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Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Remembering a Legend While Another Year Passes

Today not only marks the end of another year—a very good year, btw, for this blogger in all respects except money (thank God money’s not one of my major priorities)—it’s also the 50th anniversary of the untimely, premature death of a king among music legends—Hank Williams. His songs are an indelible part of our musical history (attention Mike Golby: if you haven’t used Williams among your ubiquitous quotations of popular lyrics, you should seriously consider it).

If you’re not familiar with this songwriting genius, or if you’re too young to remember him, or if you simply dismiss country music out of hand, I recommend giving a listen to a modern-day CD—“Timeless”--in which contemporary artists record their versions of selections from the Williams songbook. Some of the people giving Hank a whirl in this beautiful collection are Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Mark Knopfler, Keith Richards, Lucinda Williams, and others.

It’s spinning in my player as I write. Maybe it will be in yours as well. A good way to remember Hank.

I hope your 2003 is as good as—or better!--than my 2002. (Note: one reason for the excellence of this past year was my discovery of blogging and all you terrific bloggers out there. Thanks so much for your contribution!)

Monday, December 30, 2002

Wedding Day, 1973

Hugs, kisses, and everything sweet and nice to my outta-this-world wife, Jill, to whom I had the amazing fortune to be married twenty-nine years ago, today, Dec. 30, 1973. We typically celebrate the event by going out for cocktails and dinner at one of the finer restaurants—something a cut above where we would ordinarily go. It’s a standing joke that we never have to worry about getting a table because Dec. 30 is one of the deadest nights of the year.

The only folks left in town are those, like us, without the means or inclination to go skiing in the mountains, surfing in Hawaii, or sunning in Baja or Yucatan. Being Monday night this year, finding a table will again not be the problem--it will be finding a place that’s even open. But empty restaurants or not, we still enjoy our ritual.

Our wedding day was a typically cold one (circa two degrees) in the forest-and-mining country of the remote Upper Peninsula of Michigan, from which Jill hails. We were hitched in one of the few outposts of civilization up there—her parents’ home atop a 200-ft. bluff overlooking the icy blue waters of Lake Superior. The vows were read right in front of an immense picture window looking out on that beautiful tableau.

Part of the rebellion of the late 60’s and early 70’s was the shunning of fancy church or synagogue weddings. You definitely wrote your own ceremony. That was as de rigueur as rock musicians performing their own songs.

If it was summer, you got married under a picturesque tree somewhere. In winter, inside someone’s nice home. No fancy hotel parties either. You got a few kegs of beer, a stash of your favorite records, rolled up the rugs, and let loose. It was just as much fun and as memorable as these 20-grand-and-up weddings that everyone seems to want today.

I normally look forward, not back, but this is one custom I’d love to see return. Unless you’re really well off, how can you countenance blowing this kind of loot in one day? Some of my friends’ kids have gone into hock to pay for these fancy one-day affairs. I sure hope to hell mine don’t end up in the same boat. They’re already going to be straddled with college loans to pay off.

Guys, I’ll buy you and your friends all the beer you can possibly drink. I’ll buy you air fare to a honeymoon destination. I might even get you a washer and dryer. But any of this formal wedding crap, you’re on your own dime--unless, of course, you luck out and marry into some serious money.

I wish I were able to put up some photos of our knot-tying. Our attire and hairstyle is a complete side-splitter. I’m sure some of you younger readers in particular would get a good laugh out of it. Jill’s hair was parted in the middle, hanging straight down shoulder length. Her face was set off with the granny-glasses that were the epitome of hip at that time. Her dress was an Elizabethan, floor-length, velvet-like red with hippy-esque floral piping, and the obligatory black, lace-up, Victorian style boots.

Your dashing groom was topped off with curly blond locks flowing down to the obligatory shoulder-length, a burgundy and white wide-striped shirt, set off by a four-inch-wide knit tie with an enormous knot, black-and-white wide-checkered pants with five-inch cuffs, and high-heel boots with a Victorian pattern. (I guess Victorian was the retro statement of the time).

We cut quite a figure. What a day! Best move I ever made.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Feline Clarification

Back home from a wonderful holiday trip. Many people think I’m nuts, but I actually enjoy the winter weather back in the old home country. We were treated to a beautiful two-inch blanket of snow on Christmas Eve, just in time for Santa. Unlike some expatriate Midwesterners, I didn’t come out to California to get away from the cold. I re-settled in order to be In-the-Scene, which in the Sixties, was definitely where it was at.

