Tag Archives: humor

“I, Betty Crocker.”

​I was born at the age of 42.

Betty’s Favorite “Look”

​Some of you might regard that as a handicap, but at the time I assumed everyone was born fully grown in a corporate test kitchen. In fact, I still think of it as an advantage; like being born with a silver spoon in my hand.

​My parents were industrious and successful advertising icons themselves. Mom was the housewife on the Crispy Cornpads cereal boxes, Dad the cartoon character in the Gillette Safety Razor commercials who always stroked his chin and declared, “Feels smoother, too!” 

​My parents were proud of me from the start and encouraged me to think of myself as more than a mere advertising symbol. Knowing from their own experience how difficult life could be for someone who never had a childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, they arranged for me to play with other celebrities like myself. Thus, I led a very active social life, and still fondly recall those days when the Gerber Baby, the Morton Salt Girl (what a klutz!), the Ivory Snow Mother and myself would stay up till all hours of the night exchanging recipes and baby care advice.

​It’s easy to judge one’s parents by today’s standards, but in truth it was a far different world back then. So, it’s not surprising that my parents wouldn’t allow me to play with Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, or that my father threatened to lock me up in the kitchen if I so much as glanced in the Marlboro Man’s direction.

​Ah, the Marlboro Man! There was a fellow who could turn the head of any woman who spent most of her days on cake mix boxes. But like most things in life, the dream was far more interesting than the reality. Later on, when I had the chance to date Mr. Marlboro, I found him to be dull, insipid and totally lost without his horse. Not only that, there was an aura of stale smoke always hovering around him and fouling his breath. It was all you could do to let your nostrils open for even the smallest intake of smelly, cigarette-reeking air.

​I laugh now to think of my father’s Victorian attitudes, but having worked in men’s magazines his entire career, he had seen too many unsuspecting females whose advertising careers were ruined by associating with the wrong type of commercial characters. So, except for a brief relationship with that boy who kept getting sand kicked in his face in Charles Atlas ads, I was never allowed to go out on dates until the start of the Second World War.

​The war years, with their food shortages and rationing, were lonely years for me, and I recall staring down long empty supermarket aisles waiting for a chance to wave at the Gorton’s Fisherman or Tony the Tiger as they went by. By then, I had developed a line of hot breakfast cereals that put me on the shelf next to the one real love of my life.

​Modesty forbids me to reveal the intimate details of my relationship with the Quaker Oats Quaker — or ‘Quaky’ as we used to call him — but you’ll most likely remember from the fan magazines that we were seen at all the “in” places, dancing till dawn, burying ourselves in confetti, drinking champagne from Buster Brown slippers.

​Sad to say, it was an affair fated for an unhappy ending. Inevitably, gossip about our relationship reached into the corporate headquarters of both our companies, and rulings came down from both mountaintops forbidding fraternization between competing brands. Quaky went into brief seclusion while I was given the first of my “new looks” by my personal illustrator, a total revamp that not only changed my look but my entire personality as well.

​To be honest, with my new personality I suddenly discovered new appetites rising up within me, so that stuffy old icons like Quaky began to have about as much appeal as cold oatmeal. Shocking to say, I began seriously looking around for the kind of relationships my father had always worried about.

​And so, girls, I began to experiment with more exotic spices.

NEXT: “No Kitchen Could Hold Me,” Betty’s honest look back at her “lost years” and her torrid, love-hate relationship with the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Queen Hillary And The Donald, A Cliff Notes Shakespearean Parody

The Tragic Comedy Of

Queen Hillary And The Donald

A Play by William Shakespeare

(as channeled by Paul Steven Stone)

dh4

SETTING:

The Island Nation of Amerikka, a small banana republic off the northeast coast of Central America. Time: Election season 2016. After a bitterly fought Dollarcratic primary race, Hillary Clinton emerges the victor, seemingly unscathed by the myriad scandals, health controversies and cries of ‘Election fraud!’ that swirl around her. She is literally weeks away from finally winning the throne of the Chief Potentate of Amerikka. The question now is whether any dramatic leak or evidence of a crime will emerge in the final weeks of the campaign, and will it be of sufficient weight and shock value to stop the Hillary Victory Train…?

