Archive for the ‘Nostalgia’ Category

Service of Living Without

Friday, September 25th, 2009


I’ve been thinking about the things that we may soon all be living without. Some include:

Wrist watches, because people increasingly tell time by looking at their computers, phones or other handheld devices. Youngsters don’t seem to want or wear them anymore. Another sign that watches are going out of favor is that prices at discount stores are rock bottom. The same thing happened to calculators.

Books printed on paper, because more and more bookworms will be using wireless readers. With small print-runs, the price of the printed word will be exorbitant. Printed college texts will be an exception, for a while at least. This seems to be a profitable business if the groans of parents and college students I know are any indication of sales volume.

We all know what is happening to the print version of newspapers.

Physical therapy. A good friend needed PT after an operation. When his insurance company doubled his co-pay, he stopped going well before he’d completed the work. Multiply his situation by thousands of others and the result can’t be rosie for the PT industry.

Standard mail hardly exists at our office right now and as the cost increases and service decreases, the prognosis is bleak. A subset of this turn of events will affect birthday, Valentine and holiday cards and this makes me sad. I understand clearly that an e-card saves a tree, postage and handling, time etc. but I love receiving and selecting cards. I enjoy feeling wonderful paper, seeing a funny or stunning image and I will miss cards when they go.

Classical music on the radio–we’ve already covered this topic in posts on May 8th and July 16th.

Landline phones as cell phone service is less expensive and cell phones increasingly become entertainment and business centers. I prefer cradling a phone between my ear and shoulder when I interview someone so I can type answers as they speak. I’m not fond of wireless or any ear appliances, but that’s too bad.

Will you miss any of these things? What others do you predict will join garter belts and black and white TV?

Service of Classic Toys

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

In an article, “Toy Stories,” in I.D. Magazine’s September/October 2009 issue, four reporters asked designers, creative directors, authors, educators, curators and entrepreneurs to “offer an emotional design critique of an iconic toy.”

Most selected toys from their childhoods. The introduction reports that participants covered “the smart design thinking behind these timeless playthings while also recalling what their treasured toys meant to them personally.” Some of the featured toys were Play-Doh, Crayons, balloons, Lincoln Logs, Spirograph, toy soldiers, dirt, Radio Flyer, cat’s cradle and Naef Toys.

Nobody picked Silly Putty, Slinky, jacks, pick-up-sticks or jump rope–all favorites of mine. I don’t think my life was transformed by any of them or that they pointed me in any particular direction or were symbolic of what I ended up doing with my life.

 They were straight-forward and designed to work again and again and I enjoyed playing with them for years. In fact, I’d be happy to challenge anyone to a game of jacks or pick-up-sticks right now and it wouldn’t hurt me to grab and use a jump rope!


What were/are your favorite toys and what is it that you especially liked about them? Have any of your toys served you well in later life?

Service of “What If”

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Hank Goldman, creative director of Goldman Advertising, New York, responded to all the questions this blog asks. He began his communication, “Questions of my own.”

Hank submitted this post early last week. We noticed that on Saturday, September 12 on the front page of The New York Times, Joe Nocera, in his “Talking Business” column, “Lehman Had to Die, It Seems, So Global Finance Could Live,” used the same train of thought. His column begins: “What if they’d saved Lehman Brothers? What if, a year ago this weekend, the government and the banking industry had somehow found a way to keep Lehman from filing for bankruptcy?”

Hank posits:

Have you ever thought about ”what if” you were born into another age or era?

What universal service skill or adaptable-knowledge-skills do you possess that could have flowered in any age?

If you came into the world when I did, early in the 1940’s, pre-transistors, and there were no computers… What would you do or become?  An English teacher? Get involved in math? Early nuclear physics? Run for political office?

 If you were artistic, would you be an art director in a mechanical age?

What if it was 100 years ago? Invent the automobile or airplane? No gas stations around so you couldn’t own or run one of those! Work as an ad copywriter? Run for President?

What if now, when everything in a household of the civilized world has a chip in it?  Improve on microprocessors? Create Cloud Computing? Dream up the next big thing? Run for Senator of Massachusetts?

What if you were born 100 years FROM NOW? What might you do?

Your answer:____________________________

We add to Hank’s questions: Is this a period, more than most, where people tend to think in terms of “what if?”

Service of Safeguarding a Brand

Friday, June 5th, 2009

I was on a NYC bus years ago holding a sled gift wrapped in FAO Schwartz paper. A little girl stared at me for several stops. Finally she could no longer contain her curiosity and asked me what was in the box, noted how lucky the child receiving the gift was and volunteered how much she loved FAO Schwarz.

I don’t know if she was old enough to read, but like Tiffany’s blue box that you recognize from blocks away long before you can see a logo, children all over the city at that time recognized FAO Schwartz wrapping paper.

When FAO Schwartz failed the first time, it was partly because its marketers forgot how special it was and tried to compete with toy discounters. I read that mothers said they’d gladly pay the supplement for the play dough they bought there because it didn’t ruin furniture as less expensive versions did. To compete with discounters, FAO Schwartz dropped a lot of the pizzazz that attracted visitors from around the world.

Recently, I read that Toys R Us bought FAO Schwartz. I worry. I’ve been burned by once high-end brand toasters or coffee pots available at discount that break in a year. I admire brands that stick to their last.

Granted keeping up quality and price is a tough call in this economy. But if we represent or work for a brand, do we owe it–and the public–anything? Should we warn folks that we’re changing the formula?

Service of Mature Music

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Jeremiah, our guest writer, is a retired international business executive and classical music devotee. Like those who face losing their favorite newspaper or magazine, television or radio program, he is bracing himself for a blow–the silencing of a longtime radio friend and access to the music he loves.


Last night I heard a remarkable performance of Gustav Mahler’s First Symphony at Carnegie Hall, which got me to thinking about how quickly the music I love and so deeply enjoy is vanishing. The number of traditional concerts given there has declined each year the past few years as the audience for them has been literally dieing off. The average age of those in the Hall last night must have been at least sixty.

Worse yet is the sad news that we New Yorkers are about to lose the oldest classical music station in the country, WQXR. According to rumors in the marketplace, its parent company, The New York Times, has had the station up for sale for several years to raise cash, and there was a story published in the New York Post a week or so ago that it is possibly being sold to the sports network, ESPN.

I have been listening to WQXR since 1945, daily in recent years, and most days all day. It has been a close friend and a better one than many. I am already grieving and will grieve still more when the station is actually gone. My first reaction was to rant and rage about the “Decline and Fall of Western Civilization.” My second has been to listen to WQXR as much as possible while it is still possible.

Friends have suggested that I should listen to public radio, but I don’t care for its patronizing political correctness. Furthermore, I feel strongly that the government should not be in the entertainment business. No more should it give tax breaks or subsidies to music makers than to baseball teams! This smacks of “Bread and Circuses.” 

However, there is a counter argument. In our culture, responsibility for the old and infirm for many valid reasons has now shifted from their families to the state.

The common sense thing to do would be to let nature take its course, force classical music lovers to accept change as being a natural progression and adapt to liking what I call noise. But maybe we should keep some classical music around to enhance the declining years of the older people who love it.

What do you think? 

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