Due to my travels, I missed the chance to respond to Dorothea’s comments before now. She questions my powers of observation with respect to her esteemed goth-kitties. She complains that Didi hid behind the couch and that Dream was overly talkative. OK, I’ll give her the first one. I wasn’t even aware that Didi was cowering out of sight. I found Dream’s excessive talking thoroughly engaging. I stand by that part of my description.

In the same post, Dorothea seems to suggest that I was too generous in my impressions of her real-world qualities. Sorry, Dorothea. You’re entitled to your modesty, but I’m standing by this description as well.

Ninety Minutes and Six Hours

When do ninety minutes equal six hours? When comparing the experience of watching the two three-hour blockbusters that I attended over the holidays. That would be The Two Towers and Gangs of New York.

Two Towers goes in my list of Top Ten Movies, My Lifetime—a not inconsiderable period. It was so engrossing that when the credits came on and the lights went up, I couldn’t believe that three hours had passed.

Would that I could say that about Gangs of New York. The movie was so interminable that, by the end of the second hour, my wife, her sister and I were not only talking and laughing—something that I never do in a movie theatre—nobody around us was even objecting to our uncustomary lack of politeness. I was expecting my son to shush us, but when I looked toward his seat, he had already walked out.

I was so disappointed in Martin Scorcese. He was the main reason I went to this movie in the first place. I knew, being Scorcese, there would be no shortage of violence. But this was over the top. What could have been an interesting historical drama was ruined by the incessant bloodletting and butchery.

And the interminable length. Unlike Two Towers, whose dramatic richness required the full three hours, this tale could have been told in a crisp ninety minutes. Had Scorcese done so, the historical angle would have kept one’s interest. Instead, I found myself not giving a crap about the story or the characters or the history. And it seemed as if the audience was equally restive.

Despite Daniel Day-Lewis’s bravura performance as Bill the Butcher, this movie deserves to drop like a stone. Has Marty lost his touch? Could be.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Unmasked by Faux Journalism

For the first time ever, my mug appears in the virtual universe. During our breakfast get-together, Frank Paynter, devilish fellow that he is--having no mercy on my disheveled and hungover state—whips out his digital camera and shoots away. The man is obviously suffering from some sort of delusion about being a journalist of some kind.

Holiday Cheer

We’re staying at my sister-in-law Wendy’s place in Chicago over Christmas after a wonderful visit to Madison—where we celebrated my son Jonathan’s graduation from the University of Wisconsin.

This may be a hurried post because I’m on a dial-up connection here, and there’s only one phone line. Wendy’s two twenty-somethings are here, along with my two. Phone use is, needless to say, limited.

But I do want to squeeze in a few words while I can about the thrill of the past few days. First there was watching Jon receive his degree. Then celebrating and bar-hopping with Jon, his beautiful girlfriend, Ali, three of Jon’s best friends and former roommates, and Jon’s cousins—a superb group of young people. Madison, by the way, is a bar-hopper’s delight. Of course, Jill and I could only manage a limited circuit of the bar-hop, after which our aging bodies had to retire for the night.

Then, the icing on the cake—my visits with Dorothea Salo and Frank Paynter—my very first blogger-meets. Unfortunately, my tight schedule didn’t allow for much time with either, but it was still a memorable experience for me to meet face-to-face with two people that I read almost daily.

In both cases, I found that the real person behind the blog is very much the person I’ve come to know in the blog. It’s no doubt due to the fact that both of these sterling individuals are such excellent writers, and both are what-you-see (and read)-is-what-you-get.

Seeing Dorothea

We spent a very pleasant hour or so at Dorothea’s place and got to meet her husband, David, and the famous goth-kitties, admirable creatures who reflect some of their mistress’s qualities—curious, direct, engaging, and friendly. Just as it’s stimulating to one’s intellect to read her blog, so it is to be in her real-world presence.

I’ve often experienced--when I’m attempting to interact with someone of Dorothea’s level of intellect—that I’m being treated with condescension or impatience. That is so totally not what you get with Dorothea. She’s right there with you 100%, even though she could wipe the mat with you intellectually. A great attribute.

Jill and I also enjoyed meeting David and hearing about the Lord of the Rings movies and thumbing through the amazing book of photographs of cast, crew, locations and outtakes from the films. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful book of which only a few hundred were printed for distribution to people involved with the film. We felt so privileged to be able to see it. A big thank you to Dorothea and David for inviting us over.