MAIN CHARACTERS:

(Queen) Hillary Clinton, whose plot to become—at any cost!—the Chief Potentate of Amerikka is the driving force of this recently discovered Shakespearean play.

Amerikka is a small island republic shkspr1with a democratic tradition going back over 200 years, And, yes, its principal export is bananas. Amerikka prides itself on its much vaunted reputation for holding free and fair elections; little realizing Hillary Clinton—Queen Hillary!—and her Dollarcratic Party had just run rougshod over Bernie Sanders and his millions of supporters in the primaries. Hillary and her DNC minions do anything and everything to win the primaries, hacking into voting machines and changing election results; dropping Bernie supporters off the voting rolls or changing their registered party affiliations so they couldn’t vote in the Dollarcratic primary.

Hillary picked Bernie’s pocket, ate his lunch, cleaned his clock. It wasn’t the will of the people but the will of one woman that determined the results of  Amerikka’s primary elections. And nobody knows anything about it because the nation’s press is completely—and complicitly— silent about the many clumsy, very visible signs of election fraud that popped up everywhere during the primaries,

hd3Hillary’s oft quoted line from the first act of Queen Hillary And The Donald, ”To Cheat Or Not To Cheat…?” became a battle cry for mid- and upper-level bank executives when this, the first new Shakespearan play in 400 years, was first performed in London’s Globe Theater. Hillary’s sobering soliloquy, “To Cheat Or Not To Cheat…?”  still resonates in the corridors of power, especially among those chasing fame and fortune in Washington, D.C.

In taking over the Dollarcratic National Committee (DNC), brain trust of Amerikka’s historically liberal political party, Hillary Clinton successfully gains control of one of two mechanisms that feed Chief Potentate candidates to the Amerikkan republic and its people.

Anointing herself Chief Potentate of Amerikka will be as simple as Hillary consolidating her control of the DNC, something that receives a big boost whenshkspr7 her former campaign manager and current henchwoman, Debbie Whattsup Schultz, is appointed Chairperson of the DNC, a position from which she can easily reach out to state Dollarcratic parties for clandestine help in sabotaging Hillary’s opponents’ campaigns, if necessary.

Hillary’s master plot receives an even bigger boost when Donald J. Trump, The Donald himself, wins the Repugnant Party’s presidential nomination. It is thought Donald is the only Repugnant Party candidate a much-wounded Hillary could actually beat in the general election.

Most of this—not The Donald part, of course, but the rest—all flows from an agreement between Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Dollarcratic leadership in 2008. The Clintons, acting swiftly to offset Hillary’s loss of the Dollarcratic primary, conspired secretly with soon-to-be-President Obama and the bh1rest of the party’s leaders to ensure Hillary’s ascension as the next Chief Potentate—of course after Obama’s two terms are up. The first installment of Obama’s obligation in the deal is to appoint Hillary Secretary of State. A small price to pay for her endorsement which helps unite the party after a hard fought and divisive primary.

Amerikka is such a tightly controlled banana republic that the Political and Financial Elite that control the country are quickly able to reach agreement to clamp down on the federal government and the mainstream press, tightly enough to a.) protect Hillary from being prosecuted for her crimes, and b.) enforce a total blackout on Dollarcratic primary rivals Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley; and c.) ensure Hillary wins the Chief Potentate’s job, a seat of immense power she will immediately share with Bill, assuming he can keep his hands off the interns. But the one element neither Hillary nor Bill, nor the entire Dollarcratic establishment takes into consideration is the Joker in the deck, Jullian Assange.

