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, April 8, 2012


Last winter (you remember last winter, don't you?) there was one extremely cold Saturday. It happened to be the day that I was scheduled to appear as the judge in two enhanced staged readings of the play, "The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge" by the recently-formed Troy CivicTheatre.

It was also the day that a furnace that heats half of my house on the Mohawk quit.

It could have been a disaster, but it was avoided. The outcome was so good, in fact, that I, a seasoned creative director and advertising copywriter, wrote a testimonial for the local outfit that saved the day, Umbrella of Colonie. Here's what I wrote:

They say the show must go on, and it did, thanks to Umbrella of Colonie. It happened on the Saturday a week before Christmas Eve – the Saturday of the first fund-raising production of a new community theatre company, the Troy Civic Theatre. And on the coldest day of the year.

I was cast in a pivotal role – the irascible judge who presides at “The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge,” a “sequel” to Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol,” in which the old miser sues his dead partner, Jacob Marley, and the Spirits of Christmas for all the indignities they subjected him to a year before.

As I was preparing to leave the house for a mid-morning call, I noticed that one half of the house was colder than the other. A furnace was not working. I had a half an hour to get to Troy, and no way to get to the furnace, which is in a crawl space under my unusual house. And no handyman skills to fix it, even if I could get to it.

I've been a member of Umbrella of Colonie for a couple of years now, because for a nominal monthly fee based on income, the service is on call for all sorts of services, emergency and otherwise. They screen the people who do the work – painting, cleaning, home and lawn maintenance and repairs of all kinds, provide carbon monoxide detectors, perform a safety check – and regulate the hourly fees for the work. It's a service that helps seniors like me stay in their homes, safe and secure.

I called, left a detailed message about the problem and how to get to the furnace, left the back door open, and got to the theatre on time, and while I was on stage, the workman showed up, sized up the problem, and left his number with the assistant at the theatre.

I called him back when the show was over and the applause died down, and as soon as the parts were available early the next week, the HVAC expert showed up on time, got the furnace working and even saved me money by finding and solving a smaller problem than originally suspected.

So, if you're a senior in the Town of Colonie, and you haven't signed up for the services of Umbrella of Colonie, I have just one question for you: Why the dickens not?

A couple of months ago, I decided to have Umbrella of Colonie recommend others who could get my house in tip-top shape so I could put the house on the market. My judgments of them was the same -- I was very pleased with the painter, window washer, fence menders and pressure-washers they provided.

And just as Umbrella of Colonie's April newsletter showed up, this listing appeared. (You can see photos of the house and the incredible view there.)

So the judging didn't stop there, of course. Over the past couple of weeks, many people have come to see and judge my house.

And one was even a judge. A real one.

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