Service of Unexpected Consequences

December 1st, 2016

Categories: Automobiles, Consequences, Noise, Politicians, Unexpected Consequences


Many of my posts have to do with the impact of decisions. A colleague mentioned some New Jersey citizens’ regret about voting for Chris Christie for Governor. They’d done so not because they thought he was the best candidate but because an opponent had made fun of his weight and they felt sorry for him. They then had to live with their choice based on irrelevant considerations.

RealityI wonder about people who voted for the president elect and are counting on him to bring them jobs, protect them from foreign invaders and lower the cost of their health insurance. Are they braced for reality? And what about those in the UK who voted for Brexit—did they think through the potential impact of their actions on themselves?

Does anyone suffer consequences after trashing a political opponent? Not here and not these days. Neither do past candidates and other political figures flinch before dashing to shake the hand of a person they once censured and deplored.

electric carPoliticians aren’t the only ones going in one direction who must change course. Auto manufacturers have worked hard to make engines speak in whispers to quell noise pollution. But their success led to another challenge which Andrew J. Hawkins covered in “Electric Cars are now required to make noise at low speeds so they don’t sneak up and kill us.” This new US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rule applies also to hybrid-fuel cars, to “prevent these vehicles from injuring pedestrians, especially people who are blind or are visually impaired,” he wrote in The Verge.

Have you ever voted for someone for extraneous reasons—such as you both share the same religion or background—or because you fell for what the candidate promised and were misled? Do you think that auto manufacturers, who were trying to do good by reducing potential noise, are surprised that now they must ramp up engine racket? Have you made decisions only to be surprised by the subsequent repercussions?

Change direction 2

Service of Behind the Scenes

November 28th, 2016

Categories: Be Prepared, Behind the scenes, Television

Meteorologist Vanessa Murdock

Meteorologist Vanessa Murdock

Years ago I represented a company that provided home care and I read a lot of material about nursing. One study about hospital staffing in the day found that during an emergency, nurses in an overstaffed institution couldn’t rise to the occasion because the sluggish pace they were used to worked against them; if too bare bones they couldn’t stretch anymore to confront a crisis effectively but staffed to perform at a brisk pace, they could step up seamlessly.

I often think of this when I attend a successful event or watch a live TV news program both of which have many parts. Here are two examples of perfect staffing and behind the scenes planning and timing.

My clients Joanna and Richard Rothbard, American Art Marketing, juggle relentless periods of monthly craft fairs–September through December–involving hundreds of individual exhibitors each with special requests and requirements for space, lighting and help with moving in and out of a venue for starters. [And this is only one of their several businesses.]

Prima donnas are universal. They cause distractions that need attending to as do electricBehind scenes papers with prices glitches and arguments between exhibitor neighbors. I was at a reception desk at the recent craft show at Brooklyn Museum on the second morning when an exhibitor arrived with a hand truck stacked with boxes filled with product. She was barking orders at the air in our general direction demanding help to carry them to her booth without a please or thank you or regard for the fact that each person there had other assignments. A staffer emerged and took over the chore with a smile. The exhibitor never came back to return the hand truck to where she borrowed it from museum personnel and yet the eyesore disappeared.

I wonder, in the second example, if anyone thinks of all that goes on behind the scenes to deliver a flawless newscast? The process is like a well orchestrated dance. And although split-second timing is crucial, the crew and anchors at CBS 2 News Saturday Morning recently appeared composed in spite of the hour–6 a.m.–and the fact that their jobs are never the same two days in a row.

Andrea Grymes, left, Cindy Hsu right and Richard Rothbard far rightNevertheless the calm in the studio the morning we were there for a show and tell of what visitors to the craft show would see later that day was palpable. Andrea Grymes [left, in red] and Cindy Hsu [right] took time to introduce themselves to us before settling in. Before they’d arrived on the set, the crew had already helped the Rothbards [photo below, right] set up the jewelry, fashion accessories, decorative items and sculpture they’d chosen to give the audience a taste of what was for sale that weekend in the Museum’s handsome Beaux-Arts Court. I had made slips of paper with an image of each item, the name of the artisan and price which we pinned to the tablecloth. Richard didn’t need this crutch, but my philosophy is to anticipate any contingency I’d appreciate–such as finding a blank when fishing for a name or fact when under pressure.

