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.


  1. Those old RCI days seem so long ago now. You were traveling to Grand Rapids, I was hearing about your Taos book, and I'd go to your cube just to get away and laugh. I really can't believe it's been 19 years! And then there was Chi babysitting for my daughter - who now has a daughter of her own! Susan Beversluis

  2. Tom (tranquill_tom@yahoo.comApril 1, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    Congratulation, my old friend, college roommate, strange and twisted humorist, procurer of women for unsuspecting friends (Remember Arlene, whose voice was three octives deeper than mine? ) and old drinking buddy (rememember the gin and 7up? I believe you were the one that said that said it "smelled like Christmas Trees." Thank god we advanced to better booze!). Who knew this drunken old Irishman would be celebrating 30 years of sobriety this month. You were such a bad influence!

    Careening? Careening! I can't bellieveb you are still bitching about my driving! It's a shame you never had the opportunity to ride with me in my little, red, midlife-crisis sports car throught the Sierras!

    Congrats, too, on the weight loss. At YOUR AGE It's a good thing. Me, too.
    I can now spit in a public urinal without having to wipe the spit off my belly!
    Just one more of my great accomplishments, which pales compared to yours!

  3. John,

    You are such an inspiration! You came up with the idea to have your own company and you simply did it! Little fan-fare and your probably didn't even have a business plan let alone numbers crunched by Jim May! But you had a vision and a strong work ethic -- as well as tremendous talent. You humor has served you well -- and your wife Lois has served you even better! :)

    It is great working with you again. Here's wishing you many more years of laughter and success!

    Lisa Fohl

  4. John,

    Congratulations. May your 20th year be a blessing to your clients and a boon to your well-being.

  5. Congrats! One the days it seems like 40, remember the days it seems like five. If you're like me, you wouldn't trade it for anything.