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Michael Powelson

Michael is a Creative Director whose career began with words, veered toward moving images, and now resists choosing between the two. His work has been featured in publications like Luerzer’s Int’l ARCHIVE, Print, HOW, Campaign Brief and BEST ADS ON TV.
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posted by Michael Powelson Jun 17,2015 @ 02:27PM

More Things That Happen Less

American Pharoah vs. The United States of On Demand

Pharoah

 Victor Espinoza said he knew coming out of the first turn.

 Knew that the hiccup at the gate wouldn’t matter. That the previous 37 years didn’t either. And that American Pharoah would dictate the terms of the next mile-and-a-quarter, fending off all comers with strides that seemed to stretch the lengths of Cadillacs.

 It would take a bit longer for the rest of us to know. But soon we too understood just how transcendent two-and-a-half minutes of flapping silk can be.  Still, as the afterglow smoldered into something more contemplative, many of us came to a different conclusion. Consciously or not, we began to register that the previous 37 years did matter, and that they mattered a great deal.

 On the Monday following the first triple crown since 1978, sports writers and cultural columnists noted just how rare it was to see a unanimous, uncomplicated joy spread from the grandstand, over the airwaves, and into the digital zeitgeist. Blogs dissected the event. Newsfeeds echoed the homestretch replay. And friends-of-friends who wouldn’t know groom from gelding high-fived in the comments sections. A collective fascination had taken hold. One that certainly had something to do with a remarkable animal accomplishing one of the most difficult feats in sports. But one that had everything to do with the 37 years since it happened last.

 In his reliably brilliant way, Charles Pierce used a Grantland column to point out that it wasn’t as much the collection, but the content of those years that struck us so.

 This was something that hadn’t happened since before the Internet, before the Macintosh and the iPod, before companies merged and banks swelled, and before instant communications and the marketing thereof. The thrill was vestigial, at least by the standards of our age of perpetual motion. That’s what kept it pure. That was what kept it free. It was people and it was a horse, both genuine creatures from different parts of creation, beyond naming rights and copyrights, an easier place before brands.

“…an easier place before brands.” As a creative director, I’ll be chewing on that one for a while. Maybe because it’s hard to swallow. But maybe because I like the way it tastes.

 Like everything along the continuum of arts and sciences, I believe marketing can illuminate the human condition. Unlike those other disciplines, however, it has a pitiful track record of doing so. Far too often we are bludgeoned with advertising that stokes our lesser impulses of greed, insecurity, and intellectual laziness. Far too seldom are we enlightened by messages that invoke the better angels — charm, vulnerability, empathy, wit.

 This is why I‘m still savoring the marrow in the bone Pierce picked. We could be doing so much better in this industry. A lighter touch. A kinder eye. A broader focus on what makes us human instead of only what makes us act. The gap between what branding is and what branding could be is immense. Which makes the challenge of narrowing it irresistible.

 And it’s certainly not just branding. It’s technology and culture and the unprecedented acceleration of their love affair. Since 1978, we’ve learned to engineer gratification in ways no one who watched Affirmed win the last triple crown could have imagined. We are now the United States of On Demand.

 Money ball. Free two-day shipping. The complete new season of your favorite show in a single evening.

 These are hardly signs of the apocalypse. And anyone who pretends to not live in an age of unparalleled potential is kidding themselves. But it’s equally delusional to deny that the more you engineer gratification, the less gratifying it becomes.

 I suspect that this is what you really heard when Pharoah rounded the final turn, and the grandstand erupted, and 22 million of the rest of us hollered at our screens like lunatics sprung fresh from the booby hatch. This is what echoed on the blogs and in the replays:  A collective exultation for something that couldn’t be dictated.  Something that wasn’t engineered or even earned, but simply, and most importantly, waited for.

 In a world where I’ve become conditioned to binge watch and put all my chips on the black of big data, I’m increasingly grateful for those truly special, rarest of happenings. The ones that none of us, nor all of us, could ever will into being.

 So along with all the consumer-empowering innovations sure to keep coming down the pike, I’m now hoping for more things that happen less.

 I'm not quite sure what that hope means for brands and the media they use to communicate. But I promise to keep chewing on it.

posted by Michael Powelson Apr 08,2015 @ 11:20AM

"Intimate Exchanges": New work and the possibilities of Point of View

Our Cups Runneth Over 

Everyone loves secrets. And as a creative director, it’s always a treat to realize your client is holding on to one of the “best kept” variety.

