Anti-Heroin TV Commercial

Once again, I was very fortunate to be able to work on another anti-heroin TV commercial that was aired locally during the Super Bowl.  I use the word fortunate with a certain amount of hesitation for fear of leaving a impression of professional pride.  There is no room for such an attitude when trying to raise awareness of a what has become a horrific epidemic in our country.  Last year’s spot was a wake up call, whose style affected some viewers especially initally, in a negative way.  But it was tremendously successful in doing what it was intended to so; initiate one of the toughest conversations a parent can have with a child.  (I have to admit I was rather confounded by those who criticized the commercial for disturbing the family tranquility while they were watching a sport now proven to cause devastating, if not fatal, brain damage.)  All of us who worked on the spots are acutely aware of the rare opportunity we have had to trying to combat this crisis, to “elevate the public discourse” as Howard Weismann writes on the NCADA website, to galvanize not just those immediately impacted by the ongoing tragedy but those who have been standing on the sidelines deluding themselves in assigning it as someone else’s problem.  Time to wake up.  It is everyone’s problem and since congress cannot seem to find it’s way out of the wet paper bag of it own making, it will be up to the people’s voice to demand solutions that yes, might cost dollars upfront but like any smart investments, save all countless in the end….not to mention the lives themselves.  And for these reasons I say, I was fortunate.

I also want to thank Scott Smith for his wonderful second camera work and support and Sean Funcik for his talent and energy that they both brought to the project.  And of course to Mark Schupp, whose dedication to the cause is defatigable and inspiring and to Tipper O’Brien for the great script.  It is a rare and special opportunity to work with such great talent on such an important cause.


So now that the debate is done and the air has cleared, we are no closer to clarity on anything except that global warming is being caused by Donald Trump’s bombastic hot air.  Now the sideshow is about who can be the toughest as they all clench their soft bellies as they strike their Rambo poses.  Graham even waxes poetic about G.W. although it is obvious that too much blood is being diverted from his brain to other parts of his body to recognize the fundamental causal fact that we are in this mess because of the failed jingoism of G.W.  In a collective nod to amnesia, all of the candidates are clinging to the hubristic and by now, historically discredited bromide that all the rest of the world needs is a healthy dose of American democracy, despite the vacuum of post-op care required for the sovereign patients to make the gender change.  The crusading morality that filled the stage is the same brand that allowed the Bush triumvirate to embrace Chalabi who was just one of many who knew how to play America for the fool.  The candidates should know by now that you can teach others a language but you cannot force them to speak it.  Teddie C’s precision carpet bombing – boy, I certainly hope he gets his term straight before he moves into the role of Dr. Strangelove – will do only what America seems to do best in that region, create division and power vacuum.  Of course, ISIS is a global danger that demands a coordinated, global response but like any cancer it is going to take more than radical surgery to eliminate it especially if you want the patient to recover.  And if we learned anything at all from the debacle of Iraq, America needs, needs to listen to, and needs to respect its allies.  America has never won a war by itself (okay, we can debate the Spanish-American War but Grenada doesn’t count) and it is time to stop deluding itself into believing that America can do it alone this time around either.  So instead of bluster, braggadocio and bullying, it would be hear what real policy might sound like if their debate was rooted in humility, not hubris.  Perhaps then they would have greater appreciation of the value of learning from history, rather than being doomed to repeat it. Maybe then, their trumpeted sense of Christian virtue would be less sanctimonious and more reflective of what it means to serve as sewards of this earth.  Maybe then they would start understanding the difference between ideological belief and fact, scientific and otherwise, that would allow them to address climate change, erosion of the middle class (the backbone of a capitalist democracy) and gun violence (which has nothing to do with prohibition, the 2nd amendment nor the loss of liberty but with a sane approach to deal with an insane problem), to name just a few of the countless issues of equal or greater importance to the welfare of this country than ISIS. And maybe, just maybe if we are lucky and pray really, really hard, a dose of humility will allow for the emergence of visionary leaders for this confused and troubled country.

Morning coffee

On the cusp of what is likely to be another travesty of a debate, I have been pondering the idea of America’s greatness or lack thereof.  Is there validity in considering such a concept and even if we believe there is, what is its relevance to a world stage whose roots are so different than ours?

