Friday, November 25, 2016

Soft Landings


The opportunities to get the band together are fewer and farther between. So when Rowdy proposed a round at the Landings at Spirit on Black Friday it seemed like just what the doctor ordered. Yesterday, Allison, my daughter-in-law hosted a spectacular Thanksgiving as she approaches a due-date just about a month away. That gathering included along with my incredible daughter-in-law, my son, my wife and her brother and mom in from Memphis. My daughter Lindsey surprised us with a visit to St. Louis with her newborn in tow last week. I’m feeling like I have much for which to be thankful.
Dave Cox has three remarkable girls, the oldest of which is a Creighton University Blue Jay who plans to study in Florence, Italy next year. Tom Shaughnessy’s daughter is a proud Notre Dame Lawyer and Rowdy Jones daughter is a recently married Dartmouth grad and her little brother is a soccer star at Wisconsin. But we are stoic golfers who only share those moments about family between tee shots.

Time marches on and we are still men of a certain age consumed by ourselves and measuring our self-worth in the context of competition – with ourselves and our comrades in arms. The beauty of golf partners you have had for almost two decades is that you can measure up in some twisted statistically significant way if you look at data over time, in real time or in your own augmented reality. It doesn’t really matter. You always win.

Rowdy shared slices of his own home-made cherry pie over a cold beer in the clubhouse. And the scorecard review reveals, not surprisingly, the shot of the day is a 40 foot putt for a birdie two on hole #5 by Shaughnessy. But we all leave the course with a memory of something that happened because we showed up. We are alive and well. We are blessed beyond all of our own expectations.

We did not gush about those things for which we are thankful, but we are all indeed most grateful for each and every one of our accounts of A Wonderful Life.    





Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mohau Modisakeng


Mohau Modisakeng was born in Soweto in 1986. He completed his undergraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town, in 2009.  He lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town. He was just 8 years old when Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa. “I am a visual artist,”  proclaims Mohau but he is very articulate about the context in which his work emerges. Large photographic prints and video are part of this show. 
  
We are in the Midwestern U.S. and he is speaking at the Adam Aronson Fine Arts Center on the first Saturday in November 2016. Temperatures are moderate and turnout for this gallery talk is modest. The exhibition of Mohau Modisakeng is supported by Adrienne D. Davis, Alison and John Ferring, Patricia Smith-Thurman and the Des Lee Collaborative Vision at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, with assistance from a gallery in Cape Town.

Marilu Knode, the museum executive director, kicks off the discussion and opens up to those in attendance. Mohau confesses that he is nervous. He is a soft-spoken young man, but in spite of less than optimal acoustics in this remarkable space, he shares a bit about his inspiration. “My mother was a dreamer. She was a healer in our culture,” he offers, “I  was able to travel to London and visit the Tate museum.”  He added that he was able to meet Johannesburg, South Africa born artist Jane Alexander. The artist helped convinced Mohau that artists must overcome obstacles and difficulties to be successful.

Afterwords, Mohau relaxed on a bench near Judith Shea’s Heartland Garden near the estate house at Laumeier Sculpture Park, chatting with a new friend (a contemporary woman of color) who wanted to know more about what it was like to study in an Eurocentric environment such as the university in Cape Town, Maybe she also wanted to know what the artist thought about living in a place in time in after Apartheid (that system of racial discrimination that was in place from 1948-1994 in South Africa).


This is a beautiful day to also view the installation of local artists Alison Ouellette-Kirby and Noah Kirby. The piece, Arena, made possible by Nancy and Ken Kranzberg, is on view adjacent to the South Lawn in the park.  

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Operation Rob

As you face adversity it is still about us;
If you had half a brain you would be dangerous.
Sure, roll the dice. Put a hotel on Baltic Avenue;
Hopes and prayers are always with you.

Collect $200 as you pass GO;
You can’t expect to win. This you already know.
FREE Parking, take a rest;
CHANCE card says cash in. You are the best.

Those incredible dragons on the spot;
It doesn’t take a genius to see they love you a lot.
Tokens, play money, moving space to space;
The game is the thing. Find your place.

The edge water compound is a shared context;
We get older and wonder what will be next.
It has always been as clear as day;
We started.  We continue to play.

