Friday, April 30, 2010

Six degrees of separation, but not in Greece, more like two

I have built a house in Greece; it was not nearly as traumatic as I was told it would be. There are lots of stories to this house. More to come at a future date.

We bought a piece of land in the Argolida, with a great view, to build our retirement dream house; we were going to downsize. Big joke, it just grew like an amoeba, an amoeba with a great view.

When we bought the land, I asked about local architects and builders, rather than bringing one from Athens (3 hours away).
I was told that there was a guy that studied in the States, yeah sure!
I assumed it was local blah, blah.

I looked at some of his houses, they all had something unique, even though they were traditional Greek villas, tile roofs, stone, etc. We had a modern house in mind though. We went to see him and find out about his “U.S. education”. We chatted and we hit it off, and yes he went to Pratt, in N.Y., the same college my wife and I had gone to. A coincidence, but I have come to accept them and even expect them in life. We accused him of forgetting everything he learned at Pratt: a notorious Bauhaus school, modern stuff all the way.

At that moment his wife came to the office, she is a Greek American from Chicago. We lived there in the early 60’s, forty years ago at least.

Like all old geezers, I remember stuff that happened in prehistory, not ten minutes ago. I asked her what her Dad did in Chicago; she told me he had a grocery store in the Greek town of Chicago. I remembered her Dad’s store and even her Dad, his name, even her uncle. This is getting spooky; small provincial towns in Greece and the degrees of separation have come to be non-existent. I was sure one more question and we would find out we were related, second cousins or something. Thank heavens it stopped at the same school, and a Chicago grocery store. It was enough for us to pick him as our architect and builder, I told him “God made me pick you,” may as well keep him nervous.

We worked on the plans and soon were happy, a terrific modern villa.
I then decided that we wanted it in 9 months, “No problem”. When you hear “No es ningun problema” in South America, it means it is no problem because it is never is going to happen, therefore no problem. In Greece, thanks heavens, this did not happen, we did it in nine months, just like a child, no problem.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Backgammon, is it luck or skill?

My first experience of backgammon was in London, in the 60’s, a very long time ago. We had a friend that had an art gallery, specializing in Byzantine Icons. He was a mix of Scot and Lebanese, impossible to imagine a better mix for a backgammon player. I enjoyed the game and felt it was part of my culture, in my DNA. It may have been in my DNA, but that does not mean I was any good at it, at least not then.

The game, he told me, originally started in Persia; the servants played chess and The Royals played backgammon. If you are a better chess player than your opponent, you will probably beat him consistently. In tavli (backgammon in Greek) it is not the case that the better player wins always. The game is a combination of luck and skill, just like life. A mediocre player can sometimes beat a great player.

My next experience with Tavli was in Spain. I worked with an Armenian art director, a friend from London. He was raised in Lebanon, be careful Greg, danger ahead.

He taught me some more and had a very bizarre characteristic when we played. If he lost he would be happy for me and congratulate me on some move I made, but God he was the worst winner I ever saw, leaping about and buying Raki for everyone in sight. We usually played in an Armenian restaurant in Madrid, surprisingly called Mount Ararat, like every other Armenian restaurant in the world.

I continued playing with him when we both found ourselves working together in Mexico. Another restaurant called Mount Ararat, where the same winning activity took place, but this time with Tequila for all.

Fast forward, twenty years later and my backgammon adventure restarts again, this time in Greece.

My Sensei is a wonderful man, retired here in Porto Heli. He is older than me, and spent many years in Africa working in Ghana. He learned from and played with many Lebanese there. Here we go again, doomed.

Besides telling fascinating stories about his life, he is a passionate backgammon player.

We play often and have played for years. Nevertheless, if I win it is called luck by my Sensei, when he wins it is naturally skill, no matter what dice he throws.

I am from Brooklyn, so my language at times is a little rough. I believe in “chatter” hoping to detract my opponent. I am cursing up a storm “F” ing everything in sight. It never seems to work. My Sensei is calm and telling me that the only way I can win is by throwing doubles. Luck again, never skill. He occasionally will tell me to think before I make a move, never has and never will be one of my strong points.

It must be a characteristic of backgammon players, they are nutty winners, and they really enjoy winning.
I suppose as I play some lousy players, I will learn to be a nutty winner, but not yet. I am just a nutty loser. I hope to be as unique as the people I have played with up to now when I win.

Maybe I just have to go to Lebanon for some lessons.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"You do not tell the Father his book is upside down!"

Our youngest daughter has a real sense of humor. She always loved animals and even then, she collected them. She still has both traits.

When we lived in Italy we used to rent a house for the winter with another couple in Courmayeur.

We would go skiing; actually the kids and the Moms went skiing. The other Dad and I would walk around the town, get cold and have hot chocolates, maybe even something a bit stronger, Grappa comes to mind.

We would have lunch and scout out the places for dinner. We were busy and caring. Back to the house for a nap, and wait for the crew to return from the slopes, ready to take them all out to dinner. As you can tell skiing for us was very physical. We both were big city boys and hated the cold, but not the atmosphere of a ski town. Real athletes are what we were.

When the families arrived, exhausted, and in no mood to go out, especially our youngest, I probably reacted strongly; after all, we Dads had planned the evening. We had scouted bars, restaurants, places to go, it was not easy.

During my minor tirade, our youngest says to the group, ”This is Daddy, when he comes home." She puts my hat on, grabs my briefcase (yes, I had brought work to the mountains) and storms into the room in a huff. She demands a drink and silence. She plops herself in an armchair, and opens a book. We tell her the book she is reading is upside down.” You do not tell the father his book is upside down." A devastating imitation of me to the hilarity of the others.

That imitation made me see myself in a different way. I am not sure I changed radically, but I thought about it a bit more. A three year old, supposedly making a joke, sorted me out. Funny, yes, making a point, yes.
She continues to do this even today. Funny, smart, a born teacher. By the way she is a teacher today, a great one.

I guess a good imitation makes you see things in a different way.

We did not go out that night, but ordered Pizza in, and she continued with her imitations, mostly of me. She was not going to waste that captive audience.

A fright in Germany

While at McCann Spain, we had a German Client, the huge detergent company Henkel.
I periodically had to go to Germany to the Henkel headquarters and present the advertising for Spain.

We had an English creative guy,based in London, that coordinated the account and he joined me for this presentation in Germany.

