“MAD MAN”…A MEMOIR – Prologue

VALENTINE’S DAY 2000—London, England… A plain brown envelope arrives in the morning post. It contains a single sheet of paper that terminates my employment from the advertising agency where I have worked for more than 20 years—the ad agency of which I am a senior partner and head of international operations. I gaze out the floor-to-ceiling windows of my 8th Floor office overlooking London’s fashionable Covent Garden and think about my partners in Detroit—the bastards with the controlling shareholdings who have thoughtfully given me two weeks to pack up and get out. Happy fucking Valentine’s Day to them too.

*  *  *

It had been more than 30 years since I first entered the ad agency business in Manhattan—a fresh-faced kid just graduated from Rutgers. And more than 20 years since I left my last psychiatric hospital—a veteran of a rehabilitation regimen of straitjackets, rubber rooms, electroconvulsive shock therapy, and a rather novel treatment known as the “cold wetpack.”

Along the way, I married two women, lived with a third, bedded countless others, fathered four children, and buried one. I’d been a Vice President, a Vice Chairman and a Chief Executive of major international ad agencies, and the Unit Chairman of the locked ward of one of America’s leading mental health facilities. I had sat across the table from the heads of major multinational corporations, been handcuffed by New York’s Finest, lost myself in the intoxicating netherworld of French Quarter excess, and summered in magnificent villas on the French Riviera. I took High Tea in London’s finest hotels and warm tea on Nepal’s Himalayan foothills, spent the longest night of my life at a dinner party in a Cheyne Walk mansion overlooking the River Thames seated between the Queen’s cousin on one side and Sol Kerzner’s fashion model girlfriend on the other, and had the briefest of personal encounters with a solitary Lady Di on a rainy Kensington Gardens’ morning.

I’d come a long way from Baltimore’s Pigtown and now, thanks to my Valentine from Detroit, I’d be heading home to write about the journey.

*  *  *

From altar boy to college jock, pinstripes to straitjackets, mental patient to international advertising executive, well paid to unemployed, my life has been anything but predictable. It has, however, had one constant—the seemingly endless search for identity and self-validation.


In Darkness Visible, William Styron defines madness from an impressively cerebral perspective.

In Me Talk Pretty One Day, and others of his books, David Sedaris is seriously funny.


I make no claim to being as cerebral as Styron or as funny as Sedaris. But like Styron, I relate to Baudelaire’s wonderful line: “I have felt the wind of the wing of madness.”  And like Sedaris, I appreciate the absurdity of life’s experiences, and I get a therapeutic kick out of writing about my own.


Welcome to my head.


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