tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:/posts Stories of the Oak 2014-08-29T18:21:43Z tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/622022 2013-11-21T13:53:20Z 2014-08-29T18:21:43Z Eaton Jones

“Who’s Eaton Jones?” my Grandma Jenny asked as she looked me up and down.  I sat down at her kitchen table and told her I had no idea.  “Well you outta know.  You got his name on your tee shirt.”

I realized that I was wearing a vintage iron-on Elton John tee shirt.  It was the mid-1970’s, so actually it wasn’t vintage at the time.  It was brand new.  On my shirt was the cover art from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Elton was standing at his piano.  The type clearly read Elton John.

“Eaton Jones?”  I responded with the level of disgust that only a know-it-all 14-year-old could.  “My shirt says Elton John.  How could you not know Elton John, Grandma Jenny?  He’s the biggest rock star on the planet.  “Island Girl” is the number one song in the country right now.”

"I thought Kenny Rogers and Dolly Pardon sang that."

"That's "Islands in the stream."

“Oh, right, well, I've never heard of Eaton,” Grandma Jenny said as she continued making breakfast.

"It's Elton.  Elton John."   

I couldn’t believe that my Grandma didn’t know who Elton John was.  God, I couldn’t wait ‘til I was old enough to drive so I wouldn’t have to hang out with these people who only listened to country music.

Last week as I was driving home from work, "Island Girl" came on the radio.  I thought about Grandma Jenny.  And then I sang along at the top of my lungs:

Island girl, what you wanna with your wife Dan’s world

Island girl, like I want you in this island world.

I want to take you from the Record Bar,

He wants to stake you but the call is lost

Island girl, island girl, island girl

Tell me what you want and witchy why mans whirl.

As I drove through the Charlotte evening, I thought to myself that those were some pretty weird lyrics.  When I got home I decided to Google them.  Here’s what I found:

Island girl, what are you wantin’ with the white man’s world?

Island girl, black boy wants you in his island world.

He wants to take you from the racket boss

He wants to save you but the cause is lost

Island girl, island girl, island girl

Tell me what you’re wanting with the white man’s world?

Wow, I’ll bet Grandma Jenny is smiling down from heaven right now, saying “I might not have known who Elton John was, but that little shitass has been singing his song wrong for 35 years.”

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/596524 2013-08-22T14:15:46Z 2013-10-08T17:28:53Z Penny Memory

I was introduced to a very cool ice-breaker Monday night at the Charlotte Catholic High School Foundation Board meeting.  Our board’s president, Renee Spero, placed a penny at each seat at the table.  Since it was the first board meeting of the school year, she asked each of us to introduce ourselves, tell what business we were in and how we were connected to the Catholic School system.  Then she asked us to pick up the penny, take a look at the year and share something about that year with the other board members.

The year on my penny was 1979.  What do I remember most about 1979?  I had to think of something quickly because Rene started with Catholic’s Principal Jerry Healy, who was sitting next to me.      

Was it my first foray into entrepreneurship, selling Playboy and Penthouse magazines that I had stolen from Ken’s Quickie Mart to my fellow students?  Maybe, but the idea was to break the ice, not get kicked off the board.  Was it when my sister Lisa smacked me across the face so hard in a Howard Johnson’s in Times Square that I fell out of the booth?  I was making fun of her for dying her hair.  It’s a long story.  Too long for the board meeting. 

Jerry finished his memory of 1987.  I can’t remember what it was because I was so busy racking my brain trying to think of an appropriate memory that I didn’t hear a word of his until he said, “Let’s go to my left.  I always love to hear from Oakley.”  Great.  Thanks Jerry.  I don’t know what it is about high school authorities, but they never seem to cut me a break. 

I told the group my name and that I was married to a wonderful woman named Claire and that we have two kids that went through the Catholic School System.  Sydney, who is now a sophomore at UNC and Lucas who is a junior at Catholic.

I said the year on my penny is 1979.  In 1979, I was on the high school football team.  That fall, my girlfriend, Nancy Pitts, gave me two tickets to a concert for my birthday.  That was great, but the concert was on a weeknight and I had football practice every day after school.  If I wanted to go to the concert, I would have to leave practice early.  And that meant that I’d have to ask Coach Hawkins.  Coach Hawkins was our football coach and football coaches don’t have much sympathy for players who want to leave practice early to go to a concert with their girlfriend. 

At the beginning of practice at 3:30 on the day of the show, I told Coach Hawkins about my dilemma.  Coach Hawkins agreed to let me leave at 5:00 on two conditions:  One, I had to gather the team and tell them why I was leaving practice.  And as soon as I told them I had to start running laps around the field.  I was not to stop until 5:00. 

I agreed to do it for one reason:  Nancy Pitts was hot.  Smoking hot. 

The hour and 15 minutes of running in full pads was easy.  Telling the entire football team that I was going to see the BeeGees was not.

And that’s my memory of 1979.

Once I had told my story, I was able to sit back, relax and listen.  I heard some colorful stories about my fellow board members.  The 1982 Van Halen groupie.  The Deadhead summer of 1974.  The 1989 first trip to Paris.  

Thanks for introducing me to the Penny Memory, Renee.  I think I’ll use it at our next new business meeting.

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/582420 2013-06-03T20:16:34Z 2014-05-11T23:06:16Z Does Great Creative Sell Itself?

The answer is no. 

Landfills are filled with Foamcore storyboards and hard drives are chockablock full of great ideas that never saw the light of day.  No matter how awesome your work is, you’ve got to be able sell it.  Or else it will quickly be trashed.

I was talking about this the other day with my good friend Rene Hodges.  Rene brought up the story of how a talented young designer named Brandon Scharr sold her on the Charlotte Ad Club logo design.  It was one of the best and most unorthodox sales jobs ever. 

Rene said to me, “Remember years ago when I came to the agency to get you guys to design a new logo and identity package for the Charlotte Ad Club?”  I chuckled and said yes. 

“We sat down with Brandon Scharr and I briefed y’all on what I was looking for in this new identity,” Rene continued.  “We need something that’s gonna get the art directors, copywriters and designers to show up for our events.  We can get the account executives and the media folks to show up.  To get them, all we have to do is say we’re gonna open a bottle of wine.  But I want the hot, young, creative people to come to our parties.”

She said Brandon listened to her and then said, “OK, well, give me a couple of weeks and I’ll have some designs for you.”

She came back a couple of weeks later to the agency and Brandon was in the conference room with his feet up on the table, wearing combat boots.  She said to him, “Didn’t your mama raise you to know better than to put your feet on the table?”

“Yes,” he said, “but she’s not here right now.”

Then Brandon showed Rene about a dozen different logo designs.  She looked them over carefully and then Brandon asked, “Well, which one do you like?  She pointed at a couple of them and said she liked this one and that one. 

“You like those?”  Brandon said. 

“Yes, I do.” 

“Hmmm…” he replied. 

“Well, Brandon, which one do you like?” 

Brandon pointed to another one and said, “This one.  Without a doubt, this one is the best.” 

And Rene said, “Well, I really like these two over here better.  And if you combine the top part of this one with the bottom of this other one…” 

“Wait a minute, Rene,” Brandon interrupted.  “Please don’t come in here and tell me what you want and then tell me how to do it.  Do you go to Ruth’s Chris and order a bone-in-filet mignon and then go to the kitchen and tell them how to cook it?  I don’t think so.”

Brandon continued, “You said you wanted something for hot, young, creative people.”

Rene nodded yes.

“Well, Rene, you’re not hot.  You're not young.  And you’re NOT creative.”

Then he pointed at the logo he liked and said, “This is the logo we’re going to do.”

Rene said she stared at him for a moment and then busted out laughing.  “I guess I’m not the target audience.  But you’re one hell of a salesman.  Looks like we got ourselves a logo.”

There are many different ways to sell your work.  Insulting a client is not always the best approach.  And I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.  But Brandon accomplished exactly what he set out to do:  He created great work.  And then he sold it.

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/581312 2013-05-27T13:20:52Z 2013-10-08T17:25:51Z The Freedom to Sunbathe.

As I was hanging out on Seabrook Island Beach in South Carolina this glorious Memorial Day Weekend, I thought about a conversation that I had three years ago on the coast of France.

We were on Omaha Beach in Normandy.  It’s the beach where Allied Forces came ashore under heavy resistance from German machine gunners on D-Day in 1944.  It’s a sacred place where thousands of brave men laid down their lives in an effort to free Europe and the world from a maniacal dictator. 

On that afternoon three years ago, I was appalled to see people sunbathing, throwing Frisbees, drinking beer and wine, having picnics, laughing and generally having a good time on this beach.  How can they be doing this on such hallowed ground?  Isn’t this disrespectful to the memories of the men who gave their lives on this very sand?  Shouldn’t Omaha Beach be a memorial?  Shouldn’t it be a natural museum? 

I asked all these questions of a veteran of WWII who was our tour guide that day.  His answer shocked me.

He said the men who made it though Omaha Beach were asked the same questions.  He said the reason that they took the beach and liberated France was simple:  So people could live in freedom.  Before D-Day, Omaha Beach was just a beach where families got together and sunbathed and enjoyed themselves.  They said that to truly honor the men who died there was not to make it into a memorial.  To honor them, the beach should be what it was before they got there:  A place where families gathered with friends to have a good time.

Wow.

As I sit on the beach in South Carolina today having a wonderful time with family and friends, I’d like to thank those brave men who liberated Europe 69 years ago, and tip my hat to the brave men and women who defend our freedom today.  

Happy Memorial Day. 

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536963 2013-03-30T23:10:43Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Hail Caesar!

Every March, a few buddies and I make the pilgrimage to Las Vegas for March Madness.  My friends and I call it March Badness.  It’s a four-day orgy of beer, basketball and blackjack.  We always come back with a lot of stories.  Normally, I stick to the “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” rule, but I think it’s OK to share this one.   

When we arrived at our hotel, Kurt Kitterman, gave each of the guys a special good luck charm.  It was a one-inch-tall Julius Caesar Lego toy.  Kurt instructed us to put Caesar in front of us on the blackjack table and it would surely bode well for us.  This was genius.  Why?  Because we were staying at Caesar’s Palace and how could you not win with Caesar on your side?

By 2:00 am on the third day, I’d kind of forgotten about mini Caesar. 

I was playing blackjack at Caesar’s, and I was kind of treading water, which means that I was winning a hand, then losing a hand, then winning, then losing.  Not making any dough.  But not really losing either.  Just drinking beer and laughing with Kurt and an attorney from Chicago, who was sharing a table with us and betting like he was representing Al Capone. 

Suddenly, I had a moment of clarity and realized something was missing:  Caesar.  I asked Kurt where his Caesar was and he said he left his in his room.  I reached into my front pocket and dug around for a minute.  Buried deep under two $1 Flamingo chips, a Bally’s chip, four Corona caps and a worthless NC State -4 betting ticket, I found my little plastic Roman Emperor.    

I pulled him out and placed him right beside my then dwindling stack of chips.  The dealer laughed and asked where I got it.  She’d never seen a Lego Caesar.  I told her that it was Kurt’s idea.  She dealt another hand.  I had a 14 and dealer was showing a 6.  Everyone at the table stayed.  Before she dealt herself another card, I bowed to mini Caesar and loudly chanted, “Hail Caesar!”  She dealt herself a King and busted.  Everyone at the table cheered.