After about two hours and vast amounts of apple juice (only place I ever drank it) and coffee,
I went to the toilet to relieve myself. Oh my God it is red, I must be passing blood, I am going to die in Germany,
and this has to be serious.
I do not want to die, and certainly not in the Henkel headquarters.
I go back to the meeting, sneaking out a few more times to check;
it is not as dark but still reddish. I gotta get out of there.

We finish the meeting; I have a flight at 6:00 pm.
They invite us to lunch, I have to go with them.
We get into a Mercedes, naturally, Clive and me in the back, the two clients up front.
Clive notices that I am a little pale, I tell him what is going on.
He turns to me and tells me it always happens to him when he eats beets.

I had eaten a big portion of beets the night before. I am so relieved;
I kiss Clive on the mouth to thank him (after all I am Greek).

At that moment the client sees this bizarre performance in the rear view mirror.
What to make of this. Nothing is said and we have this odd, stilted lunch, never once mentioning the beets, or even ordering them.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Is there a dog on the roof"?

I owe this to a friend that made a comment on my blog “Fluffo did it”.

When we lived in Mexico, it was common to see small houses on the roofs of buildings. The housekeepers lived there. We naturally had one on our house. Magdalena and her daughter, who was a student nurse, lived there.

We had dogs then that were abandoned street dogs: one of our favorites, was Lupe Velez, we found her in a Mexican park, great dog.

We were used to having dogs around. In a moment of authority, I said no more dogs, enough is enough, and nobody picks up another dog, that’s it.

I figured that was it, I had spoken. My family, including Magdalena, assumed it was a suggestion, a maybe, a perhaps.

There was a vacant lot on our street. This was a great source of abandoned dogs. The whole group, wife, kids, maid, her daughter maybe even the mailman, decided one more would not matter. They had to decide when would be the right time to tell me. In the meantime the dog, Chiquita, lived on the roof and was part of the collusion. Not a bark, not a sound, this goes on for a month or so.

I drive into the parking space in the front Garden and for some reason look up and see this little face looking down at me from the roof. Everybody plays dumb and looks around for things to do, lots of shuffling and looking away. I still was not sure what I had seen and asked, “Is there a dog on the roof”?

Chiquita decides it is OK to bark now, I have seen her, no reason to hide and be quiet. One month of pent up barking comes out now, all at once it seemed. She continues to live on the roof, at least while I am around, and to be relatively quiet.

While watching TV one evening, on the second floor of our house, I glance out the window and see a small body hurtling down. Chiquita got excited at something in the garden, and fell, or jumped off the roof.
None of us can believe what we have seen, or had we seen this little dog hurtling past like a little super hero.
Everybody to the garden, she has to be dead or at least badly hurt, nope, nothing, nada. She crashed through the bougainvillea arbor onto a bed of Margaritas, just missing the cactus.
Maybe she is a cat and has 8 more lives to go.

Dogs on roofs are usually very lucky, no traffic to worry about, and a family that will go to extremes to keep them sort of safe, except when there’s something of interest down below.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The overdraft and the English bank manager

While in England in the 60’s I was introduced to something we didn’t have in the States, the overdraft.

My bank manager called me in to discuss my account. I was spending a bit more than I deposited into the account every month. He questioned me about my expenses, Mrs. Fitzpatrick and why there were so many checks made out to her (she was the publican), my mortgage, what car I drove, (a Bentley and a Mini) my credit cards, my traveling, what restaurants we ate at and a whole bunch of other expenses.

I guess we were living a little high on the hog, (after all, it was London in the mid 60’s ).

He looked at me, over his glasses and said, very seriously

“ Mr. Birbil you are spending more than you earn.”

I told him, ”Its not that I spend more than I earn. I just do not earn enough.”

I asked to make a phone call to our financial director, who he knew, since the company banked there as well. I had been given a substantial raise that morning, which I did not tell him about. I made the call and requested a raise, the financial director screamed back at me that I had been given one this morning. I hung up and told the bank manager, that next month there would be 20% more in my account.

A very amazed bank manager looked at me and said, ”I love you Americans”.

Remember, there was a time when you could earn more, and not have to spend less.

Japan. Temples, a Coke and a Toy

1970, I was sent to Japan to replace the creative director for three months. The previous one disappeared or something like that, and the new one was due in three months. I went alone for the first month and then my wife and son, who was five years old, joined me for the rest of the time.

Japan was disarming, modern buildings, traffic, color, hustle, at first glance it seemed almost normal until you realized you were on the other side of the moon. What a place, the most different country I had ever been to.
Wherever we went was a new experience. Ancient next to modern architecture, traffic and more traffic, amazing gardens, colorful clothing walking next to dark blue suits and always great food. A meal seemed to cost 50 cents or $120 plus, I never found anything in between.

The people were extremely polite and open in a very reserved way. Our son who was a blond kid with long curly hair (remember we had just come from London) was an instant hit and constantly being photographed with little Japanese kids.

Being a Greek American, even though we are friendly, I think we could learn something from the Japanese when it comes to politeness.

In art school the Japanese woodcuts and brush paintings always impressed me. What surprised me is that Japan actually looks like that, soft scenery, misty, moody, as if seen through a gauze screen.

I tried to make contact with the Japanese creative department, all one hundred and sixty of them. I asked them to wear nametags, and as I recognized them, and remembered their names, they took them off. Two guys drove me crazy, every time I recognized them, they would exchange their nametags. They got great pleasure from this, and so did the rest of the department, to my great confusion, the Abbott and Costello of McCann Tokyo.

The general staff spoke very little English and my poor secretary, who translated for me, never got to finish a meal. When I spoke she translated, the others ate, when they spoke she translated, I ate. She lost weight while I was there, poor Mariko.

When we had parties after work and drank, the creative guys were allowed to carry on, and even lift me and carry me around; booze was the excuse. Some good parties, even though I was mostly off the ground.

When my wife and son were there we went to Kyoto for a weekend.
It is a wonderful city, with amazing temples. My wife loves to visit anything of importance, and in Kyoto that meant temples, temples and more temples.
It was August; the temperature must have been over one hundred at 10:00 am in the morning. At our third temple, none of which I could tell apart, our five year old rebelled, thanks heavens. He said “ I do not want to see another %&+ing temple, I want a Coke and a toy”. Bless you kid, I took him for a Coke and a toy, I had a gin and tonic and my wife admired my devotion to our son. Thanks Paul, I did not want to see another temple that morning either.

