Legends of Aerocles
I’ve wanted to write a brief autobiography for a while now. Or as brief as I can be while still conveying the significant details of my first quarter century of life that contributed to who I am today. Or as many of those details as I can remember. However, I don’t think I’m yet disciplined enough to boil all that down to the point of engagingly concise succinctness that would captivate any audience.
So I’ll leave you with this short…something –
My senior year of high school, I took 3 AP classes. The sole reason behind this was that in doing so, I was granted an extra free period (and one less required class). Presumably, the administration assumed we’d devote that time to our more rigorous academic pursuits. Presumably, they also don’t require high school administrators to know anything about how the adolescent mind works. But don’t be fooled; despite this self-portrait I’m painting, I actually did care to study and all that…if only in those rare times when the course material actually interested me.
That happened in AP English – Unfortunately, the course wasn’t interested in me. You see, the administration clung to this irrational notion that math and verbal courses and curricula should be tracked in parallel; shocking coming from those same brilliant folks previously discussed. And, though I was in the advanced math class back in 5th grade, the traumatic experience (read: absolutely horrible teacher) that was 7th grade algebra, tainted the subject and my accompanying performance. By the time I reached high school, I was comfortably situated smack in the middle of the arithmetic pack. Consequently, and due to that systemic flaw in my high school’s tracking system, I was relegated to living out the first 3 years of high school in the corresponding English track.
So, when finally given the freedom to choose my own courses, I became the only student in the class sans three years of supporting honors English. To say that the teacher had it out for me is an understatement. I took in consistent D’s for the first half of the semester. She claimed she was being lenient. I claimed she was biased, prejudice, and was perpetuating this self-fulfilling prophecy. To her credit, my writing very much reflected, and still does, my stream-of-consciousness thought process (as if you couldn’t tell by reading this).
People like a traditional narrative. If you can’t convey it as a child’s bedtime story – Beginning, Middle, End – it’s not worth hearing. Society accepts the hero quest preparation, adventure, and closure, as the norm. To stray from that paradigm and dare to take on the nontraditional form without first proving mastery of the narrative is strictly forbidden.
It reached the point where she actually barred me from returning to class, pleading her misguided case to the administration. But this time their ineptitude favored me, as they took no action. A short-lived stint with a tutor whose primary tactic was to sit there and read Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style” aloud and pretentiously for 30 minutes a week, did nothing (but she billed my parents on time, not results, go figure).
Finally, in spite of Ms. C’s (that’s what my teacher made us call her because her last name rhymed with ‘jerkoff’) incessant bitching protesting, I managed to force-fit my brilliant ideas into her outdated and rigid mold, enough to earn a B+ in a paper discussing the use of multiple chiastic structures as literary technique, in Herman Melville’s “Bartleby The Scrivener.” The End.
Why did I choose that, of all stories? Well, because in three days from now, as you’ll read in chapter four, I’ll be taking on, amongst others, editorial responsibilities a respectable, reputable, and industry-renowned publication and media outlet.
As you’ll no doubt gather from continued reading of my posts, my fight against the tyrannical and agnostically pervasive dominance of narrative presentation formats continues to be one of my defining characteristics as a person and writer. I don’t think in PowerPoint and I never will.
I guess the last point is that I’ve always been a writer at heart, even if at points any latent skill, and with it, interest, was so unrefined that any potential talent to be been nurtured went unnoticed by the only teacher high school to actually impart any valuable wisdom upon me.
If you’re reading this now (or even still alive) Ms. ‘C,’ you and your conservative methodology can kiss my ass. And…Thank you for kicking me out of your class. I think that was one of several crucial experiences and factors that contributed to my ever-evolving style of writing. That is all.
Yes there are others. I didn’t forget about you, mom. Or you, Lauren. You’ll get your nod, chill out.
Without Further Ado, I present My Life, The Perpetual WIP.
[This is me pausing to watch two people help Bethany Frankel pee in a bucket on her wedding day. This is what TV has come to people.]
Saved By Indecision –The College Years
I studied creative writing, philosophy and psychology at Rutgers University. Little did I know that those were the exact disciplines I’d needed to master, in order to push me toward a path of profession bullshitting. The four semesters of social behaviors and perceptions lab didn’t hurt my chances launching myself into the social media realm either. Think about it – Philosophy is nothing more than the art of formulating argument. Study enough human psychology and you eventually learn to intuit what people want, or more importantly, what they want to hear from you. Add to that a 6 semester creative writing workshop, which for was comprised of, but not limited to, flash/sudden fiction, creative nonfiction, and writing for professionals & business. And, well…you get me. The raw, green, 100% potential energy, me.
What I failed to mention is that I had started college with every intention of pursuing medicine. A poster on my dorm room wall read “David, You Want To Be A Doctor.” That lasted a semester. I bounced around after that, exploring law, politics, psychology, and philosophy, but never quite confident in identifying any of those as my true vocational destiny. Good thing, too.
Chapter Two: PR
I got my start in corporate, government, and nonprofit public relations, first, in standard media relations. A year and half into my time there, I became the agency’s first official digital strategist, with a particular focus on effective utilization of social media, with cohort, Elliot Schimel, even starting a social media event together. It was a serious learning experience.
Chapter Three: Advertising
Six months later, I moved to McCann-Erickson, transitioning from PR to Advertising – a migration that contributed another, wholly opposing, perspective on how social media & emerging technologies were to shape the industry and culture. Working under Faris Yakob as the organization’s social media manager and digital strategist, I was privileged to consult with brands across the agency, developing strategies and ideating creative tactics (whatever that means). I worked on the Kohl’s, Applebee’s, Holiday Inn, and Budget/Avis accounts, among others, to varying degrees of intensity and achievement. It was something of a hybrid role, acting both as a floating consultant for many and at other times, a dedicated member of some specific teams.
Chapter Four: In-House
I’m currently (or will be in 3 days from this writing, anyway, which I guess, technically, isn’t ‘current’) the social media and event content manager at Advertising Age. I’ll hopefully be explain that one when I get a better feel for what exactly it means 😉
In addition to feedback of any and all sorts, I welcome guest posts. Please feel free to reach out if you have any ideas…or if you just want to chat. Twitter works best, but for you old fashion folks, you can email me at David@Aerocles.com