The table had turned.  Now each time before the dealer dealt, I bowed to mini Caesar and chanted “Hail Caesar!” The dealer proceeded to bust 6 hands in a row.  We were on a roll. 

The attorney from Chicago was enjoying it as well.  He looked at me and said, “I want Caesar.”   I looked over at him, and he repeated, “I want Caesar.”  “What do you mean you want Caesar?” I said back to him. 

He looked straight at me and said, “I’ll give you $100 for Caesar.”  In an instant, I slapped the felt Shania Twain table, pointed at him and yelled, “Sold!  To the lawyer from Chicago for $100.”  He reached into his stack and tossed me a black $100 Caesar’s chip.  I slide Caesar across the table. 

Kurt gave me a look that said how could you possibly sell the gift I gave you?  Hey, it was $100.  And it was my biggest win of the night.    

I felt great about it until the attorney said, “I would have given you $200.” 

That is one of the 10,000 reasons I love Las Vegas. 

Hail Caesar!  

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536965 2013-03-14T02:19:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Want To Sell Your Domain?

How much is my domain name worth?  I never really thought about it until today.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I thought about it 3 years ago when I purchased davidoakley.com. 

I’m almost embarrassed to say, but I paid a lot for it.  Ego will make you do some crazy things.  But I guess it’s not that crazy because I was starting a blog and since my name was, and still is David Oakley, I wanted David Oakley to be the URL.

URL is such a strange name.  Isn’t that the noise that you say to the toilet after you drink eight tequila shots?  I promise I wasn’t drinking when I forked over $190 to buy davidoakley.com.  Yes, I paid $190 for my URL. 

I guess I was kind of flattered that someone was squatting on my name.  It made me feel kind of important.  Hey, how cool is this, I said to myself, I’m a semi-famous ad guy, at least here in Charlotte, so $190 for a website of this stature is a steal.  I paid through paypal and voila, I was the proud owner of myname.com.

OK, I just looked up myname.com on Go Daddy and that URL is at auction for $10,000.  Wow.  Now I really feel like I got a bargain.  I own davidoakley.com and that’s my name.  It’s really my name. 

Which brings me to why I’m even writing this drivel in the first place.  I got an e-mail yesterday that said in the subject line, “Want to sell your domain?”  I opened it and all it said was “Want to sell me davidoakley.com???” 

Wow.  There’s another David Oakley out there who also thinks a lot of himself.  Cool.  So what did I do?  Did I immediately write him back?  Of course not.  I immediately went to Go Daddy and purchased oakleydavid.com.  Got that one for $28.34.  Oh yeah, score!  I figured that when I sold davidoakley.com to this other David Oakley, I would just switch my blog to oakleydavid.com.  Smart, eh?

Then I replied to the other David Oakley and said, “Make me an offer.”

Since you’re still reading my blog on davidoakley.com, you can surmise that the other David Oakley hasn’t written me back. 

If on the slight chance that I do get a reply, how much do you think I should charge him for the site?   

 

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536967 2013-02-16T17:40:22Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z I'm a Client

I’ve been to lots of focus groups over the years and have heard and seen some strange things.  But what happened Wednesday night was the strangest of all.

We were in Greenville, SC with one of our clients and we had just seen a group of women talk about their products for an hour and a half.  We took a break before a group of men was scheduled to come in.

I walked outside to give my wife Claire a quick call.  About 10 minutes later, I walked back into the facility, past a group of men waiting in the lobby.  Outside the door to the room with the two-way mirror was a table filled with food for the folks observing the groups.  I stopped at the table, and looked over the spread.

A guy in his late 50’s walked up to me and said,  “What are you doing?” I thought he said, “How are you doing,” so I replied, “Good, I’m just going to grab a little food before I go in.”

“The food is for clients,” he quickly said.

“Awesome,” I responded and I grabbed a plate and lifted the aluminum foil from the top of a tray full of lasagna.

“The food is for clients,” he said again. 

“OK,” I said as I looked at him and picked up a serving spoon and started to get some lasagna.  Suddenly, the guy grabbed me around the waist from behind and started forcefully pulling me away from the table. 

“Hey, wait… I’m… I’m… I’m a client.” 

“You’re a client?”  He let go of my waist and looked at me in disbelief.  “Who are you with?”

In that moment, I was so stunned that he had grabbed me that I couldn’t even come up with the name of the client that was doing the focus groups.

“Ah… I’m with the agency.”

Luckily, that answer worked. 

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.  I thought you were one of the guys here for the groups,” and he pointed to the guys in the lobby.  They were mostly blue-collar guys who had come straight from their jobs to the focus group.

It was really awkward for a moment and I just said, “No problem…  I guess you don’t feed the participants.”  I laughed it off and then he laughed nervously.  I walked back to the table, filled my plate with food, and went back to my seat in the dark room behind the two-way mirror. 

I looked down at what I was wearing.  Jeans, sneakers, a fleece top and a baseball cap.  As I giggled to myself about the incident, I knew that for once I would leave a focus group with some invaluable learning:  If you are going to be a client, you have to dress like one.

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536968 2012-07-25T15:15:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:16Z A Newspaper Ad Goes Viral.

Even if you don’t read the newspaper, you’ve probably seen it.  Ryan Kalil, the all-pro lineman from the Carolina Panthers, purchased a full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer today proclaiming that the Carolina Panthers will win Super Bowl.  It’s a bold statement.

As a Panthers fan, I love it.  I love that Ryan has confidence in his teammates and is willing to speak publically about it.  It’s almost Joe Namathesque.  It makes me want to buy season tickets.  It makes Ryan my favorite Panther.

As an advertising guy, I love it too.  I haven’t seen a print ad in the Charlotte Observer that has captured my attention like this in a long time.  But what’s even better is that it’s all over the internet.  It’s trending on twitter.  It’s on facebook.  They’re talking about it on ESPN and on sports radio.  It has gone viral:  A newspaper ad!  

Last week I attended the Hyper Island master class in New York.  It’s an intensive three-day workshop designed to help marketing professionals learn more about the massive change that’s happening in our world.  One of the major lessons of the program was delivered by one of the moderators, Tim Leake.  ( @tim_leake on twitter ) He said that ad agencies should not be about making ads anymore.  We should make social objects.  A social object is something that people share with their friends.

Ryan Kalil created much more than a newspaper ad.  He created a social object.  It just happened to be a newspaper ad.

And by the way, I agree with Ryan's prognostication. Go Panthers.

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536970 2012-02-28T16:05:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:16Z The Canine Crapperer

Quite possibly, I have seen more dogs take shits than anyone on earth.  I don’t know what it is, but whenever I’m in the presence of a canine, nature calls and the dog always answers with a big fat dump.  I’m not exaggerating. 

 I take our lab Yogi out each morning and he drops a deuce every time.  And he’s not shy about it.  You’d think he’d have the courtesy to hide behind a tree before he squats, but no, he poops right in plain view.  It’s almost as if he’s proud of his production.  “Hey look Dave, I just manufactured another solid Lincoln log.  Now feed me so I can make another.” 

But it’s not just Yogi.  Each day on my drive to the office, I see at least one pooch assume the position.  Shitting Shitzus.  Dumping Dalmations.  Crapping Collies.  They all fertilize lawns as I drive by.  It’s not like I’m looking for them.  Quite the contrary.  I’m convinced they’re looking for me.  Yesterday, I made a point to keep my eyes only on the road. I was so focused on driving down Queens Road West that Brooklyn Decker could’ve jogged by and my head wouldn’t have turned an inch.  I almost made it to work without a shit-sighting when a lady walking her beagle crossed the crosswalk at the intersection of East and Camden.  I am not BS-ing you, the beagle stopped and dropped right in the middle of the road.  And the Poopy Snoopy looked back at me and I swear he winked.  And what’s even worse, the lady didn’t pick up the turd.  So when the light changed I drove over it.  I got to the office and it was stuck to my tire.  You’ve heard of the Horse Whisperer.  I am the Canine Crapperer. 

Maybe they’re just relaxed around me.  That or I literally scare the shit out of them.  Whatever it is, it has long ceased being funny to me. 

What is funny to me is seeing a cow piss. 

When I was growing up, my Aunt Hallie had a funny saying.  Whenever it looked like rain, she’d say, “There’s a cloud coming up.  That rain’s fixing to come down like a cow pissing on a flat rock.”  Then she’d start laughing.  And her laugh is so infectious that I couldn’t help but start laughing too.  I would ask her, “Why is that so funny?,” and she would say, “Have you ever seen a cow piss?”  And I’d say no.  “Well if you had ever seen a cow piss, you’d think it was funny.”  “Why?”  I asked.  “Because cow piss comes out like water shooting out of a firehouse.  And it splatters all over everywhere.  Especially if the cow is standing on a flat rock.”  And then she would crack up again.  And then I would start laughing again.  “Some day David, I’m going to take you to see a cow piss.” 

Well, I think I was 11 when she made that promise and it was 30 years later when she actually fulfilled it.  Claire and the kids and I had driven to Butner to visit Aunt Hallie.  I think Sydney was about 8 and Lucas was 5.  We were trying to think of something to do to pass the time with the kids. Aunt Hallie suggested that we drive over to Stem and see the cows.  Sydney and Lucas were psyched.  We all piled into our Passat wagon.  Even Aunt Hallie’s dog Dutchess came along. 

We parked our car near the gate of the cow pasture where probably a hundred Ben and Jerry’s type cows were grazing.  Claire informed me they were Holsteins.  She went to college in Vermont so she should know.  There wasn’t much for them to graze on since it was mid February and the temperature was in the mid-thirties.  A couple the cows walked over to the fence right beside where we were standing.  Then it happened.  One of the big girl cows started peeing.  She wasn’t just peeing.  She was pissing.  “Look Lucas.  Look David.  Look Sydney.”  Aunt Hallie yelled, “That cow’s pissing.”  And she started laughing.  “It’s pissing on a flat rock.”  “Bah ha ha ha.”  Her laugh rang through the chilly air.  And the more that cow pissed, the more Aunt Hallie laughed. “Bah ha ha ha.” 

Steam rose like a geyser when the cow piss hit the ground.  And then a second cow started pissing.  And then a third.  Before we knew it there must have been 50 cows standing within 20 yards of us pissing and splattering and steaming up the whole field.  The only thing louder than the piss hitting the ground was our symphony of laughter.  Lucas and Sydney were cracking up.  I was crying I was guffawing so hard.  Claire was cackling.  She told me later that she almost peed in her pants.  It was synchronized pissing on a flat rock. “Bah ha ha ha.  Bah ha ha ha.” 

After a couple of minutes, the downpour finally subsided.  I asked Aunt Hallie if she had ever seen this happen before.  She said, “No, I’ve never seen anything like it.”  “Me either.”  I said.  “I’ve never seen a cow piss before.”  And Aunt Hallie replied, “Well, those cows must feel real comfortable around you David.  Bah ha ha ha.  Bah ha ha ha.” 

