Much of the journals and early pieces of writing unearthed have been equal parts poignancy and hilarity read in the bright stark light of 2009.
One piece really took me by surprise. When I was 24, I wrote a Dewar’s Profile for myself.
I thought that the Dewar’s profiles were the most sophisticated, most wonderful snapshots of success in the world. I loved the interplay between the authoritative 3rd person statements and the 1st person quotes. They were always in my two favorite periodicals: New York Times Magazine section, and the New Yorker. I felt that if I ever became successful, I would have a Dewar’s profile. It’s one of the very few measures of success that I have ever thought about. Mercifully the ad campaign stopped before I had to face that music.
I couldn’t find many examples of old ads online. This one of Ola Hudson (mother of Slash) is from the seventies. It's unfamiliar to me because that was before my time for noticing such things. But the Henry Threadgill is from 1989, one of my prime viewing years.
The campaign began in 1969 with Jerry Orbach as the first profile of Dewar’s White Label brand. It was one of the ad agency Leo Burnett’s most successful campaigns ever.
Willy the Shake told us “To thine own self be true.” The depth of self-knowledge in my profile astounds me, if I may so say; I don’t remember being so self aware at such a young age. What a strange personal time capsule this was to find.
There were slight variations on the categories over time, but when I was 24, these were the ones in the ad I had torn out of the NY Magazine section.
HOMETOWN: New York, New York
HOBBY: Singing Renaissance Polyphony “Why have just melody and harmony when you can have 4 equal lines”
LAST BOOK READ: Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E.Lawrence
LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Writing her way out of academia to the travel world then to Wall Street. “Actually, I used to be a schooner sailor, but I tired of the Tallulah Bankhead/Lifeboat impersonation. Now I write on land, even in offices.”
WHY I DO WHAT I DO: “They say the world comes to your doorstep when you read. What they neglect to mention is that it only makes sense when you write.”
PROFILE: Somewhat detached, blessed with curiosity. “It takes a lot of listening to write well. I’m a very good listener.”
GOAL: “To love, to sing, to write, and not to age.”
SCOTCH: Dewar’s White Label.