Tag Archives: branding

The Cheese.

 

Lisa worked in advertising.

Big, commercial advertising.

She was a music producer for Ogilvy & Mather WW, in midtown Manhattan.

And, she’d been my college housemate.

I can remember the accounts. Winter Olympics. Huggies Disposable Diapers. And, the piece de resistance: Folger’s Coffee…..the first, serial ad in anybody’s memory, complete with installments which brought a sweet couple together forever ( everybody hoped.) Hardly a word ever spoken. Just that knock on the door;  a lot of deep, eye gazing; and, the music, underscoring the whole story.

Lisa was always quiet around people. Like, silent. Applied music/flute morphing into a degree in sound, she was an aural learner, storing endless loops of tunes and calling them to mind in an instant. Rising to rank after assisting Faith, who retired to open a B&B in Santa Fe, her working girl day began with meetings. The video would either already be complete, or clients sat at table describing what they envisioned. Within minutes, Lisa would have several ideas, heading to the agency library to pull four or five reels for their perusal. One chosen, the edit would begin.

She performed all this grandly important work in the name of international (they had offices in London and LA, as well) product presentation. And I, her loyal housemate all those years prior, wondered with admiration and pride. There would never be a TV ad, from that point until the big layoff after her David was born, that didn’t pique my attention and respect.

Last week, CNN was drumming along in the background as I finished the pre-holiday preparations. These days, what with the new pause and rewind options provided by cable, I was wont to mute and FF when the commercials kicked in.

But, this one caught me.

A certain, familiar insurance company having dispensed with its inane gecko for the holidays, the goofy lizard had been displaced by two humanoids. Seated shoulder to back on a laminate floor, faux [ electrically flickering ] fireplace behind, equally faux brass poke and stoke set alongside, laminate paneling, the gushing couple faced camera holding drinks. The only notable feature of the man being his Persian blue contac lenses, the woman by contrast was bedecked: polyester ski sweater over a starched, button down shirt, outsized faux coral hoop earrings, haircut overgrown just enough to have required large rollers for shape, jeans and, just as the camera pulled back – knee high, faux leather, heeled boots.

Their only dialogue byte to pull me out of my stream of subconscious was a reference to “starring in a real commercial”. Might it have been the angle of her jaw, or the artificial lilt in her voice? I stared, momentarily, at her face. Suddenly, it all came together.

Perhaps I’d taken one too many cheap flight connections from Detroit to parts east. Maybe fussed just a bit too much getting strapped onto my seat in coach. But, somebody was watching. Somebody who’d replaced one of Lisa’s coworkers in video all those years ago. I didn’t have to take any bait, from GEICO or anybody else. Somebody, as I stood in the shoot waiting for my orange ductape labeled Travelocity carry on, saw me and said: “Ope. There she is. There’s our girl.”

Cheese is a favorite of mine. I like them all. Brie; Havarti; Colby Jack; Muenster; Feta; Goat; New York Sharp. If you need cheese, or cheesy, just call me. I’ll be sitting by the phone, branded, waiting for the role of your lifetime.

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c 1/1/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.   All rights those of the author, somebody who looks exactly like the person she isn’t, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name It.

 

Last evening. Yet another Friday night.

The debut of a university chamber orchestra.  A big band.  And, “The Music Man”, in concert.

Having failed to mark not one, but all three really worthy performance events on her calendar, she’d found herself in the kitchen – occupied with the contents of a voluminous, stale smelling cardboard box overflowing with charity collectors, mail order catalogs, medical documents, and receipts, material to which she would affectionately refer in disclaimer to visitors as her “household flammables”.  And, emanating from the laptop, mounted on a chair to her left: Tara Brach’s podcast, Awakening Your Fearless Heart.

The latter being the primary intention, this belated sorting was a manifestation of necessary yang to Tara Brach’s yin; and, on this night, she’d forsaken a majority of her colleagues’ live musical offerings to position herself at home, as mediator.

Her house was a load, a prohibitively inhospitable space cyclically overtaken by stuff which could ignite in a heartbeat. These people who had long since graduated to online banking, online mailing, and online purchasing had left her in the awe of their wake. She was a pack rat, the residue of a generation doomed to save.

As she sat, self-righteously separating out the home improvement brochures from their neighboring Harvard health letters she attuned to Tara, who was underscoring these efforts with measured, modulated monikers for successful triumph over human failing.

Be Mindful. Be Present. Name the feeling; know the Fear. Call it out.

She knew what to call it.

You don’t begin life in the shadow of a much older sibling who happens to be male, the only daughter of two parents with diametrically opposed needs (inheriting the lion’s share of their strengths and weaknesses ) without learning to expect equal parts indoctrination, condemnation, and exploitation.

She knew fear. Knew it viscerally, in the cinematic mind inherited from her father, colored by the surefire flames of Hell and the rapturous hope of the heavenlies. She knew it in the sectarian dogma to which her mother had dutifully ascribed, pinning and then initiating her headlong into the warm fellowship of jealousy, envy, gossip, and slander. After all, if “come out from among them, and be ye separate, touching not the unclean thing” was the dicta, then surely all those found either haplessly or willfully just outside of the gate were of all things most contaminated and worthy of immediate rejection.

Decades hence, she would be the master of branding. She would know, in a millisecond, which sin-laden emotion drove any action – in both herself and, formidably, others. She’d learned at the feet of the Sunday School teacher, and the Gospel preacher, and the demons that left prints on all their glass houses. Tara Brach’s multi-headed gargoyle deities would have nothing on her scary story.