Since the show was over and the kids were getting cold, we decided to load up the car and head back to Aunt Hallie’s house.  I put the car in reverse, looked behind me and started backing up.  Aunt Hallie said, “Wait, where’s Duchess?”  I put the car back in park and looked out through the windshield and there she was.  Squatting by the fence of the cow pasture.  Taking a dump.

 

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536974 2011-10-28T19:34:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:16Z Copywriter Makes Lasting First Impression

I got a potato gun a couple of weeks ago.  It’s really cool and it shoots real potatoes.  It’s made of PVC pipe and powered by hairspray.  When you press the igniter, a small explosion occurs inside the gun, blasting the potato several hundred yards. 

I didn’t actually buy the potato gun.  It just showed up.  It came to my office at BooneOakley via FedEx in a big brown box.  I opened the box and had no idea what it was.  It looked like a bunch of plumbing supplies.  I reached inside for the instruction manual, opened it and what did I find?  A copywriter’s portfolio.  Yes, a writer actually thought he could get me to look at his book if he bribed me with a potato gun.  You know what?  He was right.  Not only did I look at his book, (which by the way, was very good) I invited him to come to BO to show me how to operate the potato gun. 

It really got me to thinking.  What was the best stunt a writer or art director had done to get me to look at their work?  The worst was easy.  Easy to remember because it was so bad.  Someone sent a mannequin leg from the knee down wearing a Chuck Taylor sneaker and it said something about wanting to get a foot in the door at BO.  His portfolio was even worse.  But I want to talk about the best and most memorable thing a creative has ever done to get our attention.

Without question, the most unforgettable stunt was engineered by Lauren Greer.  Lauren was a junior writer, who at the time was working at a small agency in Texas.  She sent her work to me in a brown envelope.  Her work was nice and for some reason I called her.  We talked about what was working and what wasn’t in her book.  I told her that we didn’t have any openings right then, but she should stay in touch. 

She did.  Every few months, Lauren would send her latest work to me.  Some of it was produced.  Some of it was spec.  Not all of it was good.  Some of it was great.  But the best part was her persistence. 

During an e-mail conversation, she told me that she was very excited because she was going to California to produce a couple of TV spots.  I congratulated her and asked when she was going.  Coincidently, John Boone and I were going to be out there at the same time.

We exchanged phone numbers and she said she would call us the following Tuesday, which was an off day for both of our productions. 

Just as we had planned, Lauren called me on Tuesday.

“Where do you want to meet?”  I asked. 

“I don’t know.  How about a bar in Santa Monica?” 

“I don’t know the names of any.” 

“How ‘bout we just meet on the 3rd Street Promenade?  Then we could find a place together to grab a beer.”  Lauren replied.

“Sounds good to me.  So where exactly?” 

“In front of Anthropologie” 

“What time?” 

“7:00 tonight.”

“But how will we know it’s you?  We don’t know what you look like.”  I asked.

“I know what you and John look like.  I’ve seen your picture on your website.”

“Cool.  See you there.”

We finished shooting that day and John Boone and I went to Santa Monica to meet Lauren.  We got to Anthropologie right at 7 o’clock.  We stood there looking around for Lauren.  Every girl that walked by, we wondered if it was Lauren.

Then an unkept, slightly smelly homeless woman walked up beside us pushing a grocery cart full of blankets, cans and plastic bottles.  She looked toward us and stuck out her hand.  I looked down and reached in my pocket to get some change to give her.  Then she made eye contact with John and said, “Hi are you John?”  John didn’t say anything and looked at me. 

The woman then looked at me and said, “Are you David?” 

“Yes,” I said totally astounded. 

“My name’s Lauren.  Nice to meet you.”  I shook her hand and replied, “The pleasure’s all mine.”  John stood there stunned, with his mouth open so wide you could have stuck a cantaloupe in it.

Talk about an awkward moment.  Lauren the copywriter was homeless.  The three of us just stood there, staring at each other. 

From behind us, we then heard another voice.  “Betty, I see that you met John and David.” 

Lauren the homeless lady looked at us and said, “Guys, I’m not Lauren.  I’m Betty.  She pointed at a young blond women in her mid twenties standing behind us.  “That’s the real Lauren.”  Then Betty started laughing and said, “We got you.  We got you two good.” 

The new Lauren then said to Betty, “Thank you so much for helping me with my introduction.” 

“You’re welcome, Lauren.  See you later,” and she pushed her shopping cart away and disappeared into the night.

“So I’m the real Lauren Greer,” the real Lauren Greer said. 

“Lauren Greer.  Let’s get a beer,” I said and the three of us went to Yankee Doodles. 

I’ll never forget that introduction.  Lauren had a great book.  But her personality was even better.  Her ability to think on her feet and orchestrate that deceptive introduction was absolutely brilliant.  We loved it.

Did we hire Lauren?  No.  But we really should have. 

A couple of years later, Lauren Greer got married to Bill Bayne.  So now her name is Lauren Bayne.  She went on to become one of the best creative recruiters in the country.  Recently, she started a company called TX M.I.L.K., which is all about inspiring conversations with Texas' most fascinating moms.  Check it out at http://txmilk.com  Even though she's no longer a "headhunter", if you're looking for a job in advertising, you should still talk with Lauren.  She knows how to get noticed.

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536978 2011-08-24T19:28:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:16Z Grace Potter needs to see my dentist.

I really don’t like going to the dentist.  I love going to the dentist.

Every time I visit my dentist, Dr. Colleen Schmidt, I have a great time.  She’s funny, friendly and is very hip.  And she’s quite attractive.  In fact, everyone in her office is attractive.  The receptionist…the hygienists… there’s not an ugly one in the bunch.

A couple of weeks ago, I went in because I needed to have a crown put on one of my teeth.  I talked with Jessica and Laura up front and then was led back to that ever so slightly uncomfortable dentist chair. 

A minute later Colleen walked in.  “What’s up, Oakley?  How’s the family?”

“Claire and the kids are good.  How’s your family?” 

“Great.  We just got back from the beach.  Myrtle.  So open up let me see what going on with that molar.”

A minute later Colleen was drilling.  I slightly tilted my head to the side, like any guy, and passed the time by staring at her tats.  Oops.  That’s a typo.  (But maybe not the typo you were thinking it was.)   I pass the time looking at the tat on her wrist.  And trying to figure out what it is.

When she stopped drilling my cavity for a minute, I asked her, “What’s with the tat?  Is that new?”

“Oh that’s for my kids.”

“For your kids?”

“Yes,” she said and held up her wrist, “When you look at it like this, it says Max.  When you turn it upside down, it says Allie.”

“Oh that’s cool.” 

Then she went back to drilling.

On my next spit break, I asked her what music is playing.

“It’s Grace Potter and the Nocturnals,” Colleen gleefully replied.  “She’s awesome.” 

 “You’ve heard her music before haven’t you?”  I shook my head back and forth since I still have a mouthful of dentistry equipment.

“You don’t know Grace Potter?”  I shook my head again.  “I can’t believe it.  She’s so good.  She’s coming to Charlotte in August.  We’re going to see her.  I can’t wait.  Do you like the song that’s on now?”  I nodded my head to indicate yes.  “I know you’ve heard Paris.  You’ve heard Paris, haven’t you?  That’s her big hit now.”  I shook my head side to side.

I had never heard of Grace Potter.  I thought she sounded pretty good.  Or at least what I could hear above the sound of the drill shaving bits of decay from my molar and the suction tube sucking.

Colleen finished drilling and looked at me and said, “I think you would really like Grace Potter.  You know why?  Because she’s a fantastic musician.  Plus she is H.O.T. hot!”  

What do you say in response to that?  I just said, “Well, I do like hot women.  I’m married to one.”  

“You and Claire really should go to the show.” 

Then she got back to business.  “You wait here and I’ll be back to put on your new crown in about 15 minutes.  So I sat there in the chair and listened to Grace Potter.  Ten minutes later, Colleen walked back in holding a sheet of paper.  She handed it to me.  On the sheet of paper was a photo of Grace.  “I told you she was hot.” 

“Wow, you’re right about that.  Smokin’ hot.”

“Open wide, let’s put that crown on.”  I put the picture of Grace on my lap and let Colleen finish attaching the crown.

“I went to see Grace at House of Blues in Myrtle Beach.  She wears really short skirts and rocks it out.  When she comes to Charlotte, you might see me on stage dancing with her.”

I nodded in approval.

“I think I have a giant girl crush on her.  If I were a lesbian, she’d be who I’d be after.”  I almost choked on my own saliva.  She busted out laughing and then so did I.   It was fun.  And it was funny.

What other dentist has conversations like this with you?  No one.  Colleen Schmidt rocks.  I’m definitely going to the Grace Potter show Friday in Charlotte.  I sure hope I see the two of them dancing on stage together.

Hey Grace.  If by some chance you read this and need a teeth cleaning, go see Colleen when you’re in town.  Or better yet, give her a shout out at your show.  She deserves it.  After all, she’s the best dentist in Charlotte.  And she’s your #1 fan.

 

 

Colleen Schmidt DDS is conveniently located across from the Arboretum Shopping Center at the southeast corner of Hwy. 51 and Providence Road in Charlotte.  704-544-1402

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536979 2011-07-12T20:52:05Z 2013-10-08T17:16:16Z Luke Sullivan's Mistake

When “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This” was published, Luke Sullivan was the best copywriter in the world. 

I had long admired Luke Sullivan’s work at The Martin Agency and Fallon, so when I heard that he had written a book on advertising, I knew I had to read it.  I didn’t plan on buying it though.  I figured I would just borrow a copy from someone at the office.  But then my friend and fellow copywriter Scott Corbett told me that it had one of my ads in it.  

As soon as I heard that, I went directly to Borders and bought a copy. 

I was so excited that my ad was published in a book that I didn’t care what kind of book it was.  I was like John Candy in Splash when he got a story published in the Penthouse Forum.  He was published.  And now, so was I.

When I saw it, I was ecstatic.  On page 25 in all its glory was Absolut Magnetism.  My ad.  But what I really wanted to see was my name.  So I quickly flipped to the credits on page 246.  I couldn’t believe what I saw.  I was listed as the art director.  I’m a copywriter.  What an insult.  What an oversight.  How could the great Luke Sullivan have made such an egregious mistake? 

I fumed about it for a while and then wallowed in self-pity for hours.  I wasn’t listed as the copywriter in the book by the greatest copywriter ever. 

Then I realized that the only people who check those credits are the guys who did the ads.  So I was the only one who noticed.

Since I really couldn’t do anything about it, my rationalizing continued.  If you work on the Absolut vodka campaign, it’s probably better to be known as the art director than the copywriter.  The campaign is one of the most famous print campaigns of all time and it’s art direction heavy.  It’s certainly not what one would call a copy-driven campaign.  There are only two words in each ad.  In this case, Absolut Magnetism.  Since the word Absolut is in every ad, what does a copywriter have to brag about?  “Hey, I came up with the word Magnetism?”  So maybe Luke actually did me a giant favor by listing me as the art director.

After I got over the initial shock of Luke’s gaffe, I decided that I might as well read the book since it was about copywriting and I was a copywriter even though Luke didn’t think I was.

