Thursday, April 1, 2010

A very long time ago, in a land two floors up

I have a framed card on the wall of our offices that announces the formation of Sherman & Co. Public Relations on April 1, 1991. On that day, in the guest bedroom, I sat down to a big boxy computer (green lettering on a black screen), a thermal-paper (read: slimy) fax machine, a huge photocopier, and a 300 dpi gigantic printer nearby. Logo, business cards, letterhead, envelopes, phone and fax lines - all done.

Dressed in a T-shirt and shorts and barefoot, I sighed, reached for the phone, and began making calls, since I didn't have e-mail, not even my first one: five numbers, a comma (yes, a comma) and four more numbers @ (If you remember those, you're older than you are admitting publicly). That, and so much else, came later. Oh, and I didn't have a single client, so there was a bit of pressure, shall we say, to get on the phone and make appointments (but, "no dress shirt, no shoes, no clients" requirements).

This morning, just for the hell of it, I'm sitting here, barefoot (appropriate "attire" for the farm boy that I am), in a T-shirt that I can now wear again, having lost weight - has "Paris" written on it in wild colors -- and a pair of shorts that are dangerously loose around the waist (see "lost weight" above). Feels good. Makes me want to go back to Paris. And eat.

This morning, I counted the plants in our offices (now occupying all of the rooms in our large basement, with an outside entrance and nine glass-block windows) and I came up with 35, but I may have missed a couple. Perhaps I forgot to count the two wheezing, brown ones in the far corner? Big, small, all subject to my role as a self-proclaimed "tough-love gardener" who will be nice to them, as long as they return the favor, or else I replace them with my take-no-plants approach.

The tropical rain forest complements an uncountable number of framed works of art and prints, awards, and photos of all sorts - even have an aerial view of the crowds on the bridge connecting the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington Cemetery, taken on Monday, November 25, 1963, that I am going to caption, "John, others at JFK Funeral" - somewhere, near the Lincoln, I'm standing, having driven all night from Bloomington. (Technically, since I didn't know yet how to drive a shift, I rode all the way, as we careened in the middle of the night around the curves of West Virginia mountains in those pre-Interstate days.)

But I digress. Also down here, surrounded by plants and paintings, are computers, printers (1200 dpi, color, etc.), a plain-paper fax, photocopier, scanners, and so on and so on....And copies of the five books I've had published since 1991, along with one revised edition of another. And the libretto of the opera "Biafra" ( to view what's been performed of it so far).

So, today we begin our 20th year. Seems like five. Seems like 40.

Wiggling my toes, enjoying the sunshine, the good memories, great employees, great clients.