12/21–The Interview: One-on-One with Kim Jong-un
8/3–VIDEO: Has time run out for Laskin?
3/16–VIDEO: G-rated list of 5 reasons to hire older workers
1/30–VIDEO: I'm Scheduled to Die August 1, 2014
11/19–VIDEO: In which Mr. Laskin takes on Mr. Lincoln
11/2–VIDEO: Rapp Story redux -- an explanation of sorts
10/21–VIDEO: The Rapp Story
9/12–VIDEO: The scariest profession in the world. Really?
7/4–VIDEO: Finally, a movie review without ever seeing the movie
4/18–VIDEO: The 7 words George Carlin would never have used
2/28–VIDEO: Sequester that credit card!
1/16–VIDEO: Don gets the word
10/31–The day social media died
8/6–VIDEO: The secret to viral videos
5/31–We all agree on this, right?
4/5–What's stealing? Really? Me? Shirley, you jest
1/19–VIDEO: The other Goldilocks story
12/11–VIDEO: Accomplishments? Or credentials?
11/7–VIDEO: A few minutes with Don Laskin on Andy Rooney
9/11–VIDEO: The hidden meaning of printer ink expiration dates
8/3–VIDEO: I am a Negro
5/24–VIDEO: It’s the end of the world as we know it
4/11–VIDEO: Return of the Avatar – with handy tips for finding a job
2/28–VIDEO: Laskin names names
2/10–VIDEO: Return of blower man
2/8–VIDEO: The threat of hippos -- and leaf blowers
1/11–VIDEO: Don as you've never seen him before
11/8–AUDIO: Hating the rich. Well, some of them, at least
10/17–VIDEO: He's not sleeping, he's making an important decision
10/1–What Amelia Earhart has to do with marketing management
8/25–AUDIO: The Mosque Ox
8/23–AUDIO: Why Meg Whitman needs to talk with Don en espanol
7/12–VIDEO: Don Laskin gets a spokes-thing
6/21–VIDEO: Why webinars are a waste of time
6/1–VIDEO: Has Don sold his soul to the Devil?
5/23–VIDEO: A message to, well, you know who you are
5/14–VIDEO: Twit, Tweet, Twitter?
5/5–Don unloads on Google
2/24–The sweatsuit answer to Kaiser, or Medicare Part The Deux
2/16–What's wrong with Kaiser?
12/4–What’s as rare as a Raiders touchdown? Laskin knows
10/19–Why Dave prefers vanilla
10/1–God's will -- and other reasons
8/17–AUDIO: Hierarchy of stupid
5/25–AUDIO: Some calm words about a world in PANIC!!
4/28–AUDIO: Why CEOs can ignore everything – except Facebook
4/6–With friends like these…
1/19–When perception is reality -- except when it isn't
12/9–AUDIO: Chased by the devil
10/29–AUDIO: Sine qua non a rant it would not be Don
10/20–AUDIO: Joe the writer, er, Don
10/2–AUDIO: Perp Walk Inc.
2/25–AUDIO: Why people put up with crummy jobs
2/10–AUDIO: Making clients money with advertising
1/2–Tiny weiners on toothpicks
12/19–AUDIO: Don improves with age, he says
12/6–AUDIO: Why telecommuting gardeners are needed
10/1–Don Laskin – Almost human?
7/8–Counting, if not connecting, the dots
5/3–Is your advertising stuck in a silo? So is Don
2/5–It's deja vu all over again for Don
9/10–Observations: Laskin faced end with courage
7/14–Observations Why Don Laskin’s ex-boss hiked up her skirt
6/16–Observations They're baaaack! And don't say you weren't warned
4/28–Be careful what you wish for
4/17–Did somebody just say something?
3/8–Laskin makes his first annual “Moron of the Month” Award*
2/15–Our man Laskin reports from a UFO
1/30–Laskin pioneers podcast idea
1/11–Veteran podcaster Don Laskin offers advice
1/3–The Logic of Illogic (Part 2)
11/15–An easy death
7/14–Making a Better Than Human Human
7/4–A tool of capitalism
6/26–Position Heal thyself. -- Plus: Useful information. For real. No kidding
6/25–Life is Like a box of chocolates with no “i” in team
5/15–A $1,000 fine and five days in jail
4/23–Is spending money on advertising a waste?