Julian (The Joker) Assange, founder of Wikileaks and fearless advocate for julian-assangehonesty and transparency in government. Assange, hidden away at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, is leaking Hillary’s dark secrets in a drip-drip-drip scenario that rivals Chinese Water Torture. Meanwhile the entire world watches and waits to see how much of Assange’s daily damage Hillary’s campaign can sustain. It is Assange who leaks DNC emails that prove the fix was in for Hillary almost a year before the primaries. Assange who hints the murder of 27-year-old DNC worker Seth Rich may have been a calculated response to the leaked DNC emails (making Rich the 51st mysterious death in the infamous Clinton body count). Assange who Hillary hates. Assange who threatens to release something too incriminating for the authorities to ignore.  jesterAssange whose life is at risk, his enemies having far too much power not to be feared. Especially since he represents the last major obstacle between Hillary and the Chief Potentate’s Palace. Having once suggested sending a drone to kill Assange, Hillary, too much in the spotlight at the moment to risk murder, is forced to sit patiently and wonder which of her manifold private conversations and nefarious deeds will next appear in the nation’s 24 hour news cycle.  Meanwhile Hillary and her DNC minions have concocted a story placing blame for the leaks on the Russians, hoping to divert attention away from the content of the leaks themselves. Not surprisingly, the FBI has been brought into the frame to confirm the Russian cover story and create more distraction from leaked evidence of Hillary’s election fraud. Which brings us to…

The Amerikkan Federal Government. Much like any federal agency in a backwater banana Republic, the Amerikkan government is an easily corrupted eagle1tool of the ruling elite. Nowhere was that fact more evident than when the much-feared and once-respected Federal Bureau of Investigation became a lapdog to Queen Hillary when investigating her use of a private email server in the basement of her house. Those in the know are not surprised by FBI Director, James Comey testifying that Hillary has NOT committed a crime; that her extremely careless handling of our nation’s most guarded secrets clearly jeopardized the country’s security, but wasn’t the result of any criminally culpable intent on Hillary’s part.

Net result: Hillary walks!

Additionally, nobody in the country buys Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s explanation of why Bill Clinton and she had a secret meeting on the tarmac of the Phoenix airport just three days before the FBI exonerates Queen Hillary. “We were just talking about our grandchildren, and golf,” the AG explains, amazingly without once smirking. The meeting was only reported because a TV reporter just happened to see Clinton walk onto Lynch’s private plane.” Both the Justice Department and the FBI have seen their reputations and moral authority dramatically damaged by their reluctance to do their duty when it comes to Queen Hillary. Lucky for them, the toothless national press seems highly disinterested in government malfeasance. Speaking of which…

The Mainstream Media is played, according to Shakespeare’s explicit instructions, by two actors, both seemingly blind, whose main contribution for most of the play consists of walking into walls, falling off the stage and running down blind alleys.

Donald J. Trump, (The Donald), brash and coarse billionaire and surprise victor donaldin the Repugnant primaries, whose egomania and sexist world view, not to mention a perverted need for self-entertainment, serves to add tension and humor to Shakespeare’s ongoing narrative of Hillary Clinton’s rise and fall.

Suspense builds through the audience’s slowly-forming realization that Trump, little more than a sleazy snake oil salesman at best, could easily, through the slightest twist of fate, win the presidency and, yes, gain access to the nuclear missilecodes! It never seems likely, but it does remain frighteningly possible; a prospect so chilling it makes Donald J. Trump unpalatable to the majority of mature, rational adults in Amerikka while he remains an entertaining foil to the excessively serious White Christian Men of the Repugnant Party.

Donald struggles to understand the press, which once loved every golden word that passed through his lips, but now, from the moment he won the nomination, the media has developed an antipathy towards Trump as strong as their former fascination. He understands they’ve changed their attitude towards him, he just can’t understand why.

bdConspiracists won’t be surprised to learn Trump’s longtime friend and golfing buddy, Bill Clinton, was the first to advise Donald to run for the presidency.