In the case of Goodwill of the Upstate & Midlands, that little known fact was the extraordinary lengths the organization stretches to squeeze every last drop of value from a second-hand donation. We’re talking extreme thrift and re-imagining of materials — an “everything-can-be-used-for-something” mentality that would make the earliest inhabitants of this continent nod in solemn approval[1]. Bottom line: if you think that junk in your basement is worth just as much at the dump as anywhere else, you’re wrong. And a 20-minute tour of Goodwill’s distribution center in Greenville will prove it.

So raise your hand if you’ve ever considered taking a 20 minute tour of Goodwill’s distribution center in Greenville.

Siri? Siri is that you? Please say something so I know in which direction to speak…the multitude of hands…they blind me so.

Yeah, it’s just not something people do.

What people do is watch videos on the internet. Even some that don’t have kittens or naked people in them. So we decided this might be a decent way to tell the story of Goodwill’s obsessive point of difference.

But a virtual tour? Come on. We’re not hocking timeshares here[2]. Besides, a 50 mm lens just isn’t going to do justice to the massive operation and rigorous protocols that break donations down to fetch the most a market will bear. What we needed was a unique, amusing way to demonstrate how Goodwill gets more out of things than anyone else. What we needed was a different point of view.

Ever wonder if your old stuff has thoughts? Anxieties? Even, gasp, desires? Sure, it’s ridiculous. But so are human beings. Just ask John Lasseter, who turned the notion into a feature franchise and 2 billion dollars worth of ridiculousness for Pixar.

Point is, when we took our own tour of the Distribution Center, we couldn’t help but be distracted by the true menagerie of donated items. It was fun to realize that each one had recently left its home with a back story, a sense of character, and, given a little imagination, a point of view. We saw such unlikely pairings of items sitting side by side, waiting to be sorted out. What in the world would their conversations be like as they made their way through this Ellis Island of material goods? And could those conversations be an unexpected ticket to telling the larger brand story?

Given a few of the more colorful things we saw, we think they might have played out something like this:  

 

 

 

 

P.S.P.S (Pleasant Surprise Post Script): This work was recently featured on the international industry site "Best Ads On TV," an accomplishment made even more special given that the videos will never, in fact, be seen on TV.


[1] Not something there's been a lot of cause for in the last 500 years.
[2] That is unless you own some. Who doesn't love time? And the sharing! Call us.  

posted by Michael Powelson Aug 14,2014 @ 04:50AM

The Best Medicine

A story of siblings, cheesy ads, and my hard-won affection for both.

 

The most important exchange I will ever have with my sister was about drugs.

Neither of us were on any at the time (I was twelve years old; she nine). But there have been moments since when I’ve been tempted to claim otherwise. A chemical influence would go a long way in accounting for our bizarre behavior that day. It would also explain why neither of us can remember exactly how the whole mess started.

mplm-011

The truth is, I honestly don’t know what offense landed Leslie and me in the clink of our respective bedrooms that second Sunday of January, 1994. But I am positive it was our father who put us there.

As in many family bureaucracies, my mother wore the Social Services badge. Whatever bone Leslie and I were scrapping over, Mom would have talked us through negotiations or diverted our attention before hard time had to be handed down. But on this particular afternoon, the social worker was out, and all cases were proceeding directly before the judge. The honorable Jeffrey A. Powelson, presiding. Ours being a decidedly middle-class republic, the judge also served as chief groundskeeper. And so my sister and I found ourselves at the mercy of a man with brush to burn, gutters to clean, and nary a damn to give about the origins of our dispute. There were no questions asked, nor statements given. Only an exasperated, “Go to your rooms.”

That’s probably just as well. Like my father before me, I could now care less what two caterwauling miscreants may or may not have done to be sent to their quarters. But culpability for what would happen once we got there is an entirely different matter—one that still breeds fierce debate.

I blame the Chinese.

WHY THE CAGED BIRD YODELS

To gain any insight into the strange behavior my sister and I were about to exhibit, you must first consider the narrative that had taken root in our collective subconscious over the preceding weeks. In addition to being the year that sibling violence peaked in our home, 1994 also boasted one of the worst cold & flu seasons in recent history, all thanks to a particularly vile strain called A-H3N2, or “The Beijing Flu.” Don’t ask me about the name. Maybe this bug quashed autoimmune revolt with particular zeal. Or maybe it just multiplied more efficiently than other flus. I couldn’t tell you because no one in our house was sick, nor was there any evidence to suggest we’d been exposed to the virus. What we had been exposed to was the barrage of television commercials for products claiming to fight it.

