avenue, I trained successfully and became a Certified Rolfer. I enjoy immensely working in a worthy field which is both artistically challenging and sharing in terms of true human values. Teaching people of all kinds how to live well and stay healthy. Going on 34 years.

And now, just like everyone else, I enjoy the commercials. And the discussions about how good they are. But, come on! "Coke ads life"? Most advertising, like I said before, would read better if it the spots were prefixed with, "Hey, Asshole!"

I actually now do work in a field that truly adds life. Now, just to get the word out. I'm an Ad Biggie, after all. It's in my blood.

Click here to read a Top Secret, recently de-classified account of my exploits in counter espionage in advertising.


Young.
 
 
In our culture youth sells. (That's because youth buys.) Really, in any culture where buying and selling is a priority, youth sells. Who doesn't want to be good looking, strong, vital, fresh, eager, sexy. Disregard those other usual traits of youth: callow and shallow.

As we age we seem to lose those attractive qualities even as we may gain in wisdom and understanding. I say "may" because as you have probably noticed, older is not necessarily wiser. The industries that cater to our desire to retain that glow of youth are big; As The Donald would say, "Uuge". There's a pill for that, don't you know.

I would argue, however, that we have it wrong. Who says that because you get older you automatically get more decrepit and — well, let's call a spade a spade — damned butt ugly. Is aging, in itself, the cause of that slide from dewy-cheeked rosiness? If you look at how things seem to progress, you would likely say that, yes, it is. Too soon old, and you look like an old fart. When you get old, fella, what do you want to be; a coot, a codger, or a curmudgeon?

I represent an emerging industry that is also youth oriented. And, I beg to differ. Youth has nothing to do with age. Repeat, "Youth has nothing to do with age." Don't be confused by usual parlance. Youth is vital, strong, good looking, and capable . . . at any age.

So just how does one manage to pull that off, staying young throughout one's life? Think young you might say? That doesn't hurt. But, as you become wiser you begin to understand that life isn't about getting your thinking in the right place, getting your shit together as they say. Here again, a lot of folks seem to opt for this way of living, as a goal in life. "If I could just get my head right." Isn't that what passes for adolescence? Problem is, as anyone who as lived into this post-modern era knows, just what does "getting your head right" actually mean? Can you do this on your own, or do you need to have some agreement with other like-minded folks? Your friends, associates. And, that bastion of unstated agreements, your family. 

"Getting you head right" isn't altogether a bad idea. Here is where my new industry has a useful take on getting that accomplished.

But first a word from one of our sponsors . . .

Approaching the Self is like walking the razor's edge: two cannot go there. You cannot bring your mind nor even a thought. The only one who can help you is Self. Anything that touches a flame becomes the flame. Touch a sage and you become a . . . sage. Knowing Self, you see only Self and this Self is your Guru. The Satguru is within, meditate only on That! The true Guru is Self. All else is pointing to Self.

Eventually you have to get rid of the name and form of both Master and yourself. You have to reject the finger in order to see the moon. Where there is name and form there is falsehood. It is an impediment to freedom because nothing you see will give you freedom. When you are drowning hold only onto Self. Reach for anything else and you will die. Don't cling to anything made from the five elements. The Guru has no body, visible or invisible. Do not depend on any body. Bodies are just fingers pointing to the Truth! Reject the form of the Guru and only the Supreme is left.


~ Sri H. W. L. Poonja (Papaji)
 
If you are not (yet) disposed to even want to know what in the hell the foregoing is all about, that's just dandy. Don't worry. You are going to die soon enough, you know. If you don't want to know where you are going, no biggie. Or, where you came from. Or, why. But, hey, buy that bronzer and look young. Everyone loves a beautiful corpse. It's over when it's over. Don't think about it. Just keep shopping.
 
[Excuse him for that rant, he occasionally gets on his high horse, and it will gallop.]
 