Every page of “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This” is filled with nuggets that have stayed with me ever since.  “Never present an idea to a client that you don’t want to produce.”  “Choose your battles carefully.”  And my personal favorite, “Outlast the Idiots.”

What I found in Luke’s book changed my career.  No, I didn’t become an art director.  I became a much, much better writer.

Not that you can tell from this blog. 

Thank you Luke. 

And best of luck at Savannah College of Art & Design.  Wait a minute.  Aren’t you a copywriter?    

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536980 2011-06-30T17:29:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:16Z This Doesn't Happen Every Day.

On Monday, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a letter from Congresswoman Sue Myrick.  She represents North Carolina’s 9th congressional district.  I opened the envelope and read a very nice personal note.  She complemented me on winning an award from my alma mater, the University of North Carolina.  I thought to myself, wow, that’s pretty cool and quite thoughtful. 

Yesterday, I looked in my mailbox and inside was another envelope from Congresswoman Myrick.  I opened it and found another very nice personal note congratulating me on my UNC award.  This time she wrote that my advice to “do what you love” was highly constructive for new college graduates.

I guess Congresswoman Myrick loves writing notes to her constituents.

It’s not everyday that you get a letter from a US Congresswoman.  Apparently, it’s every other day.   

Can’t wait to see what I get tomorrow.

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536981 2011-06-20T04:28:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:16Z Double Jointed Jerry

If you haven’t read “From Those Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Pearl Harbor,” go immediately to Barnes & Noble and buy it now. 

Or better yet, download it.  If you like the TV series Madmen, you will love this book.  Jerry Della Femina is the original Madman and I would venture to say that if the TV series isn’t based on his book, it sure has borrowed a lot from it.

I first read Jerry’s book in 1987, the year I started in advertising.  I read it for the second time this week.  It was written in 1969 right at the peak of The Creative Revolution.  It’s amazing how relevant it is today.  If you’ve read it already, read it again. 

There are many jewels in this book, but this one stands out to me today.  Jerry wrote that there’s no such thing as a bad client.  Only bad agencies.  He tells the story of how Volkswagen had done crappy work for years and then they switched agencies to Doyle Dane Bernbach.  The work that Doyle Dane did was brilliant.  The management of Volkswagen didn’t change overnight.  But the advertising did.  The clients were the same clients who had been approving crappy work at the previous agency.  His point was that agency creative-types often blame clients for not allowing them to do great work.  When in fact, the clients have never been shown great work.

That’s just one small sample of the brilliance of this book.

I’m happy that I was fortunate enough to meet Jerry.  And it almost didn’t happen.

About 5 years ago, John Boone and I were walking down Sullivan Street in Manhattan with a client.  We were heading for dinner at Blue Ribbon Sushi. 

We passed a Soho gallery opening and there were a few people milling around outside.  One of the guys was totally bald with a mustache and a goatee.  I had a moment of “I know that guy from somewhere,” and as we walked past, it hit me. 

“I think that was Jerry Della Femina,” I said to John.

“Really?”

“I think so.”

“But you thought you saw Madonna last night too.”

We kept walking because we were in need of a major sushi fix and there’s no better sushi in Manhattan than Blue Ribbon. 

“Well, I really think that was Jerry.”

“Makes sense.  He’s from New York.  And there are only about 2 million bald guys in New York.  I’m sure that was him,” Boone joked.

We got to Blue Ribbon and there was about a 10-minute wait for a table.

“I’m going back.”

“Back where?”

“I’m going back to introduce myself to Jerry Della Femina.” 

“And what are you going to say?”

“I’m going to tell him that he’s been a big influence on me in my career.”

“And what if it’s just some bald guy?”

“Well, maybe I’ll ask him to join us for dinner.”

I walked the two blocks back to the gallery and the bald guy was still there.  But he had his back to me and was talking to someone.  I listened to their conversation for a few minutes and I knew that it was him.  They were talking about the new Burger King work that Crispin has just done. 

When their conversation ended, I stuck out my hand and said, “Hi Jerry, I saw you standing here and I’m not in New York that much and I’m David Oakley and I wanted to thank you for being such an influence on my career. 

“What career are you in, David?”

“Advertising.”

“Oh, I apologize,” he laughed.

I babbled on about how I had started my career in New York and that now we had our own agency in Charlotte called BooneOakley.  He had never heard of us. 

“I’m sure you guys are doing really nice work.”

I handed him my business card and said, “I’m not trying to pick you up or anything, but would you like to join us for dinner?  My partner John Boone has a table at Blue Ribbon.”

“Love that place.  But this is my son’s opening painting exhibit.  I don’t think he’d like it too much if I disappeared to go talk ads.”

“Yeah that makes sense.”

“Well, David it was very nice to meet you.”

“One more thing, Jerry.  I have to ask you this, because I’ve told so many people and no one believes me.  The first year that I was at Y& R, I was invited to the Della Femina Travisano Christmas party by a friend who was in your media department.  The thing that I remember most about the party was that it was a sit down dinner and at every place setting there was a big fat joint.”

“There was only one?  Most years we gave everyone two joints,” he laughed.

As I reread his book this week, I’m so glad that I went back and talked with him.   If you ever get a chance to talk with someone you admire, I have three words of advice for you:  Just do it.  Oh wait, that’s Dan Wieden’s line.  I’ll bet Jerry influenced Dan a bit too.

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536982 2011-05-24T02:08:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:16Z Already a Big Winner in Vegas

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a small obsession with Las Vegas.  OK, maybe it’s not small.  It’s a full-blown, over-the-top, stalker-type of obsession.  If Vegas was Jodie Foster, I’d be John Hinckley.  I absolutely love that city and want to be there as often as possible.

For me, as often as possible is once a year.  Every March, my friends Patrick, Jim, Kurt and I plan a trip to Sin City.  We schedule our visit around the first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament.  It truly is March Madness for us.  Or as we dubbed it in 2004, the first year we went, March Badness.

Nothing rivals the anticipation for this trip.  Not waiting to turn 16 to get your drivers license.  Not waiting to find out if your first child is a boy or a girl.  Not waiting to hear if you got an ad into the One Show.  For me, this trip is Christmas in March.  

The problem is that even though we schedule it every year, I haven’t been since 2007.  In 2008, I cancelled because I had a shoot going on at the same time.  In 2009, it was on Easter weekend and last year I backed out because we were pitching the Bojangles’ business.

So it was understandable that my participation this year was greeted with a bit of skepticism by my friends.  The e-mail exchanges leading up to our scheduled March 17th departure all fell under the category of give Dave a rash of shit. 

On March 12th, Jim Doyle wrote:  “I notice Oakley hasn't backed out yet.  He's cutting it particularly close this year.  But, I have been on the phone most of the morning.  Perhaps he called you first this year??”

A day later Kurt chimed in, “Remind me again, does Oakley usually back out if the trip on Monday or Tuesday?  I can never remember…just want to set my expectations for the call.”

Kurt continued a day later, “I believe that David is on a rotating basis - and that each time he backs out closer to the actual departure date. I could be wrong, but I doubt it...”

Then it was Jim again: “Your memory is outstanding! I nominate you as historian of the group. It occurs to me that if this trend line continues David will have to actually go on the trip before he can back out of the trip.”

To each e-mail I responded the same way:  “I’m already a big winner in Vegas.  Details soon.”

Then on the morning before our departure, Kurt sends an e-mail entitled, “Seen at a Vegas Convenience store this morning.”  

It contained a photo of my face photo-shopped onto on a milk carton.  I have to admit, this was pretty funny stuff, especially for Kurt, who is an exec at Bank of America.  

So I gave him his props in an elaborate e-mail reply:  “LOL.  I’m already a big winner in Vegas.  Details soon.”

I was already a big winner in Vegas because of chance phone call two months earlier with my friend Scott Corbett.  He’s a director who lives in Los Angeles and I told him that I was planning a trip to Las Vegas.  Scott told me that his executive producer’s brother owns some nightclubs in Vegas.  He said he’d give him a call and maybe he could hook me up with something. 

I wasn’t expecting much.  At best, maybe some half-price tickets to the Donny & Marie show or something.  A couple of days later I got an e-mail from Joe Masi, Scott’s executive producer.  He asked how many were going to Vegas with me and where did we usually stay?   I replied that there were five guys and that we usually stay wherever we get the cheapest deal.  Usually Treasure Island.

A week or so passed and I got another e-mail from Joe that said, “How does a Sky Suite at the Aria Casino sound?  Completely comped.”

I immediately wrote back, “Don’t F with me.  Are you serious?

Of course I’m serious.  Anything for a friend of Scott’s.  I’ll send you a confirmation number in a few days.

I still didn’t quite believe it, so I decided not to tell any of my friends about it.  If I told them about it and it didn’t happen, it would suck.  But if I told them about it and I had to back out again, it would be much worse.

So I started coyly answering their e-mails, “I’m already a big winner in Vegas.”

Thursday March 17th finally arrived and as I was leaving the office, John Boone handed me $40 and said, “Put it on red when you’re feeling it.”  I thanked him then headed to the airport.  All I could think about was whether or not our suite at the Aria was really comped.  At least if it isn’t, I thought to myself, now I had $40 to go toward my hotel room. 

My cousin Brad and I got to the gate before the other guys and boarded the plane.  I had booked our two tickets with frequent flier miles about 6 months earlier.  The only thing available was first class.  Oh well.  Not only was I a big winner in Vegas, I was a big winner on the way.

We took our seats and just after the flight attendant brought us hot towels, Jim walked by on his way to coach.  The look of sheer disbelief on his face as I grinned and said, “I’m already a big winner in Vegas,” was worth every penny that I paid for the seats.  Oh wait, I got them for free.  Never mind.

As soon as the flight left the ground, a wonderful feeling of relief came over me.  I hadn’t backed out.  Something didn’t come up this year.  I was actually going to Vegas for March Madness.  And maybe, just maybe, I might have a giant surprise for my friends when we arrive.  

When we landed at McCarran, we disembarked with great anticipation and excitement.  We had made it to the land of blackjack, beer and basketball.  Brad and I waited for Jim and Patrick to get off the plane and then the four of us started walking to get our bags.

As we started down the escalator to baggage claim, something caught Jim’s eye.  “Hey look at that.  That limo driver’s holding an Oakley sign.” 

“Where?” I asked.

“Over there,” Patrick said and pointed to a guy in a full limo driver outfit holding a sign with the name Oakley printed on it.

When we got to the bottom of the escalator, Jim said to Brad, whose last name is Oakley too, “C’mon, let’s get your picture made with him.”

“OK,” I said and we walked up to the guy.

“Do you mind if we take our picture with you?” Jim asked.  “Their last name is Oakley.”

Brad and I stood on either side of the driver with the Oakley sign and Jim took the picture.  Then I asked the driver, “Who are you waiting for?”

“David Oakley.”

I looked at Jim and Patrick and said, “I’m already a big winner in Vegas.”

We followed our driver past the ½ mile long taxi line to a grey limo that was twice that long.  On the ride to the Aria, the limo driver told us that everyone who stays in the Aria Sky Suites gets limo service to and from the airport.  This explained why they asked me for my flight info when I called the Aria casino the night before.  Even then, I still didn’t truly believe that there was a room for us, until he parked the limo in front of the VIP entrance at Aria. 

