How I Got to Madison Avenue. And beyond.

As with life, this blog is developing and changing. It began with a lot of stories that occurred on my career path from Albany to Madison Avenue and back.

There were some similarities to the AMC series "Mad Men," and then I went even farther back in time with a somewhat fictionalized version of growing up in Troy's Little Italy.

And now, a new development. As my free lance advertising and marketing career winds down, I'm becoming more interested in the theatre arts that my father and his 3 brothers helped instill in me as I grew up.

As a result, I've volunteered to help promote the Theatre Institute at Sage, and now, to continue a long-interrupted desire to be behind the proscenium, I've joined the newly formed Troy Civic Theatre, and was actually fortunate enough to appear in their first production.

So, I hope you'll enjoy the new stories that will develop from this latest turn.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The River House & the Pied a Terre

This is the way the riverside house and I looked in 1988, when I bought it. Anyone who has seen it recently probably wouldn't recognize it. I've done a lot of remodeling and expanding, so the only things that are the same are the lantern light behind me, above my head, and the walkway at my feet. (Oh, and I still have that sweater, given to me by one of my daughters.)

I had two more years of working in Manhattan ahead of me, but this house kept calling me back, so that I would spend long weekends, then all my vacations, and finally, in 1990, I took a three month leave of absence to stay here and write, knowing full well that the agency's terms were that they wouldn't have to take me back when the sabbatical was over.

They didn't, so I effectively left the job without quitting and without getting fired. In fact, I offered to work for them 3 days a week, an offer they could refuse. But soon a smart agency owner in Albany knew it was a good deal, and so I was back, pretty much where I began, but with more skill, more maturity, and more time for myself.

I also had a neat little studio apartment rental on the upper east side, on 94th Street, that a agency producer had been renting for years, and only gave up because she bought a condo in an up and coming section of Brooklyn.

It was a fourth floor walk up, but that was manageable, and, being a lucky person, I found a sub-let deal that was almost too good to be true. It was an Albany resident who took a job with the National Audubon Society in Manhattan. He didn't want to move his family to the city, so he used the apartment from Monday morning until Friday afternoon, leaving it to me to use for weekend trips to continue to enjoy New York's museums and shows. (I even got a free lance job because of the acquaintance, and created a series of one-minute public service spots called "The Audubon Answer," featuring my interviews with Audubon experts. It was awarded an environmental prize from the United Nations.)

The apartment was basically one room, with a small alcove for a bed, a galley kitchen with a pass-through to the main space, which had a fold-down table that a previous occupant had installed, and a small bathroom.

The rent was miniscule, thanks to the many years of one-renter minimum raises. New York City's rent controlled and rent-regulated increases made it possible for even a mid-level creative like me to keep it for years.

I don't have any photos of that little apartment, but I do remember that it was the only Manhattan apartment I had ever been in that didn't need a regular spraying to keep roaches away. It didn't have any, because there was a dry cleaning establishment at the base of the building, and that acted as a repellent.

If only it had repelled some of the women I dated. But then again, if it had, I wouldn't have the stories I'm about to start relating.

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