"Everything I ever say," said Story Worldwide CEO Kirk Cheyfitz, "is native advertising for me and my point of view."
During the Q&A after a panel discussion, a young mad stood to ask a question. "But before I ask, I need to take a selfie," he said. And he turned around and took a picture of himself with the panel in the background.
Last year at Content Marketing World I had a boiling head cold, and wrote about the experience.
"A cold this bad feeds itself. So during breaks between sessions, I enhanced my personal brand by racing around refreshment stations in the vendor lobby like a honey badger, furtively glancing around to avoid anyone I knew, and eating everything I could get my shaking hands on: An orange donut. A tub of yogurt. A banana. Orange candies. A whole bagel, washed down by two cans of Orange Crush."
At one point, somone photographed me eating orange peanut butter crackers over a trash can.
After a year in the pink of health—I never, ever, ever get sick—I returned to Content Marketing World, and instantly came down with just as virulent a head cold.
This year, I decided not to tell, but to show.
I apologize to my fans, but I cannot blog for you this week. For I am in another world. I am in Content Marketing World, a kind of Big Rock Candy Mountain where the whole forest is orange: the tree trunks and their leaves, the sky and the clouds, the squirrels and their nuts. And a river of Orange Crush runs through it.
All per the monochromatic orders of Content Marketing World's orange-clad impressario, Joe Pulizzi.
The color orange is said to be an "uplifiting color," according to a color expert I consulted on the Internet. "In fact orange is so optimistic that we should all find ways to use it in our everyday life, even if it is just an orange colored pen that we use." But orange is an accent color. Days on end floating in an ocean of orange cuts one off from those not at Content Marketing World. All of you in what we refer to here as, "The Sad World."
At Content Marketing World one gets great Internet reception. But why? Blog from here? I won't even call my wife from here. She wouldn't understand a word I was saying.
When one is back home from Content Marketing World, if one makes it all the way back, one will remember some things, and may apply them to The Sad World. And the relationships one makes here are forever bathed in an orange glow.
But while I am at Content Marketing World, I cannot speak to anyone outside it. I can just float along in this orange bliss, staring, dreaming, concentrating on my breathing. (And occasionally singing live band karaoke.)
They tell me this is my fifth straight year attending Content Marketing World. They're putting my photograph on a "Wall of Fame." (I'm serious about this.)
Good God, maybe this it. Maybe this time I'm not coming back.
I loved you all. I loved you more than you will ever know. But I must have loved the Orange more.
An Internet troll stepped right up, on learning of Joan Rivers' death:
"I couldn't stand that woman. And she never should have won Celebrity Apprentice. She was funny at times, but also could be an extremely annoying Jewish woman. I realize many loved her and will find my comments offensive at the timing here. Still, I have a right to my opinion. And please don't waste your time hating on me. I don't read the comments anywho."
Yeah, you and Joan both, pal ...
My need for spirituality has always been satisfied by the idea that the best (and, true, the worst) parts of our spirits live on through the people we touch, and through people they touch, and the people those people touch, and on and on forever—or at least until nobody is paying attention anymore.
Here's how it works:
Late in his life my dad bought a Volkswagen Passat station wagon. It was green. He liked to give cars nicknames (he was a Detroit ad man; cars were part of the family). Dad liked nutty nicknames. So he called the VW "The Green Bean."
He owned The Green Bean when he died. I needed a car at the time and The Green Bean had only 30,000 miles on it and it was a pretty sweet ride: sunroof, heated seats, a good sound system (with what must have been the world's last cassette player). So I bought it from the estate.
The VW turned out to be something of a lemon, and over the last six years I've poured a bundle into it, $1,000 at a time. Finally the transmission gave up the ghost and I didn't even bother trying to get my wife to swallow the $3K bill to fix it. We traded it in for a new Subaru over the weekend.
My dad got his cancer diagnosis right after Labor Day six years ago, the same week the stock market crashed and a bizarre wind storm on a sunny afternoon knocked out all the power in Dad's hometown of Middletown, Ohio. He was gone four months later.
The night after we traded in Dad's car, I told Scout (and retold Cristie) the story of that epic fall and gothic winter.
"You've been talking about your dad a lot lately," Cristie said.
"Because of The Green Bean!" Scout interjected.
T.S. Eliot famously said, "Humankind cannot bear very much reality."
It was a notion that as an English major I smugly agreed with until I heard my friend Bill Sweetland say, "Fuck T.S. Eliot." Because how exactly did Eliot think himself uniquely worthy of making such a statement about people he never met.
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni criticized President Obama yesterday for saying things like this:
"If you watch the nightly news, it feels like the world is falling apart."
"The world has always been messy."
"We don't have a strategy yet" for dealing with Islamic extremists in Syria.
"America, as the most powerful country on earth, still does not control everything."
Bruni acknowledges those statements are all true. "But that doesn't make it the right message for the world's lone superpower (whether we like it or not) to articulate and disseminate," Bruni writes.
Why not? Because, I guess, Bruni seems to believe that world stability relies upon a lie, that the world is ruled by an omniscient Sherrif Andy Taylor who, in time, will know and solve everything.
And maybe world order does rely on that lie. But a lie, it surely is. And I think President Obama's instinct is to try to breathe max reality (as he sees it) into the public conversation geopolitics. I've written before about my essential agreement with Obama's communication instincts.
I'm not sure he's doing the right thing here. Sometimes I do think his intellectual, academic side—which I don't despise, but rather admire—speaks when his inner Tony Soprano ought to be in charge.
But I do understand why he's saying these kinds of things: out of at least a theoretical respect for me and you, and the belief that we can indeed bear very much reality—that we already fucking do bear very much reality, no matter what the President says. And that the mere uttering of reality won't make the world like a bubble burst, all at once and nothing first.
Who does President Obama think he is, trying his mad experiments when the stakes are so high? How can he depart from the Guaranteed Geopolitical Best Practices that brought you Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Rwanda, 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq and North Korea, all while Russia and China, at intervals, murderously repressed billions of their citizens behind an Iron Curtain and a Great Wall?
He can, because he's the President of the United States, the current Guesser in Chief. That's who.
And what if we learn as a result of the professor's plain talk that the President of the United States can publicly throw up his hands every once in awhile? What if it turns out that when the president does that in some situations, other countries suddenly find a way to step up themselves to a dictatorial douche like Putin. Well, then President Obama will have made a contribution to honesty in geopolitics, and he'll have added a sane caveat or two to our current Paternal Desperation Policy of Pretending We Really Do Control Everything (Oh Fuck, Who Drank All the Scotch?).
And if President Obama is wrong? Well, he can retire and take up watercolor painting, like the rest of us do when we have tried and failed.
Meanwhile, what does ISIS think, aside from being irritated that President Obama keeps calling them ISIL?
They know damn well that the very first chance he gets, he's going to wipe their ass out, no matter what he tells the world.
"The fourth period of my fourth grade year," she said, "was the best period in my school career."