We checked in and took the elevator to the 31st floor.  I slid the key card in and opened the door to room 3117.  One glance inside and I screamed, “I’m already a big winner in Vegas.”

This place was off the hook.  Ridiculous.  Incredible.  Simply put, it was the nicest hotel room I had ever seen.  Imagine the room in The Hangover.  Only without the tiger and Mike Tyson.

Let me pause for second to say that by writing this story, I may be breaking one of the world’s most sacred covenants:  What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.  But since I’m leaving out all references to our final hand of blackjack at The Mirage, Jim throwing his cards at the pit boss at the Venetian, Brad's 3 Korean hookers and Patrick spending a little too much time with the midget leprechaun at O’Shea’s, I think I’m OK.  Now that I got that out of the way, we pick up our story very early Sunday morning.

The five of us sat down at a blackjack table at The Mirage around midnight and at some point in the next several hours decided that we should stay up the rest of the night and go straight to the airport to catch our 6 am flight.  The reasoning was simple and Jim summed it up best:  “We can’t do this in Charlotte.” 

Some time around 3:30 am, we played our last hand.  We left the blackjack table at The Mirage and took a cab back to the Aria to pack up and check out.

As we were walking through the Aria Casino on the way to the elevator, Patrick said to me, “Did you ever make that bet for John Boone?” 

“I forgot.  I’ll just take his $40 home.” 

“You can’t do that.  That’s not good Karma.” 

“Yeah,” said Brad, “He wanted you to make that bet so you need to make it.  Let’s find a roulette table.”

“That one looks good,” Brad said as we walked up to a deserted roulette table.  The dealer, or spinner, I’m not sure what the guy who runs the roulette table is called.  Patrick called him Octavius.  “How ya doing, Octavius?” he said.  I squinted to read his nametag and damned if his name wasn’t Octavius.  I thought Patrick had made it up.  Anyway, I put two $20 bills on red.  Brad put five $5 bets on individual numbers on the table.  Octavius spun the roulette wheel and dropped the little white ball onto it. 

As the ball was bouncing around, I reached into my pocket and pulled out $30.  I dropped it on the table and said, “$30 on Red 16.”  Two things went through my mind as I placed the bet.  One, since I’m betting on red I might as well bet on my birthday number and two, the words of Jim Doyle, “You can’t do this in Charlotte.” 

I watched the wheel spinning around and the little white ball bouncing from one numbered slot to another.  Finally it settled in a slot.  As it continued it spin I could see that it was a red number.  “Oh yeah,” I exclaimed, “Boone won his bet!” and I high-fived Patrick. 

I looked back at the spinning wheel to see what the number was.  When it came back around, I screamed, “Holy shit.  Holy shit.  Red 16.  Red 16.”  Brad, Patrick and I were jumping around like we had won the Super Bowl.  And I had no idea what I had won.  Octavius put the marker on Red 16.  I asked, “How much did I win?”

“Your $30 bet pays 35-1, so you won $1050,” Octavius replied as he pushed a huge stack of chips over to me.  I looked at the stack of chips and said, “No thanks, Octavius.  I’m one and done.  Cash me out.” 

Octavius pulled the chips back to his side of the table and “Colored me up” as they say.  He handed me 4 chips.  A red $5 chip, a green $25, a black $100 and a yellow $1000.  I had never seen a $1000 chip before.

I gave the red and green chips back to Octavius as a tip.   

“Let’s go to the bar,” Patrick yelled.

“But first, you gotta get a picture of this,” I said as I put the $1000 chip in my eye.”

As Patrick snapped the photo, he pointed to me and said, “You, my friend…are already a big winner in Vegas.”

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536984 2011-05-02T00:59:15Z 2013-10-08T17:16:16Z On the Cover of the Rolling Stone

Wanna see my picture on the cover.  Gonna buy 5 copies for my mother.  Gonna see my smiling face, on the cover of the Charlotte Observer Money Wise Section.

OK, it doesn’t really roll off the tongue and it’s not Rolling Stone.

But on Sunday morning, when you sit down with a cup of Eight o’ Clock at your kitchen table, open the Charlotte Observer and see yourself starring back at you it’s more than a little bit surreal. 

I knew that that Ely Portillo at the Observer was doing an article about Bill Goodwyn and I receiving the UNC Next Generation Leadership Award.  And I knew that the story was supposed to run today.  But this morning it caught me completely by surprise. 

Today was like any other Sunday morning routine. I made coffee, I opened the blinds, I let Yogi out of his crate and took him outside to do his business.  # 1.  I grabbed the newspaper from the paper box and walked back inside.  I dropped the paper on the kitchen table.  I fed Yogi.  While he was eating, I took my vitamins and drank a cup of orange juice.  Then I took Yogi outside to finish his business.  In case anyone is really into details, this time it’s #2.  Same thing every morning.  I walk him back into the kitchen, feed him a piece of ice.  Yes, Yogi eats ice every morning.  Then I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table.  I opened the paper and like I always do I went straight to the sports section.  But on the way to Cam Newtonville, I saw David Oakley.  There I was, leaning on the Kiss Pinball machine, grinning like my picture was going to be in the paper or something.

Seeing yourself in the paper is a truly bizarre experience.  It’s probably similar to seeing yourself on the jumbotron at a Bobcats game.  But this was different because I was all by myself.  I was the only one up, so I showed it to Yogi just to make sure it was real.  He didn’t say it wasn’t.  

 All day I’ve been saying that it’s not a big deal.  But it kind of is.  It’s not every day that you’re in the paper.  And I’m really lucky it happened to me.

Call me an egotist. Call me self-centered.  Call me self-absorbed.  But don’t call me a liar.  I'm psyched.  Actually, I'm thrilled to be in the paper today.  Of course, tomorrow it will be fish wrap. 

I’m really glad I got to experience it before newspapers stop being "papers".  I don’t think seeing the story on an ipad would have had the same impact.  Here, see for yourself: http://tinyurl.com/3s7e4ao

See what I mean? 

The cover of the Charlotte Observer Money Wise Section is not quite the cover of the Rolling Stone.  But it’s better than “The cover of the landing page below the rich media page takeover ad on the Rolling Stone website.”

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536987 2011-03-28T22:44:12Z 2013-10-08T17:16:16Z The Worst Day of the Year

For some people it’s April 15th.  Others it’s the Tuesday after Labor Day.  For me, it’s today.  The worst day of the year.  March 28th.  To be fair, it’s not March 28th every year.  Some years it’s April 4th.  Others it’s March 31st.  It’s kind of like Easter:  A floating holiday.  Except it’s not a holiday.  It’s a day of mourning.  It’s the end of March Madness and the beginning of March Sadness.  It’s the day after Carolina loses in the NCAA Tournament.

Some years are worse than others.  March 27, 1983 was particularly hard to take.  The #1 ranked and defending National Champion Tar Heels, led by Michael Jordan were defeated in the regional final by a Georgia team that shot the lights out.  A week later in the Final Four, the Bulldogs couldn’t hit shit and were blown out by Jim Valvano’s Wolfpack.  Oh, what could have been.

In 2008, Carolina met Kansas in the Final Four.  Before Tyler Hansbrough had broken a sweat, the Heels were down 40-12 on their way to a crushing defeat.  So close, (not really) but yet so far.  The worst day of that year was April 5th. 

Today I’m lamenting how this magical season ended so abruptly.  How did Kentucky rise up and bury my dreams in a rain of three pointers?  How did John Henson foul out for the first time in his college career?  How did the Tar Heels miss the chance to be in the most winnable Final Four in history? 

This one hurts more than most.  And I wasn’t sure why until I realized that this is the first time the Heels have been knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in 3 years.  They didn’t make it last year.  So there was no disappointment.  They won it all in 2009.  So the last time I experienced this pain was after the Kansas loss in 2008.  Believe me, it hurts.     

So what keeps me going on a gray cloudy day like today?  No matter how down I get, I always see a bit of Carolina blue on the horizon.  Things will be much better 370 days from now.  April 2, 2012.  That’s when the Tar Heels will be cutting down the nets in New Orleans. 


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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536955 2011-03-14T00:53:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Cleaning the Frogs

This morning my 14-year-old son Lucas walked into the kitchen and said, “Dad, would you clean the frogs for me?  The tank is gross.”

If I’ve heard that once, I’ve heard it 72 times.

On Lucas’ 8th birthday, Claire and I surprised him with two fire belly frogs.  It was a fantastic birthday present and he was thrilled to have “Fire” and “Belly” as he named them, share a room with him.  We bought an aquarium tank, placed a couple of rocks from the yard in it and filled it with two inches of water.  It was the perfect frog habitat.    

The guy at PetSmart told us that the fire belly frogs would live for approximately 2 years.  We recently celebrated (I use that term loosely) their 6th birthday. 

Fire belly frogs are not exactly the cleanest creatures on earth.  They pee and poop in the tank and leave half-eaten water-bloated crickets floating around.  Lucas is right.  That tank is gross.

And I’ve been spending 10 minutes once a month since 2005 cleaning that cesspool.  12 times a year.  For 6 years.  Wow. That’s 72 times.  72 times I’ve been a one-man Hazmat crew fishing out cricket carcasses floating in a sea of frog feces. 

You never think of this stuff when you are at the pet store.  All you think about is how cute the frogs are and how psyched your kid will be.

As tough as the cleaning is, it’s not really the worst part.  The worst part is the crickets.  The frogs have got to eat, you know.  No brown pellets for these amphibians.  They have discerning palettes and only eat live crickets.  So every week we have to go back to PetSmart to buy two dozen crickets.  I thought we were getting two pets, but in fact we were getting 26.

Pet store crickets are a wily bunch.  Obviously they know that soon they will be eaten by a frog, because they always have freedom on their minds.  More than once they have gotten loose in my car.  There’s nothing worse than driving through traffic at 65 mph and feeling something crawling across your foot.  Actually there is.  Sitting on the toilet and feeling something crawl across your foot.  I’ve experienced both.  No matter how well fortified the cricket container is, somehow a couple of those little buggers always manage to escape.  

The only thing more atrocious than dealing with crickets is enduring the smell of PetSmart.  It’s a thick kind of sweet odor that, as John Denver used to sing, fills up your senses.  I think it’s actually put there on purpose, just like they pump oxygen into the casinos in Vegas.  It’s the same in every pet store.  I’m not just picking on PetSmart.  They all know the secret.  This olfactory sensation makes pet owners drunk with froggy or puppy or kitty love and they impulsively buy all kinds of stupid pets or stupid shit for their pets.  How else could you explain anyone buying a doggy bikini?  

One whiff of PetSmart and you’ll buy anything.  Pet Smart. Owner Dumb.

So what’s the point of this story?  

When your son turns 8, don’t buy fire belly frogs?  No.  Actually, quite the opposite.  My son loves those frogs.  And if I hadn’t bought them, I never would have had the material for this story.  

You may say you just wasted two minutes reading it.  But I once thought that the 720 minutes I spent cleaning the frogs was wasted time too.