Suppressants, expectorants, decongestants, analgesics: You name it, it was on TV, being used as directed. As the pandemic gained momentum, the frequency of ads grew so intense that they began to blur together and assume a collective voice. By Christmas there were no more thirty-second spots, just two-minute commercial breaks speaking to you in pharmacological tongues like an over-the-counter Hunter Thompson. Cable became a fever dream where every eight minutes the tambourine man returned to paint Kleenex-littered rainbows of transcendent possibility. Relief was a given, you simply had to decide which way you wanted it. Up? Down? Internal? Topical? There were pills to open a person’s northern passages, liquids to clench the southern ones, and potions that promised to keep you just this side of comatose for the duration of your illness. The OTC industry and its media buyers had done their jobs well. Perhaps too well. The ironic side-effect of a single category dominating the airwaves was that nothing stood out. Well, almost nothing.

Alpine horns. Switzerland. Coughdrops.

You just heard it, didn’t you? Deep in the recesses of your brain, some sequence of neurons lit up and coaxed a long-neglected mountaineer to the edge of your frontal lobe where he cupped his mouth and released that spectacular, three-note warble into the hills. And four words were all it took. This is the beauty of lowbrow advertising. It’s like a kid before he understands cool and decides it’s something a person should be. There’s no vanity. No pretense. No apology. Cheesy ads simply do what they’re supposed to. They stick.

“REEE-COLA!”

I don’t remember which of us yelled it first. But I now realize that it couldn’t have happened had the gutters not been my father’s first priority that morning. You see Leslie’s bedroom was on the opposite side of the hall from mine, and both offered the most convenient access to our home’s two rooflines. Thus, twice a year our windows were relieved of their screens allowing my father to purge six months of leaf sludge from the overhanging troughs. As domestic duties go, this is an unpleasant one, the home-improvement equivalent of removing a dip of snuff from someone else’s lower lip. Consequently, the man had worked himself into a genuinely special mood even before sentencing us for the initial offense. And that’s probably what made it so irresistible.

“REEE-COLA!” I would scream out over the front yard. The echo would linger for a few beats, then, right on cue, her response would circle around from the back.

“REEE-COLA!”

Oscar Wilde observed that, “Opportunity may only knock once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.” Had he have driven down Cedar Lane that afternoon he could have completed the axiom, adding that “idiocy hangs out its second-story windows and yodels about Swiss throat drops.”

“REEE-COLA!”

You know that thing where you repeat a perfectly normal word so many times that it loses all meaning? Right, well, it turns out there is no inverse phenomenon. After twenty minutes of yodeling, my sister and I still couldn’t tell you what Riccola meant or why it had become the funniest damned thing we’d ever heard. Nor could we anticipate the quantity of hell that would soon be paid for our lack of explanation.

Good questions all, but they paled in comparison to what had become the larger mystery of this fiasco: How had Leslie and I ended up on the same side of anything?

A HISTORY OF INDIFFERENCE

Some things just don’t make sense. Yes, incarceration breeds unlikely accord. But I’m not sure that explains why my sister and I passed a Swiss epithet, at the top of our lungs, for nearly half-an-hour.

That commercial was nothing new. We’d seen it together literally hundreds of times and never commented, never shared so much as a smirk. Yet here we were, nearly incontinent with laughter, yelling ourselves ironically hoarse and unknowingly compounding the terms of our punishment with each volley. It just happened. Random and organic and intuitive in a way that our relationship had never been. For herein lies the unflattering-yet-undeniable truth about Leslie and I, a truth that should have been confessed from the outset: We were terrible at being brother and sister.

It wasn’t so much a question of love. We had good parents. Neither of us were particularly stupid as children. So we caught on fairly quick to the idea that we were supposed to love each other, and, of course, on a purely fundamental level, we did. But as any decent counselor, or former Eagle drummer, will tell you, ‘sometimes love just ain’t enough.’

The truth is that my sister and I had just never really connected. Some relatives blame this on our age gap. Others suggest the gender difference or point to two polar personalities. But I often wonder if it was nothing more than luck. By that I’m not suggesting that Leslie and I weren’t blessed enough to be close. Quite the opposite, actually. Perhaps we were so lucky as individuals, cementing a strong sibling bond never became necessary.

Don’t ask me how or why, but the cards my sister and I drew in the existential lottery placed us in a genuinely warm, nurturing home that somehow still prepared us for the world outside its doors. In this sense, childhood gave us everything but a common threat. There was no angry drunk of a father to hide from, no philandering mother to resent or chronic illness to rally against. We were untouched by grief. Ungodly fortunate. Simply in each other’s way.