Pulling the strings was the producer, Kizzie Pegues, who began prepping American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn Museum co-producers Joanna and Richard Rothbardfor the special segments in the show long before the day. She’d woven in video to bring additional visual impact to the American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn Museum segment. She was so much behind the scenes that we didn’t see her on the set. The set director called countdowns like mini rocket takeoffs to ensure picture perfect transitions between taped and live segments and the camera operator manipulated a giant piece of equipment with the ease of a child’s toy and the precision of a brain surgeon.

I’ve directed events for clients and the associations I belong to so I appreciate the work of these experts. On a far smaller scale, I like being a guest at my own dinner parties which also takes advance work. Have you been a witness or part of projects where what goes on behind the scenes is crucial to the outcome? Are there exceptions where what happens behind the scenes is irrelevant?Dinner table Thanksgiving turned

Service of Neighborhood Characters

November 21st, 2016

Categories: Neighbors, New York City

Neighbor image for post 1 turned I’ve lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn much of my life and I’ve always noticed at least one mystery character in every neighborhood.

It’s no different today.

Nightly I walk home from the office on the west side of Second Avenue. There’s a stretch of restaurants with outdoor seating between 50th and 51st. All summer I noticed an elderly woman at the same spot, either working on a crossword puzzle or hunched over her mobile phone as she is in the photos above and below. There’s a drink on her table–maybe a cocktail–and a napkin on her lap. Perhaps she has already eaten or is waiting for her food as I’ve never seen a plate.

I noticed her because she was impeccably coiffed and expensively clad in a summer suit or dress with coordinated sweater, shoes and handbag–a different ensemble each time I saw her–and always alone. She was also much older than any of the diners around her.

Once I stopped to tell her I admired her fashion style and kept going. In summer, foot traffic is brisk on the slim slice of sidewalk that tables and chairs don’t hog. This doesn’t allow for hesitation by pedestrians rushing past in both directions.

It’s cold now but the outdoor tables were still in place last week and she was the only person at one of them in the lineup of restaurants one night. It gets dark early so she was sitting in obscurity, stooped over her phone, oblivious to passersby, honking and traffic. Her hair was windblown and instead of a drink, there was a coffee cup on the table.

I like to guess about neighborhood characters like this. Where does she live? What did she do for a living? Do her clothes fill all the rooms in her apartment or does she have many closets? It’s fun to make up positive stories.

Are there strangers who pique your curiosity in your neighborhood? Are they more obvious in a city as walking slows motion and better allows for observation than when you’re driving through town in a car?    Neighbor image for post 2 turned

Service of Goodbye

November 17th, 2016

Categories: Goodbye

goodbye 2

Goodbyes make me cry so I avoid the personal kind when possible. “I hate goodbyes,” said Bette Davis to Paul Henri in “Now Voyager,” which was on Turner Classic Movies last Sunday morning. Unless you’re escaping a horrible job or a dreadful house, apartment or neighborhood, I can’t be far wrong to guess that most agree.



I admire people who handle them well and hide their feelings in public because I can’t. Take Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. Wow. I thought President Clinton was on the verge as she spoke but she soldiered on without a hiccup. Between exhaustion, shock and disappointment, I don’t know how she controlled her emotions. The day after the election our office was a funeral parlor.

Gwen Ifill Photo:

Gwen Ifill Photo:

I started to write this post before I learned that the valiant Gwen Ifill died. What a hole in the media landscape she leaves. Her smile was genuine. I met her at a New York Women in Communications event and she was as lovely closeup as her image regardless of the unimportance of the person she was speaking with [unlike other media stars I’ve met at the same event, who will remain unnamed].