 


 

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536956 2011-03-02T16:41:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Life Without Logos

You know when there’s just an instant connection with a person?  A connection that makes you feels like you’ve known them for years.  I had one of those on our first Bojangles’ TV shoot about a year ago.

We were shooting on a breathtakingly beautiful 400-acre ranch about hour north of Los Angeles.  The place was gorgeous.  There were horse stables, flowering meadows and a wonderful old ranch house.  If it weren’t for the crew trucks and the camera equipment, the setting probably looked the same as it did 75 years ago.  It was as if we had gone back in time.

 

During an early afternoon break in the shooting, I decided to check my messages on my iphone.  As I was deleting a generic Viagra e-mail, I heard a deep baritone voice say, “I really like your hat.”

 

I looked up and saw a very large man.  He stood about 6’ 4” and weighed somewhere around 240.  He was wearing jeans, a blue work shirt, a tan denim jacket and a well-worn sweat-stained cowboy hat.  His face was the color of baseball glove and a bushy white handlebar mustache surrounded the most genuine smile I had ever seen. 

 

“I like yours too,” I said back to him. 

 

“Well, I wasn’t fishin’ for a compliment.  I just had never seen one of those hats before.”

 

I had to think for a second what cap I was wearing.  I glanced up and saw the white underside of the brim and remembered that I was wearing the baseball cap that I had bought at The Masters.

 

“Did you go to The Masters?” he asked.

 

I was kind of embarrassed at first and couldn’t really believe that a real life cowboy would be interested in my cap.  A cap that basically said, “I went to the Masters and you didn’t.”

 

“I did.  I went to the Thursday round this year.”

 

“I've always wanted to go to Augusta.  How’d you get the badges to get in?”

 

This guy knew a thing or two about Augusta National. 

 

“Those badges are about as rare as hen’s teeth,”  I said trying to fit in as I leaned against his chicken coop.  “I’ve lived in Charlotte about 15 years and had never so much as sniffed a badge until this year.  Our insurance agent called asked if I wanted to go.  I, of course, said yes.” 

 

“Well, where did he get them?” he asked. 

 

“His grandmother lives in Augusta and has had the badges for about 35 years.  She doesn’t really have any interest in going anymore so she likes for her grandson to share them with people who have never been before.”

 

“That’s really cool.  Did you see Tiger and Phil?”

 

“Sure did.  That was cool.  But the most amazing thing wasn’t the players.  It was the place.  I’ve never seen anything like it.” 

 


“I heard it’s the most finely manicured golf course in the world.  Not a blade of grass out of place.”

 

“That’s true, but that’s not what amazed me.  What amazed me was that there isn’t a single piece of advertising in all of Augusta National.”

 

A puzzled look came over his face.

 

“That’s right,” I said.  “At the concession stands, there weren’t any Budweiser or Coors Light signs.  Not even on the taps.  The taps had white cards on them and in black magic marker was written Beer, Light Beer and Imported Beer.  No logos.  The potato chip bags didn’t say Lays.  They said Potato Chips or Barbeque Potato Chips.” 

 

“Really?”

 

“There wasn’t a giant American Express logo on the Leaderboard.  It just said “The Masters.”  There wasn’t a Rolex logo on the clocks.  There were no logos anywhere.  None.  I felt like I had gone back in time to the 1940’s.” 

 

“Totally noncommercial?”   

 

“I think it’s the only place in the world without advertising.  Ads are everywhere.  They’re even out here on your beautiful ranch.”

 

“There are no ads out here.”

 

“Sure, there are," I said.  "Look at that craft service table.  There are logos all over it.  Cliff Bar.  Wrigley’s gum.  Coke.  Chiqita Bananas.” 

 

Gary laughed and said, “Well, that craft service table isn’t here everyday.” 

 

“OK, true.”

 

“And when you finish your shoot, they’ll be gone.  Tomorrow this ranch will be returned to its natural beauty.” 

 

“Wow.  Sometimes I think it would be great if advertising didn’t exist at all,” I said.

 

“But then you wouldn’t have a job.”

 

“And we wouldn’t be renting your ranch today to shoot these Bojangles’ commercials.”

 

We shared a good laugh.  Then my headphones buzzed and Craig, our producer, was calling me back up to the set where we were shooting.

 

I stuck out my hand and said, “My name’s David.  I hope to see you later on this afternoon.”

 

He shook my hand and said, “I’m Gary, nice to meet you.  This is my ranch so if you need anything today, just let me know.”

 

I headed back to the set.  I didn’t see Gary the rest of the day until we were done shooting.  As we were packing up to head back to LA, I shook Gary’s hand and said, “Gary, thanks for letting us use your ranch.” 

 

“It was my pleasure.  This was a lot of fun.  It sure doesn’t happen everyday.” 

 

“I bet you’re glad of that.”

 

“Well, yeah.” he replied and laughed.

 

“I was thinking about it and I want you to have my hat.”  I said as I took The Masters cap off my head and handed it to him.

 

“You don’t have to do that.”

 

“I know I don’t, but I want you to have it.”

 

Gary broke into his giant gentle smile again and said, “Thank you, thank you so much.  Well then.  I’m going to give you my hat too.”  And he took off his crusty cowboy hat and handed it to me.

 

I was blown away by his kindness.

 

“Thanks so much,” I said.  "Gary, you should keep it because I know that, honestly, I’d never wear it.  You use it to keep the sun off of you.  What good would it do me?  Shield me from the florescent light in my office?”   

 

He laughed and I handed the cowboy hat back to him.  But he put the Masters cap on.  He wore it well.   

 

We shook hands and said goodbye.  I hopped into our rent-a-car and started back toward Los Angeles.

 

As we drove out the driveway in our Kia Sonata, I saw Gary waving to us in my rear-view mirror. What genuine good guy, I thought to myself.  He really likes that hat.  I felt really good about giving it to him.

 

At least I did until the irony hit me:  The Masters allows no advertising.  And I had just littered Gary’s pristine ranch with their logo.  

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536957 2011-02-19T17:33:22Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z My First Favorite Band

The first album I ever owned was “Everything’s Archie” by The Archies.  I was 9 years old and loved all their songs.  “Sugar Sugar,” "Jingle-Jangle," and of course, “Bang-Shang-a-Lang.” 


I also had a major crush on Veronica Lodge.  I didn’t think Betty Cooper was bad either.  I would have hooked up with Betty in a heartbeat if Veronica had a boyfriend.  That was my thinking in 1970.

I thought The Archies were the greatest band ever.  That is, until Eve Allison Fearing set me straight.  Eve Allison was 11, so she knew a thing or two about bands.  “The Archies aren’t even real, David,” she told me.  “They’re on Saturday morning TV.” 

“But...they are real,” I countered.  “I just heard “Sugar Sugar” on WKIX.”

“Yeah, you heard the song, but it wasn’t Archie singing.  It was some backup studio musician you’ve never heard of.” 

I was completely taken aback by this.  It never occurred to me that Archie wasn’t singing, that Jughead wasn’t banging the drums, Reggie wasn’t on bass, that Veronica wasn’t on the keyboards and that Betty wasn’t slapping a mean tambourine.  This was devastating information.  I tried to play it cool and asked Eve indignantly, “So who’s your favorite band, Miss Know-It-All?” 

“The Partridge Family,” Eve Allison proudly proclaimed. 

“The Partridge Family?  Well, they’re not real either.” 

“Yes they are.  David Cassidy sings all their songs.” 

When she said this I knew I had her.  “Oh…I thought Keith Partridge was their singer.” 

“He is, David Cassidy plays Keith Partridge on the show.” 

“That means Keith Partridge is not real either!” 

Eve Allison crossed her arms, glared at me and then testily replied, “Well at least he’s not a cartoooooooooooooon.” 

Eve Allison stretched out the "toon" longer than the Beatles stretched out the last note of “A Day in the Life.”  I had no comeback.  Eve Allison was right.  I needed a new favorite band.

Four years later, I found KISS.

 

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536958 2011-02-14T16:34:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Why I Love the Dentist

 

I got an e-mail from my friend Grizelle Sanchez last week.  She said she was at the dentist’s office and that right in the middle of getting her teeth cleaned, her stomach growled loudly.  She pushed the dentist’s hand out of her mouth and yelled, “It’s Bo Time,” and jumped out of the chair and acted like she was going to run out of the dentist’s office.  She said the dentist and his assistant cracked up at her antics.   

I guess the reason that she sent the e-mail was to let me know that the “It’s Bo Time” campaign that we came up with for Bojangles’ really was having an impact in real life.  I thought about that for a second and was proud that BooneOakley had created something cool.  Then I started thinking about going to the dentist.

Going to the dentist is not really a pleasant experience for most people.  It’s always been associated with pain.  But for me I’ve always kind of liked it.  At least since I was 15.  Not the pain so much, but the pleasure. Or should I say, treasure that awaited me when I visited Dr. Sneed’s office in Oxford, North Carolina.

Dr Sneed’s office was pretty non-descript.  It had the standard plaid fabric waiting couches with wood end tables.  On each of the tables was an assortment of out-of-date magazines.  Usually when I got there, I’d just plop down on the couch and bide my time by thumbing thru Southern Living, People or Redbook until the receptionist called my name to go back into the torture chamber. 

 

I really hated going there.  Until one time I showed up and I really had to go the bathroom.   Their bathroom was locked so I stood outside the door waiting and pacing for about 10 minutes.  Finally, I went to the receptionist and told her that I really had to go and that the bathroom was locked and that I’d been waiting for a really long time.  She looked at me and could tell that I was moments away from crapping on the floor.  She said that at the end of the hall was Dr. Sneed’s private bathroom. 

I had been going to Dr Sneed’s for years and had never noticed another bathroom but I made a beeline for it.  I ran in, sat down on the toilet, looked around and couldn’t believe my eyes.  On a shelf in front of the toilet were more Playboys and Penthouse magazines than I had seen in my entire life.  There must have been 50 of them.  On the tank behind the crapper there was another stack.  I “read” a couple of them and a half hour or so later, went back out to the waiting room.  

After that, I did everything I could to go to the dentist.  I got a toothache every few days.  When I had braces, I used my dad’s wire clipper to clip the wire on my braces. 

“Mom, my wire broke and I need to go get it fixed.  Can you take me to Dr. Sneed’s?”  I’d always arrive at least a half an hour early for my appointment so I’d have plenty of reading time. 

Most dentists recommend that you see them twice a year.  I was going twice a week. 

I even volunteered to drive my sister Lisa to the dentist after school.   It was a special day because this was the day that Lisa was going to get her braces off.   I drove my ’65 VW Beetle and it broke down on the way.  By the time that my mom drove to pick us up, Dr. Sneed’s office was closed for the weekend.  

Lisa was distraught that she would have to wait until Monday to get her traintracks taken off.  I was devastated because I’d have to wait two more days to see Miss March.

