Saturday, July 28, 2012

‘’No way, that raise is much too much’’.

I started at McCann in 1960 as an assistant art director, straight out of Pratt, with a salary of 5,000 dollars a year, it was a good beginners salary, I was in a big agency and the future seemed great.

I was lucky to work on some great accounts with terrific people, the agency was set up with art groups, this was before art directors working direct with writers. I used to work with a writer on the sly; he would show his work with layouts and my ads all had copy, not just the visual, we were a little ahead of the time, at least at McCann.

There was lots of overtime and super money, basically I did pretty good, money wise…I took the subway home to Coney Island and charged for a cab (suggested by my boss).

Sometime in1961 I get a raise, I then made 7,000, with a higher rate of overtime and expenses, and I am making closer to 12 grand a year. When I told my father what I earned and what I did, he said,” shh, do not tell anybody” It was good money then. Try explaining to a Greek candy maker what an art director does.

At a base salary of 10,000 dollars the overtime stopped.

I was doing some good ads and had bosses that were generous with their praise, the upstairs took notice and I was summoned to some 30 something floor one evening. Big offices no cubicles, each guy had a secretary, drinks, cigars, mad men stuff. The executive Creative Director calls me into his office, the last time he did it was because I was cursing out a client, to myself, at 10 pm. This time he tells me I have a terrific raise, 10,700 a year. He is making out like it was a big deal. I would lose money if I took that raise. I told him I would accept a raise of 9,800 a year.

He now thinks I am crazy, I curse in the hallways and reject raises or negotiate them down.

I had done the math, 9,800 would make over 15,000 with the overtime, and no way was I taking 10,700. Overtime was necessary even if you didn’t get paid for it, it was a competitive world, and everybody was working all hours. Under 10 grand and you got paid overtime, over 10; you did the overtime but didn’t get paid.

I tried to ask for a bigger raise or a lower one…he just thought I was nuts.

He finally gave me the raise that got me off overtime…maybe that is what he was after all along.

Soon after that I left McCann with a McCann guy to work at the Ladies Home Journal, interesting time, great experience, some funny stories, tough women editors, no overtime. I’ll tell you about it sometime.

 The last overtime check I ever got was the McCann one.

I never turned down a raise or tried to negotiate it down, up yes, down no.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A flask…in Greece?

A flask to me, having lived in the UK and seen movies about prohibition, has always seemed a little sinister and sneaky and secret.
A flask seemed to represent a means of getting a drink when it was illegal or unavailable in some way, pub hours for example. Flasks also seemed to be filled with Gin, in my imagination, or Canadian whiskey, especially in gangster movies.

I have never seen a flask in Mexico, Italy, or Spain…booze was always readily available.

Greece seems like the last place in the world for a flask, people carry bottles openly and drinks are available pretty much anywhere. The flask seems to represent a certain amount of secrecy, I am sure users would call it convenient,
nevertheless to me it does have this slightly dark underside…even though I own a few.

All of this is to explain the surprise I had when I saw one and in use.

I was with friends having some tsipouro and some ouzo with a bunch of snacks (mezedes), Greek salad, octopus, marinated fish, all the typical stuff. A friend arrived and he slyly pulled out a beautiful silver flask from his pocket.
Everybody stopped talking and eating and watched this odd behavior. Was he bringing his own homemade tsipouro, or did he decide a gin and tonic was in order. He opened the flask and dramatically poured the contents over the marinated fish and the salad…what the hell was going on? Gin on the tomatoes? Gin marinated fish?

It was his own olive oil; he claimed that the owner of the restaurant was too cheap to put enough olive oil on the mezedes. Everybody thanked him since there was never enough oil on the mezedes, the bread started to be dipped and glasses where clinked, even the owner joined us and made snide comments on the oil.

Seemed like a novel use of a flask, cannot imagine it done in the UK or in a gangster movie.

I wonder how the salad and fish would have been with gin on them?