"he's as blind as he can be..."
Well, it's a world of twits and turns. You never know what's going to up and smack you.
The anniversary of my father's death is rapidly approaching. Tomorrow. My sister called to apologize for mistaking the day. She had sent me a card saying I should feel free to call her to commiserate on the 22nd. She said all that's been running through her head is my mother's phone call to her on that morning last year. I can play my phone call from my mom pretty clearly still. But I seem to be blocking it at the moment. It was tough. At any rate, I'm not sure how I've done the past year. (thanks for asking) Drinking more, gaining weight, getting older and more bitter? No,.no, older and wiser. More laid back, less laid. Than what? never mind. See, it's easy to avoid death and the aftermath. Just ramble on.
I have my class Thursday night, which means I'll be spending my day preparing for my class. It's so hard for me to get my shit together before class day. So much stuff during the day. Just fills the day. Little time for mediation, or meditation, i meant to write. Little time to think. Stop and... I just realized, well, not just... but I still have my father's ashes in a plastic bag on a bookshelf. I don't mean to be disrespectful, but I don't know what to do with them. I scattered some of them. But I'm not sure what to do with the rest. He was such a non-urn type guy. I'm sure he'd have wanted them thrown into a volcano or something. We'll see. I was going to do something before the year was up.
This column started over a year ago with a lawbreaking story. And just to be neat and bookend things, I broke the law the other day. Two young male cops stopped me and gave me a seat belt ticket. I was apparently a flight risk because the asian cop stood on the sidewalk just outside the passenger window. The latino cop circled his vehicle as he approached my vehicle. It took him about fifteen minutes to run a check on my vehicle. And me. I wonder if my jaywalking ordeal was on my record. Or the illegal photo shoot at the Beverly Center. Anyway, I've heard that the fine is anywhere from $25 to $250. The cop was surprised that I was a first time seat belt law offender. I guess I look like an outlaw. Since then, I have worn my seat belt. But now I also harbor a greater anger than before toward cops. A seat belt ticket? I was going a few blocks into Larchmont to mail a birthday package to my mom. Court date in May.
A couple of other things going on. Firstly. I just got canned from the student show project I was working on. The gig with the two former students. The young woman heading the project didn't care for a letter I sent to the department heads. Backstory: The department had recently asked me if it would be okay to have my name removed from the project. Apparently, it wasn't sitting well with the powers that be that a faculty member's name was going to be listed as a designer on the project. I agreed at first, but after thinking it over, I said no. I had put in the time and effort. And I had been kind of forced into being on the project at all. I was "hired" with the two young women who had been in my class (and who at the time were going on photo shoots with me as a continuation of my class). It wasn't going to be that easy to dump me.
My surprise involvement in the student show project had made the two women suspicious of me. I can't remember how much of this I have written before. If it's old news, sorry. But anyway, the job was to design a postcard and brochure and posters for the student show. They were supposed to select a student to design them, but they liked a piece I had done. Our little (ex) group was chosen.
But then the shiite hit the fan. My two partners (ex-partners) wondered how the fuck it had all happened, and if I had somehow maneuvered things to get them involved, to get myself involved... And they began to question my past behavior. My interest in them. Instead of a teacher trying to get them to dig deep to find themselves so they could put something real into their work, I was now a dirty old man, hitting on them, and, well, everything went to shit. Things were never quite the same afterwards, no matter what I thought or wrote recently. There has always been an edge to the relationship since then.
So. A week or so ago, the department asked me to step down. I said no. They said okay, what if we list you as the "mentor." That was nixed by the leader of our group. Who said she was going to write to them and explain that I hadn't been a mentor, but an equal. Perhaps they could come up with another, funnier title. But I was pissed off, and I wrote to the department before she got a chance to. I was rather... flippant, perhaps a little angry. But ultimately, it was heavily satiric. I suggested they give me the title "ticket inspector." (cf "career opportunities" on sandanista.) But tonight, the woman in charge of our group called and said this wasn't acceptable behavior, that me writing first was basically saying "fuck her, that she didn't matter." That my behavior wasn't good for the group. I was out. (and this the day before staff appreciation day!)