There have recently been other goodbyes, though not as permanent as Gwen’s nor as prominent as Secretary Clinton’s, and I predict very soon there will be countless more not only at the White House. The Wall Street Journal is shrinking its “Greater New York” section to a page or two and as a result, last week Ralph Gardner Jr. wrote his last “Urban Gardner” column, “The Pleasure Was All Mine–Ralph.” I’ve enjoyed his discoveries and will miss reading about the quirky things he discovered. In the same issue, columnist Marshall Heyman, “Heard and Scene,” bid readers adieu in “At the Close of a Column, Confessions of a Party Critic.” They are victims of the crisis newspaper publishers face.  I loved the full “Greater New York section.

Bill Plante. Photo:

Bill Plante. Photo:

On Sunday, on Face the Nation, John Dickerson said goodbye to the retiring Bill Plante, senior White House correspondent, who joned CBS in 1964.

The old saying “all good things must come to an end,” doesn’t make loss any easier. Whether it’s personal–when a friend moves away or a favorite colleague changes jobs–or the end of a beloved TV series, or as the result of retirement or firing of a favorite columnist, reporter, TV anchor or defeat of a choice of president, what do you do to readjust?

Goodbye 1

Service of Color II

November 15th, 2016

Categories: Art, Arts & Crafts, Color, Craft Show

Karen Morris, Dellwood, Minn.

Karen Morris, Dellwood, Minn.

On Lauren Smith wrote “Pantone Predicts the Colors That’ll Be Popular Next Spring–Let’s just say, next year is going to be bold and bright” and called out Flame, Island Paradise, Primrose Yellow and Niagara—the names Pantone gave coral, soft aqua, sunny yellow and denim blue. Pantone calls itself the “authority on color, provider of color systems and leading technology for accurate communication of color.”

Deborah Shedrick, Montgomery, Ala

Deborah Shedrick, Montgomery, Ala

What struck me about the work of some exhibitors at my client’s upcoming American Fine Craft Show at Brooklyn Museum this weekend, November 19-20, is the palpable importance of color—some of those Pantone identified as well as other luscious, succulent ones. Much of the jewelry is inspired by spirited, passionate hues; magical tints enhance ceramics and glass. 

Thomas Marrinson ceramics, Hinesburg, Vt.

Thomas Marrinson ceramics, Hinesburg, Vt.

Color isn’t for everyone and there will be many options for the more conservative shopper in every category. In addition to color, 26 jewelers reference travel, history, nature and their current or previous careers in far-flung industries as impacting their designs. Their expert work transforms precious stones and sheet metal, wire—even textiles and paper—into enchanting decorative enhancements and imaginative gifts.

Julie Shaw, Cocoa, FL.

Julie Shaw, Cocoa, FL.

For those bored by the mostly insipid fashion on today’s clothing racks, a fine craft fair such as this one is a treasure trove of both chic high-end classic and stylish casual wear. Fanciful accents and detailing punctuate one-of-a-kind coats and jackets designed and created by masters of leatherwork, weaving and expert tailoring. Exemplary millinery promises to be a show-stopper and versatile scarves and accessories in the hands of artists and expert fashion designers achieve elegant impact. 

Ethan Abramson, Mamaroneck, N.Y.

Ethan Abramson, Mamaroneck, N.Y.

Furniture artisans at the show speak about their pieces and the elements that go into them as though they are human or a three dimensional reflection of their lives.  Although most of them design and fabricate with wood, there are architectural, handsome steel and aluminum pieces as well.

The furniture makers aren’t alone in their mastery and appreciation of wood. Several exhibitors will sell handmade small decorative and/or functional and at times whimsical pieces that are impossible to bypass without touching.

In addition to furniture, wood objects, art glass and ceramics, there’s more to enhance a home: Fine artists and two sculptors join the artisans this year, achieving a tempting and visual feast just a few days before Thanksgiving.

If cost were no object, where would you look for special gifts for yourself or someone else? Do you value the fine work of artisans and artists and recognize the imagination, skill and time poured into each piece?


Jane Herzenberg, Northhampton, Mass.

Jane Herzenberg, Northhampton, Mass.

Service of Lies II

November 10th, 2016

Categories: Lies, Politicians, Politics, Winning


After the results of the presidential election it became clearer than ever that people believe what they want to hear. When you peel everything away, it’s often because they don’t know the facts and/or are uninformed.