 

Victims Four: Four middle-aged women claiming to have been abused by the victims-fourClintons. Three of the victims (on left) —Kathleen Wiley, Juanita Broadrick and Paula Jones—accuse Bill Clinton of sexual assault, the fourth victim (on right) was a 12-year-old rape victim whose 42-year-old rapist was vigorously defended by a young Hillary Clinton many years ago in Arkansas. All four are brought together by Donald Trump for a press interview one hour before a scheduled presidential debate. In keeping with the press’ unified stance on protecting Hillary, CNN is the only one of the major broadcast or cable networks to give it any air time. And they mysteriously lose their audio of the event, so all you see are soundless pictures of the four women and Trump. Nor does the media take much notice an hour later when Donald brings the four victims as his guests to the debate.

Bill “The Internist” Clinton, hands-down winner of the creepiest former shkspr4Chief Potentate, alive or dead, having turned the Chief Potentate’s Palace into a frat cave party zone during his first residential stay. Staunch partner-in-crime to Hillary, who shares the unquenchable thirst for power and purse that ultimately sparked and propelled (along with Sex) most of the diverse scandals that have riddled the public and private lives of the Clintons.

Never one to pass up an easy dollar, (or an easy woman, for that matter) Bill Clinton set up the multi-billion-dollar Clinton Foundation as a giant money laundering machine to harvest all the dollars Hillary could shake loose from foreign regimes while serving as Secretary of State. The Foundation’s much-ballyhooed good works are fronts for raising vast sums, most of which go to pay for the foundation’s administrative costs and fund-raising.

Another institution that exists to serve no greater cause than itself. Just like its founders!

shyBernie “The Innocent” Sanders, populist politician, socialist-leaning Senator, thwarted candidate for the Dollarcratic nomination; victim of massive election fraud and voter suppression by the very woman he now finds himself endorsing for the presidency. An endorsement leading, inevitably, he believes, to the detriment and misadventure of his soul and reputation.

Proving once again that all who align their fortunes to that of the Clintons inevitably pay a price.

Eventually, we see Bernie, looking old and tired, still feeling the effects of campaigning 24/7 for the last year, slightly disheveled, his hair ablaze like a white bshalo; he seems a mere “ghost” of his former self, pacing the Capitol’s corridors night after night, like Hamlet’s father’ ghost, calling for vengeance, callng for a redo of the campaign—and still calling for a fifteen dollar minimum wage! He holds up the 2016 Dollarcratic Platform to prove, to anyone who cares, his ideas had an impact on Hillary’s policies. “Not exactly a revolution,” he says, shrugging it off, “but, hey, you gotta start somewhere.”

Barack (Big “O”) Obama; perhaps the most tragic of the play’s characters, his othelpact with the Clintons, forged in the moments just prior to winning his nomination in 2008, while the first blush of victory was still taking hold; and now, eight years later, finds himself facing an aspect of that agreement that will ultimately drag him and his legacy down for all history to see.

Tasked with winding down his second term as Chief Potentate with his credibility and integrity seemingly in shatters, a consequence of his fortunes becoming inextricably joined to those of Hillary Clinton, Obama must now run a government that has little faith left in its Commander and Chief. The government bureaucracy knows—as much as anyone knows— just how far the Obama Justice Dept. and FBI bent the law to serve Hillary’s unshakeable drive to become Chief Potentate.

Obama’s Department of Justice and FBI both shame themselves in their mad rush to vindicate a woman whose negligence truly reaches criminal proportions. oAs Shakespeare opens up the dramatic action of “Queen Hillary And The Donald” we find Barack Obama’s presidency languishing in the doldrums, at the final leg of its journey, its compass set to cruise control and its captain gone from the bridge. Hillary is racing furiously towards the finish line of her odyssey, hoping to cross over before election fraud lawsuits hit the courts or Assange’s next leak contains the dynamite she most fears. Aside from her many campaign issues, Hillary worries—in her place of deepest fears—that the international media will break the scandalous tale of Amerikka’s corporate media censoring and slanting its news to favor her campaign. It’s when calculating the explosive implications of rigging the Dollarcratic primaries and shredding the Amerikkan constitution that she declaims her famous soliloquy, “To Cheat Or Not To Cheat…?” Meanwhile, the president, showing little interest in affairs of state, disappears daily for a pickup game at the Senate gymnasium; after which he usually plays a round of golf with Bill Clinton or George Bush, if time allows.

