Saturday, May 14, 2016

Off Broadway with Parker Millsap

The Glory Bound Grahams opened with a set that included the lyrics - Put your hand in mine, it’s revival time… They set the stage for Parker Millsap with band mates Michael on Base and Daniel on Fiddle. The audience was treated to a well orchestrated show that worked its way up to Hades Pleads as the finale. On Friday the 13th at Off Broadway in the Cherokee Lemp Historic District of St. Louis you couldn’t help contemplate life and death and good and evil. I’m gonna take you to my house on the StyxOn a long black train going clackety-click…I’m begging like Cerberus I’m begging like thisI’m beggin’…

Among Black & While photographic prints on the wall of the brick building venue are Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Bob Dylan. It is reminder of the dues great musicians pay on the road. The soundtrack for the evening is somewhere between Sympathy for the Devil and the Devil went down to Georgia. We are even invited to consider atomic annihilation from the title track on the new album The Very Last Day.

Last year, Parker moved to Nashville from his roots in Oklahoma. He lives with my Niece, Megan. I feel a connection with the band since I was fortunate enough to have seen them play the Rock House two years ago when Truck stop Gospel and Parker Millsap’s Pentecostal background was beginning to earn critical acclaim in music circles. The spirituality of this trio headed by the charismatic and youthful singer/songwriter fills the room with a joyful playfulness even through minor technical difficulties that are fixed with a jiggle of plug in to a surge protector on the floor. Parker suggests he might kick that plug if it acts up again. Daniel sarcastically encourages such a move. The sound engineer is, no doubt, working his magic to keep the show seamless.

Of course, there are t-shirts, merchandise and CD’s for sale as the guests at Off Broadway exit into a cool, misty St. Louis evening – almost midnight. I autographed three paperback copies of my book Failure Coach a novel by Wes Morgan to thank the band for coming to my town. Parker, Michael, Daniel – Regards from Meg’s favorite uncle.      

Photo (top l to r) - Michael Rose, Parker Millsap, Wes Morgan, Daniel Foulks in front of venue on May 13, 2016 before performances by The Grahams and Parker Millsap. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Meet and Greet

Shop a lot, magic spot;
A  twisted plot;
Up down;
All around town.

List, dis, kiss; 
Raise a fist, miss, enlist;
Try, cry, defy;
Never say die, fly.

Reach, teach;
Beach, beseech;
Fine line;
Rhyme time.

Sneeze, squeeze;
Freeze, please;
Fin, sin, win;
begin, again.

Tangled kites, missing strikes;
football swipes;
Charlie Brown – good grief;
In need of relief.

Snap, trap;
fair, fare, overlap;
Pick up sticks.
Dirty tricks.                                  

Eyeglass repair;
tattered underwear;
Snotty nose;
unraveled hose.

Lawn mow, rakes;
Spiders and snakes;
shovels and hoes;
And so it goes.

Hello Goodbye.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

AMA Type Moving Forward

The American Marketing Association (AMA) has launched an upgrade and enhancement of its graphic standards for the future.  Though still in a roll out stage, AMA International Headquarters gave our professional chapter (St. Louis) a peak into the thought process. A notable piece of the proposed scheme is a move away from typeface Avant Garde to Gotham Rounded. That move alone suggests they are on the right track moving forward.
Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase designed Avant Garde around 1968. It was based on Lubalin’s logo for Avant Garde magazine. The original face was all uppercase. Avant Garde was the first typeface released by ITC when the company was founded in 1970. Next to being used in all types of art publications, Avant Garde was a classic in ’70s advertising design.
Gotham was born in 2000, when men’s fashion magazine GQ commissioned New York-based Hoefler & Frere-Jones to create a new typeface for use in their publication. Provided with a brief to create something “masculine, new, and fresh,” type designer Tobias Frere-Jones drew influences from post-war building signage and hand-painted letters seen around New York City. Using the seemingly plain, geometric lettering from New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal as the project’s touchstone, an American “working class” typeface was born.
Gotham Rounded similarly unadorned but at a more intimate size. It is reminiscent of the lettering of engineering: the marks on precision instruments, blueprints, stencils and templates. Drawn, stamped, engraved and routed, forms are sensitively captured by the Gotham Rounded family. It is a technical letter that goes from friendly to high-tech to cheeky with ease

AMA has more than 75 professional chapters and dozens more collegiate chapters and special interest groups in the U.S. (with a number of international initiatives as well). Getting its brand in alignment while supporting all factions is an exercise in diplomacy and leadership. It could be too soon to project the success of this graphic image overhaul but in light of the sea changes in the worlds of marketing communication and branding, it seems necessary and overdue. I hope AMA is able to make enough correct assumptions to get ahead of the curve and remain the organization of thought leadership it has always been.