In a nutshell (because I am getting a little short on making this point) the secret is to stop dragging the past around. Yes, you are in such miserable shape because you are dragging your karmic bundle from here to there. If you are thinking the term "miserable shape" doesn't apply to you, then consider this: maybe it's just that your bag of karmic crap is all tied up nicely and pretty like, so everyone thinks you're just swell. Lipstick on a pig. (That's what she said.) And, what's worse is that as you get along in the world you like to collect more for your bundle. And, of course, keep improving how it looks on the outside. The time comes when your bundle is so big, just any old movement and it crushes you. Finito! Who turned out the lights? There's an inside to things. When you go there you find that youth we be talkin' about.
 
 

 

Among the many purposes for Rolf Structural Integration, the one that keeps me most engaged is that aspect at the very heart of the work which has to do with human relatedness to the Earth. And, from there, relatedness to All That Is. That is, the Sacred.

Here is an image study showing the relationship of the sphenoid, the central bone of the cranium, and the sacrum, the central bone of the pelvis. Buckminster Fuller's Dimaxion Earth and the little angel you can summon when things are in right order.



Below are links to articles that elaborate on the subject:
 
 

 
 
 
 

Farmers Market





 

When I was a boy (some would suggest I was never anything but) my mother cooked mainly from scratch, and my parents shopped for fresh fruits and vegetables every Saturday at a nearby farmers market in Poletown, Detroit. You could get everything seasonally fresh, supplanted by imports such as citrus from Florida. Sometimes even, a kitten or a pup.

Alas, the Chene-Ferry Street Farmers Market in my hometown Detroit is no longer anything except an abandoned ruin.



But, the historic Eastern Market is a very thriving affair located in the city's main wholesale food distribution center near Downtown Detroit.


And, in New Jersey where we are currently residing, we shop the local Farmers Market in Paterson most Saturdays in the growing season.

Besides fruit and produce at its freshest at good prices, I also shop for smiles. Also in abundance, as you can see. . .


Angels from Tabernacle, New Jersey



A True Jersey Tomato . . . Princess


"No squeezing the tomatoes!" But, we're tempted.


 Rockin' the radish.


Dad's best helper.


Boyfriend's away at college. Life goes on.



Undaunted by the cold weather.

 

It takes a tough guy to grow tender chive blossoms.


The "Dolly Parton" Tomato


 Chrysanthemum Queen


Spring 2013
(He's smiling. Really.)


Spring 2014


Notice Any Resemblance?


Spring 2015


 Some Farm Animal


Another Farm Animal


Wedding Bells Will Be Ringing


Exchanging Pickling Techniques (and Blessings) 
with Beautiful Hungarian Lady


Growing a Crop of His Own


Ms. Jacinta on Her Sofrito Recipe . . . with Lots of Love



Michele T. Fillion 



Wronski - Fillion Duo



Antonio Vacchiano Montclair Framer's Markets Spring 2015


Ricky Himself 
(THE Radish Connection) 



Danny Adickes








Never to forget Great, (Really!) Great Uncle Alexie Vronsky. . .



AKA: The Crimean Killa, the Ukraine Heart Throb, the Boychick of the Balkans, the German Germinator, the Polish Prick. (That last one, that's what she said). 

Uncle covered a lot of ground back in the day. He left, as they say, "a girl in every port". The appelations go on, and on. I don't think he ever picked his feet in Poughkeepsie, though. He was, for sure, a class act. And, a real contender. As you can see, drop dead handsome. Smelled like a million bucks. All in change. He was a little fond of the eau de cologne. Buckets full. Word is he wasted a fortune on fragrance. Metrosexual, I think would be the contemporary moniker.

When he entered the room, heads turned. (Nostrils would flare.) All the men wanted to be him. All the women wanted to be with him. On the latter front he was the Will Rogers of the Eastern provinces. You know that Will Rogers line, "I never met a man I didn't like". Uncle was fond of saying, "I didn't meet a lady I didn't . . . " Enough said. He had more than enough of The Kavorka to go around.

Rumor has it that he was the model for the Count Vronski in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. They, he and Leo that is, were drinking buddies. Alexie was his wing man on more than one occasion. Tolstoy could write, alright; with the ladies, however, he needed a interlocutor. And our Vronsky was a smooth talker. Things like, "I could spend an eternity looking into the depths of your beautiful eyes". That one was a sure fire winner. The lady at hand would swoon and fall limp into his arms. That's when he would haul her over to the waiting Tolstoy and whisper in her ear, "That's what he said." It worked more often than not. Especially after several rounds of wódka shots.