True to form, Shakespeare saves his last comment about “Queen Hillary And The Donald” for his parting poetic stanza:

And now we must bring down the curtain,

On Hillary, Bill and their Victims Four

Searching for evidence of which we are certain

The FBI woefully missed once before

Proving Bernie not Hillary won the day

And honesty its own victory proclaims

Some potentates are born to palace life

While others born to prison chains.

For never was a story told of more woe and sickly sweets

Than this of Hillary’s emails and The Donald’s 3 am tweets.

——————————————

Read my “HILLARY CHRONICLES,” ten essays about David (Bernie) getting shafted by Goliath (Hillary) and her merry band of Philistines. The ten essays (in order of appearance): “BRAND SUICIDE, the Destruction of the Democratic Brand in 2016,” “The CDC Issues “CLINTON TOXICITY ALERT!” Warns Contact Could Prove Fatal To One’s Reputation,” “DEMOCRATS USE RUSSIANS AS SHIELD TO RE-FOCUS EMAIL STORY—PR PLOY OF THE CENTURY,”  “IS THAT YOUR IDEA OF AN APOLOGY?” AND  “DON’T BLAME ME IF I CRITICIZE HILLARY.” “Battle For The Presidency: The Gonzo Versus The Gonif,  “Sorry Bernie, We Still Can’t Trust Hillary,” “Sorry Hillary, We Can Never Forget—or Forgive—Your Stealing The Nomination,” “CONNECTING THE DOTS”, The Frightening Underbelly of the 2016 Presidential Election, “THE AUDACITY OF AUDACITY, the stealing of the American presidency 2016

Also, my post for young aspiring journalists looking to avoid the obvious pitfalls of working in corporate media: How To Spot A Stolen Presidential Election.

Also about the election: Why Millennials Will Never Vote For Hillary.What Did Obama Know And When Did He Know It?

And lastly, to relive those glorious days of the Bernie campaign, check out mine and Bill Dahlgren’s .“CHANNELING BERNIE,” ad campaign. 51 glorious ads in pursuit of the real American Dream.

   

 

Paul Steven Stone’s Greatest Hits, #8 in a series

The campaign that never was…

For any of you who read my article on the creation of the W.B. Mason brand, “Who But: The Birth of an Iconic New England Brand,” you’re already familiar with the dysfunctional and creatively stifling attitude that prevailed at Arnold Advertising back in the mid-80’s.

This would have been the campaign's introductory ad, I would guess, because of its simplicity and boldness. It was pretty easy to identify the star of the show, preparing you for the others in the series.

This would have been the campaign’s introductory ad. It was pretty easy to identify the star of the show, preparing you for the other ads in the series.

If you recall, the sudden loss of two of its largest accounts, Fayva Shoes and John Hancock Insurance, had tossed Arnold into grave soul-searching and second-guessing of its creative capabilities, so much so that two creative professionals (a copywriter and an art director) were brought in to improve the creative level of the agency’s output.

And so it was that these two creative supervisors would hijack almost all creative presentations before they left the agency; the idea being they could almost always improve the creative product, usually by redoing it entirely. Which eventually resulted in giant bottlenecks in the agency’s creative workflow.

Legal's 5The campaign layouts on this page were part of a new business campaign crafted by myself and art director Rich Kerstein, my Arnold creative partner, to help reel in Legal’s Seafoods (pun definitely intended).  I will not describe the campaign’s rationale or strategic positioning. Suffice it to say I wouldn’t present these layouts if they couldn’t speak for themselves. But be sure to take note of the brand’s elitist attitude.

You’ll notice, once the introductory ad (“Sea Boston”) established the “game”, it was then merely a question of following up with ads whose headlines gracefully and humorously entered into a dance with Legal’s famous heavy-lips logo.

