I know a few pr agencies where the office is like a sorority. And that’s just fine if you’re into the girly thing. I’m not so much. Though our office is mostly women, this is a fun but generally serious bunch. When the office operates like a sorority things can get a little silly. Our industry can tend toward the dramatic, so why add to it? But when summer rolls around and I’m not headed to Shelter Island for a little rest and relaxation I do work on my tan at Soho House. They have a pool on the roof and it has an old home feel for me. Having spent most of my formative years in Miami there is definitely a kinship between that roof and that town. And this is where the sorority part comes in....on one of those Fridays I may ask someone from the office if they want to come to the pool to work. They have wireless after all, and even though I’M not drinking, there is an excellent menu and lots of fun drinks — for them. So sometimes I think it is ok to bring the sorority into play. I just have to invite everyone, one person at a time...
When I started in business the general assumption was that one would get a fair wage for a fair day's work. That day ended at 5PM. Period. Of course, I was entry level and living in Miami-which is not New York, meaning most people leave at a "normal" hour. When I did move to NYC and I was in a new entry level job (one often needs a reinvention) my hours expanded, dramatically. This was a working town and if you weren't here to work, what the heck were you here for anyway?
So, work I did. Along the way, I found out that I was pretty darned ambitious. A town like this will reward the diligent., try it and see, it works. Work, work, work. For goodness sake. And those who worked for me worked too. It was INTENSE. I'm in the communications business and like the town that never sleeps, pr never stops. Especially with crackberries.
But lo! in the past 2 years I've begun to experience a sea of change. My staff isn't necessarily working less (the DEFINITELY don't think they are) but things are shifting. The urgency associated with our business still exists, but somehow it feels less urgent. One of the biggest signposts of change is my acceptance of "shorthand." Everyone from the client to the associate is "tightening" things up. Maybe because time is "tighter". Maybe because our lexicon has been reduced to letters and not words - lol. Honestly, I don't know what's going on, but I'm fascinated. So, I think I'll dedicate this blog over the next few months to reflect on "observations from the office." Unfortunately, my staff will be the guinea pigs, but things could be worse. They have a pretty kick butt summer schedule. Lol.
So, I guess our favorite lady of fashion, Anna Wintour, and our runway critic extraordinaire, Michael Kors, are making news these days debating, or maybe agreeing, (can't keep it straight) on whether or not 16 years of age is an appropriate cut off time for runway models. First of all, is it ever a good age to be a model? Maybe that's the real question. Tough life, ultimately, bad on the ego, generally. But that's another story...
16, what was I doing when I was 16? What wasn't I doing when I was 16 is more the question. Honestly it being the 80's in Miami and me being your normal teenager, I'm sure I was doing more than I should have been doing.
Which gets to the point (at least sort of) here. 16 is actually both very young and quite mature in today's society. With access to just about everything thanks to the internet and a general sophistication in terms in what these kids know and are often exposed to (think proliferation of media and relaxed "standards") 16 really is like going on 40, not to mention 13, 14 or 15.
If you're under 16 and your parent consents to your involvement in a runway show have at it. BUT PARENTS BEWARE you may be setting your young one up for a future of insecurity, bad body issues, etc. Oh gosh, was I a runway model and didn't know it? Lol...
Best age yet? 47!
This AM I was in my 42nd floor apartment looking out at an early morning NYC vista and dancing to Lime. That's a group that was popular in the early 80s when I lived in Miami. I started thinking about the somewhat odd trajectory of my life - there have been quite a few phases...
Back when I was in high school there were the rocker years. Then, there was the helicopter, Porsche, Cigarette boat years. That's when the Saudis came to town and my girlfriend was seeing Don Johnson (oh gosh!). Then, I was redeemed by art and I moved to EARLY South Beach (lived in the apartment building Gianni Versace made into a private home) and co-founded an art "movement" ahem... Next, I moved to NYC and started all over again. When I was working as a receptionist at a PR agency, one of the VPs came back from a trip to Miami and said, “Val, you're a little well known down there.” Who knew? Hey, I needed a re-invention.
And now here I am, in the WORKING phase. That phase in which you seem to WORK all the time. I missed the baby producing years, sigh. Oh, and I rediscovered my faith, something I guess I had all along and got me through all the SCARY years...