Seeing Frank

Monday morning, Frank and I squeezed in a breakfast meeting on Frank’s way to work. It was horribly early given my carousing the night before, but definitely worth getting up for. Even at seven in the morning in the sterile confines of an empty, soulless hotel restaurant, Frank manages to project that same twinkly quality that we’ve all come to know and love on the pages of his blog.

It was quite a coincidence that his son had just graduated that weekend as well. I mentioned that it was the first time I had ever been to a college commencement. We both remarked on the fact that when we were in college in the sixties, no one except dorks and establishmentarian ass-kissers went to their own commencements. It was very politically incorrect (actually that term hadn’t yet been invented. I think bourgeois might have been our derisive term of choice—a classier term if I may say so).

Frank filled me in on some of the blog happenings that I had missed during my travels—e.g. the new blog by Chris Locke on Corante. Looking forward to checking it out when I have more time.

When it came time to present the check, the server intuitively sensed that, of the two consultants sitting at the table, Frank was the one with the fat contract. I made the obligatory and perfunctory protestation, and Frank generously waved away my feeble attempt. Next time it’s on me, old boy. I do hope we can do this again sometime, only in a more casual setting with our wives joining in.

All in all, a special time for this blogger. Now it’s time to relinquish the phone line and wrap some presents. Happy holidays to all!

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Badger Bound

We’re packing up today to head back to the land of the Badgers, breweries, cheese-makers, bloggers Dorothea Salo and Frank Paynter—and for not too much longer—my youngest son, Jonathan. Jon is picking up his degree at mid-year commencement ceremonies this weekend.

Interspersed with the celebrations will be my very first in person blogger-meets with the aforementioned bloggers—thus rendering a happy occasion even sweeter.

This will be my last post for a while—unless I can squeeze in some blogging time while I’m at my sister-in-law’s in Chicago over Christmas.

Merry, merry Christmas to one and all in the blogging community who have enriched my life so much over this past year. Last year at this time, I couldn’t have imagined what a wonderful journey was awaiting me. Thank you, all!

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

“Real” Voice vs. Blog Voice

Having left the RB brouhaha behind, Elaine opens up an interesting question in her blog today.

” I've been thinking a lot about the Blog arena as a place to exercise one's authentic voice. That's something that's discussed on and off all the time -- as is the idea of "writing oneself into existence." . . . .

Question: Why doesn't everyone use the same voice/behavior in the real world as they do in the blog world? Is it fear? Inhibition?”

I don’t think it’s fear or inhibition because one risks plenty of exposure in writing a personal blog. I used to think that I wasn’t risking anything because my readers are far removed from my "real" world.

Then, as my ranking in Google began growing, I discovered that people in my “real” world were finding my blog through totally unrelated searches. There’s no hiding through blogging.

No, I think the explanation may revolve around the issue of authenticity. Elaine makes the point that blogging is an extension of herself. She doesn’t need blogging for authenticity but as a means of extending who she is to a wider world.

Unlike Elaine, however, who was blessed with a healthy sense of authenticity from the get-go, many of us have had a huge struggle with this issue. It may well have been my number one demon.

For someone like me, blogging is a form of liberation. For Elaine, it's an extension of herself. For me, and I'm sure for many others, it's a welcome opportunity for re-invention--a pathway to the true self that one's demons have prevented one from expressing in the "real" world.

Thanks for the question, Elaine. It was a good one.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Up Against the Myth

Elaine has been trashed and dumped by the major mythic figure of Blogaria. Elaine is as tough as they come in sticking up for herself. She doesn't need me on this one. But I'm going on record anyway to say that I'm in your camp, girl.

She'll get plenty of female support, of course. As for me, I'm extremely proud to be joined by one the stoutest of male hearts in the blogging world--Mike Golby, who weighs in with his usual eloquence.

Along with everyone else, I've had my share of laughs at the colorful rage and venom of MythBoy, but at what point does it start to become nothing more than--well, just rage and venom--and an assault to the spirit? As always, Golby defines this tipping point far better than I could. I'll leave it to him.

I'm too old to waste my time on things that don't expand my spirit. Spiteful trash talk doesn't qualify, no matter how cleverly written. Happily, there are lots of bloggers who give me plenty of spirit-expanding. Two of the most notable examples would be Golby and Elaine.

