Sunday, December 27, 2009

What a cold tease

Granite Peak, the half-mile high mountain of Wausau, Wisconsin claims 70 runs and a medley of terrain parks for snowboarders and skiers to tackle.  I don't know how, but they pulled off their claims.

It was a great time, well worth the $30 it costs for four hours of night boarding.  I love and hate snowboarding. It reminds me why cold weather rocks and what I hate most about Chicago: flatness. When Chicago grows a mountain, I'll call it a great city.

Now I remember why I'm jealous of friends in Montana, Colorado, Canada ... well maybe not Canada. As humbling as it is to strap into a snowboard and ride like the people I used to make fun of when I was the regular and they, the novices, it was still worth it.  Well done Wausau, you frozen tease.

Of course, Granite Peak is a glorified bunny hill in comparison to the Rockies, the Alps, or Whistler out in Canada ... but it's still a taste of the good times to be had when you strap your feet into a board.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hi Michael. Part 3.

3am. Urgo and I were heading home for the night when an iron patio chair came across my path.  Chicago was frigid but we were buzzed with holiday excitement, karaoke, and $2 beers. Yes. I picked up the chair and took it along.

"Aren't we right by Draft?" Urgo spurred the thought and I vocalized it by responding "Yes! Let's bring Michael a gift of love. And Iron!"

Security didn't look twice as we scanned our cards and headed to the elevator with a black metal chair in my arms.

We headed straight to floor 18. Giggles were endless as we waited for the doors to open. Once the sheets of polished steel opened, we bee-lined it for Michael's cubicle.

The next three minutes saw a flurry of activity. Michael's ergonomic company chair was replaced with a cast iron, frozen metal patio chair.  Little did I know, Urgo stole his magnetic name tag which he proudly mounted in front of his cubicle for the world to see.  How would he know he belonged in this cubicle? We left him our token greeting. In writing.

"Hi Michael." was scribbled onto a sheet of printing paper with a brown sharpie for Michael to know he was loved. We hope.

Last I heard, Urgo walked by and saw Michael situated on a old, nasty looking brown replacement chair.

Michael 0, Greenhouse 3.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hi Michael. Part 2

Fast forward one day later. I dressed up again because it's too much fun to walk around the place with a snazzy outfit and a swagger to match it.  Draft is in need of gutting and sharp-dressed young blood makes elderly hack creatives (not saying all elderly creatives are hacks, just the ones who lost the drive to push their work beyond the creatively neutered safety zone) cringe in their padded cubicles.  Literally cringe and give you the stink eye as you walk by.

So, I returned to the titan's floor and descended the stair case with three people this time. Nobu, Urgo, and I donned our best power stride and swung past Michale's cubicle.

"Hi Michael." I had practiced all morning and my tone was spot on. Pretentious and saving face, the boss giving heed to his minions.  This time Michael was less spastic and more overwhelmed with confusion, the brows were furrowed more than last time.

"Hi." Michael fired back a monosyllabic greeting alongside an intentful stare. His gaze was purposeful with a dash of desperation.  I quickly rounded the corner and began the corporate filler talk. "So I tell Rob all about how I shot a 38 last weekend and he still doesn't believe . . ." it was beautiful.

Best part, Nobu staggered his descent by a few steps and followed up the joined in with a "Heeeyyyy Mikey!" He delivered in a tone of faked familiarity. The tone of the boss who assumes you're best friends since he makes more than you and has a better office.

Within ninety seconds, our day was made and Michael's was ruined as he was left to ponder how all of these young executives know who he is and he knows none of them.  Poor, poor Michael.

Michael 0, Greenhouse 2.

Hi Michael

After three months of working at Draft FCB in Chicago, a suit-powered ad agency of 1,600, my favorite experience happened in the last week.

The story starts with a presentation to Rob Sherlock, CCO of Draft FCB Chicago. Short of having the client accept your original, brilliant idea for their product's campaign, becoming Chief Creative Officer is the highest honor a creative can receive.

Why am I telling you this? Because we had to dress real fancy.  So there we were. On the top floor where all the executives live,  a dressed up team of young creatives walked the big guns through their work.  Blah blah blah we kicked ass in the presentation and Sherlock was blown away that we didn't suck as bad as every back stabbing mid level creative told him.  

When you nail a presentation, you feel great. When the presentation is your creative work and raw insights thrown on the table and you nail it, you feel high.  You walk out of the room with swagger, Travolta in Saturday Night Fever swagger.  With this swagger, Urgo and I desceneded the top floor via the spiraling stair case which is in view of cubicles and corner offices.  Draft FCB designed the stairs like this on purpose so every worker knows they're being watched.  

As Urgo and I walked down the stairs we heard a passing girl offer a greeting to a guy in the cubicle nearest to the stair case. "Hi Michael" she said with an overenthusiastic tone much like the telephone operator of Intitech in Office Space.  Once again, here I am dressed up and descending from the titan level, the executive floor. It was too perfect.. I couldn't resist.

"Hi Michael." I said with an authoritative tone of a boss giving heed to a minion. I spoke in the loud, overly confident tone of a man who's primary goal in life to save face.  Michael bolted out of his chair like a fly anticipating a rolled up newspaper. We locked eyes. My hand was raised in a half-assed pretentious wave. The half wave, perfect for brushing off people you don't care about but have to say hi to. 

"Hi," stammered Micheal with heavily furrowed brows. There was a two second pause.
"How's it goin?" Michael squeaked out. 

By this time, I was rounding the outer edge of the spiraling stair case and lost the eyeball lock with the confused, and unfortunate Michael. I offered no response and continued on my way.

Greenhouse 1, Michael 0.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On fame and infidelity

Jonny Boy:
"So he's in trouble for cheating on his wife because he's married."

"Yeah, meanwhile Jeeter and A Rod don't have wives but bring home different women every weekend and it's no big deal. All because they're not married. "

"Really, if you aren't married you can do anything, except dog fighting."

"Basically, stay away from the bitches."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Booze always helps you reach out to kids. Just not violently, we hope.


We are talking with high schoolers interested in advertising today.  Also true = we found Sweet Tea Vodka is way stronger than it tastes.

Great. They'll smell the booze on our breaths as we tell them how hard we work and straight laced the industry is.  Meanwhile, these underprivileged kids notice we smell just like Mom and Dad and hope we don't act like them too.

How am I supposed to know if I'm funny when all I get is nervous laughter?

It was the worst of times. It was the best of times.

I woke up. It was 11:21am and my roommate walked in to have lunch. 11:21am. I had to present to the Jack Daniel's client at 11:30am.

"Oh hey you're here bro." -Jonathon
"NO. NO I'M NOT. NO NO NO NO." -Matt

Clothes were thrown on without breaking stride as I went from my room to the presentation room twelve blocks away in fifteen minutes flat.

I arrived. The presentation had come to an end minutes before. Fuck.

Apologies were made and "Hang in there buddy" pats of consolation were given.  We parted ways, the top level creatives returned to a meeting while I sauntered off with my disappointed 6'9" art director hovering over me like a saddened mountain.

What a day. Time for lunch, Chicago style. Pizzeria Uno, but not Uno, Due. Uno was often overcrowded like it was today. So, for such occasions, Uno made Due which was empited apart from a few fortunate souls who got a great show.

Why did they get a great show? It started with me overhearing a cute, brunette waitress's lament about the frustrations of internet dating. It progressed to me telling my story of how I got an arch-nemesis in my life thanks to Most importantly, it ended with giving her my number and getting the cutest smile I've seen in a long, long time.

Stay tuned. Hopefully, more good news will follow.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Man's best friend.