Well, we're about to launch a new business, so I'm thinking about my past. Honestly, if I could do it over again there are DEFINITELY things I would do differently. But you can't go back, just forward. So, I'm looking forward to my future and getting ready for a new phase that's looking pretty darn good from where I'm sitting (on the exercise bicycle in my gym). LOL!
I remember when I first starting looking at Vogue in the 1970’s. I was in junior high school, living in Miami (which was super sleepy, almost a hick town, honestly) and living on my mother’s seamstress salary. Obviously, I wasn’t shopping for anything in Vogue, but I was dreaming. And here’s the thing, it wasn’t all about the clothes. The 70’s was a pretty dismal time economically, gas lines, etc. Vogue was an escape, especially for a young girl who had a desire to “get to the big city.” And that big city would be New York, of course. Oh, and throw Paris in while you’re at it. There were plenty of sexy, cool images (think Helmut Newton) and there were exotic locations and SUPER skinny models and everyone seemed to be dating a glam rocker (like Bryan Ferry). It was cool, and far away and UNDERGROUND. Because there was an underground then. Word of mouth was it, back then. If you weren’t connected you were out.
True, we often look back on our life and think it was better back then... Everyone does it, and ultimately it was never much better and often it was worse. But if I was a fashion magazine I’d work toward making things a bit more surreal, a lot more out of reach and as underground as possible. This concept may fly in the face of current thinking — we are all citizen reporters, aren’t we? Everything is accessible, right? BUT, that’s what made those books interesting in the bad old days. Or, I guess fashion can just accept that their bibles are on the way out. I sure do hope not, ‘cause there are still a lot of dreamers out there. Little girls, and big girls.
My grandfather was the patriarch of my family. He died yesterday at the age of 99, just a day after his birthday. He was blessed to have been in good health up to the end. At that age the body just gives out, which is what happened to him. He just slowly wound down until he didn’t have anything more to give.
I loved my grandfather. He was a stoic man. He shared little of what he was thinking, but you knew you could always rely on him when you needed him. Growing up I had wished he was a little more warm and fuzzy—all kids want that kindly grandfather type. But what I didn’t get in the way of warmth I got in the way of security. And I never doubted that he loved us, it just took some growing up to realize his style of love was different from what you saw in the movies.
Speaking of movies, I love old Hollywood films. I’m actually pretty obsessed with the past 100 years of pop culture. My grandfather had incredible stories from growing up in New York City in the ‘30s. He would frequent bars I knew in the West Village, or spend summer afternoons on the Island. He was a scratch golfer and caddied at the ripe age of 8 (in 1918) at one of the oldest golf courses in the country (Knollwood in Westchester). As an avid golfer I was thrilled when he gave me some gutta-percha balls he had found on the course way back when. It was exciting to hear his stories because it brought all my backward musings to life, gave them real life context.
After New York, the family moved to Miami in the forties and they would spend summers in New Hampshire where he caddied at a resort. It sounded like a storybook to me, a great old film. Up until the time he entered the nursing home my grandfather maintained our family homestead in North Miami—a little bungalow where he raised his four children. Over the years the house remained the same, as did the modest neighborhood—a rarity in the land of over development. When I’d go to see him it felt just the way it did when I was a kid visiting from North Carolina—a little subtropical haven with fruit trees and spiky grass, lizards and parrots roosting in the eaves.
I’m going to miss my grandfather, but I am so thankful that he died well (just like my grandmother). He may not have led a glamorous life, but he enjoyed the life he had been granted. And it was a good one, a solid, simple good life. Bye-bye, Poppy, see you later!
I’m actually not with the band, but love the sentiment. Imagine popping around the country with some hot guys in a bus (hmmm, could skip the bus part). What is the allure of the traveling rock band? Maybe it’s just not caring about tomorrow, letting your hair down, you know? I haven’t done that in a long time and I was never really great at just letting go—but growing up in Miami meant there was actually plenty of opportunity to hang out with all kinds of interesting characters. Anyway, what has this got to do with communications? It’s my theme for the week—don’t try too hard. What was always a little freaky for me back then was the idea of just losing control. But sometimes you have to let go to gain control. Simple, yes (it’s a theme I told you), but it works. So give it a whirl. And if your client gives you a hard time just tell them you’re giving up pr and taking up with the band. It will make them laugh, if nothing else.