There are plenty of people in my business—PR and marketing—who make an exemplary living by promising the world—i.e. lying–and it works: They get the business.

A typical conversation:

  • Potential client–“We want an article in The Wall Street Journal.”
  • PR person’s response—“No problem. Some of my best friends are WSJ reporters/columnists.”Used cars

The potential clients are often the smartest in their industries, but they don’t know mine: Even a PR person’s brother-in-law can’t guarantee a story in The Wall Street Journal. Getting a hearing doesn’t automatically translate into coverage, but that doesn’t stop people from promising the moon to win.

Candidates also grab at anything to get elected. Most recently one pledged to bring back manufacturing jobs–this from a person so concerned about jobs here that the goods he sells are manufactured abroad.

Do people similarly believe him because they are uninformed? Do they think that he won’t short-change them as he does his vendors and suppliers?

short changeWe tend to remember when we’ve been lied to. President George H.W. Bush said “read my lips: no new taxes.” Who knows if he meant it or said it to get elected? In the day some familiar with the realities of the economic situation may have known better. We remember the lips bit but not his often repeated phrase about “a thousand points of light” to encourage the public’s participation in community organizations.

However this time many of us hope that the winner does NOT accomplish what he promised from withdrawing from NATO and the recent international environmental agreement to cancelling, rather than tweaking, Obamacare.

We need to get back to business and hope like the dickens that things don’t work out as badly as some of us fear. President Obama is urging us to give the man a chance: We’re all Americans and on the same team.

If a friend, colleague or relative lies to me, I do what my mother used to advise that I’ve often noted here: “Bury the bone but remember where you buried it.” We’ll all be walking on lumpy ground from all those buried bones for a while.

My NYC friends and colleagues who tried to calm my anxieties before the election make clear that we’ve all been shortsighted and gullible. Here in this island cocoon we haven’t a clue of America’s mindset. 

Why do you think people believe what they want to hear?

winning is everything

Service of Deep Breaths: What Do You Do To Relax?

November 7th, 2016

Categories: Politics, Polls, Radio, Relax, Stress

 Deep Breath

There are so many polls taken and reported these days that I can’t recall which the WOR 710 Radio morning show hosts Len Berman and Todd Schnitt were referring to when they said that only 2 percent of respondents had no opinion about how they felt about this year’s presidential election. The majority were “disgusted.” The bulk are also stressed about the election outcome tomorrow, which was a call-in topic of this morning’s show.

men playing golfSo no surprise when the conversation Friday led to how the hosts and news director Joe Bartlett relax. Bartlett and Berman said by playing golf. Schnitt said scuba diving, skiing and shooting at a range.

Depending on my mood, where I am or the time I have, for me it could be shopping for gifts, walking on a beach late in the afternoon, being absorbed in a great show or movie, reading chapters of a Calvin Trillin book–he’s hilarous–sitting quietly in a place of worship without a service going on or chatting with friends who make me laugh.

What takes your mind off your troubles at work, at home or concerns about the world’s conflicts?


Service of Buyer’s Remorse

November 3rd, 2016

Categories: Buyer's Remorse, Fashion, Mistakes, Retail



“The Lists Issue: Style and Fashion” page of last weekend’s Wall Street Journal’s “Off Duty” section asked five “stylish men” to report their “most regrettable purchase.” These included three pairs of a Clark shoes–all the same–that the owner tired of; a suede Ralph Lauren car coat with too much fringe; Nike sneakers with pink and purple accents bought online while under the influence of Ambien; a $450 umbrella from London enjoyed for 31 minutes before being left behind in a taxi and boots purchased on Piperlime, [it’s out of business now], with too thin soles discovered while walking five miles in a parade.

Too tight shoesShoes that hurt account for most of my mistakes along with a pasta maker I never had time to use so I eventually gave it away after dragging it, with good intentions, from home to home.

However, the one that stings the most and longest was a red dress I pleaded with my mother to buy when I was in eighth grade so I’d have something to wear at a Christmas party at school. We wore uniforms—except on Friday when we could dress in civilian clothes. My mother said, “You don’t like red and will never again wear this dress.” Nevertheless she bought it for me and I don’t think I ever did wear it again. When I think of it I still cringe at my selfishness.

