Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Madison Avenue

My dad was the quintessential NYC adman - classic 1960's Madison Avenue type. He worked as a Head Creative Guy for a bunch of agencies, when they really were on that avenue. Then he got an offer he couldn't refuse. To work for that charming entrepreneurial maniac Charles Revson at Revlon. He had some amazing stories about that time. We lived on Park Avenue at 80th. I crawled across ad storyboards and commercial shoot props, before I learned to walk. He was 6'4", thin, dapper, full of stories, sharp as a tack when it came to words. He's got dementia now. Doesn't know who the hell I am, when I visit the hospital, but grins his charismatic salesman's grin as I enter his room. "Dad, do you know my name?" I asked the other day. He couldn't come up with it, but said, "Didn't we work together in New York?" Would that we did, would that we did.

Later we moved to Riverdale, NY -- the green rolling hilly suburbs, compared to NYC. Most kids had a hobby horse. My sisters and I rode a sphinx. In my house, we grew up with every prop that appeared in any ad my dad had ever worked on. If you saw the 60's Revlon ads with Suzy Parker painted up in sexy Egyptian eye makeup, heavy black mascara, you probably saw my sphinx. She was draped across it. This was no run-of-the-mill sphinx. It was a sturdy, paper mache sphinx, sandy yellow, strong enough to carry three young girls bareback for an arid ride across the vast desert of our cedar attic at 4925 Arlington Avenue.