Upon reflection we can see;
Living, loving. finding joy, destiny.
The action in an instant --- in a blink
It happens so fast --- no time to think
 
Count the money. Count the things.
Count the Blessings that your family brings.
Who owns BOARDWALK and PARK PLACE?
No matter. Tomorrow maybe you win at Crazy Eights.

Alive and well as one can plainly see;
In the home of the brave and the land of the free
Who cares who gets to boast?
Isn’t it just the little things that matter most? 

P.S. Happy Birthday Rob - August 30

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

110%


My Brother Rob always gives 110%. We all agree the idea of giving even more than you have (by as much as 10%) is crazy. Nevertheless, we have known football coaches, notably at Saint Luke Grade School (where I was co-captain) and at Lakewood High School (where Rob was a co-captain). If you grow up in a large Catholic family, you believe in miracles. That makes 110% seem like a fair expectation coming from a football coach. If you participate in sports at any level, you are quick to embrace countless metaphors.       
Rob has a rare tumor  the size of a ping pong ball in lower part of his brain stem (lower medulla). Doctors could not be sure if the tumor is benign or malignant so surgery is scheduled for July 13, 2016. “A biopsy on the tumor would tell whether the tumor is benign or malignant. Initial results of the biopsy are available quickly, within 15 minutes. Depending on the results of the biopsy, they may continue the process to remove as much of the tumor as possible. They won't likely be able to remove it all.” Rob reports with his own brand of clinical precision.
So surgery is tomorrow on July 13, 2016 at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. Rob will be with wife of 34 years, Joy and their 3 amazing children: Megan (28), Tara (25) and Kevin (23). Our brother Greg is flying in as a show of support. Our brother Dan will arrive sometime after the surgery. (If you are counting – there are five brothers and one sister in our immediate generation ... plus kids and kids having kids too.)
Today, the day before the scheduled surgery, Rob and I exchanged a typical albeit a bit cryptic series of text messages:
Me: Godspeed
Rob: Prep/Clinic: all ready for tomorrow. It will all go well. I know it. (Message sent with picture above.)
Me: Game face on. Robo always gives 110%
Rob: As Mom always said you can’t give 110%. That’s stupid. But do your best. I plan to do just that.
Me: Mom never played football. Everyone expects 110% from you.
Rob: Okay, 110% it is.
That tells you a lot. I am certain Rob will give it all he's got. He'll have the love and support of family and friends. I, for one, believe in miracles. I have seen Rob play football. I was never very good at math - so 110% seems do-able enough to me. I will also be praying for divine intervention.   

Update - Benign. He gave 110%. Prayers answered. He was home in 48 hours. Superman. Special thanks to Uncle Uber Greg and the amazing Dragons. Go Team!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

AMA GOLF 2016


Creve Coeur Golf Course hosts American Marketing Association Championship 2016

Once again the American Marketing Association launched an Independence Day weekend with its annual golf outing at Creve Coeur Golf Course. The venue has hosted our annual golf event for the bulk of our events in the last twenty years.  No-one has taken better care of us. This year 30 golfers competed for the coveted Traveling Trophy. Tim Nenninger of MAR graphics is our low net champion with a score of 40. Creve Coeur City Councilman Ted Ruzicka earned closest to the pin prize on #9. Brad Wahlgren was closest to the pin on #2.

Bob Mastis, incoming President of the American Marketing Association, St. Louis Chapter fielded a team. His firm Digital Intersection’s team included Justin Payne who was winner of the the longest drive contest on #8. (He crushed it!) Justin, if not for struggles on the challenging hole number six, might have earned the title. Ted Ruzicka, Brad Wahlgren and John Probst were in the hunt as well.

Sneller Creative contributed a double wall acrylic GULP tumbler to all golfers who participated. In addition, Sandbox Creative contributed pre-chilled designer water for all players. Golfers also got a goody bag that included a sleeve of balls, tees, a chip clip (from AMA), a glow stick (from Morgan Studio/East) and commemorative coins (from Clayco).

