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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Anchors Away

Have I mentioned how much I love Starbucks?

Some rail on them for the bitterness of their coffee, others for their (alleged) political ties. Personally, I think they just love money. But my love of Starbucks extends beyond the superficial coffee beans and scones. Starbucks is loved in the Media Guy’s house for two simple reasons: 1) They don’t spend a dollar on advertising and 2) It’s a great muse on a weekday to write a column or review the latest news from Adweek and Ad Age online.

It’s all good until someone crosses the line. Flashback to last Thursday.

There I am writing a hunk of this blog while “on assignment” at a local Starbucks near the agency at 4:00p. It was nearly standing room only (“What? Are they giving away the stuff?”) and after whipping out the laptop, three people caught my attention.

1) The glazed over mom staring endlessly into the parking lot while her twin daughters were getting amped on fully-caffeinated mocha Frappuccinos®; I couldn’t help thinking she was mirroring Diane Lane in “Unfaithful” imagining her French lover in some Downtown L.A. romp.

2) The beaten down thirtysomething Nordstroms shoe salesman. (How did I know he was a Nordstrom’s shoe salesman? Well, Dave still had his name tag on and his $550 Prada dress shoes where in direct contrast to his $199 JCPenney’s Billy London suit.) He was on Facebook with his music playing just loud enough to be noticed while playing Mafia Wars and humming the Godfather theme endlessly. All I could think of was how bad is your life/apartment/girlfriend/wife that you say “screw this, I just finished a six hour shift smelling men’s toe-cheese socks but I can’t stand it at home so I’m going to hang at Starbucks and play Mafia Wars?”

3) Of course 10 minutes into my Venti Christmas Blend I had to go to the bathroom. Just as I made my move towards the unisex restroom, a guy with a rolled up magazine cut-in and proceeded to drop anchor for the next 20, all the while setting the restroom line back 12 people as if there was a rush hour traffic jam on the 405 freeway. Trust me, that’s bad math and I wasn’t going to be the first one in there after anchors away.

In the midst of the restroom logjam, er, traffic jam, I wondered what that guy could have possibly eaten to get him in this mess. I mean a few sessions with Vern’s three-a-day workout system would get things flowing. As I sank into the inner depths of my introspection, I was lost in the random questions and events around the office last week...things like holiday parties, eight days of Hanukkah vs. one day of Christmas, how Gatorade discovered women’s bowling, and if Angelina Jolie really subscribed to my blog recently.

Holiday parties

Lindsay, Paris and Britney can rip through the velvet ropes and still get starring roles in movies, perfume commercials and remain the darlings of the wannabe socialites. On the other hand, those of us (you) in the non-jetset crowd need to behave at the annual holiday party and not pretend we’re in South Florida the weekend before the Super Bowl. Mind-numbing hangovers and getting fired cannot be options. All of this applies unless you work at an ad agency.

I have worked for several agencies that throw sumptuous parties, replete with open bars, limo rides and bans on significant others. Take last weekend’s party in Hollywood at the Geisha House. I should have known that the red glow of opaque neon from behind the bar should have been flashing “DON’T DRINK THE VODKA MARTINIS”; needless to say, most in attendance blew past that stop sign pretty fast.

For me vodka martinis either lead to bisexual women sitting on my lap or making an embarrassing speech at 11:00p in front of the team. Like, for example, in 1999 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire where I was a last minute substitution as a junior executive for the 'state of the union' speech.

So there I am in front of quite a few people. Hell, I looked like Dean Martin at a roast with a drink in the left hand and cigar and microphone in the other. I don't remember what I was supposed to announce, but the first thing out of my mouth was a slurred “F*** you all.” Followed by “90 per cent of you have treated me like s*** this year. And to top it off, Martin and Brenda started sleeping together on October 17th. Happy Anniversary!"

Luckily, by the end of it the big bosses were laughing hysterically thinking it was a parody of sorts. And, since they were laughing, everyone else joined in the fun. I successfully avoided the dreaded Monday-After Walk of Shame by the kind hands of the Holiday Party Gods…as for the bisexual party crasher that wound up on my lap at one a.m.? Did she know the route? Are you kidding me? She wrote the route.

Eight days of Hanukkah vs. one day of Christmas

Christmas vs. Hanukkah. It’s not exactly Ali-Frasier or Leonard-Duran in the Clash of Titans.

However, for as long as it has been Torah vs. Testament (and whatever variations that have spun off along the way) these two religious and culturally iconic holidays have competed for top-shelf glory.

Personally, I don’t care who wins the battle. I say “can’t we all get along?” All I care about is who advertises during the busiest shopping season in the world and what will be left of ad inventory. So let’s go to the tale of the tape.

Christmas commemorates the birth of a divine religious leader widely worshipped by one of the largest faiths in the world.

Hanukkah honors one of the rare times the Jewish people managed not to get totally decimated by a non-fan, (this time the Greeks), and as a windfall the Macabees tripped upon a magic candle that burned for an undoubtedly curious, yet not headliner worthy, eight days.

Christmas has given birth to an enormously lucrative subculture of holiday cheer, blockbuster films and the enchanted world of good ole Kris Kringle. Hanukkah? Uh, let’s move on.

On Christmas Eve children and adults alike hang stockings by the chimney with care in hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there. On Hanukkah eve, they are still fighting about candles and how much aluminum foil is necessary to catch the wax.

This is getting depressing. So I think it is time we all come to terms with the tale of the tape and invite everyone for one huge holiday party! Even those stuck with Kwanzaa. Happy holidays and let’s all get along.

Gatorade discovers women’s bowling...

Charlie Harper shirts, beer, cigarettes and Chris Schenkel. That's what bowling means to me. Of course bowling is hotter now with Rock n’ Roll Friday Nights and even the CEO of Lucky Strike warranted a whole show on Undercover Boss. There’s a new sheriff in town and he’s courting hot chicks with Gatorade poised to take advantage of the trend tagging itself "The official thirst quencher of bowling's U.S. Women's Open." With a 12 per cent rise in bowlers, up to 24 million people, it seems like a good choice. I better dust off my balls.

Did Angelina grace my blog?

I’ve arrived. Haven’t I? There I was checking the stats and followers of the Media Guy blog and there she was. A picture of loveliness, oozing with sexiness from my list of followers. It even listed her as “A Jolie”. Could it really be true? I don’t know, but with the line growing longer at the Starbucks restroom, I’m sure happy for this distraction.

With those random thoughts, Mr. Considerate emerged from the restroom oblivious to the destruction he inflicted on countless bladders. I think it’s time that coffee houses start hiring coolers to keep the patrons in line. You play loud music—hit the bricks. You shout into your cell phone—you’re outta here. You can't act like your $4 latte is rent for your afternoon spot. I say we need a huge guy like Ving Rhames in Pulp Fiction or a martial arts expert in disguise like Patrick Swayze in Road House to patrol the seating area in their green mermaid vests.

This could work. I’m convinced.
Media Guy Out.