Saturday, April 16, 2011

" Honest Boss, it is important to go to Cannes, for the work!”

The first time I went to Cannes for the ad festival was in 1966 or ’67.

A good friend, Lew, a photographer living in London, came over one evening and asked Jeannine, “ Can Greg come out and play,” Jeannine said of course and then he asked, “ For six days?”

You have to understand how insane the request was, since we had our son who was only about 18 months old.

Jeannine was amazing and said yes when she found out it was for the Cannes festival. Most people think it is good professionally.

This is the time of year most ad guys are trying to convince their boss that going to Cannes is essential for the work. OK, to some extent it is, you meet people, see lots of ads…and some of them are even good, not many, but some are great.

We drove down in an MGB, two big guys in a tiny car with a spanakopita Jeannine made for us for the trip.
She continued being amazing, even though she would be alone for a week with our baby…she is an Albanian Saint and a great cook.

The trip was long, cramped and boring, big Citroens were passing us when we were doing 90 as if we were parked. These huge French cars seemed to be full of people looking very comfortable smoking cigars…or at least that is how I remembered it. I started to plot how I could avoid going back in that mini car. I could fly out of Nice, anything to avoid that tiny car and the disgrace of being passed by everything, even French tractors.

We get to Cannes, amazing place…on the sea, just like Coney Island and there the similarity ends. The south of France, amazing villages with great restaurants, wonderful hotels, the views are incredible.

God makes these incredible places and for some reason populates them with creeps.

We went to Saint-Paul de Vence for lunch one day at this incredible restaurant Colombe d’ Or, owned by Yves Montand and his wife Simone Signoret…and they were there, I am a kid from Brooklyn and Lew ain’t much better…unbelievable. I could not imagine that such places existed.

Monte Carlo casino was the same night…we gambled and Lew actually won, about 250 bucks. He cashes in his chips and asks for a bodyguard to walk us to his car, no wonder the folks there are such creeps, they have to deal with the likes of us. We get to the MGB, stashed behind every fantastic car in the world and we crawl out of Monte Carlo, having trouble going up the steep hill to get out of town.

During all these experiences vast amounts of wine was drunk and we were probably a bit drunk ourselves, most of the time.

The next morning we see some locals playing bowls, patonk, I think it is called there. We start a game ourselves when the locals leave, there are four of us, all loud mouthed Americans, we must look local since we are wearing French sailor shirts and wearing espadrilles.

A guide with some tourists pulls up and begins to describe this very local game to them,
at this stage Lew says in a loud voice, with a NY accent, to me,
” Come on shithead it is your turn.” Naturally the guide and the tourists take off.

You may be curious about the ads we saw…I do not remember any ads I saw that time in Cannes, but Cannes was great and so was the South of France. If the festival was in Finland or someplace like that I probably would have seen all the work.

I have been to Cannes other times and have seen the work, and actually learned something. It was never like the first time, with a good friend in a remarkable place doing and seeing remarkable things.

Next time I will tell you about the lesbian bar in Haute-de-Cagnes.

If we had only done it in a comfortable car it would have been even better.


  1. Great story Greg. You have had a full life and more to come. You're a lucky guy.

    It's not that often that life rewards the good people. I'm glad you and Jeannine were two of them.

    Keep blogging.

  2. A photo of you and Lew playing Patonk would be good...

  3. Unfortunately it does not exist, I wish I had one, also us in that tiny car would be fun.

  4. I opened the door that afternoon with Paul in my arms confronted by Greg and Lew with sheepish grins on their faces, like two 10 year old buddies. It really was charming, besides why shouldn't they go off together, what an opportunity, after all it was Cannes and the Film Festival and they returned with lots of tales to tell....