Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kortrijk, Belgium

For a long time, my husband worked for a Belgian company, based in Kortrijk, Belgium. He would travel there, a couple of times a year.

Once, we took the kids on a combo business trip/family vacation, starting in Paris. It was very exciting to be in Paris then, as it was the beginning of the 98 World Cup, and there were fans in large groups, thronging the cities and the trains. We saw more fans, in random train stations, when we then traveled to Kortrijk. The Brazilians, with their instruments and noise, and the Dutch, dressed all in orange, were particularly exciting to run across.

Kortrijk is not an interesting town, but we were glad to meet some of my husband's colleagues and see where he spent a lot of time. From there, we took a day trip to Brugge, a beautiful, historic Belgian town not far from Kortrujk.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Postcard Advertising - Mr. Jenkins

Found. Mr. Jenkins postcards, from a famous Tanqueray Gin ad campaign in the 90s. A month ago, I mentioned Mr. Jenkins when I featured Mel, Mr. Jenkins' female and vodka counterpart in a previous posting on postcard advertising.

This eccentric, celebrity-like, but not celebrity, endorser is very much the precursor of "The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign, currently running for Dos Equis Beer. Both appeal to a potentially aspirational male self-perception: Mr. Jenkins as bon vivant, sipping on gin martinis in a variety of manly or semi-manly situations; TMIMITW, as suave machismo. Both do an incredible job using subtle exaggeration which activates the smallest seeds of desire and admiration we often aren't even aware exist. The big difference is the "Mr. Jenkins" campaign only used billboards and postcards, while "TMIMITW" campaign started as radio (by far the best ads) and expanded to national television. Big difference in $$$$$.

A note on postcard advertising: I was convinced that postcard advertising had all but disappeared. But, this weekend I was in Hood River, Oregon. There, in the local coffee place, was a rack with postcards advertising a variety of local businesses. The medium lives!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Winemakers in Bourgogne

I'm lucky to have a lot of wine experts in my life. My friend, Carol, is in charge of wine imports for a wine broker. My friend, Michael, has his own vineyard/winery, Michaud Vineyards. Our neighbor and friend, Tim, is a Master Sommelier, in charge of teaching and testing new sommeliers (not an easy test to pass, at all). My friend, Debra, sells wine. None of this makes me an expert, but it has made me lucky enough to taste a lot of great wine.
This postcard is from one of Carol's trips to Europe. Someday, I hope to accompany her on one of them.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Trevi Fountain, Rome

I've been to Rome once, when I was on my way to visit my friend Annie, who lives in Florence.

The hotel in which I was to stay had sent a car to the airport to pick me up, and on the way to the hotel, the cab driver drove to the Trevi Fountain. He parked the cab, and we got out and walked over to the fountain. It was a hot August night, probably 10 PM, and the steps around the fountain were packed with people.

It was a magical introduction to Rome - a friendly driver who obviously loved his city, a legendary fountain, and mobs of tourists and locals, young and old, happily eating ice cream on a summer eve.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa. I've never been here, let alone anywhere on the continent of Africa. Some day I'll get there, if nothing else to visit Evelyn in Morocco.

This postcard is from my old boss, Ron. He took many exotic vacations before he died and was a trooper about sending postcards to my kids. Just coming across this postcard and seeing his handwriting, and getting a little reminder of him and his personality is a treat.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Business Trip to Borneo

The most exotic business trip I ever took was to a meeting for the Saatchi & Saatchi Asia/Pacific general managers in Kota Kinabalu on the island of Borneo. Turns out Borneo, the largest island in Asia, is also the most centrally located and very reasonable from an economic standpoint place to gather people from all over Asia, from India to South Korea and Japan.

So there we were. We had an afternoon off and you could take a small boat from the resort in which we were staying to the island featured in this postcard.

The island was incredible. You could walk around it in 30 minutes. At one point, on one of the beaches, a clam shell the size of a cooler, was washed up on shore. It was surreal. "Is this Disneyland?" I thought. Is there a man behind a curtain saying, "Cue the clam shell"? That's how incredible this place was. The coral formations in 15 feet of water seen snorkeling were as spectacular as anything I've ever seen underwater, even when scuba diving at much greater depths.

Anybody else ever have a business trip to a more exotic location?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sending the Youngest Son Off to College

Big day today. Leaving soon to drive my youngest son, Clinton, to the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon to begin his freshman year at college.

The postcard on the left shows the Lillis Business Complex. If I remember correctly, it is a completely green building. On the right is Hayward Field, one of, if the not the best, track stadiums in the country. Clinton's dorm is right across the street from this stadium (the one you can see from the overhead shot of the stadium).

Poignant, sad, exciting, proud, scared - all these emotions and more are ones I'm feeling. I imagine his feelings are similar, at least the excitement part. U of O is on the quarter system and begins so much later than almost all other colleges and universities - it's made for what's felt like a very l-o-n-g September, particularly for him. He can't wait to get there, and start his new life!

My friend, Carla, wrote about the experience of dropping her son off to college, and articulated the whole process much better than I could. Read "It Feels Like Fall Today -- It's Time".

