Sunday, April 25, 2010

Egregious example No. 1?

Peter Delorenzo, a.k.a. the autoextremist, adds his 2¢ on the Chevy Campbell-Ewald split.

Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner

"He said he understood that I was into a second novel. How did that go? I told him: slow and hard. Good, he said. Hard writing makes easy reading."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

chevy drives away, strands hundreds

Yesterday, Chevy ended to its 91-year relationship with its main advertising agency, Campbell-Ewald, shifting its work to the Dallas office of Publicis. This is another major blow to Detroit’s ad community, leaving Ford’s* as the only one of the Big Three using a local agency for its work.

The suckage of this news is vast. Hundreds of folks are going to be tossed from C-E, and the ripple effect in the supplier community -- edit houses, photographers, printers -- will likewise be dramatic.

There’s the expected chatter about who deserves the blame, but I wonder if Don Gould could have avoided this outcome. You know his work even if you aren’t familiar with his name -- he created the “Like A Rock,” among other Chevy campaigns, back in the day. Sadly, he passed away about ten years ago.

Besides being a brilliant creative, he was a gifted leader. Gould was so comfortable in his own skin, he put everyone in the room at ease (a damn handy skill in a panic-stricken business). He was passionate, engaged, enthusiastic. A great teacher and a gentle critic. Gravitas without being a Dick Cheney about it.

Many talented and capable people worked their collective asses off to keep this business in the Motor City. I don’t doubt Chevy stayed a lot longer because of it. Still, a part of me believes Don could have made a difference.

*Not a typo. If you’re from around here, you say Ford’s not Ford, as in, “That sulfuric stink hovering over Down River is from Henry Ford’s company.” While we’re at it, there’s no e in Detroit: D’troit. Citizens of Cairo, IL and Prescott, AZ can tell you such things matter very much.

but it looks so small

The Sandpit from Sam O'Hare on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

paul harding wins pulitzer

Paul Harding, Wrtiers' Workshop classmate, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction today for his novel, Tinkers. Hooray!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

plymouth, part two

When my friend Bubba lived in the Yoop, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, he liked to talk about one day making Munising a "Bohemian Utopia." Having spent time in Munising during summers growing up, I thought it was kind of a stretch. It's located on the south shore of Lake Superior, with the famed Pictured Rocks nearby, but otherwise, there's not much really to work with.

Plymouth, Wisconsin, on the other hand, is ripe for a hipster invasion.

Downtown is filled with under-utilized buildings that with equal parts imagination, hard work and money, could really shine with quirky, unprofitable businesses. Just to the north, is a vast neighborhood of homes in various states of repair, but most with good bones, stately trees and owners who probably could be bought out of big city life. Plus, it's rural Wisconsin, so it's chock full of ironic delights, including a county fairground with a dirt car race track, a river named after a bad haircut, and an iconic Holstein to greet your return from the three-storey Kohler design center in Kohler.

I guess there are two types of bohemians in the world — those who travel and those who create destinations. So come and build your dream. I'll make sure to come by and visit. Eventually.

plymouth, wi part one

I went for a walk on Good Friday. Between my father's apartment and the Mullet river — no lie — there's a small graveyard. I cut through it, pleased that so many of the century-old cement plank markers hadn't been vandalized and mended, carefully avoided those standing at sites because of the holiday.

In the corner overlooking the middle school and the river, I stumbled upon an area reserved for children. It was the saddest piece of real estate I've ever walked. Some of the markers only had year listed, some only a day. One didn't even offer a name: "INFANT SON OF S.L. LUECK."

Another marker had the dates 1903–1920. Two images crossed my mind: one of a patient young lady who liked to baby sit and another of a sullen girl forced to dine the children's table during Thanksgiving.

I wonder if there was solace for the parents in sharing. See? It is not uncommon. A dozen others here, and this the small town's smallest cemetery. I doubt it was any comfort, and hope to never know.

Friday, April 02, 2010

oh, detroit

If you don’t listen to This American Life, I urge you to check out the episode covering the history of the Toyota-GM factory in California — NUMMI. Listen to all the loving details of how Japan shared its assembly system and how GM learned to build high-quality cars, then didn’t implement the knowledge company-wide for over 15 years.


Yesterday, while driving from Detroit to Wisconsin to visit my father, I saw wind surfers on Lake Michigan. It was 83 degrees out, with strong winds and, holy smokes, were those guys flying. It was on that marshy stretch between the Gary smokestacks and the big Skyway bridge. You think between the refinery and Chicago, the water there would be so polluted you could roller skate across it, but I’ve seen folks fishing in there in the summer.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

vision thing

A couple of months ago, I asked my friends on Facebook if I would be a traitor to fellow writers if I bought an ebook reader, such as a Kindle or Nook. Fact is, my eyes had been killing me and I was very attracted to the idea of making type larger. I was hoping for some heated opinions on the question — I was willing to follow the crowd if the trend said to go for it, or lay off if it went the other way. 
Only one person bothered to respond (thanks, Antoine!). 
So I either have a bunch of unopinionated friends, or friends who don’t read my posts. Without someone telling me what to do, and being a cheapass by nature, I decided not to get a reader.
I’m glad I didn’t. 
I lost my job about a month ago. In my last year at the agency that foolishly let me go, I did a tremendous amount of writing in Photoshop (for emails), which if you know anything about page layout, it’s the equivalent of writing in handcuffs on a window facing the morning sun. The program isn’t made for intensive copy, which didn’t seem to concern anyone except the people who actually create the documents. 

I do not like programmers, no I don’t. 
Since being let go, my vision has improved noticeably. This, at a time when I’m reading considerably more. I’m never going to write like that for a living again. Unless I’m overpaid. Then, of course, any way you want it, sir or madam. 

RELATED: The New York Times has an article on book covers and free advertising in the digital age

Friday, August 29, 2008

david brooks = william satire

As a child, I was abandoned by my parents and lived with a colony of ants. We didn’t have much in the way of material possession, but we did have each other and the ability to carry far more than our own body weights.

David Brooks, 29 August 2008 Op-Ed, New York Times