THE RECKONING

And then the judge became the warden.

If you’ve spent any time at all watching prison documentaries, you’re familiar with the “communication on the inside” segment. Invariably, special care is taken to point out the novel ways prisoners share information. Whether it’s lowering notes with twine braided from one’s own pubic hair, or relaying instructions through subversive bursts of slang, no one conspires more resourcefully than the residents of our nation’s correctional facilities. If reality television has anything to teach us, it’s that, in the joint, a seemingly nonsensical hoot or holler can incite disastrous revolt.

“REEE-COLA!”

This is exactly what my father feared and sought to stomp out as he took stairs two at a time en route to our rooms. From my window I’d seen him leave his post near one of the brushfires, but I underestimated his speed. Consequently, half of me was still hanging outside when my door burst open and the smell of kerosene and Levi-Garett proclaimed his arrival.

“What the hell is this Ricola crap?” he demanded, appropriately, of my hindquarters.

I wrangled myself back inside and turned as slowly as possible, hoping my face would straighten itself in time. This was a moot point once I took sight of him. Six feet and forty-one years standing atop the meanest pair of shit-kickers I’ve seen to this day. The down vest he wore overtop a flannel shirt leant extra heft to his shoulders, and its high collar scraped audibly against a beard flecked with sweat and sawdust. Red-faced and seething, he squinted behind a pair of thick, dark-tinted glasses ­­and demanded answers.

“What does it mean!?”

It was like some twisted, backwoods version of Pinocchio, where instead of a puppet conferring the gift of fatherhood, the cover of a Hank Williams Jr. album had come to life for the sole purpose of whooping my ass. As I bit down on the inside of my cheek, reaching for some hidden reserve of composure, Bocephus summoned his other youngin’.

“One of you is going to tell me what in God’s name this is about, and the other’s going to wish they’d spilled it first.”

“Now, damnit!”

What were we supposed to tell him? “You see Dad, there are these Alpinists, real hearty, Scandinavian types who know a thing or two about braving the elements and, well, calling in sick just isn’t an option at twelve-thousand feet...”

Lacking a succinct explanation, Leslie and I should have had the good sense to at least appear repentant. But the absurdity of this man asking these questions was too much. Unlike the rest of the family, my father does not average six hours of television viewing per day. Any more oblivious to popular culture and he’d sport half the beard and a calendar full of barn raisings. His sense of humor, keen as it is, grips the literal with both hands. And so the idea of repeating something simply because you’d heard it before and it echoed nicely and your windows happened not to have screens that day—these were dots we had no chance of connecting for him.

So we laughed. Hard.

THE END AND THE BEGINNING

Defining moments are hard to spot in real time. The first day Elvis left Sun Studio, all he had was a birthday present for his mama. Orville and Wilbur were up for less than sixty seconds. And when she realized she hadn’t made it to the dry cleaners at the end of a long February day, Monica Lewinsky probably just sighed and added another “to-do” to tomorrow’s list. Likewise, it’s not as if everything changed that day between my sister and I. Five years later you’d still have to squint to see the sprouts of an actual relationship breaking the surface of our day-today interactions. But step back far enough and it’s clear that seeds were planted amidst that afternoon’s shenanigans. Know it or not, we’d found our cause.

Granted, it’s no leukemia. It won’t trump a handsy uncle and probably doesn’t even register next to your average divorce or bankruptcy. But as rallying points go, the lampooning of one’s elders will more than suffice. Enough time passes and you accept that there’s nothing sensational or remotely tragic about it. You embrace that it’s common. There’s nothing wrong with common. Common ground is common. And wasn’t that all you were looking for in the first place?

The older Leslie and I get, the more our relationship looks the way it did that day inside our bedrooms. We’ve learned to be a little more proactive, that our garden of sarcasm and parental mockery can use tending from time to time. Still, there’s no need to force things. We take the victories as they come: A recent New Year’s resolution to “finally get serious about the jug band”. The platter of home-smoked (i.e. entirely inedible) meat on a particularly ambitious Thanksgiving. Any number of long-distance tutorials in online shopping.

Even today my sister and I don’t talk all that regularly. Most pertinent information is still relayed through our parents. But, at the very least, twice a year when another of our birthdays rolls around, I can look forward to placing or receiving a call that forgoes all conventional greetings and begins instead with an abrupt dispatch of recent, home-front oddities.