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Postcard Advertising - Museums in NYC

More postcard advertising, all collected in New York City in the 90s. In this case, ads for a variety of museums. How better to reach potential prospects who like to be out and about by speaking to them when they are out and about in bars, restaurants, and coffee shops?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mystery Sender Homage V, The Taunting

This will be the last of the Mystery Sender Homage series for a while. Today’s posting features some of my favorites Mystery Sender postcards. They include a variety of comments about my posts, most in the form of taunts. Whenever I receive one of these, I laugh out loud. Occasionally, my husband might say, “oh, s/he’s hitting below the belt today”, but I think they are all hysterical.

The first appeared after I had posted that I thought the cards might be from one of two friends named “Steve”. A few days later, a post card arrives with “…my name isn’t Steve” written on the back, purporting to offer a clue to the sender’s identity..

I poured over this postcard, looking for clues. Finally, I believed that the birds in the sky had been doctored to look like the initials “MM”. As I have a friend “MM” who had sent an email telling me how much he enjoyed reading my blog, I thought it must be him, and dramatically announced "Mystery Sender Revealed" in this same post. Wrong!

The following postcard arrived, which obviously amused the sender to no end, mocking my misguided reading of the clue(s).

The taunting continues…. When I missed posting one day, I received this (my personal favorite):

And finally, when I wrote about the Worst Hotel I Ever Stayed In, and complained about two male colleagues with whom I was traveling, I was dinged for wanting to have my cake and eat it too.

This is all just too much fun!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mystery Sender IV, The Roads

I recently read a book review in which a concept called "umwelt" was discussed. While the term is not found in, it appears to have been defined as an organism's perception of its world, in relationship to its environment, since at least the early 1800s. Sounds a lot like taxonomy to me, which is defined as “the science or technique of classification.

The article says, "Watch 2-year-olds play, and you will soon see a pattern: At some point, most will put the items that they are using in order, whether it be rocks by size, trucks by type or crayons by color. It turns out, according to Carol Kaesuk Yoon in "Naming Nature," that this sense of order, which she calls the "umwelt," is an ingrained phenomenon and a common thread that links all human vision."

I love the concept of "umwelt", as categorization is one of the great loves of any organizer (like myself).

As noted in an earlier post, there are a large number and a variety of types of “umwelts” in the world of postcards. In this case, the umwelt is roads, all sent by The Mystery Sender.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Think Before You Pink

The Breast Cancer Action (BCA) group seems to keep popping up in my life. I originally met Barbara Brenner, the executive director, when I went to speak to a marketing class at Mills College. I got the ad agency I ran at the time, Saatchi & Saatchi San Francisco, to do some pro bono television commercials for her organization.

Then this postcard appeared twice in the span of a week. Once, in the mail, probably because I am still on the mailing list for the BCA. Then, our friends Paul and Sharon and Spencer (their son) are over for dinner, and it turns out Paul is one of the featured artists in this exhibit, "Think Before You Pink", which is sponsored by the BCA. In their own words, "the campaign calls for more transparency and accountability by companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon promotions. Think Before You Pink also highlights “pinkwashers”—companies that purport to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon campaign, but manufacture products that are linked to the disease."

BCA's entire organizational focus is "Challenging Assumptions. Inspiring Change". I will be attending the opening of the exhibit. Anyone else care to attend? Details are on the postcard.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Homage to Mystery Sender, II

In my dive into the worlds of postcards, I've discovered that not only are there thousands and thousands of collectors, many of them limit their collections to very specific sub-categories: cowboy poetry, courthouses in Florida, Maps of Scottish Tartans, and malls of America, to name a few. It's really amazing. These postcards from the Mystery Sender could be grouped under the category, Architecture, with the subcategory, public buildings.

A fair number of the postcards sent by the Mystery Sender seem to feature locations in Arkansas. I see this as a red herring, or at minimum, random but not deliberate. A bit of a treat for my friend, Carla, who grew up in Arkansas and
commented on yesterday's post that she had water skied growing up on the lake created by the Norfork Dam in the Ozarks, featured yesterday.

On one of these postcards is a url. A clue, perhaps? I went to the site, an ebay store (www.Dale which sells postcards, along with souvenir plates, collectors plates, high school yearbooks, ephemera and more. The specific link was to the postcard of the radio station, below. "Aha!" I thought. I sent Dale Velk an email, telling him the story of the mystery sender, and imploring him to send me the name or at least the initials of the person who had purchased this card. I received a reply back immediately, "Hi Mary i still have this postcard as far as I know. I don't recall any questions or emails about it. Good luck with your mystery!" Foiled again.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Homage to Mystery Sender

If you've been paying attention, you've noticed a couple of postings regarding the elusive mystery postcard sender, someone who has been sending unsigned postcards, dropping an occasional clue as to her/his identity, taunting me when I mis-read the clues, but continuing to send an array of antique postcards, almost daily.

I love getting these. The regularity is wonderful, I never know when there might be a taunt (which of course always makes me laugh), and the depth of random information on each postcard is extraordinary.

So for the next few days, I'll be featuring an "Homage to Mystery Sender", first with a couple groupings of cards, and finally with the taunts.

Several cards arrived which featured dams, roads, public buildings, etc. Others are decidedly un-PC for this day and age, and others illustrate a sense of humor that has long since passed.

Today, the dams. Pay particular attention to the additional info on the back of each. I find it all fascinating!