 


Things have changed a bit since I was an adolescent.  Last week, I took my teenage son Lucas to the dentist here in Charlotte, and I was amazed at the lengths that they had gone to make it a low stress, fun environment.  As soon as we walked in, we were greeted with two 50-inch plasma flat screen TV’s.  One was showing Sponge Bob and the other was tuned to The Discovery Channel.  We checked in and walked over and plopped down on the cushy couch in front of the Myth Busters guys.  But these two shows weren’t our only choices to pass the time.   They had X-box and Playstation2 hookups and we could choose between Mario Cart, Pinata Party, Madden 2010 and Pokemon.  

This certainly wasn’t Dr. Sneed’s office, although I noticed that they did have the exact same magazines on the end tables:  Redbook, People and Southern Living. 

“Hmmm…,” I thought to myself.

Just then Laura, the bubbly dental hygienist, strolled over and said, “Lucas are you ready?”  Lucas said yes and followed her back to the examining room.  

As soon as they disappeared out of sight, I walked over to the receptionist and asked, “Excuse me, where’s the restroom?”

 

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536959 2011-01-31T14:37:54Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Aunt Hallie's Heels

Why did Tyler Hansbrough’s decide to stay in school for his senior year?  The consensus is that he came back to win a national championship for North Carolina.  And to atone for the ass-kicking that Kansas put on the Heels in the Final Four the year before.  (You might recall, the Tar Heels fell behind by 40-12 to start the game.)  That certainly was no way for a great player to end his career.  While these reasons make a lot of sense, I believe the reason Tyler played his senior season at Carolina is because of a chance meeting with my Aunt Hallie.

Aunt Hallie and I were all smiles after the Tar Heels won it all in 2009.

Aunt Hallie is in her mid 70’s and has been a Carolina fan for as long as I can remember.  She also is a big fan of her nieces and nephews, 3 of which graduated from UNC.  She hates Duke, but I’m not sure if that is because of the university or because she was a nurse for 40 years at Durham County General Hospital.  Duke Hospital was their rival.  Whatever the reason, she watches the Tar Heels whenever they are on TV.  If they’re winning, she’ll stay up “until midnight to see my boys.”  But if they are having an off night, she’ll walk up to the TV, turn it off and say, “If that’s as good as you’re going to play, I’m going to bed.”   I’m sure she was asleep by halftime of that Kansas game.

Aunt Hallie lives in Butner and does most of her grocery shopping at the local Food Lion.  But when she has a doctor’s appointment she shops at the Harris-Teeter near University Mall in Chapel Hill.  Why do I know this?  Because in the spring of 2008, a few weeks after the basketball season, Aunt Hallie called and told me about her trip to the Harris-Teeter. 

She said she was pushing her cart through the produce section and noticing how their tomatoes weren’t as red ripe as the ones she grew in her garden when she looked up and saw a very tall man.  “This guy was the tallest person I had ever seen,” she enthusiastically said to me.  “I knew he had to be a basketball player.” 

So Aunt Hallie said she walked over to the man and looked up at him and said, “Do you play basketball?”  He looked down at Aunt Hallie, who is about 5’2”, and said, “Yes, I do.” 

“I knew it,” she replied.  “I knew you were a basketball player.  Now tell me, do you play for Duke or for Carolina?”  

“I play for Carolina,” he patiently replied.  

“Are you sure?”   

“Ah, yeah, I’m sure.”  Aunt Hallie said he looked at her like she was out of her frickin’ mind, like ‘how could you not instantly recognize me…I’m the frickin’ National Player of the Year.’ 

“I knew it.”  She said again.  “What’s your name?”

“Tyler.  Tyler Hansbrough.”

“You’re Tyler?”

“Yes, I am.” 

“Well, Lord have mercy.  I can’t believe I’m standing here talking to Tyler.  My name’s Hallie.” 

“Nice to meet you, Hallie,” he replied. 

“I can’t wait to tell my niece and nephews about this.  They went to Carolina too.  You might know them.  Do you know Lisa, Ken and David Oakley?”

“No, I can’t say that I do.” 

“Well, I guess you wouldn’t know them.  They graduated about 20 years ago.”  She said she grabbed his hand and held it and said, “I can’t believe I’m standing here in the Harris-Teeter and I’m talking to Tyler.”  She said she squeezed his hand really tightly, patted it and said, “Maybe next time I see you, I’ll know who you are.  And who you play for.”  She said she let out a loud laugh and said, “I can’t believe I’m talking to Tyler.  Lordy, wait ‘til I tell my nieces and nephews who I met in the Harris-Teeter.”  She said Tyler smiled again and just looked at her like she was crazy.

Aunt Hallie called me as soon as she got back to Butner.  She didn’t call me quicker because she doesn’t believe in cell phones.  Or cable TV, for that matter.  That’s probably why she didn’t recognize Tyler.  The reception on her TV is so bad it’s like watching a game through a Wisconsin blizzard.

The next day, there was a press conference at the Dean Dome where Hansbrough announced that he had decided to forgo the millions in NBA money to stay at Chapel Hill for his senior season.  He said that he wanted to continue his college experience and he wanted a chance to win the national championship.  He had some unfinished business to take care of.  And it wasn’t to cut down the nets in Detroit. 

 

Tyler Hansbrough stayed at Carolina for one reason: To prove to the little old lady at the Harris-Teeter that he didn’t play for Duke.  And for that, fans of the 2009 NCAA Basketball Champion North Carolina Tar Heels owe a big batch of gratitude to my Aunt Hallie. 

 

PS:  Today is Aunt Hallie’s 76th birthday.  She probably will love reading this story.  But she’ll be totally pissed I just told everyone how old she was.  

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536961 2011-01-28T02:34:25Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z A Pretty Good Business

I went to Books-A-Million a couple of days ago to exchange a book that I bought for my wife Claire.  I usually don’t go to this bookstore, but it’s right across from Bruegger’s Bagels and early every Saturday morning I buy bagels for the family for the week.  And Books-A-Million opens early. 

The reason I don’t normally go there is because it has such a dumb name.  Who came up with Books-A-Million?  It makes very little sense.  I get the books part.  They sell books.  But the “A-Million” part?  Does it mean they have a lot of books?  Or does it mean that their books are really expensive?  Either way, why not call it Books-A-Billion?  At least it’s an alliteration. 

They really should have a name that highlights what makes them different from other book stores.  Like “Books Open Early.”  Or “Open Books.”   "Open Books" has a nice double meaning.  People have to open books to read them, an open book test in high school is the easiest, and being an open book just sounds honest.  (Actually, that's a triple meaning.  Which makes it even better.)

Plus the “Open” part of "Open Books" sign would only be illuminated when they're open.  So when you drive through their parking lot, you wouldn’t have to get out of your car to check to see if they were closed.  When their open light is on, they’re open.  If not, just keep driving. 

So last Saturday morning, I walked up to the register at Books-A-Million and said to a friendly man in his late 60’s, “I bought the wrong book for my wife.  She already has this one.  Could I exchange it or get a refund?”  He said, “Of course.  I’ll keep it here and you can look around and see what you might like.”  I said thanks and went over to the humor section.  I browsed for a while and then decided to buy Brain Droppings by George Carlin. 

When I went back to the register there was a young guy working behind the counter with the older man who had Claire's book.  The older man saw me and said to the younger guy, “Would you take care of him?  He bought the wrong wife.”  He caught himself, but before he could say anything, I said, “Wow, you can exchange wives here?  That’s good to know.”  He smiled in a strange way and corrected himself.  “He bought the wrong book for his wife.”  “That was quite a Freudian slip there, eh?”  I said and laughed loudly.  He laughed a little.

I paid for my Carlin book and as I was leaving, a couple was walking into the store.  I overheard part of their conversation as they passed.  The woman said, “I’m tired of you telling me all the things you’re going to do and then you never do any of them.  Damn tired of it.”  I held the door for them and the wife walked on through.  The husband said, “Thanks,” and gave me a half-eyebrow raise, undoubtedly acknowledging that he knew that I knew that his wife was a royal pain. 

As I walked to my car, I stopped and thought for a moment.  That guy bought the wrong wife.  And he’s taking her in there for an exchange. 

Books-A-Million may have a stupid name.  But it’s stupid for a reason.  It’s a front.  A front for “The Wife Exchange.”  It probably does a pretty good business. 


 

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536962 2011-01-17T04:45:22Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Old School Super Bowl

Probably for the first time in a very long time, maybe ever, there is no pretender in the final four of the NFL playoffs.   The Pittsburgh Steelers, the New York Jets, the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears all deserve to be there.  Not only on the merits of their play on the field, but on the look of their uniforms.  


Each of these teams is wearing the same uniforms that they were wearing 40 years ago.  These teams have stayed the course and haven’t given in to the whims of fashion over the years.  The result of this commitment to fashion excellence is that they are four of the most recognizable sports brands in the world.     

Oh sure, the Jets got all MC Hammerish in the eighties and wore those horrendous green helmets with JETS on the side.  But someone in New York had the fashion sense (I think it was that guy from Project Runway) to bring them back to the Joe Namath era helmet design.  Good things have been happening to the Jets ever since.

Tradition means everything in the NFL.  Apparently, so does looking good.  Think about it:  All the poser NFL teams got knocked out this weekend.  The Seattle Seahawks.   Please.  Their all grey-green unis are a disgrace.  Thank God we won’t have to see them again until September.  The Atlanta Falcons?  They’re kind of old school, but when they modernized the Falcon on their helmet, they transferred their on-the-field losing tradition to their appearance.  The Baltimore Ravens?  In my eyes they’re still a replacement team for the Colts.  Whoever designed their uniforms is a sick practical joker or colorblind.  Or both.  Black pants?  C’mon.  The New England Patriots have a winning tradition, but they are total fashion losers.  They abandoned their white helmets with the patriot hiking the football and switched to the silver helmets with the “speedy head” on the side in the mid 1990’s.  They’ve been torturing the eyes of America ever since. 

So who do I think will win the Super Bowl in three weeks?  The fans.  Because no matter whether it’s the Jets, Packers, Steelers or Bears that hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy, one thing's for certain:  They’ll look good doing it.    

On February 6th, I’ll just sit back with the rest of America and enjoy the beautiful old school pageantry.  And be very happy that the Tennessee Titans are nowhere to be seen.

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536964 2011-01-10T01:25:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Mike Hughes Hall?

I heard recently that the VCU Brand Center in Richmond named a hall after Mike Hughes, my old boss at The Martin Agency.  I thought it was kind of nice that they did that, but I felt Mike deserved something more.  

Having a hall named after you is OK I guess, but I wondered why didn’t they name a classroom after him?  He’s a fantastic teacher.  Or an auditorium?  He’s a fantastic speaker.  OK… he’s a good speaker.  They could have named the gymnasium after him.  He’s quite a coach.  But they named a hall after him. 

C’mon VCU, a hall?  A hall is something that you walk through on the way to class.  It's a step up from having a broom closet named after you, I suppose.  And it's better than having a rest room named after you.  But not much. 

I was really confused until I saw this picture:  

Apparently in Virginia, a hall is a building.  That’s pretty cool.  Mike helped build both The Martin Agency and The Brand Center into something incredible.  So they named a building after him.  Now it all makes sense.   

Congrats Mike.  What a great honor.  But if it were up to me, it wouldn’t be Mike Hughes Hall.  It would be Virginia Commonwealth Hughesiversity.  

