Post Haste From Cincinnati

I have to say, I loved the show JOHN FROM CINCINNATI. I have absolutely no idea what any of it meant, but I loved it. I felt like I was watching poetry. It’s a show that I watched on an emotional level. I didn’t quite understand what all the words meant, but I got that there were connections happening between the characters that transcended the usual “spell it all out for the dumb TV audience” fare.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t mind a little explanation here and there. Sometimes I think maybe I AM one of those dumb people who need it spelled out. Maybe everyone else “gets it” and I don’t. But I don’t care. I still watched the show and thought it was better than about 90% of what’s on TV. Sometimes I could hear echoes of David Milch’s NYPD BLUE in certain characters – especially Bill Jacks, the ex-cop (brilliantly played by Ed O’Neil.) A little ghost of Sipowicz (brilliantly played by Dennis Franz) sliped out every now and then in some of Bill’s ranting. I also loved Zippy, the wonder bird. I was very happy that Zippy returned to Bill at the end of the show, even though I didn’t really know why or what it meant (except for the very simplistic he faced his demons and was rewarded?) I wish I had a wonder bird who told me what to do. It’s hard enough to get my cat, Blanche, to move off the couch. Imagine if she could give me career advice! That would be sweet.

I don’t always have to understand something to enjoy it. If a movie or a piece of art or music reaches me on an emotional level I will go with it. I like a little mystery, a little room for interpretation. Sometimes it’s nice not to be told “think this.” I like being able to make my own connections. Sometimes. (And sometimes I like to know what the hell it all means. It’s nice to get a little bone now and then. JOHN FROM CINCINNATI threw no bones. But that’s okay.)

As a writer, and as someone who comes up with “concepts,” I would love to be able to put a little of that kind of mystery into the work I do related to marketing and advertising. And I don’t mean the kind of “mystery” where you catch everyone’s attention for weeks with a certain unexplained symbol and then reveal it’s for a new flavor of gum. What I’m talking about is a little less hard sell to the common denominator. A little more of the unexplained. The emotional tap into something that can’t be quantified and organized by demographics and verified by a focus group and approved by management and typed up neatly into a report until it’s bland as oatmeal. Do we always have to have every single answer? Are my answers the same as yours? Why can’t that be okay sometimes?

I realize this is a business and we’re not here to make art. But … what if we did? I’m going to put a little CINCINNATI into my work, when I can. I think Zippy would approve.

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