For a peek at the incredible history of all the clan Wronski, CLICK this!

Here's a New Game to Play

"SHARE"

Once upon a time when I lived with my first wife and our darling baby daughters we played a game.

As a boy I collected things. Small things. I even had a special black box, and sometimes cigar boxes, to store my treasures. Every fall I would collect horse chestnuts from a neighbor's front yard tree, and polish them up and keep them like jewels in a box.

This penchant for saving small mementos continues to this day, and I see no reason to stop. I don't believe in being maudlin about the past, but some things are good reminders of love shared.

Once a long time ago my daughters made a special bag for me and I still keep who knows what in it.



There's a WWII US Marine lapel pin, buttons from my dad's favorite cardigan, a coaster made by my younger daughter, Kristie. A boar's tooth my older daughter Kate brought back from a Mexico high school class trip. There are some other photos, Polaroids from my certification class with the Rolf Institute.

Just a minute, I have to go fetch it to list some of the other stuff . . .

OK. I see a fine well worn lizard wallet I bought with my last dollars from Dunhill's, when the store was on Fifth Avenue. I was "between careers". A nice set of brass blazer buttons. Some colored strings. A wood bead rosary. USA flag lapel pin. Rolf Institute logo pins showing images of a child before and after Rolfing®. A small bag of hand carved colorful stone nature spirit animals. A Saint Christopher medal. A medal with a heraldic red eagle on it. Feather ornaments from my dad's fedora. My mother's trusty thimble. Dad's UAW lapel pin and his Dodge Main worker badge. My own lapel pin marking my graduation from the Immaculate Conception school in 1957 in Poletown Detroit. A Christmas tree ornament my daughters made for me.


The smooth glass Coca-Cola bottle shards they collected for me on a trip to Coney Island beach in the winter. I gave up those tiny mementos at darshan during my first and only face to face meeting with Swami Mutktananda. My heart prayer then was that God look after and protect my darling girls. Baba at first didn't acknowledge me, but I shook the offering for so long and hard that finally he did, with eyes and mouth wide open. (I'm still contemplating the significance of his response.) But, I am confident my prayer was heard and well received.

Here are some images of what I've been writing about:



 



Anyhow . . .

Now, about the game.

As I said, once we played a game. I had all these little things saved, and I took them out and spread them on top of the bed. The four of us sat around and the items were arbitrarily divvied up, into four equal groups.

1. In the first go around we would show things from our respective groupings which each of us would be willing to readily give away; let's call them take-your-pick piles.

Then there were the I-want-to-keep-these piles, things we definitely would like to hold on to.

In turn each of us took what we wanted from the first set.

2. Second round, we would remake the take-your-pick piles and the I-want-to-keep-these piles. We each took what we wanted from the take-your-pick piles, until everyone had pretty much enough from those "easy" piles.

3. Then, third round, we each got to take something from the set of things each of us didn't want to give away so freely, the I-want-to-keep-these piles. And again, and again. In turn. Until there were just things left which no one wanted from anyone else's pile and we kept the things we wouldn't want to give away. Respecting each other's boundaries, if you will.

4. Fourth round, we each gave to the others, first things from our take-your-pick pile; and then, for our I-want-to-keep-these pile.

Give and take. Sharing.

The game was so interesting watching what each of us chose, what each offered. What was valued, and inferring the possible significance those things might have for each of us.

5. We didn't progress into sharing about any inner meanings at that time; but, now that I'm thinking about it, sharing like that about each thing might be a good thing to do.

6. Maybe make a complete game of it also by not only having each person select things for themselves to talk about, but also asking each other to talk about something we chose for them, or other things in their piles.

PS Mom made a noticeable beeline for an old blackened door key from my I-want-to-keep-these pile. It seemed at the time she might be expecting access to some universal secret or mystery.

I'm wondering now if it worked for her. If she got what she wanted. If she found it.

We haven't shared in a while.

I'm content. The heart of things is at peace.