Laumeier Art Fair 2016

Mother’s Day Weekend May 6-8, 2016 is the latest installation of the annual event that is an exhibition and sale featuring artists selected from a pool of more than 400 applications. Cash and prizes are awarded – but all are winners. This is work. The passion of pursuing a commercial viability that allows the general public access the product – be it painting, prints, photography, ceramics or mixed media. Artist are judged and are mostly used to judgements of others. Here, they must make the first cut to show and are among the 150 deemed by a jury. (This year Juan William Chavez of the Northside Workshop, Dr. Jeffrey Hughes of Webster University and independent Curator Gretchen Wagner). Laumeier Executive Director and Luminary James McAnally lead the charge in selection of Artist’s Awards and the City of Sunset Hills bestows a special recognition as well.

Beer and Wine, member appreciation, and a long list of event sponsors and partners make this happening happen. It is Devine intervention that delivers the weather that is most comfortable for exhibitors and visitors this year. Of course, concessions, creation station and main stage shows provide even more to the sensory overload. Development officer Michelle Siegel is perhaps most emphatic in leveraging this high profile event to shore up member support and plant some seeds she hopes will grow into greater sponsorship levels for the non-profit organization that is a jewel in crown for the arts in our region. Laumeier Sculpture Park is about to celebrate four decades and is doing so well positioned for delivering programming, classes and global showcases of art and artists from 4-6 year old campers to art fair artists to the critically acclaimed.

Visit www.laumeier,org...better yet visit Laumeier Sculpture Park at 12580 Rott Road.       

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Visit with the Kranzbergs

What a thrill to be among a tight knit group of docents and friends of Laumeier Sculpture Park at the home of Ken and Nancy Kranzberg on a beautiful Spring day (April 28, 2016).
In the living room, Ken suggests his wife Nancy start the docent tour of their home in front of a giant photographic portrait of the Kranzbergs by Tina Barney. The tandem described the photo shoot and interaction with the artist. Photographer Tina Barney was born in 1945 in New York and she has been producing large-scale photographs of family, friends and famous since 1975. She has a way of making meticulous chronicles of the complexity of interpersonal relationships. This piece is no exception. Ken suggests, with a smile, that historians will one day assume that he is emblematic of the man of the house with a demure and dutiful wife in the background. It is a self effacing and respectful nod to his wife. The photograph is a wonderful celebration of our hosts in the front hallway of their home. We know Nancy is more likely to front the duo but they are both emphatic champions for artists everywhere. Nancy is especially fond of St. Louis - a place she says is the most culturally rich place in the whole country (per capita).

It is clear every piece of art in the Kranzberg personal collection has a story. We were treated to a wonderful tour that included first piece they ever bought together. They recall fondly how a price tag of $90 seemed excessive at the time. They have since become much more comfortable in their purchases. It is the love of art and artists that drives them more than the investment however.

Every room is a treat of museum quality works of art. The dining room includes a falling man by Ernest Trova, a limited edition serigraph by Andy Warhol and works by self taught St. Louis native Craig Norton, an emerging artist the art critic Roberta Smith of the New York Times described as having an almost freakishly developed skill set. Her recent review summed up with the statement  - It’s hard to know exactly where Mr. Norton will end up, but he is definitely on the way to somewhere. Therein may be a clue as to what motivates patrons of the arts.  

The Kransbergs invited David Kirkland to treat our group to a culinary masterpiece. Over lunch the side bar conversation consisted of a collage of topics – some art, some family, some food and (of course) insights into what it means to support the arts. If artists inspire, the Kranzbergs are inspired and their energy and enthusiasm is highly contagious. We all left that day with a mega dose.  

Recently Ken and Nancy Kranzberg were honored for Excellence in Philanthropy at the St. Louis Arts Awards. Their generosity to more than 500 civic, social and arts organizations and their leadership has created things such as the Kranzberg Arts Center in Grand Center, and through the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, the Northside Workshop. They are noted for not only donating to larger organizations, but a number of smaller organizations as well.