But, the guru of inherent good would not be moved – not by anyone’s notions of self-defeat. Brach, too, sat, presiding at a podium, smiling out across the unseen throng of attending participants and, in tones barely penetrating, gently gathered them all into direct self-confrontation.

She wasn’t at all sure she’d wanted a fight, that night. Trauma wasn’t something to be addressed in adherence to some syllabus. You didn’t relive its destabilizing pain in a conference room, or even a warmly lit kitchen. Only God as Infinite Wisdom would have known the protective power in a box of junk mail on any other evening.

Her recognition came in a flood. She allowed it. Inspecting, she both identified and then freely detached.

Anger at being displaced in musical collaborations was supplanted by her own creative efforts. Fear of being left out was diffused by the comforting company of her imagination. In short, by being present in the moment, recognizing her primary motivations, allowing their validity, inspecting them for corrupting influences, and finally submitting to the greater consciousness, she was liberated. Liberated, to clean the kitchen on a night when half the population was sitting in somebody else’s audience.

But, missing “The Music Man” ?

Regret. Transcending even guilt.

Ye Gods.

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo   5/14/16   All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your respect. Good night, my Someone.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Costume.

Last week, many of us watched as impending superhero arch-villain Ultron made his appearance at the Los Angeles premiere of the movie in which he would be so grandly introduced. Of course, the actor himself, the inimitable James Spader, was wearing yellow-tinted hornrims, an oversized charcoal grey suit jacket, and a white knotted tie with some red icons sprinkled across it. But, he described in characteristic detail his Ultron costume for the film: bands of velcroed techno-attachments, and a large, overhead pole bearing two antennae, at the ends of which were tiny cameras. The rest? For the viewers, computer-generated cloakery.

This is a particularly personal observation. I don’t expect anybody else to relate. Perhaps you’ll call it a purge. Just let me say it, and be done.

Not sure where human society got its penchant for entrenchment patterns. Don’t know why people with similar traits self-segregate. I just know it’s true because, from early childhood, I was watching. The Plymouth Brethren taught me how.

Borne in Dublin, Ireland, and then branching out to include the following led by John Nelson Darby, this self-generating Christian Fundamentalist sect was all about exclusive separatism. The objective being to establish the purety of “the Lord’s table” (meaning: the communion fellowship), the distorted belief held that, by raising the standard for selectivity, only those living lives of alleged sinless perfection would qualify.

Therefore, of its nature, and following the parallel of social patterns, those deemed most readily acceptable were first the ones whose carriage matched that of the determining few. Anglo-Saxon bearing, its physicality and mentality, were pre-eminent. Anthropologically speaking, ya hadda look the part and then ya hadda act it. And, best if you could imitate the Royals, albeit subconsciously.

Henry Sweet definitely fit. Short, broad shouldered, strong of profile and mind, he was invited by the panel of experts to join the local fellowship after migrating from the eastern end of the Commonwealth and appearing, in full form, as a street preacher. So also his wife, Mae, of saintly bearing and trusting countenance.

Mum was one of four sisters and, at least in all the photographs, the one with the purest face. Ironically, while she fit the picture, she dreamed of a life that burst the bubble and expanded the frame. Therefore, when Dad appeared, all handsome and dark and feisty and bold, she tore up the pattern into little bits and threw herself in his direction.

When their firstborn son came into the world, he was as princely as he could be. Miraculously, his gene expression had chosen to defer its more swarthy dominance; he had all the right colors – hazel eyes, sandy hair, small regular features, and intellectual precocity. And, he would grow to achieve a prominent place in the sectarian’s hierarchy.

Here’s where I come in.

From birth, I bore every insistent trait of my father: dark brown eyes and hair, olive skin, and the kind of active, expressive intelligence that knows no restraint. There simply wasn’t any other child in any of the rooms who looked anything like me. I was the gypsy, the starling, the odd one out.

You think me a tad preoccupied? You may. I will give you that.

But, on with the show.

Self-acceptance, they’ve been saying for a few decades now, is key to a successful social life and, probably, life in the workplace. One must celebrate one’s strengths, acknowledge and then improve on any weakness, and strive to accomplish, seeking solid relationships and worthy endeavor.

But, we are taught from birth to do exactly the opposite.

We have for our models those who teach us to select what is acceptable. We learn whether or not we fit from the time our ears are developed enough to hear “What a beautiful baby!” As soon as our eyes can see, we observe the directions people take, either toward or away from us. Our tactile sense picks up the accelerated heartbeat of fear and uncertainty, our chemistry the signals of alignment or incompatibility. And, we begin to mirror all these. We behave towards others as those closest to us behave toward us.

I’ve been wearing costumes as far back as I can remember. The one that attempted to match the family of Anglo Saxons, and their precise, daily ways. Later on, the one that more closely resembled what I saw in the mirror. Neither one was really the girl who wore the clothes.

Nakedness becomes some. There are bodies that bear such a natural aesthetic you’d almost weep at the sight of them. Mine is not one of those. Perhaps yours is. One thing is certain: I know how to recognize truth and beauty.

Somewhere, somehow, I got that part right. In fact, my comfort is found within, whenever I look out at the world around me. What I see in you brings both awe and inspiration, pleasure and wonder, to my eyes. So, if you feel me watching, just go about your business. Wear whatever costume you need. But, know that I am truly glad you’re in the room, because I see who you really are.

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo

4/21/15   All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line.

littlebarefeetblog.com