This was one of the most memorable three months of my life, personally as well as professionally.

We did an ad for band-aids, we said it was like a mothers kiss, neat idea.
The commercial was shot with a cute Japanese mom kissing her baby’s cut and then putting a band-aid on it. “Just like a mother’s kiss”. Simple idea, we thought it should do well in research, wrong, big bomb. Nobody could figure out what was wrong. Another Japanese creative looked at it and said we should re-shoot it with a western woman and child. Japanese mothers didn’t do that, but they would understand and relate to it if they were westerners.
Great success, the campaign ran for years." J&J band-aids, just like a Mothers Kiss".

They are different, but down deep, exactly the same.

When you go to Japan, remember, after enough temples, get a Coke and a toy, it helps, or a gin and tonic might help even more.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Fluffo did it"

We had a rather whacky little West Highland Terrier; we had her in London, Madrid, Milan, London again and Johannesburg. She was a rough little girl; our youngest daughter was the only one in the family she never attacked. Her name was Fluffo. Yes, the kids named her.

She would walk around the house and suddenly notice a chair that had been there for years, do a double take, and attack it. She then would act embarrassed and walk away like nothing happened. If she could’ve whistled, she would have. I told you she was whacky.

Our eldest daughter was between 3 and 4 and she could write her name, sort of. She was very proud of this (so were we) and she wrote her name on every piece of paper she saw.

One day I saw her name on the wall about 3 feet up, just about her height.

I asked her if she did it, giving her a chance to fess up. She looks me straight in the eyes, and says “No."

OK, who did it I ask her.
“Fluffo did.”
No hesitation.
Why would Fluffo write your name on the wall, I ask her?
“She doesn’t like me.”
Straight face, no hesitation.
How did she reach this high?
“She pulled over a chair.”
How do you know?
“I saw her.”
Why would she do that?
“She doesn’t like me," she insisted.

Anything I asked she had an answer; usually it was “Fluffo did it."

Now, if Fluffo could have, she would have, she had that kind of personality. I am afraid she didn’t do it; our daughter seemed like a born liar, a real pro.

We worried about it, we admonished her for the wall, she stood her ground, all the time she was insisting it was Fluffo,
“Fluffo did it!”
I almost believed her, knowing that dog.

She is OK today, doesn’t lie, at least she doesn’t blame Fluffo.

We had lots of pets over the years, and they traveled with us to many countries.
One the first pets we had was in London, it was a parakeet.
We asked our son to name it; he must have been 3 yrs old.
He was very excited and immediately said Forty-two! We looked at him and suggested that maybe he could find a more appropriate name, Tweety, Birdy, or something like that.
He looked at us and thought for a moment, he agreed that Forty-two was a silly name for a bird.
We waited, and he looked up and said, “Let’s call him Forty.”

That was it, the bird was Forty, and actually it was a pretty good name.

Naming pets has always been a family affair. We have had a black Lab called Ouzo; a rescue dog named Blue, he was black and wearing a blue collar when he appeared - out of the blue! Lupe Velez was a beloved mutt we had for years, found in a Mexican Park. She loved Greece; she would stroll around Kolonaki, like she owned it.
There is Moose, Layla, Ollie, Cookie and there was Tula, Spike, Fluffo, Tin-Tin and Fuzzy Wuzzy. I am sure there were more; I even made mistakes and called the kids by the dog’s names and vice versa.

We have even sent dogs to the States, Fos, Kallie and Blue.

The naming of Forty was by far the most memorable, Forty-two was a silly name, but not Forty.

He never lied, or wrote on walls.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"it beats parking cars"

I was lucky McCann hired me straight out of Pratt. They even waited for me to do my Army Reserve (National Guard).

I joined the company in 1960 for the first time, as an assistant art director and was put in the Coca-Cola group. This was quite a good deal for a kid from Brooklyn.
At the time we did mostly magazine ads and outdoor posters, all the art directors, senior and junior had an opportunity to submit ideas, hundreds were done, many submitted and most rejected.
A guy from Coca-Cola Atlanta would walk around the conference room and pick one or two. At that time the slogan was “things go better with Coca-Cola”. Anything from food to emotions went better with Coke.

I get a poster approved," holy S___t", a big deal for me. My boss, a senior art director tells me to pick a photographer and go do it. I go to the art buyer and she recommends some photographers, I pick one, really well known, expensive; I am really into it, the big time, very Madmen.
The shot is a large Coke and a bag of potato chips. No big deal right? Wrong! We have to light the Coke so the highlight in the bottle is just right, the soul of Coca-Cola. The potato chips have to be just right; the cellophane bag must be perfect. All this takes time, money and people; the photographer, two assistants, a stylist, and a food lady. His studio is in a gorgeous brownstone in the upper 60’s. He has a Jaguar, and a garage to boot in pricey midtown New York. Now that was impressive.
During the shoot, picking through hundreds of potato chips to get the perfect ones, lighting the product just so, rejecting cellophane bags, one after the other, moving lights, having the copywriter there as well as the account team, spending a fortune, freaks me out; I suddenly see the lunacy of all of it. The photographer, a great guy tells me that we will talk after the shoot. I get through it but the preposterous situation has really gotten to me.

After everybody leaves, about 8 in the evening, John (photographer) hands me a large whiskey in a crystal glass.

I tell him this is no job for a man, picking perfect potato chips, lighting a soft drink with such fervor, I have got to get out of this.

He then tells me there are only five jobs in the world, that if you do them badly are mortal sins.
If you are a Doctor, Teacher, Priest, Policeman, or a Farmer, you had better be good at it.
All the rest do not really matter, no matter how much or how little Coke we sell it is not a sin, of any kind.

If you are not one of of the five professions, being an art director, or in advertising, “beats parking cars”.

Thanks John, you put it in perspective.

"Son las cucarachas"

We lived in Spain for more than five years; it was in the early 70’s,
We lived in Madrid, and I had responsibility for the Barcelona office as well.

There are many stories about our time there; our youngest daughter was born in Madrid, more about her later.

The McCann office was located at first, in front of the royal park in an oldish building, and that is the reason for this story.

We had a German tobacco company as a client; they made cigarettes that were sold in Spain. In those days, the client did not trust the Spanish market to prepare his artwork. He supplied us with a heavily retouched color print of his pack. It was huge 2ft.X3ft. It was stored in our art room in the basement of the agency, in Madrid.