 

JUNE

— Hello?

Dad’s installing a gun safe in the powder room.

 

FEBRUARY

McGee residence…

— Mom taught the dogs to use the ice dispenser.

 

JUNE

— This is Michael—

Dad says he can’t hear the TV over the ice crunching and he’s tired of stepping in cold puddles.

— Ha!

No. Not funny. Turn right out of the kitchen and where are you?

— The powder roo—oh Jesus.

 

The calls are treasure to me. They make it almost worth turning a year older. But they’re changing. And with each one it’s a little harder to ignore the tinge of caution that’s creeping into the exchange. It’s a silent hitch, right there in the few beats of dead air after we stop laughing and before we work towards “take care” or “see you soon”. Not sadness exactly, but something jagged and wistful. I know we both hear it. I know we ask ourselves what will happen when the father with the brush fires isn’t around to taunt. I know we dread the day that the mother who returned home and laughed with us seventeen years ago can’t be dragged in again to share the blame. I know we worry, and not just for the obvious reasons.

Yes, being parents, they are the only people who will ever love us that much, in that way. But they’re also our bridge, the filament that connects our current and makes the light come on. So we worry about what will become of us, as brother and sister, when that filament burns out. Will we recognize each other in the dark?

I like to think so, and there’s reason to be optimistic. New bridges are currently under construction. Last April, Leslie and her husband introduced me to a niece who laughs every bit as easy as her grandmother and flashes the same devil in her toddler’s grin. And in a few months I’ll stand up and swap promises with a beautifully disarming woman. All parties seem to enjoy each other’s company, perhaps simply because we want to, and I’m just about convinced it will stay that way. We’ll make the calls. Make the drives. Make the jokes. We’ll laugh, even if it hurts. It will almost be enough.

In the mean time, we’ll keep in touch the old-fashioned, lazy way. Just this morning, Mom tells me Leslie has come down with an especially brutal sinus infection, the kind that dumps broken glass down your throat when you charge your vocal chords with even the slightest whisper.

“Hmm, that sucks.” I say. I’ve always been the empathetic one.

But it does suck. Being sick isn’t the same for working moms. Getting time off will be difficult. She’ll worry about the baby catching it. The figurative headaches will rival the literal ones.

After considering all this, I waffle on whether or not to send the care package. “If she wanted them, she’d buy them herself,” I think. “This might not be the best time for an old joke.”

“Ah, what the hell,” I say, hearing the oversized envelope drum against the bottom of the mailbox. Tomorrow it will be alright. She’ll open the package, see the smaller one inside, hear the warble. And she’ll laugh. Even if it hurts.

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This piece originally appeared at michaelpowelson.wordpress.com in 2011
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posted by Michael Powelson Jul 15,2014 @ 06:24AM

Spirit of the Lowcountry In New Spots

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 10.43.00 AM

 

Went in search of some Lowcountry soul and met great folks with unique perspectives on patient care at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

Hope to have done both justice with these new spots.

 

Suzanne Larson from Michael Powelson on Vimeo.

 

Mike McCarty from Michael Powelson on Vimeo.

 

Jo Anne Tudor from Michael Powelson on Vimeo.

 

Special thanks to director Joanne Hock and GreyHawk Films, our partners in crime on this rewarding project.

 

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posted by Michael Powelson Jun 12,2014 @ 02:30AM

Whitt's End

I'm full of shit.

I realize this every few days or so. It's unclear how many rationalizations, hyperboles and humble-brags have to bounce around my skull before the hogwash tipping point is reached. But when I come to the end of my rope, I know it. A faint spark of contempt jumps from gut to spine to cerebral cortex and flickers just long enough to set my eyes rolling.

"You gotta be kidding me," I'll grumble. Because this is, of course, exactly what I've been doing — kidding myself. That the colleagues "liking" the new commercial my company posted are doing so free of quid pro quo obligations. That Brussels sprouts, no matter how artisanally roasted, have photojournalistic significance. That people read blog posts over 350 words.

The thing is, I have a suspicion that you're full of shit too. That we all are, in fact, and that it's not really our fault. To want to be perceived as an accomplished, productive, well-intentioned member of society: that's human nature. So should it really be surprising that our inner spin doctor is on call 24/7? Facebook profiles and Instagram feeds have certainly amplified this tendency. But even before the age of "personal branding," I'm willing to bet humans scorched many a retina scanning horizons for the most "favorable light" to cast upon their lives.