Legal's 3Like all other creative presentations, this one was hijacked and held up inside the agency by our creative supervisors, and held up for months.

This is one of my most favorite headlines EVER. There's a logic loop that never gets completed and leaves one wondering if the headline makes any sense whatsoever. Confidentially, it doesn't.

This is one of my most favorite headlines EVER. There’s a logic loop that never gets completed and leaves one wondering if the headline makes any sense whatsoever. Confidentially, it doesn’t.

Ultimately, in one of his last major executive actions before retiring, agency C.E.O., Arnold Rosoff—a man dearly beloved by all who knew him—ordered the campaign released from its purgatory and presented to Legal Seafoods, which signed up for the campaign and a new agency relationship almost immediately upon viewing the campaign. It was a relationship fated to last a mere few months.

That's supposed to be a Legal's Seafood matchbook.

That’s supposed to be a Legal’s Seafood matchbook at the bottom of the ad. There’s a dotted line around the matchbook, indicating you can cut it out and paste it onto any regular matchbook cover to impress your friends.

It should be noted Legal’s was a notoriously difficult client. One that never truly felt they needed advertising to grow their business. I knew this from having worked on their advertising at another Boston ad agency. Their success grew out of a highly popular, and slightly idiosyncratic, business model whereby meals were served to parties one-at-a-time, food being delivered to the table as soon as it was fully prepared and before it had time to cool down. That piecemeal presentation of individual orders coupled with Legal’s total emphasis on serving only the freshest seafood, made for a unique and unforgettable dining experience.

Legal's 7I had already left Arnold by the time the agency had captured and lost the Legal’s account, so I’m not privy to why the account quickly parted ways with the agency.

As a backdrop to some of the layouts presented here, you need to understand that, back in the 1980’s, Legal’s had not yet grown beyond its Boston footprint, so some of the ad headlines shown  on this page made more sense back then than they would today.

In any case,  peppered throughout this blog entry you’ll find a partial look at the campaign that won the Legal Seafoods business back in 1988, but never made it to the newspapers and billboards for which it was intended.

Legal's 6And now, after all these years, it’s here for you to enjoy!

No thanks necessary.

———————————

On a different matter, if you haven’t received notice of #7 of My Greatest Hits, my HAZMAT ad for the Conservation Law Foundation, click here to see what you missed.

To view my #1 Greatest Hits advertisement, click here. To

Remember, this was a layout done before art director's had access to, and unfettered use of, the internet and online stock photo imagery. That Rolls Royce logo would have looked a lot better in a layout done today, I can assure you.

Remember, this was a layout done before art directors had access to, and unfettered use of, the internet and online stock photos. That Rolls Royce logo would have looked a lot better in a layout done today, I can assure you.

view #2, click here. To view #3, click here. To view #4, click here. To view #5, click here.

To view #6, featuring my favorite billboards, click here. To read my essay about creating the “Who But W.B. Mason!,” brand click here.  Or, if you’re interested in seeing other examples of my mind at work, visit my web site.. To speak with me about building or creating your company’s brand, contact me at 857-389-2158 or at PaulStevenStone@gmail.com.

 

Oh Captain, My Captain!

boat

Scene of the crime. Note the harmless looking buoy that mischievously refused to be hooked up at ride’s end.

He never aspired to greatness when it came to navigating bodies of water. Salt-laden or spring fed, large or small, Atlantic Ocean or Plymouth pond, it didn’t matter. He knew his place in the world, and it was not in a vessel afloat on water wearing the captain’s mantle. His destiny was that of a passenger or crew member. His comfort lay in never making decisions that affected the well being of a boat or the safety of its passengers.

And now, at the tender age of 69, he suffered a temporary loss of self-awareness that saw him purchase an inflatable boat so small as to be unfit for carrying more than three slim and motionless passengers at the same time. Though if they weren’t so difficult to bring on board, he would have preferred his passengers to be comatose, which guaranteed their weight would never shift. But then again, he correctly figured, the inflatable dinghy had little room to cater to the needs of supine or prostrate passengers.