The client arrived with the distributor and asked to see the artwork, I was in our Barcelona office at the time. The photo is solemnly brought up to them, in our Presidents office. They revealed the artwork and it is all scratched up, with bits missing, naturally hysteria is the order of the day. Clients are going nuts and blaming the Agency for sabotaging the launch. People from the Agency are brought in to explain this disaster.

The Art director says it must be the lack of humidity in Madrid, as opposed to the humidity in Germany, where the photo was retouched.
This is not readily accepted by anybody, but good try Jose.

Next the account team comes up, shuffling of feet, and some even less convincing alibis. The hysteria continues, with threats being made about lawsuits and the loss of this big account.

Finally they call up the production guy, Philippe. He had worked for the Agency for 15 years and had never been to the President’s office
before. He borrows a jacket (Spain was very formal in those days), and timidly goes in to face this calamity. Absolute silence in the room, seething clients, they stare at him and when he is asked what happened to the artwork, he replies, “ son las cucarachas, signor”, it’s the cockroaches sir; they like blue, we always have to retouch the Gillette artwork as well.

Stunned silence, finally the client says to Don Alfredo, the president that the agency will have to pay for it. Don Alfredo draws himself to his full height, considerably less than the German client’s 6ft.3inches, and says, “son nuestras cucarachas, nosotros pagamos”, they’re our cockroaches, we pay.
He was a class guy and I loved him, especially for that answer.

Meanwhile I have been called and I am flying back from Barcelona, to take the clients to dinner and do what I can to smooth this situation over. I go straight to the office and the staff is outside while the offices are being fumigated.

I buy a big Serrano ham and go have dinner with the client, I have no shame and I will schmooze him and give him a ham.

It turns out; he has sympathy for me, for having to work in a country where the Ad agencies have cockroaches. I had a hard time keeping a straight face.

We kept the account. Sympathy and ham, it works every time.

“Son las cucarachas senior” I love it, no place else could you have a client crisis like this.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mom and Pop take a few hours off together

My parents worked at the store, seven days a week, from 9:00 am till 2:00 am every day for 365 days a year. One of them was always at the store.

The store or Magazi, which we always called it, was an ice cream parlor.
It had a long counter on the left side when you walked in with about ten stools. There were stained glass Coca-Cola lamps hanging along the counter (Coke was in my life from an early age). On the right were the candy display cases and the cash register. The cases were full of Pop's hand made candies and some packaged boxes of chocolates, I think Schrafts. In the back were two sides of double booths, maybe twenty in all. In the far back was the kitchen, where Pop made his chocolates. We served soft drinks, ice cream concoctions and sandwiches; the hottest food we served was a grilled cheese sandwich. It had a tile floor made of tiny black and white hexagonal tiles; a nice old-fashioned look, with circular fans and two big display windows at front.

We managed to have dinner at home as a family for a couple of hours pretty much every day, except weekends (much too busy at the store).

Mom would take us on holiday to the Greek hotel in the Catskills, Kallithea for the first week and Pop came the second week to be with us. That was it, two weeks in the summer; this pace went on for years.

The store was the center of our existence. I did my homework there, used it as a base for my friends, kept my Schwinn there, played out front, did my drawings at the first booth, the one the family used. Pop proudly displayed them around the store.

In the evenings during the summer, Pop would go for a swim at about 6 in the evening. He always smoked a cigar. He would swim around the Steeplechase pier with it lit all the way. He had a strange stroke, on his side that kept the cigar in his mouth lit. He called it “his Australian crawl”. When he got to the shore, he would stand on his hands, to keep his feet sand-free and walk on his hands to his clothes.

I have tried it and the cigar always gets wet, and goes out. Forget the walking on your hands to your clothes. I concede that to you Pop, but I will manage the lit cigar.

Many of the Asia Minor Greeks that lived in NY would come out on Sunday. They seemed to have a desire to see the sea; they would sit on the boardwalk and stare at the sea longingly.
They would come to the house later and Mom would have food and drinks for all. She never knew how many would be there, but we never ran out of food Fish, meat, vegetables and every Greek dish you could imagine.

Every now and then, one of their friends would insist that they joined them for a couple of hours on the beach, together, Mom and Pop, a rare occasion. I am still amazed at how hard they worked. I never heard them complain.

I wonder how Pop learned to swim with a lit cigar, where did he find the time.

Try it. It is almost impossible.

Forget the walking on your hands to your clothes,
that is really impossible.

An American friend comes to dinner

Many of my friends came to eat at our house in Coney Island. Since most were the children of immigrants, they never had a problem with the food.
We were “food sophisticates”. Japanese friends, Jewish friends, Italians, Greeks and even Irish kids. We all ate at each other’s house at different times. We ate pretty much anything.

When I attended Pratt, there were kids there from other parts of the States that lived at the dorm. Mom told me to bring some over for a good Greek meal.

These were kids whose parents did not have accents, a rarity where I grew up. These were real American kids from all over the States, Brooklyn was bizarre to them and Coney Island was another planet.

When they came to our house for a meal, taramosalata was just the beginning, with ouzo. Tell a guy from Fort Ticonderoga that it is a dip made out of fish roe and watch the reaction. Never mind the reaction to ouzo. They were very respectful of Mom and bravely struggled through, for them strange things like, tsatsiki and lamb (I could not believe there were people that had never eaten lamb). Even eggplant and okra
…but the killer was Greek coffee, with the grounds half way up the cup.

There was Tom, bravely trying to finish his Greek coffee, right to the bottom, chewing the grounds. He really was a good guest. I had to save him.

What would he make of grilled octopus or sea urchins?

I would love to see Tom now, see how he changed, or maybe he hasn’t.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Hooray! The ears broke

My Father was a candy maker. He made all kinds of chocolates, marzipan dipped in chocolate, nut clusters and hundreds of others. The showcases in the store were filled with them.

The best though were the holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. He had molds and made chocolate Santa’s, Thangsgiving turkeys, Easter eggs, and my favorites, the Easter rabbits. When Pop was making these creations, my friends would come over to watch, and maybe get a piece of chocolate.

The procedure was interesting. We had a wood burning stove with a large copper kettle on top, in a bain-marie sort of thing. The chocolate was melted slowly, and then cooled slightly, before it was poured into the molds. I think they were old German molds, I am sorry I do not have one today.