What are some things you’ve regretted buying? Have you learned something from each experience or do you keep making the same mistakes?

 Girls red dress

Service of Fear

October 31st, 2016

Categories: Fear, Films, Movies

The Shining

It’s Halloween today. I decided that nobody is interested to know about everything that scares me nor would they want to address what scares them—we’ve got too many important things to be nervous about relating to the impending elections.

So I decided to lean on the “treats” side of the celebration and write about scary movies.

Halloween IIBut scary movies frighten me so I’m not the one to write knowledgably about them. I loved “Wait Until Dark”– [anything with Audrey Hepburn] –but tend to avoid such flicks. Guess I’m normally nervous and don’t need additional stimulus.

So I asked the people in the office in which I share space. What amazed me is that everyone had a favorite and there is only one duplicate! This is their list: 

     “The Haunting” –Lee A

     “When a Stranger Calls” –Mike S 

     “The Birds,” “Psycho” & “Rear Window” & “Trump TV”—David R

      “The Conjuring” & soon, by DJ  Trump: “When Mexico Attacks” –Pat C 

            The Gate“The Gate” –Danny M 

            “The Strangers” —Brandt Z 

            “Halloween II” –Joshua C 

            “The Thing” –Stephen H 

      “The Shining” –James B AND Jeff M           

      “Poltergeist” –Dan M 

       “The House of Wax” –Bambe L

       “Bones” –Kori M 

Do you like to be frightened by movies? What is your favorite scary one? Is there a difference between creepy and scary?

The Strangers

The Strangers

Service of the Language of the Lazy: Name-Calling Beats Learning the Facts

October 27th, 2016

Categories: Communications, Manners, Words

Lazy 2

As a child I often heard the adage “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” but I never believed it because if someone slung a nasty name at me, I always felt insulted. And once when I was very young a bus driver was abusive to my mother. I don’t recall his exact words, but I have a vivid memory of the feeling in the pit of my stomach left by his name-calling. That’s probably one reason some adults continue to resort to this technique.

But there’s another: It’s the language of the lazy. The slothful version of “When you leave your shoes all over the house I find it both unattractive and dangerous–someone could trip and fall,” is to point at the sneakers and loafers and grunt, “You’re a pig.”

Instead of saying, “I wish that more devout Muslims would explain how they feel about ISIS and what they suggest the most effective way might be to arrest the movement,” the lazy version is “Muslims are evil.”



This is Trump’s specialty, from the cruel nicknames he gives political opponents to the childish rant he snapped at Secretary Clinton during the last debate, calling her a “nasty woman.”

It’s also a foolproof technique to avoid having to know more than a few words about any subject. The easy answer to “What is your policy about ______” is “what a stupid question.” Conversation over.

Why bother to explain your position when you can resort to one of the names he called columnist Marc Thiessen: “failed.” Failed, failing–or some version of the word–is a Trump favorite. Thiessen is in good company. Trump also tweeted this description of The New York Times, Jeff Zucker president of CNN, The New York Daily News, John R. Allen, retired US Marine General, The National Review, to name a few who haven’t seen eye to eye with him.

George Will. Photo:

George Will. Photo:

Who is the “really dumb puppet?” The editor of the Fox News Channel, Chris Stirewalt. Chuck Todd of Meet the Press is “pathetic;” members of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board are “dummies;” columnist George Will is “broken down, boring and dopey;” Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, mayor of Baltimore is “a joke” and Donna Brazile, DNC chairwoman is “totally dishonest.” Isn’t name-calling easier than parrying with facts to address what each of these organizations, reporters, columnists or executives may have written or said about him or his proposed policies? I’ll say.

Thank you to Jasmine C. Lee and Kevin Quealy of The New York Times for collating “The 282 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List,” the source of the name-calling noted above.

The technique was effective enough to land Donald Trump as the Republican Presidential candidate. Why do you think so much of society today finds this appropriate behavior to be praised and rewarded? What happened for this to be so? Will this approach impact how we all interact going forward?

Photo: Parade

Photo: Parade

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