Oddball Queries--cont'd

These from Jeneane:

Digiorno Cooking Instructions

Norlin Streaker

Negative Introject

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Oddball Queries

Nice write-up on Google by Steven Levy in the current Newsweek. I’ve been noticing—as I would imagine other bloggers have—a steady rise in visits from Google searches. It’s the inevitable result of our persisting at the blogging game. We keep rising higher and higher in more and more search results returned by Google.

As a consequence, some truly weird search terms are showing up from time to time on my site tracking. So I thought it might be entertaining to publish occasional lists of “Oddball Queries” from bloggers’ site trackings.

Send me yours or publish them in your own blogs, and I’ll reprint them here as a new and regular feature. No fair making up clever ones on your own. Just those that actually showed up in your site tracking.

OK, here are a few of my own more recent Oddball Queries:

Melted wellies

cowboy ten lashes

karl rove favorite poems

shoe fetishist mom

berra porn public –Yogi

I must say, it’s a bit disconcerting to see one’s blog showing up on the results for some of these kinds of searches, but I guess that’s the price of fame. So how about you? Got some of your own wierdies to share with us?

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Holiday Picks

One of our family’s annual holiday rituals is to submit a list to our kids of CDs that Jill and I would like. We start with a rough list of twenty or so, and then I go down to Hear Music and Barnes and Noble, where you can preview the discs, and narrow it down to six. This is about the maximum that the boys’ budgets (both starving students) will allow.

After getting burned too many times with one and two-hit wonders, I finally got wise a few years ago and stopped buying CD’s without checking all the tracks first. Far too often the record companies will pack a CD with mediocre fillers. It pays to do your homework.

In previous years, I would have just about automatically requested anything by Tom Petty or Bruce Springsteen. But these guys are now well into their forties, and no matter how good they are, very few rock artists can maintain the creative freshness past that point.

I was about to buy, sight unseen, “The Rising” by Springsteen, but before doing so was fortunate enough to read the assessment of George Partington, an astute Springsteen commentator. So I previewed all of the tracks and, sure enough, aside from one or two excellent tracks, it’s just a rehash. Sorry to say, it’s the same story with Petty’s latest, “"The Last DJ".

Two notable exceptions, btw, to running out of creative gas in middle age are Neil Young and, of course, Dylan.

Anyway, our six picks for this year:

Plugging two glaring absences from our “Unplugged”collection: Nirvana, and the aforementioned Young.

The latest discs from two of our favorite female groups, The Dixie Chicks (“Home"), and the Indigo Girls(("Become You").

Sinead O’Connor, “Sean-Nos Nua.” No angry feminist rants here. This time around, Sinead uses that wonderful voice with which she was blessed to do traditional ballads from her homeland. Hauntingly beautiful, and much more authentic than that New Age-y stuff by Enya.

Afro-Celt Sound System, ("Vol. 2, Release"). an intriguing fusion of Celtic and African influences.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

True Prime

Happy 40th to Ray Sweatman—one of the great Atlanta bloggers whom I discovered a few months ago--thanks to his fellow Atlantans, George Partington and Jeneane. I’m a day late, but what the hell?

People who turn 40 seem to have to take a lot kidding about being over the hill, creaky joints, diminished mental capacity, etc. It’s a complete load of crap—a leftover from our grandfathers’ day when 30 was middle-aged, and 40 was the beginning of the end. In this day and age, the needling would be appropriate for turning 60--but 40? Are you kidding?

As a guy who’s got about a quarter-century on Ray, I told him that he will look back on his forties as the true prime—the ideal confluence of still-available energy and steadily-developing wisdom. Enjoy it all, Ray!

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Emerging From The Shadows

Short days and long nights got you in a funk? I found a great way to add some light and sparkle to these dark December days. Go see “Standing In the Shadows of Motown.” This movie is a pure delight. If you don’t emerge from the theatre with some spring in your step and a smile on your face--well, you’re beyond hope.

It’s a documentary about The Funk Brothers--the group that was the backup band for all those wonderful Motown hits. They were the real sound of Motown. The singers—who enjoyed all the fame—just embellished it. I and almost everyone else never knew that there was one band that backed up all these songs. One just assumed that Marvin Gaye, for example, came in with his band, ditto Stevie Wonder, ditto The Supremes, and so on. But, no, it was all The Funk Brothers.