Sandbox Creative once again served with all art direction, graphics and social media promotion prior to the event. Dave Cox, Randy Niederer, Troy Libbra and “Photo Matt” suggested "Delta" feedback for next year: Work on attracting more female players and also enhance the on-course beverage service. (Fair enough)

Thanks to all who came out to celebrate the first day of our chapter year. Contact Bob Mastis or Wes Morgan about joining the St. Louis Chapter of the American Marketing Association. We hope to see you at event luncheons, networking gatherings, collegiate functions, and other gatherings during the
year. www.ama-stl.org for details.


Above top: the Infamous traveling trophy won this year by Tim Nenninger --- Foursome: Marco Tocco of Rock Solid Branding, Matt from Contegix, Rowdy Jones of Compear and Tom Shaughnessy of Group 360. ---- Creve Coeur City CouncilmanTed Ruzicka. ---- Dave Cox, Steve Allen, Justin Payne and Randy Niederer toast with GULP double wall acrylic attendance prize from Sneller Creative 
        




Thursday, June 23, 2016

Digital Dan 2016 Birthday Poem


Digital Dan

Let me tell you about digital Dan.
Dayton Flyer, photographer, the man with a plan;
Sometimes, self righteous and quick to attack.
Spikey white hair wearing all black.

Single lens focus, an eye for composition;
Shrewd, at times crude, when it comes to competition.
Brother he’s known for his sensitivity;
A crybaby, quitter and a bit of a sissy;

But notice --- it is he who boldly hits the road;
The truth belongs to the teller or so I am told.
A well framed layout and a flash;
All other options in the trash.

Set aside what you thought was true;
As we salute the Red the White and the Blue.
A portrait, a journal, a tabletop, on fire or on ice;
A picture speaks louder than words. Isn’t that nice!

In an instant an image is captured and treasured in time;
Cherished, preserved, recorded --- history is kind.
Better than an interpretation --- the ideal is fine.
Parallax displacement, out of focus, or out of line;

Brush the imperfections and photo-shop away;
Digital Dan saves the day. 

Happy Birthday Rex.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Four Dads Playing a Round

Pausing on hole #5 of a round on Friday someone spontaneously offers a toast.  The band is back together at Normandie Golf Course the Friday before Father’s  Day. “To Macenzie, Nick, Jack, Ally, Nicole, Danny(Dannielle), Sammy(Samantha), Lindsey and Ben.” A foursome of proud Dads hardly aware how often their progeny come up in conversational bits and pieces between tee-boxes, scanning the rough spots for errant golf balls and lining up putts. We know we are blessed. We are stoic and yet all share soft spots in our hearts for those kids.  “To our own dads” – of whom half are now deceased – we are reminded of the passages of time and our own mortality.    

Rowdy Jones, Dave Cox, Tom Shaughnessy and Wes Morgan make a point to get together this way periodically. Not too long ago this confluence of chronies could consist of a dozen (or more) and include a long weekend at the lake with cigars, karaoke, fast food, and perhaps an occasional local tavern or strip joint between tee-times. We are really just kids ourselves.      

You can feel a warm breeze on this day and note the ninety degree rule (which could well be a reference to the temperature). The grounds crew is busy and ever present the first few holes. We are men comfortable in our own skin --- just happy to be surveying the green vistas. Rowdy, from under a wide brim straw hat, quotes Tom Kite who described the pressure of being a professional golfer as keeping the number of mistakes in a round to one (or less). Laughingly we know the frequency of error will be at a somewhat higher rate for us. (But, as always, we do the best we can with joy in the journey.)

The "dynamic pricing" online promotion determined the value-oriented timing of this round and it is clear that law and order of a private club is not part of this public venue. A five-some in three carts in front of us and several singles came out to play. Our round concluded in more than five hours. We hardly noticed the slowing of the pace of play on the back nine because we were enjoying being together. We savor each hole and admit we are old enough now and need not play from the tips. (A decision we made and stuck with to the end.)

An uneventful round with a few laughs concludes with the usual banter in the parking lot as we look over the scorecard for something to brag about. Par for the course. A lovely afternoon.

Normandie Golf Club was built in 1901 and is the oldest Public golf course west of the Mississippi still in operation in its original location. It was designed by Robert Foulis, a disciple of Old Tom Morris of St. Andrews, Scotland. It's unique routing and throwback style is a golfing gem.