LETTERS FROM LASKIN
by Don Laskin
August 3, 2005
It was the eighth grade. Mr. Rutz was the teacher. Eighteen years separated my oldest brother and me. Mr. Rutz taught him, my middle brother and now it was my turn. If there’s anything to alliteration, Rutz personified it. He was as nasty as his name (Rutz rhymed with guts) sounded. Mr. Rutz was walking sarcasm. Hobbling sarcasm actually. He used two heavy metal forearm crutches and dragged his legs, which were encased in braces, along behind, swinging them side to side to propel himself up stairs one at a time. And, in those days, crutches were crutches and braces were braces and heavy was really heavy. Perhaps his affliction and the pain that went with it were the reasons for his unabated putdowns. But, whatever the reasons, age did not mellow him and warmth was not a trait he exhibited except for one brief, fleeting moment when he surprised me by asking after my father who was gravely ill.
Mr. Rutz was a hard man to forget. However one thing he said made a special impact on me. Even after all these years, I can hear him offering up this wisdom. We’d just gotten our math tests back. I don’t remember what mark I got, but I’d venture to say the Titanic’s captain got a higher score for seamanship after hitting the iceberg. Anyway, after everyone had his test in hand Mr. Rutz turned to the class and hissed, “Cream rises to the top and scum sinks to the bottom.” So there I was on the bottom with the Titanic and the other bottom feeders.
Cream always rises to the top, eh? Maybe in Canada where they say “eh.” But, this ain’t Canada. In the USA, where gays can get married, but not to each other, where drug companies are thankfully permitted to at least make a small profit for all their hard work, and where a talent may occasionally get outed, talent doesn’t necessarily out. Around here, a sixty-year-old waiter – server may be politically correct, but waiter carries more clout (not to mention dishes) – is waiting (another reason waiter works better) for his big break in Hollywood. The old cabbie? He ain’t just waitin’ for the light to change. He’s waiting for his shot center stage at the Met singing lead tenor in Pagliacci. And what about the old lady with all those cats, who never goes out, has the shades drawn against any hint of sunlight, believes Rush Limbaugh is the voice of God and enjoys talking to telemarketers? Okay, well she’s just nuts.
But, is every one of those thousands and thousands (and thousands) of cab drivers, dog walkers, servers and temps who keep writing screen plays and auditioning and painting and inventing a no-talent disillusioned, crazed dreamer? For argument’s sake, let’s suppose ninety-nine out of a hundred -- or even as many as nine out of ten -- don’t know their limitations or, to paraphrase a phrase from the US Army, are “letting their alligator mouths overload their hummingbird asses.” What remains are thousands of extremely talented individuals who never had, and will never have, tasted a crumb of success from the table that has all those platters piled high with success and before the main course there were hors d'oeuvres with these little wieners stuffed with success and served by waiters waiting for….uh, success. Or maybe a sentence with a period.
Anyway, there are lots of people who are awfully, awfully good at what they do, who are destined never to catch a break. Catch Comedy Central if you need proof. Funny, polished, clever and witty comedian follows funny, polished, clever and witty comedian. So, what have Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Chris Rock or any Wayans’ brother got that these comedians haven’t? Serious money.
May I submit then that cream rising to the top may have more to do with circumstance than hydrodynamics or gravity. What if George W. Bush had been running against JF Kennedy instead of JF Kerry? Of course, Mr. Bush would’ve been fifteen at the time, but that aside, the likelihood is Mr. Bush would still be chief executive of an obscure state located somewhere between Oklahoma and the Mexican border.
Al Jolson, who among his many accomplishments, starred in the world’s first all-talking picture, The Jazz Singer, is today more than seventy-five years later still called “The World’s Greatest Entertainer.” Done in blackface, how successful do you think his mega-hit “...Mammy” would be on MTV? Even if he dropped the burnt cork, went PC and did a rap version, do you think he could even claim the title, “Peoria’s Greatest Entertainer?”
Josh Gibson. Legend has it he was the only man ever to hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium. Fact has it he hit almost 800 home runs. Were he playing baseball today or were he white when he did play, he’d be as famous as Babe Ruth. Cream always rises to the top?
Finally take the case of Eeglurg Rokstonik-Ugh. Chances are if you’re a baseball fan, you’ve at least heard of Josh Gibson. Eeglurg Rokstonik-Ugh was a complete unknown to contemporaries. And, if it’s possible, today his name means even less -- though his accomplishments were of near mythic proportions. Some might be surprised because Eeglurg Rokstonik-Ugh had everything going for him. He had movie-star good looks. His athleticism was unmatched. And, his IQ couldn’t even be charted. It was that high.
But, talented as Eeglurg was, he never had the opportunity to become a captain of industry, a star quarterback or renowned actor. He never had his chance. Eeglurg Rokstonik-Ugh, inventor of the wheel and discoverer of fire, died penniless and alone never ever having heard the word “YES.”
Don Laskin is a veteran of the advertising and public relations jungle where he really has heard the word "yes" -- at least from time to time. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or give him a call at (408) 406-3574.