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536969 2010-12-30T15:59:56Z 2013-10-08T17:16:16Z My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2010.

 

Since there's a year-end list for everything, I thought it was only appropriate that I rank my Top 5 Blog Posts of 2010.  And when I say my blog posts, I mean my posts:  Posts that I have written.  What’s the point of ranking other writers?  We all know that bloggers only read their own blogs. 

For most bloggers, ranking their own work is surely a difficult task.  Poring over a year’s worth of musings and trying to decide which 5 had the biggest impact on the world.  But for me, it's easy.  I just started my blog a couple of weeks ago and only have 4 posts.  So technically, I haven’t written enough to have a Top 5 list.  But since it’s my blog and I make the rules, we’ll consider this to be my 5th post.

 

So without further adieu, My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2010.  Drum roll please…

 

At Number 5, “Why is your name upside down?”  At Number 4, “A Nasty Habit.”  At Number 3, “My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2010.” At Number 2,  “The Christmas Spirit.”  And at Number 1, “Camels Under the Tree.”

 

How cool is that?  All 5 of my posts have made My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2010.  I love this blog.  Too bad I’m the only one reading it.


 

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tag:blog.davidoakley.com,2013:Post/536977 2010-12-11T17:27:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:16Z The Christmas Spirit

          Every year, right after Thanksgiving, I decorate the cedar tree in our front yard.  I cover it with those old school large multi-colored Christmas lights, the kind that were banned from indoor Christmas trees years ago because they were fire hazards.  When I started doing it 14 years ago, it only took three strands of lights to cover the cute little Christmas tree.  Then it was only about seven feet tall.  Now it’s over 30 feet tall and this year it took 27 strands to cover it.  It’s become an Oakley Christmas tradition and my personal obsession.  Decorating it is a whole weekend endeavor.  And I totally love it.  Because when it’s done, we have our own Rockefeller Center tree right here on Crooked Oak Lane.  And it always puts me in the Christmas spirit.

Getting lights to the top of a 30-foot tall cedar tree is no easy task.  But over the years, I’ve devised a jack-legged system that actually works.  I use 2-inch PVC pipe, and spray paint each 10-foot long section black and attach the star and the lights to the end of the pipe.  Then I attach two more 10-foot pipes to the end of that pipe and push the star and the lights to the top of the tree.  Invariably, there are always a few things that I need to complete this project.  And this year was no exception.  I needed some extra PVC pipe, fuses, replacement lights and some black spray paint.  So I hopped in the car and headed for the Lowe’s on Johnston Road.

Some people would consider going to a big box hardware store in the middle of decorating a Christmas tree to be a chore.  But not me.  It always brings back memories of going there with my dad.  After I moved to Charlotte, each year on Christmas Eve, my dad and I would go to Lowe’s to Christmas shop for each other.  It was fantastic because hardly anyone was ever there and we had the whole store to ourselves.  While everyone else was at the mall, we’d walk around and buy rakes, shovels and drill sets for each other.  Then we’d go home and wrap them and put them under the tree.  A rake wrapped in Santa paper with a big red bow on it is a very funny site.  I smiled to myself as I grabbed a shopping cart with a worn Scooby Doo sticker on the handle.  I pushed it inside and started gathering my goods.

I went to the Christmas section first to get replacement light bulbs.  This is the part of the store that normally is where you’d find houseplants, but during the holidays, it’s packed with every kind of decoration that you could imagine.  Even old school replacement lights.  I pushed my cart through the clutter and finally found them at the very back.  I put 24 four-packs of lights in my basket.  Six packs of red, six packs of green and four packs each of blue, white and orange.  I grabbed a couple of extension cords and pushed my cart back into the main store.  I went over to the paint aisle and found the duct tape and the black spray paint.  I had no idea where to find fuses for Christmas lights so I stopped one of the guys with the red vests.

“Where would I find fuses?”  I asked.

“What do you need them for?”

“For Christmas tree lights.”  I said as I held up the tiny burnt out fuse that I brought with me.

“Automotive fuses are on Aisle 6.  But I’ll bet they have packs of fuses for Christmas lights over in the holiday department.  They’ll probably be hanging near the back on little I-hooks like this.”  He pointed to some tacks hanging on a shelf beside him.  “If you don’t find them there, come back and get some automotive fuses.  They’ll probably work, but they might be more expensive.”

“Thanks, I appreciate it,” I said as I turned my cart around and headed back toward the holiday department.

I still needed to get PVC pipe from the main store but the pipe came in 10-foot sections so I wanted to get it last.  I went back into the holiday department and pushed my cart through the crowded aisles looking for fuses.  Maneuvering through the narrow spaces between the Norfolk Island Pines and boxes of holiday accent rugs wasn’t easy, so I parked my cart and walked toward the back of the department where I had found the replacement lights earlier.  I scoured each and every shelf looking for the I-hooks that the Lowe’s guy had told me about but I couldn’t find them anywhere.  “Oh well,” I thought to myself,  “I’ll just go back and get some expensive automotive fuses.” 

So I walked back over to my cart.  But when I got to where I left it, it wasn’t there.  “That’s odd,” I thought, “Maybe I left it on the next aisle over.  Every thing in here is so crowded it all looks alike to me.”  I walked over to the next aisle and didn’t see my cart there either.  Maybe someone pushed it out of the way.  I walked over by the inflatable Santa playing golf with Rudolph and looked up and down that aisle and still no cart.  I walked back to where I found the replacement lights and still nothing. Did I leave the cart back in the main building?  I walked back to the entrance to the department and nothing.  A weird sense of panic started to overtake me.  Not because I had lost my cart, but because I thought I had lost my mind.  I’d only left it there for 2 or 3 minutes.  Had I developed a sudden case of what my mom calls CRS disease?  Can’t Remember Shit.  Was I experiencing my first senior moment?  I walked back where I thought I left the cart between the Norfolk Island Pines and the accent rugs.  But still no cart.

Then I saw it.  Not my cart, but a package of red Christmas replacement lights sitting on a clear 4-inch saucer.  It was on the top shelf of a “Grab A Saucer” display of plastic holiday serving trays.  On the second shelf was a pack of green lights and blue lights and as I looked farther down I saw the rest of my replacement lights.  Someone had dumped my stuff and had pilfered my cart.  But I didn’t see the black spray paint or the duct tape or extension cords.  Maybe they were still in the cart.  I looked around at the closest cart in sight.  In it was a Christmas cactus and an orchid.  Beside it stood an elderly African American women.  She was holding another orchid.

“I can’t find my cart.  Did you see anyone push a cart out of here?”  I said to her.

“I saw a lady get a cart a minute ago and push it out of here.”

“Where?”

“In there.” And she pointed back into the main part of Lowe’s.

“Thanks,” I said and I briskly walked back toward the main entrance looking in each cart along the way, hoping to see the black spray paint and duct tape still there and confront the cart thief.

I looked in 6 or 7 carts and saw nothing of mine so I went back to the entrance to the store and got another cart.  I couldn’t understand why someone would go to the trouble of emptying my cart when they could get their own by walking 75 feet to the front of the store.  I wheeled my new cart to the “Grab a Saucer” display and started replacing the replacement lights into my new cart.  As I bent down to grab the last pack of lights, I looked across the aisle and right beside the Orchid Plus water-soluble orchid food I saw my can of spray paint and the duct tape.  “Well,” I thought to myself as I put them into my new cart, “at least I don’t have to go all the way back to the paint section to get those.”

I pushed my new cart by the lady who I had just spoken to.  I glanced at her cart with the orchid and the Christmas cactus in it and I did a double take.  On the handle of her cart was a worn Scooby Doo sticker.  I couldn’t believe it.  This innocent sweet looking little old lady had stolen my cart.  Not only that, she had lied to my face about it and blamed it on somebody else.  I looked over at her.  She was looking at the orchids.

“I can’t believe someone stole my cart.”  I said to her.

She slowly turned around to me and said, “Do you know anything about orchids?  Are they hard to raise?”

I couldn’t believe that this woman was asking me about orchids right after she dumped all of my stuff and stole my cart.  I wasn’t really sure what to say.  I wanted to confront her and say that her cart was actually my cart.  It’s got a Scooby Doo sticker on it, after all.  But she was so sweet and nice and innocent looking.

“They are hard to raise,” I said, “You have to be careful how much you water them and you need to use the right fertilizer.  I think Miracle Grow is the right kind, but I’m not sure.”

“Thank you.”  She said.

I stood there for a minute just staring at the Scooby Doo sticker on her cart.  Then I looked at her and back at the cart.  Just enough to let her know that I knew that she was a cart jacker.

Then I pushed my new cart out of the holiday department back into the main area of Lowe’s and went straight to get the PVC pipe.  All the while I was asking myself why was I such a wimp that I didn’t call her out for stealing my cart?

I went back to the plumbing aisle and I took two 10-foot PVC pipes out of the rack and balanced them across my cart.  I gingerly turned the cart around without knocking anything off the shelves with my pipe and pointed it in the direction of the checkout aisle.  Just as I got to the checkout, I realized that in the midst of all the confusion, I had forgotten to get the fuses.  So I turned the cart around and pushed it back toward the electrical aisle.  This time I wasn’t as graceful in my turning.  The end of the PVC pipe hit a display of pre-packaged Kobalt tool sets and the whole stack tumbled to the floor.  As I stopped to pick them up, two thoughts went through my mind:  One, I can’t believe that lady stole my cart and two, if she hadn’t stolen my cart I wouldn’t have been so flustered that I picked up the PVC pipe before the fuses.  I would have gotten the pipe last and headed straight to the checkout.  The more I thought about the thief, the more pissed I got.  Not only at her, but at myself for not confronting her about it.

I got the fuses, I checked out and swiped my Visa card for $79.47.  I carefully pushed my cart out the front door and through the parking lot to my car.  I loaded my three bags into the front seat and rolled the back window down and slid the PVC pipe in the window.  I grabbed my cart and pushed it back to the cart return. 

As I let go of my cart, I knew I couldn’t let go of the incident that just occurred.  I turned around and started walking across the parking lot back toward Lowe’s.  I was going back in.  I had to tell the lady that I knew she stole my cart.

I walked toward the entrance to the garden department and when I was about 50 yards away from the open-air checkout, I saw the cart-jacker waiting in line to pay.  Apparently she saw me too, because she left her cart and walked two aisles over, turned her back to me and started looking at the pansy display.  I walked up to her cart, which was third in line to checkout and inside it was a Christmas cactus and two Orchids.  My first thought was to remove the flowers and take my cart, but that would have been stooping to her level.

Instead, I looked once more at the Scooby Doo sticker and had a better idea.  I reached over and picked up a 50 lb bag of Scott’s Southern Gold Premium Starter Fertilizer.  Then I picked up another.  And another.  And I put all three bags in her cart.  I looked over at her and her back was still to me in full on avoidance.

I walked over to where she was standing and said, “By the way, I found my cart.”

“You did?”  She said with a look of surprise.

“Yes,” I smiled.  “And I just came over to remind you to get plenty of fertilizer for your orchids.”

“Oh thank you.”

“You’re welcome and have a Merry Christmas,” I said as I walked out of Lowe’s and back into the Christmas spirit.   


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