To some, and I would posit, sadly to a majority, greatness is defined foremost by power, notably militarily although economic hegemony has always been a sword less articulated but welded nonetheless.  According to this view, all of America’s other achievements flow from the premise of a mighty military – and victorious – nation.  But it also demands a healthy dose of hubris that can obscure both America’s resistance to risk lives in order to combat emerging world orders in the early 20th century, and America’s failures in the fights of Korea (okay, standoff) and most notably, Vietnam.  Now more than ever we are a nation whose attitude is yes, we are all in just as long as the “we” remains in the hands of the 5% or so who serve in the arm forces.  Imagine what a conscription or better yet, a war tax would do to such a comfortable war by proxy mindset.  Our drone wars are mere extensions of a video game culture that expects a victorious outcome if we only can master the controller.  But a definition of greatness, rooted in concept of military might, reduces the value of the nation to a league table of tracking our wins, losses, draws.  Worse it fuels an identity dependent upon more than any other that type of scorecard.  It fails to take into account other ways to serve, other ways to be truly great.

Where that concept of greatness begins, what are its roots, I will ponder in another entry. Right now, I need a refill of my morning cup.


Here we are again….

When I left the studio of which I was a partner for so many years, I established my own site and with it a blog, although I admit more for reasons of SEO than any passion to swim in the waters of social media. Then, as now, our country was immersed in a political campaign, and because I find the process as fascinating as nauseating, I used the blog as a forum for political commentary instead of the more responsible purpose of selling myself.  Now as then, I presume that the general public within and beyond the bounds of my profession have far more important things – like focus groups – to attend to than reading the blog of yet another photographer/videographer.  So I will avail myself of this space, isolate space of the digital universe to comment, rant, pontificate….in short, follow the habits of the pundits and the ignorant alike (although confessing that at times, the difference between the two is marginal at best).

What fascinates me most of all about this season of political reality TV is that as much as I exoriated Mitt for his hypocrisy as much as his projected policies, I now look upon that campaign with a certain nostalgic glow in light of the travesty we are witnessing currently.  Of course we are once again confronted with this country’s greatest irony; having the whiteness of Iowa set the tone of a campaign to elect a president to govern a nation of many colors.  (The second greatest irony is that the Republican anti-government rhetoric finds such a following in one of the most subsidized (or to use the “w” word, welfared) state in the country).  However, the fact that the campaign is devoid of meaningful debate is not the fault of the candidates; it is the result of a population that has lost its sense of self, that finds its identity in the platitudes of a snake-oil salesman, that refuses to accept that the word is made up grays, rather than the simplicities of black and white.  It is the same populace, comprised of educated and uneducated alike, that thought an invasion of Irag would bring relief to its comfortable world view without even trying to understand the enormous complexities of Sunnis and Shiites and Baathists and etc. because to do so becomes just too sticky.  A world order of black and white allows for an unrepetant blame claim and renunciation of facts (ignoring Moynihan’s famous dictum – paraphrasing – that everyone is entitled to their opinions but not to their own facts).  Climate change is not a question of science or fact – yes, Virginia (and apologies to all the Virginias out there), the waters are rising and the earth is getting warmer – but another trench on the battlefield of this ideological war where stalement is not an option.  It is a mindset that confuses education with wisdom, fostering the absurdity that having an advanced degree from a university imparts wisdom instead of just a degree.  Wisdom, if it is ever attained, often has little to do with formal education.  Indeed, from what we know, Salomon didn’t even attend school.  So, once again, we find ourselves falling down, ever deeper, in the rabbit hole of ideological stupidity and sadly, for the most part, we seem pretty comfortable with it.

Guardians of Grace

Recently, I was fortunate to work again for one of my favorite clients, Grace Hill Settlement.  Originally established in 1903 by the Episcopal Diocese with the purpose of helping immigrant families to settle in the area, it’s mission has expanded to provide a host of integrated services to families in the areas they serve, so that they can become “stronger, healthier and more self-reliant”.  Located in north St. Louis, they have been a critical resource for the most disenfranchised.  To read about and admire such organizations from afar pales in comparison to witnessing their work first hand.  It not only reveals the passion of those who choose to dedicate their lives to helping others, often against the political tides, in a culture that often chooses evasion as the expedient method of confronting the overwhelming issues, but also the commitment of the volunteers, from students to board members, to making Grace Hill mission statement a reality.

Guardians of Grace is an award the organization presents to persons or companies who have shown a measure of devotion worthy of recognition.  There is one word that I would use to describe all the recipients….humility.  And given their remarkable achievements, that is rare and wonderful characteristic.

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