When the figures were cool and removed from the molds, this was the moment of truth. If they were perfect, Mom and my sisters would decorate them with jelly bean eyes as well as colored cellophane wrappings.

If the figures broke or were not perfect, instead of re-melting the chocolate, which he could, Pop would let us eat them. If the production was perfect, Pop would “accidentally” break one for us to eat.

Disaster was celebrated, “Look, the ears are broken”!

My popularity was partially based on broken rabbits ears.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A trip to Paris, 1945

It is 1945, winter and my Grandmother is dying of cancer in Paris. Mom lived in Paris after they left Turkey, during the population exchange, with her whole family. When she married Pop, she moved to the States, in 1928. She had not seen her Mother since then.

She must go; she takes me with her…a chubby kid from Brooklyn.

We were pretty much the first of the civilians to be allowed to travel for personal reasons. We left on a big troop ship, virtually empty, it would return with thousands of troops on it.

We arrive at Le Havre. Mom has brought a trunk full of cigarettes for her family, it was better than money. I am eight years old; she tells me if the custom guys ask to tell them I smoke. She puts an open pack in my pocket. Nobody asks, at least I do not speak French, so I do not know if they did, or not.

Le Havre is a disaster, there are still German war prisoners working on clearing it up.

My uncle’s, Elias and Vassilis, the tailors, meet us. They were dressed in suits, looking good in spite of the situation. I had seen pictures of them before the war; they still had the spark they showed then. They were happy to see Mom.

The picture above is of them in 1928. Happier days.

The train to Paris leaves later in the evening, so we go to a movie. It's Alan Ladd, in a war movie, dubbed in French, and I am impressed that his French is so good.

When we get out of the movie house, it is dark. We head to the station and board the train to Paris. It is a long, slow, cold ride with sandwiches and sandy chocolate, and very little sleep for me. Mom and my uncles are chatting away.

It takes eight hours to Paris. Paris after the war was not the Paris of today; it was winter, bitter cold and foggy. Very depressing.

The family is all waiting for us; they have not seen my Mom in seventeen years. It is an amazing reunion with presents for them from us. They are so affectionate, so loving that we embrace and kiss, the tears flow.

My memory of my grandmother is horrible, a bump in the bed, she is almost dead. I burst into tears and it colors my whole trip. I am embarrassed that I acted like such a baby, but I was only eight and had never been close to death in anyway.

I meet a bunch of cousins, the war has just ended, and they have had a bad time with all the shortages.
We in America had hardly suffered. I am considered a little odd, cannot ride a bike, French kids are born on one, they teach me. I am not the best student, but they persist, and finally I am riding around the streets of Paris with them. Not quite a French kid, but almost.

We go all over, my aunt Fotini and my uncle’s show us Paris. Mom recalls her old days.

I vaguely remember the places, and years later, visiting Paris with my wife, recall lots of it.

I never spoke to her about my time there. She was amazed and a little suspicious, about my knowledge of Paris. It was a traumatic trip for me and I never spoke about it to anyone before.

I do remember a cousin that became a well-known singer, before his early death in an automobile accident; he would come to my uncle’s house and sing for us, he was great, handsome, full of life. Food, family, music, love and stories, they are Greeks after all.

The cigarettes were put to good use and black market stuff was available. Especially eggs, a real treat at the time.

I remember the trip home 3 months later, on a troop ship, with 5,000 troops and a few civilians, Mom and me.

They were great, the soldiers adopted me, and I sat in on 4-day marathon poker games, as well as getting medals, and a helmet or two.
It was a NY regiment, and they really made me feel special.

It was February, and as we pulled into NY waters, they claimed to be able to read my Fathers shop sign in Coney Island. “Paradise Luncheonette and Ice Cream Parlor”, Mom told them what it said and they convinced me they could read it, “strong binoculars,” they said.

Paris with Mom, not the happiest trip for me, but memorable, when I force myself to remember.

The Yanks are coming

1960’s, London was crawling with American ad guys. The American agencies all decided at the same time that London was an important market. Thank heavens, because we were part of the American invasion.

It seemed wherever you looked there were working class Brits and Americans having a great time, usually on the King’s Road.

Time magazine told us we were in “Swinging London”, and it was.

Color, clothes (mini skirts), Jean Shrimpton’s face everywhere, Mary Quant and the trouser suit, not yet fashionable back home, BiBa’s, innovative, chic, hanging out in Portobello Road, great cars, Italian tratorias, Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding at Rule’s, the King’s Road; Carnaby St. was already old hat, the King’s Road was where it was all happening like Easter Parade on a Saturday morning, breakfast at Claridge’s, Annabel’s where we partied, hair, lots of hair, mostly on men, Hyde Park softball games, American movies being made in England, pubs, booze. It was the English version of Madmen.

The softball games in Hyde Park on Sunday mornings were mostly played by the full crew of the Dirty Dozen and any other movie the Americans were shooting. I remember one afternoon in particular with John Cassavetes at bat when suddenly behind us came a young Cassius Clay looking surprisingly long and lean flanked by a bodyguard and James Brown, the three standing together blocking out the sun, pretty impressive. He caused a bigger stir than the actors.
After the game there was lunch at Mr. Chows in Knightsbridge, where Fellini in signature cape and hat sat with his wife Guiletta Masina and friends, Sir Ralph Richardson spotted nearby as well as James Gardner and his ball playing buddies at another table. We all tried to figure out what that mysterious crispy fried green stuff was. Parsley? It was the hottest place to see and be seen. Italian waiters serving amazing Chinese cuisine; it was different and it caught on fast.

We were having a great time making ads and being in the media spotlight. All of us were making more money than we should. Living this celebrated Swinging London lifestyle.

Our son quickly developed an English accent, “can the chaps come over for tea Mommy”. He was four, now he seems to have developed a John Garfield Brooklyn accent. Do not ask me how? Especially since he spent twenty years of his life in Mexico.

Let’s talk about cars. I had a 304 black Peugeot in the States, and the company moved it over to London for us, it was left hand drive, perfect for England, right?

Sold that for more than I paid for it new, no idea how, I attribute it to sharp marketing, or dumb buyer.

MGB came next, really small for a family, so I got an R type Bentley, silver gray body and iridescent mauve hood, beautiful, like a piece of Art Nouveau, my wife had a Mini Cooper automatic, had to wait 2 months for that.

Cracked the engine block on the Bentley, no anti freeze, and a freezing few days, could not believe it.