And so, on a recent morning, he boarded his craft and set out by himself to voyage on a nearby pond where the craft was moored.

How easy to blithely declare “he boarded his craft and set out by himself to voyage on a nearby pond.” Much easier, it turns out, than it actually was to board his craft or voyage on the pond. For one thing (and remember we are speaking about a 69 year old sailor) our brave adventurer had considerable difficulty jumping into the boat at the depth it was moored.

The only rock  visible on the 62 acre pond. Can you sense it's magnetic pull?

The only rock visible on the 62 acre pond. Can you sense it’s magnetic pull?

Before he could board his craft, after numerous attempts, he needed to guide it into shallower depths where he could essentially step into the boat one foot at a time. Fortunately, the electric motor allowed for such shallow depths, its shaft and propeller easily pivoting out of the water. Once, of course, he finally remembered to release the catch. This the same valiant motor, which had lately survived an ignominious submersion when the inflatable boat had flipped upside down in unusually blustery, if not hostile, winds.

Clearly, to those with eyes to see, casual boating was not for the faint of heart or those fully ripened in their years.

And did I mention the wind?

Yes, there was a wind blowing this fateful morning. A strong wind that created a current he could see rippling across the surface of the pond. A wind so strong, he quickly surmised, that his modest motor could not easily steer the flat-bottomed, lightweight boat in any direction that resisted the wind’s steady resolve. And so after a brief excursion to the center of the pond our venerable skipper decided to cut his voyage short.

"IT'S NOT A ROPE; IT'S CALLED LINE!"

“IT’S NOT A ROPE; IT’S CALLED LINE!”

As if to prove the danger inherent on the water, and the wisdom in his decision to cut and run, our captain entangled the motor’s propeller in an errant coil of rope—“IT’S NOT ROPE, IT’S CALLED LINE,” his wife, who grew up on boats, repeatedly told him—and found himself magnetically drawn to the three hazards that surrounded his cottage’s shoreline.

First, he ran over a giant branch whose spindly grasping limbs reached out from the water like witches’ fingers issuing a stern warning. A warning he was unfortunately unable to heed, much as he and his fouled, struggling motor would try.

Next, after safely untangling the propeller and feeling newly invigorated, he and his boat were inexorably drawn into the rough facing of the only rock that stands above the surface in the entire expanse of the pond’s 62 acres.

Lastly, as if to end his voyage on a note of poetic irony, he was swept into, and half across, the buoy whose mooring line he was desperately reaching for.

The day before he had taken his 5-year old granddaughter for a boat ride without noticeable wind or incident except, as he explained to her mother, “I have trouble parking,” which he proceeded to prove at journey’s end by ingloriously falling out of the boat. This day was no different as he attempted to dismount the boat and ultimately found himself falling head-first into the shallow depths and struggling once again to regain his footing. Almost immediately, as he surfaced, he realized the boat’s electric motor was still engaged, or had re-engaged by accident, and quickly and energetically—for a man his age—chased the boat down and turned off the motor.

No applause, please!

And so we leave our stalwart senior once again on land and once again shivering in his wetness in the wind. Nothing seriously hurt except perhaps his vanity. In the last few weeks he has spent more time in these pond waters than he had the six previous summers. First there was the mooring that had to be set up; the knots that had to be tied and re-tied. Then the rains came, sending him out twice in two days. First to rescue the battery that was dangerously close to having its plastic case breached by the accumulating rain water. Second, to bail out the rain water. Next, he had to go in to rescue his overturned boat and motor. Then lastly, once again into the water to restore the boat to its mooring.

Now, it bobs gently on the water, pretending to be easily boarded and safely steered wherever whim or whimsy might take it. And maybe someday he’ll believe that’s true.