To prove the point, the movie stages a concert in which the surviving Funk Brothers play their old arrangements--and modern-day singers, such as Joan Osborne and Chaka Khan--do the vocals. After several of these reprises, it becomes very clear from where the real soul of “soul” actually came.

It’s so great to see these guys come out of the shadows after all the years of neglect. May their album go platinum! If the movie doesn’t come to your town, rent it when it comes out. Let’s help these guys make some well-deserved money while they still have some time left to enjoy it.

The movie definitely took me back to those heady days of the mid-to-late 60’s, the prime of Motown. There were three major currents going on simultaneously: Motown, the British invasion, and the rise of the homegrown psychedelic bands. It was enough to make your head spin and keep your feet busy.

Jill and I had fun comparing notes on our memories from this period (we didn’t know each other then). We tried to recall the first time we encountered pot being smoked in a public place. For her it was The Doors at Madison Square Garden. For me, it was Jefferson Airplane at Bill Graham’s original Fillmore Auditorium.

Anyway, go Funk Brothers!

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Blogiversary Oversight

Last week, when I acknowledged the first anniversaries of the blogs of Elaine and Dervala, I somehow let a third and equally worthy one slip through. I’m speaking of Denise Howell’s Bag and Baggage. It’s been a year of solid accomplishment in which Denise manages an artful combination of the personal and professional, and covers legal issues in a way that’s both interesting and comprehensible to the layman, as well as useful to the professional. No small feat.

Happy belated blogiversary, Denise! Hope your nasty cold is letting up. It sure doesn't seem to slow you down. My apologies for the oversight.

Wow! Denise, Dervala, and Elaine all starting within a day of each other. If there’s a planet that controls female blogging, it must have been spinning like crazy during the last week of November 2001!

Losing It

A warm welcome to my latest blogroll addition, Dean Landsman, author of an excellent blog, DeanLand. Dean came to my attention when he exposed my shameful misspelling of the legendary Willie Mays, to whom I referred as “Willy” in an earlier post.

I’m losing it—what can I say?

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Inspiration In the Heartland

Bono is touring the Midwest this month to raise awareness about the AIDS crisis in Africa. He’s creating quite a stir. What a mensch!

Visit the tour’s website for info on the tour, and how you can contribute.

The Cycle of Special Occasions

First there’s the cycle of children’s birthday parties and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. Then graduations and weddings.

Then comes the funerals.

The final cycle is underway—the stage of life where you start losing your peers to natural causes. We just bid last goodbyes to a wonderful and dear friend, Louise Taub—a beacon of radiant love in life and in death.

It’s a very sobering experience. Not just the loss, but being faced with owning the fact that the last quadrant of life’s journey has indeed arrived. Also, needing to come to full acceptance that a multitude of things that I always assumed I would do just aren’t going to be happening.

On the other hand, it can be very liberating. I can—in a way that I never could before—focus on being unadulterated Me—and on having the present count for more than it ever has.

Louise, if I’m authentically going to honor you and give witness to your brilliant light, then I’ll need to dwell in this possibility for liberation rather than in the might-have-beens.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Hoops Hysteria

Is my aging heart going to be able to hold up to another exciting season of Hoosier Hoopla? My boys (photo) at the alma mater are off to a 5-win, 0-loss season start. Last night, they won a thrilling overtime victory over last year’s national champion, Maryland--Indiana’s opponent in that NCAA final game, btw. Revenge is sweet.

Last night’s game was on ESPN. If you like basketball and missed this one, go cry in your beer because it was a classic. A joy to behold! I thought Dick Vitale was going to have an orgasm right there on national TV. God, a good college game is so much more fun to watch than those oversized behemoths lumbering around on the NBA courts.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

1958 vs. 1973

Emboldened by Elaine (see her post “NO! NO! Halley”), I’m going to risk taking on one of my very favorite bloggers, Halley Suitt. But I’m going to come into it circuitously by way of remarking on a couple of excellent movies which I attended over the long weekend—plus a note of agreement with Halley.

She’s right in her assessment of “8 Mile”—a good movie but too little of Eminem performing. We get a tantalizingly small slice of a guy--clearly a major talent—doing what he does best, and too much of him showing that he can act the part of sullen guy sulking around the bombed-out ‘hoods of Detroit. Well, maybe next time, I hope.

The other movie I saw, “Far From Heaven,” should provide slam-dunk Oscar nominations for Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid. However, this pair, especially Quaid, have been stiffed before. If they’re not nominated this year, they will have been royally screwed.