Another Bentley followed, then an Alvis convertible, Prince Philip had one, and I am from Brooklyn and make ads. Unbelievable. Only in the 60’s in London.

Friends visited from the States and tried to get Jobs there.

Force 12 that was what they called my partner John Crankshaw and I. We made a powerful team, he was the writer, brilliant, eccentric and I was the art director, our collaborations were fun and successful and we occasionally made some really good ads. For those of you old enough to remember the Quality Street Gang, well that campaign was a big success; even a cab driver told me he liked it. For me that was a big compliment.

Six and a half years of great memories, home leave once a year to NY, holidays in Spain and Greece, film festival in Cannes, weekends in Paris. Our daughter was born in London; we bought a house and restored it.
The company waited till the house was finished and we just moved in and they decide I was needed in Spain.

Nice job NY, good timing.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The table and it's role in Greece

You have had my views on chairs in Greece, now it is the turn of the simple table.

Enter any taverna or cafenio in Greece, and you see neatly arranged square tables with 4 chairs. Seems logical until you realize, that these chairs are not for 4 people, since nobody uses 1 chair per person.

2 people sit down, and immediately pull over 2 more chairs, and get comfortable. Arms, feet and bottoms are settled in, using the extra chairs to accomodate all parts. If it is a taverna, and they start to order, we realize the waiter has dragged another table over, the first one already has cell phones, cigarettes, and worry beads as well as keys spread all over it.
Water, bread and wine quickly, or not so quickly, are brought over. There is no way the first table could have handled all of this.

When the food arrives, starters, dips, toasted bread, salads, all sorts of stuff, the second table starts to groan. A friend stops by for a drink, 2 chairs appear, since he is not staying for a meal, 2 are enough.
I dread to think what is in store for the table when the meal arrives. Another table dragged over?

The lowly square table in Greece, 100 by 100, is probably enough for one person for coffee, water, sugar bowl, personal stuff etc. Never the less, this almost never occurs, lone eating or even drinking coffee alone, never seems to happen.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The chair and the role it plays in a Greek's life

The average chair in Greece, the ones in the tavernas and the cafenia, are very beautiful, but uncomfortable, and unfortunately have no arms. This obliges the average Greek to require at least 2 to 3 chairs for any time he is having a coffee or a meal. One for his bottom, one for his arm, and at least one other for his hat or his feet, (his cell phone is always on the table). About 3 to 4 chairs per person.

Greece has a population of over 10 million people, this means about 40 million chairs approximately to seat the whole country comfortably, and in the style we are used to. We also have about 12 to 15 million visiters a year, another 50 or 60 million chairs for them, assuming they sit like Greeks, and why shouldn’t they? Since we expect more tourists every year, we had better have enough chairs for them, when and if they come. Let’s put that at another 20 million chairs, more or less.

We are now at about 120 million chairs, this does not take into account, the remodeling of tavernas and cafenia. The updating of these establishments, and new ones opening every day, brings the total figure for chairs to new astronomical numbers.

This does not include the chairs in cinemas and churches.

The Greeks have some great statistics of which they can be proud, we have highest percapita consumption of Scotch whiskey (chairs again). We also have the highest number of second houses in the common market, not to mention the highest number of luxury yachts, but none can rival the per capita number of chairs. It must be the highest in the world, and in actual chairs, there can be few countries that can top us. OK, maybe China, but no European country. We have this proud record.

The chair in Greece is not just something to sit on, but is something to rest, lounge, entertain on, to observe, to socialize on, as well as to have something to receive you and your friends. Nowhere else, that I know of, does the chair have such an exalted role. Even the ancients had the need to lounge and seemed to require a large number of chairs and lounges in which to carry on their daily lives. The more things change the more things remain the same.

Long live the Greek chair, and the Greeks who really know how to use them!

A story I wrote that previously appeared on

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pop goes to Paris to marry Mom

My Father left Asia Minor before the catastrophe and was sent to the States by his Father so he would not be conscripted into the Turkish Army.

The Greeks from Asia Minor, once in the army, were put into work battalions, almost a sure death sentence. One of my mother’s brothers had already died in one.

Pop ended up somewhere in New England, around 1917 or so, where he learned to be a candy maker - apprenticed to some relative that came before him.

My Mom remained in Turkey and left when the expulsion of the Greeks started. Fortunately an elder brother of hers, my Uncle Kariofilis, was already in France and a tailor in Marseille. She and her brothers arrived in France in 1922. They moved to Paris and another life, cosmopolitan, chic and exciting. Her brothers, my Uncles Vassilis and Elias, and various other cousins became tailors as well, rather successfully.

She ran the workshop of a respected couturier and was a great seamstress, creative and stylish herself. In time, my sisters and I were to become recipients of her wonderful talent.

Pop went to Paris to marry my mother. They had been betrothed in Mixaniona, their home village in Asia Minor and finally were to be married. The year was 1928.

Pop arrives, a successful Yank, all decked out in his American clothes, he was always a bit of a dandy. I can imagine the outfits. I guess they were a bit flashy, maybe even a little like a movie star gangster. He always smoked cigars, which helped the image. He was pretty proud of his look, my Mother told me.

He arrives, to the horror of the Frenchified Greeks, they are dressed in the latest fashion, all of them being in the business. Pops clothes definitely do not make the cut. These Americans! How can my Mother marry a guy who dresses like that? What will all the other Greeks think?

The wedding, which is eminent, is in danger of embarrassing the whole crowd. These Greeks are more French than the French.
There is a solution; after all, they are all tailors. Viola! Measure Pop and make him a new wardrobe. Mom probably thought of it.

The brothers banded together, their workshops busy throughout several nights to create a completely new French wardrobe and of course “The Wedding Suit”.

I can see Pop, after being measured, sitting in a bathrobe, smoking a cigar, having a coffee or a drink. In his cool, detached, inimitable way, watching the frantic activity caused by his outlandish American outfits, probably laughing inside. He often saw the funny side of things.

Soon, he would be able to go out into Greek Frenchified society.
He wore French made suits ever since; my uncles sent them over, designed, cut, basted, and ready to sew. Mom finished them.

Maybe, just maybe, he wore those American suits on purpose.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Walking the stones of my Grandfather

In 1999, my wife and I along with one of our daughters went to Turkey to search for the village my parents came from, looking for my roots. Their village was on the Peramos peninsula, a mushroom like appendage on the Sea of Marmara. Then the village was called Mixaniona.