We are inspired and infinitely grateful. Thank you Ken and Nancy Kranzberg!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Fish out of Water

At the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference

Perhaps it is appropriate to situate this progressive gathering of digital savvy business leaders and individuals interested in staying ahead of the wave of disruption at an historic landmark, the St. Louis Union Station (built in 1894). History is being made. Just four years in the making, the University of Missouri, St. Louis College of Business has seized the leadership position in presenting this discussion at the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference 2016. And they mean business. Held on April 21, 2016 Experts in the marketing communications industry address the cutting edge of digital, social, tech and innovation.

It is an information overload, packed into six unique tracks and dozens of sessions and breakouts. Travis Sheridan, Director of Venture CafĂ© reminds us that with innovation comes disruption in his opening remarks but UMSL’s Professor Perry Drake has been feeding this frenzy since he launched this series of conferences in April 2013. The interest and attendance has grown steadily each year. This year’s event promises to propel the discussion further into the mainstream for not only those in their comfort zone but also for all of those fish out of water who can no longer be in denial. Change is here and it is profound. (The MDMC2016 graphics and TV commercial were developed by a crew lead by Evan Miguel, a graduate student at UMSL who was recognized this year with an ADDY award for excellence from the American Advertising Federation. Nice work.)

The truth is in the details and this is a place where you can to start (or continue) your discovery of impact of digital marketing from hundreds of vantage points. The formal presentations include using LinkedIn, Pinterest, 3D printing, digital/social media, media measurement, mobile, marketing automation, data mining and so on. But maybe the real information is woven into the fabric of learning from each other.

Congratulations to the organizers of this wonderful event from a boomer who wonders if anyone remembers Marketing Myopia by Theodore Levitt --- and understands why a 19th Century railroad station might be a perfect place to ponder the future of marketing.   

Saturday, January 30, 2016


I attended a funeral Mass today for George S. Graff.  I was there in support his daughter Maureen Jennings (and because attendance at church is overdue for this former alter boy).
This celebration of a man’s life at the Church of the Annunziata in Ladue was remarkable. I will not do it justice, but I do want to share some thoughts.    

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they will be filled.

The homily, by Monsignor John Leykam, wove together the Beatitudes (Matthew 1-12) gospel with a favorite poem and the lifetime of George S. Graff. The Rudyard Kipling poem IF was juxtaposed artfully with the gospel and the man’s life.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you….

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch….

Yours is the Earth and everything in it,
And – which is more - you’ll be a man, my son!

I consider myself something of a spiritual person, albeit something short of a devout practicing Catholic. This event touched me – not only for the brief moment in which I was able to whisper to Maureen “Daddy’s little girl” which I knew had to be the truth --- And it was verified in her smile in the aisle as she greeted me before the Mass. The love of the family filled that place of worship. George S. Graff was truly blessed and leaves a legacy for generations to come. The live cello rendition by Great Grandchild Lorenzo DeMichelle was a bonus. The sweet somber sounds of the string instrument filled the sacristy, the alter, and the pews.

The priest more than hinted that many of the details of this funeral service were prescribed by the deceased himself. Clearly, he was a man who could lead a company and yet keep a humbleness about him. In my view, funerals are for the living and an inspiration to carry out our own lives as best we can with the time we have. Thanks George.


Graff, George S. fortified with the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church on Sunday, January 24, 2016. Beloved husband of the late Mary Rita Graff and Marjory Kassabaum Graff; dear father of Mary Ann (Robert) Gorlin, George S. (Rosalie) Graff, Jr., James R. (Laurie) Graff, Maureen (Rick) Jennings and the late Thomas G. (Mary Jo) Graff, Sr.; dear grandfather of 12, and great grandfather of 13; our dear step-father, uncle, cousin and friend to many. George was born on March 16, 1917 in New York City. While in college studying Aeronautical Engineering at The University of Detroit he met his wife Mary Rita Shaughnessy. They married and moved to St. Louis where he worked for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft. For the next 40 years he developed military aircraft such as the XFD-1 Phantom, the F15 Eagle, and the F18-A Hornet and eventually served as president of McDonnell Aircraft Company from 1971 until his retirement in 1982. When he wasn't shooting for the stars, he could be found on the golf course shooting for par. Services: The Funeral Mass was held at the Church of the Annunziata on Saturday, January 30, 2016. En tombment was in Resurrection Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, Memorials to a charity of one's choice appreciated. Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch from Jan. 27 to Jan. 31, 2016