I can’t recommend this movie too highly. It takes place in 1958 and is a wonderful evocation of the repression of that era. Having come into my own sexuality during that period, I can vouch for its verisimilitude. My wife and I were discussing afterward how, in an interesting and odd way, it reminded us of another fabulous period drama—also set in the well-to-do Connecticut suburbs—“The Ice Storm,” directed by the very gifted Ang Lee. Speaking of getting stiffed! This movie was shamefully ignored in the Oscars for 1997 movies.

Both movies deal with the angst in the suburban milieu of their day, and feature outstanding performances, but what makes the comparison of the two so interesting is how radically the 1973 zeitgeist of “The Ice Storm” differs from that of “Far From Heaven.” In the 1973 movie, everyone, including the kids, is openly experimenting with their sexuality. Mate swapping, for example, is the theme of one of the party scenes.

I remarked to Jill that it was only fifteen years from ’58 to ’73. We both agreed that it was breathtaking to recall how completely the sexual atmosphere changed during that brief span. I don’t think you can fully appreciate it unless you actually lived through it. Which leads me to my disagreement with Halley.

As Elaine says,

” NO! NO! Halley is SOOOooooo wrong about feminism being only about lesbian sexiness. Believe me, I was a feminist back in the 70s.”

I met Jill in ’72. Like Elaine, she was a feminist. I remember her going off to her weekly womens’ group where they supported each other in raising their consciousness. They were all fully heterosexual—without any conflict whatsoever about that part of their identiy. These groups were going on everywhere. The women—straight and gay--were embracing their sexuality, unshackling themselves from the shame and repression of the earlier era.

If you weren’t there (i.e., if you’re under fifty), you don’t know what it was really like. It was NOT a gay issue, although gays certainly took it on as their own. Elaine and I were there. We know that, among other things, it was about emerging from the 1958 darkness. In ’58, there were two basic categories of females: sluts and good girls. Good girls didn’t enjoy sex—they ALLOWED it when they felt they had to. At least that’s how it seemed from the male experience.

The challenge for men in 1973 was to transform ourselves out of our ’58 mentality and become unafraid of the parity and equal libido of our bedroom partners. It probably seems ludicrous to younger men of today, but it was serious business. A lot of guys couldn’t or wouldn’t accomplish the transition. If you don’t think men were threatened, remember the angry, visceral reaction of the construction workers to the ban-the-bra parades in New York? I never understood it. You’d think they would have loved the free-swinging breasts, but I guess these guys felt safer with the girdle and hosiery snaps and stiff bra--encumbered women of their mother’s day.

When I spoke with my first wife on the phone last month—after a hiatus of thirty-two years, she asked me what Jill does. When I told her that she’s a shrink, she replied, “Oh, so that’s how you managed to grow up.” (I think she never believed that I could manage to get it together and successfully raise a family).

That’s not what forced the maturity. It was those heterosexual Jill’s and Elaine’s flaunting their sexuality and telling us, perhaps not directly, but telling us nonetheless, that if we couldn’t meet the challenge, they could do without us. That’s not lesbianism, it’s putting liberation and authenticity first. For the guys who could accept it, it liberated us and gave us the authenticity that we hadn’t realized we were lacking.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Marketing Excellence

Steve MacLaughlin of Saltire commends Hewlett-Packard for the quality of their new ad campaign, and I’m inclined to agree with him. HP is reinventing itself as a services company, and they need to be straightforward in telling their story. Re-positioning is one of the most difficult and risky endeavors in marketing, but HP, with the guidance of their ad agency, the astute Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, appears to be off to a good start.

A primary reason is that they are adhering to what Steve wisely counsels:

” For years I've always told clients, co-workers, and students that the simplest way to build a brand is to tell people who you are, what you do, who you do it for, and how you can put all of that to work for customers. A brand is nothing more than a promise. And it's pretty difficult to make a promise when you leave out all the vital details. Start with those basic ingredients and go from there.

While the HP ads do not go into a lot of depth they do give a sense of the depth and breadth of the companies services and solutions. Their corporate Web site does a great job of providing a lot more in-depth information without all the fluff.”

It’s nice to see my home area’s premier technology company finding its way after the distractions of the merger with Compaq. Maybe all those critics of Carly Fiorina will start giving it a rest. Do you really think a male CEO would be subjected to all the crap she has?