The Turkish name now is Charcoucoy (probably misspelled).

We went from Istanbul by private plane to Bursa where we had arranged to be picked up in a Mercedes accompanied by a translator.

We went like ugly Americans, the works, rented planes, a chauffer driven car and I was even wearing a white suit.

We arrived at the village and stopped at the coffee shop. No women. My wife and daughter waited outside. Very polite but suspicious patrons directed us to the house of an old man.

The present inhabitants of the village were Muslims from Northern Greece who had come there during the exchange of populations in 1923, after the original inhabitants, the Greeks, had been moved out.

The old man was a child when they arrived at this village. He was told of us by his son and was led out of his house by his granddaughter. Old, frail and in his 90’s he appeared eager, curious, as he approached us.

After his son explained who we were, he apologized for his lack of Greek and told me through our translator that his parents only spoke Greek, and he had forgotten his.

He took my hands in his and kissed them in greeting and said “Welcome to your village, Effendi, I am sorry we did not take care of it as we found it”. Truly, it was amazing, and touching. The hairs still rise on the back of my arms after that greeting.

He led us around and showed us where the Greek houses used to be, as well as the Greek bakery and the Church. He then took us to the Turkish bakery where the baker, a woman, offered us freshly baked bread from a large round loaf. She wanted to share it with us even though there were not many loaves. We couldn’t refuse her as she brought it out of her shop into the street for us.

All this time a large group of women in ethnic dress had slowly, quietly begun to join us. They formed a colorful semi-circle behind us and were fascinated by my wife and daughter and of course my white suit. It was obvious this village didn’t get many visitors from the outside.

We strolled around the village with him holding on to my arm. We walked towards the seashore where the fishing boats were. He then disengaged from me and gestured for me to walk alone by the sea and said, ”Everyman should walk the stones of his Grandfather”.

I am still amazed by his gentleness and sensitivity, a truly elegant man.

As I looked at the poverty of that village, I thought how unfortunate and yet how lucky my parents were to get out of there.

What would I have become if they’d remained? God knows.

It was a trip I will remember forever. The kindness and wisdom of that old Turk, who had been born in Greece, that welcomed us so warmly.

If you haven’t “walked the stones of your Grandfather” as yet, you should.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mustaches in Chicago

We were living in Chicago, between ‘63 and ’65.

It was a great city, we enjoyed it after NY, no mother and no mother- in -law. We did not have to decide which house we went to on Friday and Saturday. We were freer than we had been.

I was an art director in McCann’s Chicago. We had a great apartment, overlooking the playboy mansion. Binoculars were used frequently, the bunnys sunned on the roof. Ah, Chicago.

I had been offered a job in London, that was when Pop asked, “couldn’t find a job in America?”

My wife was pregnant with our first child, I was going back and forth between Chicago and London…a little crazy.

Paul, our son was born on April 20th in Chicago.

I had a mustache at the time and it was pretty rare in those days.

The office gave me a final going away party, and everyone wore a fake mustache, they even got a picture of the new born, you guessed it, a mustache for the kid.

I did one of my favorite ads there.

Marshall Fields, the department store, ran a campaign in the New Yorker. We did a toy ad to run at Christmas, it was a Teddy bear with a tear in it’s eye, on a black background. The headline was “every toy should have a child” I loved that ad.

Chicago was really good for us, a great city, made good friends, did some good work, got offered my job in London, overlooked the playboy mansion, took our first trip to Greece, and had a son.

Thank you windy city.

London, with a 30 day old baby. What insanity. My wife is a saint, more about that later.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dogs behind the screen

Easter this year, is slightly insane. Americans, Greeks, Albanians, Brits, Persians and French all got together to celebrate the ressurrection.

We are roasting , lamb and goat as well as chicken and the traditional kokoretsi. There are 3 grills going strong and 7 guys working them, there is no common language, common gestures yes, common language, no. There is a common goal. The fires started at 9:30 this morning, various recipes are being argued, in no common language. The drinks are flowing, wine, beer, ouzo, and some other mysterious stuff. They seem to have found a common language.

The women are in the house making all the food and desserts to accompany the meats. A variety of vegetable dishes, and desserts that range from apple pie to all sorts of middle eastern favorites.

As the lamb gets done, the roasters try it as a meze, little pieces are cut off and offered around, after all there are 7 of them.
One very delapitated lamb is left, thank heavens we still have the goat.

At 3 in the afternoon, we are ready to eat, the serving table groans, we will all soon be groaning. Everything is wonderful, somebody forgot the potatoes and the tzatziki inside. Nobody notices.

The dogs are inside, watching through the screen door, they will get some later, in spite of my daughter's complaints.

Easter in Greece, a view of the sea, friends and family, roasting lamb, wine, food, music. The cries of Xristos Anesti from the next door house, the cracking of the eggs, the text messages on your phone that started at midnight wishing you a happy Easter, a true celebration.

I cannot imagine anything much better, except maybe an Alka Seltzer, and a nice long nap.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

more things Pop said

When I was getting married, my wife to be prepared a dinner for my family to meet hers. It was the engagement party. My godparents came with the ring and an icon, my parents, my sisters and who knows who else. Her parents, grandmother, brother, aunt as well as a bunch of people were already there. A very big deal.

My wife’s parents were much younger than mine and her Mom was very beautiful. Pop’s first line when we arrive, was “Which one is yours?”

My poor wife had to prepare the meal, it was a test. Typical if you are Greek or from that part of the world. She actually had done it all.

Pop was the patriarch of the group, best chair, first drink, etc.

My wife had made dolmades. Grape vine leaves wrapped around rice, meat and spices. The leaves are packed in brine and have to be washed very well to get rid of the salt. She rinsed them lightly and prepared the dish. Her Dad, who was a chef, thought she rinsed them too well and had forgotten to add salt. He did.

My father is proudly served the dolmades first, since he was who he was, the patriarch. He takes a bite and put the dolma down. The whole room is looking at him expectantly. What is the verdict, will his son have a proper wife that can cook?

He looks up and says “The bride is very beautiful,” and refuses to eat the rest of the night. My wife is a great cook and she is very beautiful.

Look for something good to say, even if the dolmades are salty as hell.

Signs of love in an art supply store

I met my wife in foundation year at Pratt Institute. She was a beautiful, serene girl, looking artsy, but sophisticated. She sat a few tables away from me. She seemed aloof and wouldn’t talk to anybody; little did I know she was nearsighted.

