It only took three years, but my movie "Black Hand" is set to premiere in South Korea. The thriller I penned (and was later translated by the great Byeon Hye-joo) has a wonderful cast including Han Go-eun who goes a bit haywire after her new hand she had surgically attached provides some eerie drama. Not for the weak of heart. Maybe a Grand Bell Award (aka Daejong Film Award) is in my future.
Okay, so where am I?
There is no truth to the rumor I am in South Korea attending the premiere of Black Hand. AND, I may or may not be in working on my next pieces of advertising so that my next Emmy submissions are top notch.
What I can tell you is that I may have detoured through Pamplona, Spain for the running of the bulls, aka the Las Fiestas de San Fermin. There's something you feel in the soul when you hear the rustling of the crowd eager to soak in the testosterone cloud emitted from the raging bulls. You feel an aura around you, as if you were part of the herd. A day in Pamplona does nothing but help you on your journey towards inner chi.
Those that know me will know that I've long said to my best buddy Charles that we are simply on a vision quest...just trying to find a place in the circle. The running is definitely part of the grand quest. It's also one of the world's most dangerous spectacles (and also one of the true parties left on this planet). To succeed you must avoid being gored. You must also be three things: Cautious. Sober. Fast.
THE VIRGIN RUN
I remember my first run. I was shut out the previous time I went because I was in advertising executive mode -- at the hotel await my continental breakfast and a ride the run. That was definitely not a recipe for success. I couldn't even get close enough to take a picture of the bulls let alone run with them. The next time was different. I decided to stay up all night and be in prime position near the arena. I nodded off in a restaurant doorway only to be shoo'ed away by the local police and general treated like a vagabond. I mean do they who I am?
I jokingly thought I was a kinda of big deal, ala Ron Burgundy. I learned pretty quick that the bulls are the only big deal in Pamplona. In my 3am haze, I staggered to the Hemingway statue.
Hemingway Aside #2: His work was the fodder of inspiration. Do you remember the books we were assigned to read? The Count of Monte Cristo, the Three Musketeers and the like? Yawnsville. Hemingway’s work was relatable and adventurous: old fishermen and soldiers and street fighters. You wanted to write like him. And you did, until you found your own style. He once wrote, “There is nothing better than to be shot at and missed.” What could sum up a grand adventure better than that?!
Yet I digress…
The police line came from nowhere, reminiscent of a swarm of locust striking some unsuspecting farmer's crops. The line closed in and pushed everyone up the street and through the first barricade on the first intersection on Estafeta. Everyone scattered from down side streets, through alleys and around building. I was already tired and I hadn't seen a bull yet. My chest ached and then I heard the beacon of hope: the loudspeakers blaring something in multiple languages. I followed the voice like those hypnotized Eloi as they moved towards the Morlock's underground horror pit in The Time Machine.
All at once I was trapped in a sea of humanity. The body-to-body pressure was crushing and it ebbed and flowed in unison with our collective breathing. Dawn had turned into 7:45a and the loudspeaker finally started screaming in English, which turned out to be more startling than the suffocating crowd:
“Bull runners are in danger of great bodily harm—if you fall down, stay down.”This only charged the crowd as the murmur turned into a roar of great proportions. It took a few moments until the police line broke free and we unraveled up the street. I moved to to La Curva, aka the curve, aka Dead Man’s Corner, aka Hamburger Wall. This was THE SPOT. This is where the herd crashes every morning. The media and photographers hang here, protected from the police with the media badges. My international press card came in handy here as I flashed it liberally to avoid being moved yet again.
The ground began to quake as a the galloping murmur of hooves grew to rumble. The mass of runners poured around the curve dressed in white with red scarves. It was dense and carries a certain stench of sweat and fear. This group was united in terror and each second seemed like hours. Time was grinding to halt and then, it simply froze.
Two lives saved.
One grand story.
Viva los toros!
AD OF THE WEEK/MONTH/WHATEVER
M&M's Tainted Love Spot
"Our latest commercial shows how irresistible M&M's really are in a way that's part comedy, and part soap opera," says BBDO VP of Marketing Berta de Pablos-Barbier. "We think viewers will have fun with all the twists and turns, and see how it's even more fun to share M&M'S Chocolate Candies versus keeping them all for yourself."
Fittingly, the 80's classic "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell closes out the spot.
I couldn't resist sharing this from London's Madame Toussauds - Helen Mirren checking herself out at this week's press conference. Classic!
RIP Roddy Piper
He ruled the squared circle as one of it's greatest non-champions. He didn't need a belt to prove his worth. We was the king of the interview and knew how to hit people over the head with a coconut. He taught me how to think on my feet and pour out words in great volume while captivating a room. He is the king of the soliloquy. Long live the king...you will be missed.