Oh. And besides, the final selected design was hers. Not my photo, not my design. They were hers. Although she did say that the process that we all went through (several days of playing and shooting photos) got her to the point where she finally did her design. Some team player.
Bottom line though, I am out. I have to admit, I have mixed feelings. A little relief. I'm no longer in this awkward relationship with these two women. But it feels like she overreacted and has shitcanned the one person who was solidly in her camp. This project has not gotten anywhere in the past several weeks. Mired in the red tape of a university and it's marketing department (i'd use the word "bureaucracy" if i could spell it). The postcard has been designed, but not finalized or approved. And the follow-up pieces have not been outlined in any detail. So, everything has stopped.
I don't know. I probably brought this on myself, but I have to say that my motives and actions are being misjudged. I can write a fucking letter to my department, if I want to. But this has been enough of a mess. I hereby withdraw. I wish them good luck.
And in other arenas, I have a new person in my life who calls me "buddy." One of my clients has hired a big hotshot publicist. At our first meeting, he suggested that I might want to take notes on what he had to say. He repeated that and waited for me to get some paper and a pen. There are big photos of him on the walls of his office. His own books and tapes line the shelves. There is a huge framed quote by him hanging on a wall in the outer office. Taped on the glass is a huge dollar bill with Washington's face replaced by... any guesses? It seemed odd that it was only a one dollar bill.
He held up the meeting for half an hour until his assistant returned and gave him copies of some postcards I had done for my client. The pr guy looked at my work. Complimented me. Striking image. Zero to ten? Ten. But the message? Three. so, he waited so he could be more effective and wave my shitty postcards in my face.
He had two suggestions; fix them, or do something better. And he had something better. He handed me an ad from a magazine. Cheech Marin with his favorite teacher -- a guy from Home Depot. This was what we were going to do for the client. Copy this ad. Steal this idea. Get celebs to endorse my client. (Our client) Take photos of famous people with my client. And the first celeb to appear in an ad with my client will be...? The publicist! Maybe I am just getting to be a cynical old fuck, but people are sure giving me a lot of material to work with.
So, at the end of the meeting, I was asked, rather pointedly, if I "got it." "Do you get it? Do you understand? Do you get it?" I was going to do some comps of an ad which he would then present to my client. I have to do research about variety ad sizes. I have to come up with a McDonald's menagerie of gay, black, female and other non-rich-white guy clients to be in subsequent ads. I have to come up with better copy than "I could have picked anyone." Maybe "He's my guy." Exciting, emotional photos. He was a little miffed that I didn't want to take the magazine with me. "Okay. No. I want to keep it." And he was miffed that I wouldn't be able to take pictures at his party on thursday. (I teach) He took my card, and commented that his old eyes couldn't read the type. Another fucking dig. Blah blah. As we parted, he put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Look, buddy, I don't know you well, but maybe I can get you some work." Yeah, shoveling the shit back into his mouth.
It wasn't until later that I started thinking about how I was going to get paid for my services. And who was going to get the credit. I emailed him and asked who was paying for my services. Him or the client? He had his people call me back late in the day and then got on the line. "Mr. President?" Ho ho ho. "Who is going to pay you? Not me. I don't know what your relationship with him is." He must have said this four times. And he kept calling me "Mr. President." Set you up, make you feel important (hey, he thinks I'm the president!) -- and then treats you like his dog. "Maybe you could spend an hour and come up with some ideas. Can you do that? Buddy? What is your relationship with the client? I don't know what your relationship is. can you do that? Maybe you'll get the job."
I've spent my life avoiding guys like this. Buddy.
But I'll do the comps. I do want to help my client.
I learned an important lesson. The number one thing that a pr guy wants to sell is himself.
Okay, bedtime. I have many things to do tomorrow. I finished the "emergencies" of yesterday. I have to prepare my class, so I can mourn on Thursday.