« Archives in December, 2011


“They were living in a single wide with a Hispanic family with six kids. That’s ten people in a single wide! Imagine.”

The 30-year old man who said this to me lived in a double wide with his wife, three kids, one dog, three cats, and two rats…pet rats.  I’ll never forget the first time I met the rats.

I had just arrived at the double wide to visit the boy I had mentored for the previous two years and who was now living in this mobile home under foster care.  I said hello to the boy, now thirteen, his foster parents, two other foster children—both handicapped (the “they” referred to above)—the dog, and the three cats. Still trying to assimilate this familial scene, I was then asked if I would like to meet the final two members of the household—an introduction that would require a trip to the bathroom. With caution bordering trepidation, I followed the 30-year old man into the bathroom where I was instructed to look into the tub. There I came face-to-face with two unsettlingly large rodents…creatures with which I felt no sense of bonding and had previously seen only in the wild inner city, where I gave them wide (double or triple wide, if possible) berth.
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“MAD MAN”…Synopsis

“MAD MAN” chronicles a personal journey through the creative corridors of advertising agencies and the locked wards of psychiatric institutions. It spans the 30+ years from the late ’60s to the New Millennium; from New York’s Madison Avenue to Hartford’s Institute of Living; from Baltimore’s blue collars to London’s High Teas; from the mind-numbing effects of electroconvulsive shock therapy to the Machiavellian challenges of an international business portfolio. It is about a search to find one’s self among the eclectic cast of life’s characters.

The book begins in New York’s Son of Sam summer of 1977, on the rooftop ledge of the 47th Street YMCA. Looking down on the torn and twisted vision of his lifeless body sprawled on the 47th Street macadam, the author ponders his lost grip on life, even as he fears losing grip of his tenuous hold on the rooftop fence post. The story quickly evolves from suicidal thoughts to suicidal reality, against the backdrop of a wife and three kids at home, an affair at the office, and a mind that is simultaneously seduced by sexual opportunism and tormented by unforgiving guilt.

The book then proceeds into the dark hole of intensive psychiatric care. The reader will enter the locked wards of New York’s Bellevue Hospital, New Jersey’s Carrier Clinic, and Connecticut’s Institute of Living to experience the therapeutic effects of electroshock and the claustrophobic feel of straitjackets, padded rooms, cold wetpacks, and 24/7 “constant” supervision. We meet the characters that populate those worlds—characters who rekindle the author’s appetite for the edge and call up his recollections of the “relatively sane” world of advertising. »Read More

“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.

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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.”
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“MAD MAN”…A MEMOIR – Sample Chapter

My march to madness had been steadily gathering steam since 1968—my freshman year as a grown-up.

I had just graduated from college and was sleeping on a day bed on the back porch of the home of my fiancé in New Jersey, trying to second-guess the odds of getting a job in New York versus getting my ass shot off in Vietnam.

It was a crazy time. Martin Luther King had been killed. Bobby Kennedy was about to be killed. America’s psyche was totally shredded by the war. And I had a wedding date breathing down my neck.

“You did what?” My bride-to-be screamed. She and her parents were downright apoplectic when I announced that I had decided to sign up for Officer Candidate School. “They shoot the officers first, you know. Our guys, I mean,” my fiance’s brother knowingly pronounced.
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