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 4, 2012

Technology, Then & Now

I've been having some interesting discussions with friends recently, about how technology has changed and advanced over the years.

One friend/client who has worked for a couple of leading tech companies based in the Albany, NY area, and doing business on a world-wide scale, has suggested that I write a book about the changes I've seen in just one lifetime of working in radio and advertising. And I will take on her challenge.

A locally-based artistic couple I know have begun an exciting venture to engage the art world in the world of business, to the benefit of both. Their ideas are taking shape and they've already had successes that have brought them to the attention of major corporations.

That's a long intro to something that may seem completely off the point: A movie made in France by a true auteur in 1948, when I was just a boy.

The movie is “Jour de Fete,” the first full-length feature by Jacques Tati, who is more famous for his tour de force, “Mr. Hulot's Holiday.” Years ago, I managed to find an old vhs copy of the black and white version, and was enthralled.

Like Tati's later work, “Jour de Fete,” or “Festival Day,” or “The Big Day,” has no plot. It's simply a charming recreation of the day that the carnival comes to a rustic town, with spot-on characterizations of the inhabitants, including a technology-obsessed postman, played by the writer/director himself.

It's postwar France, and in the film tent that the carnival brings to town, they're showing a newsreel about the latest advances in mail delivery in the United States. Hilarity ensues.

But the best reason that “Jour de Fete” fits my theme today, is the fact that way back in 1948, Tati filmed the movie two ways – black and white, and color. Unfortunately, he chose a color system that didn't catch on, called ThomsonColor. In fact, it was impractical, if not impossible, to process back then, so Tati released the film in black and white, with a few spots of color, which he himself painstakingly hand-painted, frame by frame, in the same manner that Georges Melies used at the turn of the 20th Century. I imagine that Tati himself must have seen Melies work when he was a boy, and was metaphorically standing on Melies' shoulders. (Scorcese pays homage to Melies in his award-winning recent film, “Hugo.”)

Here's the kicker: A few years ago, it became technologically possible to convert Tati's full color version into reality, and his daughter, Sophie Tatischeff, oversaw it. Here's a teaser.

A Tati fan in Europe has created comparisons between the versions, which you can see here.

And so, yes, it exists today, although not commercially available for those of us on this side of the Atlantic to see. Unless, of course, you know someone with enough tech know-how to find it online, and copy it so that you can see it on your computer. Thank goodness, I do.

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