But for now, it seems truer that—to quote the poet—“Home is the sailor, home from the sea.” To which I would only add…

“And the clumsy captain free from his pond.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CITY COUNCIL VOTES BLIND APPROVAL FOR NORMANDY/TWINING TOWER

Clarence The Clown Cries Foul!

Much has been said about the vigor and unseemly haste with which seven members of the Cambridge City Council voted last Monday evening, May 18th, to approve the Normandy/Twining (N/T) proposal to build an unprecedented 195’ tower in Central Square.

2014-2015-City-Council-web-500When told this final version of the agreement, officially an ‘amendment by substitution,’ with its last minute language changes, had not yet been read or even proofread to ensure completeness and adherence to previously agreed terms, the councilors waved away any concern.

“Hey!” one of them cried out, “if it’s good enough for Mark, Al and Tony…” referring to developers Mark Roopenian, Alex Twining and their attorney, former City Councilor Anthony Galluccio. “…then it’s good enough for the Cambridge City Council!”

“Right on!” another agreed. “Where do we sign?”

Shouting down objections from Council members Carlone and Mazen, who pleaded for a week’s delay in order to read and thoughtfully respond to this latest draft agreement, the seven councilors quickly voted “Aye!” and Mayor David Maher abruptly declared “So moved!” sharply gaveling in the council’s approval.

Barely had the echo of the gavel’s harsh retort subsided before certain oddities written into the agreement began to emerge for inspection.

First among the agreement’s controversial clauses was language that transferred to city ownership a still-undetermined percentage of N/T’s newly zoned surface parking lot after 5 years, as agreed, but shockingly in exchange for two city-owned parking lots and one city park “to later be determined.”

clownUpon later investigation it was learned the language transferring ownership of the parking lots and city park to N/T was accidentally retrieved from a DPW proposal of possible summer venues for Clarence the Clown and His Talking Jackass, a popular outdoor children’s entertainment.

When asked why the size of N/T’s gift deed transfer was still left uncertain in the agreement, Attorney Galluccio explained, “Obviously it depends on how many Cadillacs, Hummers and pickup trucks we have in the lot; something we won’t know until the first weeks of occupancy.”

Also somewhat controversial, the new agreement indemnifies all city councilors from actions or lawsuits, “including ethics investigations” resulting from their approval of the N/T petition. This apparently in response to the recent disclosure that six out of the seven councilors voting for approval—Councilors Cheung, Maher, Toomey, Simmons, McGovern and Benzan—had received campaign donations totaling almost $12,000 from N/T and related associates in a series of payments doled out over two years.

When learning he received a scant $950 from N/T in comparison to Councilor Cheung’s $3,000, Vice Mayor Benzan showed his customary modesty and self-effacement, declaring,” Hey, I’m the new guy on the block. Give me time; I’ll catch up to the veterans.”

Also, under the terms of the final approved agreement the city vowed to continue to ignore the impacts of gentrification. Specifically, the Community Development Department was enjoined against “any research that would quantify displacement of current residents. Or any study that might undermine the often-stated claim that luxury high-rise developments will house more poor people than they displace.”

Commenting on that restriction, Iram Farooq, Cambridge’s Acting Assistant City Manager for Community Development, smiled at the interviewer and said, “Not a problem. We do that everyday.”

In response to complaints about mistakes in the final draft agreement, Attorney Galluccio promised to deliver a corrected version for the council to vote on and review…”sometime during their next scheduled council meeting.”

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DISCLAIMER: THE ABOVE ESSAY IS SATIRE, though there may be far too many chunks of reality and truth buried within the sarcasm and farce. A reader questioned my post as though some of the items mentioned might actually reflect (FOR REAL!) what was ultimately included in the revised Amendment by Substitution, which was submitted at the last minute, during public comments, to the city council. I have no idea what wonderful offerings or missing agreements will ultimately be discovered in that document which seven city councilors so quickly approved. Aside from the figures given for Normandy/Twining campaign donations to city councilors, nothing I said in my essay is meant to be believed or taken as fact. Again, this is meant to be SATIRE.