I was really interested, but she was shy. I assumed she was involved. Over the next year or so, we chatted and she was part of a group of us that spent time at the Student Union.

Never asked her out.

I worked at Charlie’s Art Supply store, mornings and afternoons. I was smooth and the way I knew how to make a pass at this girl was to charge lower prices for her expensive choice of oil-based paint, based on the cheaper colors. It was getting her attention, charge for a small canvas when she gets a bigger one. I was moving in for the kill, or at least a date.

One day in the Student Union, one of the guys was coming on strong and insisting she go to the dance with him. I swaggered over and said to him, she cannot go with you, she is going with me and agreed the day before.
He backed off, and I gave her the option of going with me or not, since I knew he was getting her upset.
She turned to me and said she would go with me and was waiting for me to ask her out for the past year.

All my smooth moves in the art supply store, charging lower prices for paint; alizarin crimson for the price of white…were not needed, or were they what made me irresistible.

I will never really know in spite of what she tells me.

If you go to art school, get a job in the art supply store; it is great for picking up girls, as long as you can charge expensive colors with cheap color prices.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter in Greece #1

Our first trip to Greece was in 1964 when we went to visit my father’s sister and my cousins in Edipsos, Evia. My grandfather ended up there after they came from Asia Minor, obviously not by choice. We arrived the week before Easter, intending to stay a couple of days.
We had a rather ambitious travel plan and not much time. Naturally we were pressured into staying longer, at least until Easter.
We did not have many clothes with us as we had only planned to stay for a couple of days and had left everything at my Aunt’s house in Athens.
Friday we went to church and Saturday night we planned to go to church. I only had some casual clothes, and for Saturday I needed a suit. My aunt came up with one of mine that my mother had sent. At that time, 1960s, we in the States sent over clothes and other things to our relatives in Greece, every Greek American did it, so my suit was not that much of a surprise, even though I had looked for it at home before we left.
Mama was too fast for me and she got it, and sent it, probably since I hadn’t worn it for a while.
My wife, Jeannine, had enough clothes with her. Women pack more than men. So far, no great surprise.
We get to the church and Jeannine notices and recognizes lots of outfits, my sister’s, my mother’s, even my father’s suit. She even recognized an outfit that my sister had worn about a month ago. It seems that all the stuff my mother had been sending, was worn proudly and well, and put to good use. Everybody in town seemed to be wearing very familiar clothes.
My favorite pink and white shirt was on the Mayor. I looked for it before we left the States, but Mama was too fast for me again.
Naturally we felt even more at home. We met family for the first time and felt reassured by being surrounded by our clothes from the States. To this day whenever and if we go to church, I always see if I can recognize any of the outfits, but those days are gone forever. 

Greece, will always remind me of our first holiday, when we truly felt at home and discovered some of our roots.
Although, seeing your family’s clothes 3000 miles from home is a unique experience.

Lambadas on the subway

As a kid in Brooklyn, Easter and holy week were pretty important and the services were very impressive.
Whenever friends, who were not Greek Orthodox came, they found the services amazing.

Getting the holy flame home after midnight mass was a bitch. None of the Greeks from Coney Island, then, had cars.

Transport was the subway. The church was off of Kings Highway, that stop was at least 6 to 7 stops from Stillwell Ave., Coney Island. Our stop.

Getting on the train with a flaming lambada, usually with 10 other Greeks all with their lambadas, was not easy.

Not too many subway employees were Greek, so we could not use connections. We used distraction, pleading, some even attempted to hide a flaming 2 foot candle under their coats. Somehow enough of us got on the train with lit lambadas, so everybody relit theirs and we hoped no subway cop would show up, chances of them being Greek were nil.

We usually made it to Coney Island with lambadas blazing. Next, the 3 block walk home, at 2 am. with the wind from the ocean blowing like crazy, was the hardest part. No miracles to still the wind, or even 10 minutes of calm, till we made it home.

I usually made it home and the flame was kept burning for 40 days in the iconostasio at home.

Now, after 60+ years, I have a confession to make. When I did not make it and the candle blew out, I relit it with a match. I am not sure if it is a mortal sin or even a regular sin.
Nothing disastrous ever seemed to happen.

Sorry Momma.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The wonders of Greece

This will be an ongoing series.

Went to get new tires for my Lexus SUV. Local dealer convinced me to get tires made in Finland, great for rain, snow, etc.
When they come, we check them and they are made in Russia. I jokingly say it must be on the border between Finland and Russia.
He calls the distributer who tells us it is on the border, but most of the factory is in Finland.

Being in advertising all my life I have to admire the rationale.

Love it, the wonders of Greece, and Greeks.

Things Pop said

My Father had a unique way of seeing things. His comments were funny and very perceptive, basically one liners.

A waiter that worked for us at the store asked Pop for a raise. Pop asked how much he made in tips at his tables. The waiter told him that he made $27 in tips, Pop looked at him and said that he was fired, and to leave right away. I was shocked and asked Pop why? He said your sisters work those tables and make $38 in tips and Mom made $42 on the same tables. He is either a bad waiter or a liar, either way we do not want him here. Fast, sharp and too the point.

Another time, the world series was on, it was 3 games all, the door to the store was open and the radio was on. For some unknown reason Pop was a Pittsburgh fan, I never found out why. They were playing in the series, God knows how they made it (Google it and let me know the year).
A guy comes running in to the store, very excited and asks Pop, who was winning. Pop removed his cigar from his mouth and sadly said "the other team", the guy ran out shattered. I asked Pop if he knew the guy, he said he never saw him before. How could you tell him that, Pop said it is only a game, and he shouldn't take it so seriously.
Sad but very funny, "the other team", love it.

Years later I showed my father one of my first ads. He looked at it and since it was a photo, he knew I hadn't drawn it. Did you take the photo, he asked, no I said it was my concept, my layout, no, I didn't write the copy...he asked me what they were paying me, $200 a week I said (pretty good money then) he paused, looked at me and said "do not tell anyone".

He managed to put things in perspective, always.

His comment when I told him I was transfered to London, great job, lots of money, a directorship, all the perks, I was really excited and pretty much full of myself. He looked at me and said "couldn't get a job in America?" People came from all over the world to work in America, and his son could not get a job in America.

God, he saw things in a flash, straight to the point.