In my particular case (and likely yours if you're reading this via professional channels) the promotional realm in which I work sprinkles kerosene on the aforementioned sparks and leads this blaze into my office on a daily basis. On the one hand, the job is to court positive attention for a client's brand. On the other, said courting must be done in an industry so notorious for manipulation that a trust deficit is inevitable from the get go.

Fortunately, this is where knowing you're full of shit can be a saving grace. As it turns out, recognizing the pretense we're all capable of is the best safeguard against it crossing your lips, clearing your outbox, or making its way into the client presentation/PR strategy/TV spot etc.

Are there times when that kind of second-guessing gets in the way? Absolutely. In the short term, concepts die. Strategies are rebuilt. But it's also what keeps you and the brands you work for credible over the long haul. Moreover, it helps you fully appreciate when someone else has taken the unadorned highroad and ridden it to a truly exceptional creative destination.

That's what this post was supposed to be about — saluting brands that have dropped the Stepford act, resisted Madison Avenue's default conceits and allowed themselves to be exactly what they are: well-meaning, imperfect, contradictory, temperamental human experiments. In other words, mirror images of the customers they hope to attract. Dove's flipping the cosmetic category script with it's Real Beauty Sketches is old news, but that doesn't make it any less of a triumph. New Castle's No Bollocks campaign calls out the usual beverage marketing B.S. to hilarious and substantive effect. And despite a slightly-over-scripted-and-rehearsed-one-too-many-times-to-sound-authentic voiceover, Mass Mutual deserves kudos for embracing genuine struggle and vulnerability (especially at the 35 and 52 second marks) in its "Mother" commercial. Any one of these examples might have been dissected into a perfectly adequate case study in the brand benefits of letting down appearances. But then something came across my desk that, for multiple reasons, put "adequate" to shame.

Obituaries don't grant their authors a second chance. So when Buzzy Whitt died early this year, his daughter Alisa knew she had only 12 hours to write a memoriam and make the local paper's deadline. What she crafted in that time is a clinic in unvarnished tributing. With humor, tenderness and plain spoken poignancy, Alisa spreads out the puzzle of a life whose pieces don't all snap together the way they're expected to. Her style flirts with the bizarre in a way that perfectly befits the life it honors. Most importantly, she holds enough respect for the man her father really was not to spin him into a saint or scholar. Her summation of Buzzy's journey treats us to uncommon, irreverent insights on a host of life's fundamentals:

On Finding One's Niche: "He built a garage in his backyard and did work for all sorts of men, young and old, souping up their cars with Chevrolet big block V8 engines. He put a 427 into more than one SuperSport. He put a 427 into a Porsche. He put a 427 into a Camaro. He was, apparently, the go-to-guy if you wanted a 427 engine in your anything."

On Transformations: "With the police in pursuit, Buzzy stepped on an iron rake that smacked down those two teeth into a position where they would stay for most of the rest of his life."

On Perseverance: "Since Buzzy had lost his right arm to a bush hog in 1997, he developed a habit of using his mouth for things most use their other hand to accomplish. That's hard duty on teeth, and he continued to use them as tools [until] one of them finally gave up the fight and exited the scene."

On Friendship: "...If anyone knows what happened to the monkey, it would be Bill Macy, Buzzy's oldest friend. Bill is the only person who could manage to stay on speaking terms with Buzzy for seventy years. For that we remain ever grateful, since Buzzy got pickier and pickier about the company he kept."

On Family: "Lakin Barnes, Rhonda's son with her ex-husband Mark Barnes, is the closest Buzzy [had] to a grandchild. Lakin looks enough like Buzzy…and Buzzy was closer to Lakin than any child, so there is that."

And, finally, On Priorities: "In lieu of flowers the family respectfully requests that memorial contributions be directed to the Pulaski County Humane Society…Buzzy had some varied opinions about people, but he loved animals. And Chevrolet.

Please enjoy Alisa's work in its entirety, and try not to rush to conclusions. Sometimes we're fortunate enough to come across something so unique, we don't know what to make of it. And at first blush, the piece can seem like a joke. In the end, however, there's no doubt Buzzy and his obituary were as real as they come.

Perhaps this is the challenge Alisa has unintentionally issued us all. On behalf of ourselves and our brands, what if we spoke freely? What if we messaged as if there were nothing left to prove? What if every assignment were treated like an obituary?

In lieu of closing your browser, the writer respectfully requests that you "Like," share, or comment on this post—Michael was full of shit, and he knew better than to claim otherwise.

 

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