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Requiem for A Mad Man

'Road To Coomcallee Peter Ellenshaw OrIginal Print

A Doleful Of An Irishman Who Pushed The Stuff Of Dreams

Mr. James Cronin

BCA Advertising NYC.

Dear Jimmy,

The time has finally come to bury Brendan Kelly. Yes, I injured the man grievously while he was alive, as he did me. Maybe we hurt each other simply because we shared character flaws, but I can also say with a clear conscience a year after his death, he more than richly deserved everything I gave him.

          You judge:

          I remember vividly –as if it happened an hour ago—taking a chance on Brendan long after you fired him from BCA (What year was that exactly, Jimmy? The Port O’ Rose years –the bar we haunted where all the Group W hustlers gathered before migrating to FOX). I paid for his first-class ticket to pitch Jack Daniels in Nashville for a magazine –The Jack Daniels Beer Bar Guide. As you may or may not recall, Brown-Forman attempted to sell beer under the Jack Daniels label –a hugely expensive New Coke-type mistake.

          Anyway, this is what I remember: I wrote all the print ads, cited all the demographics, suggested extravagant budgets, and storyboarded all the TV visuals, which were spectacular and costly. Jack Daniels loved them and invited us down. But another reason we got the meeting was the intercession of my dead brother’s best friend and Jack Daniels brand manager, John Gomatos.

          I rehearsed Kelly on all this repeatedly in front of a mirror, every gesture, every wink of the eye, every dry-witted aside. The moment we touched down in Music City, Gomatos and his second-in-command met us, and the four of us went out and got utterly shitfaced on John’s dime, or rather Jack Daniels (but even if JG was flat busted, you’d physically have to wrestle the man for any check.) John always honored one of my father’s favorite maxims: Lie through your teeth if you must, but always pick up the check.

          That night, Kelly was the funniest man on earth. And though I’d seen the same skits repeatedly, I genuinely laughed at his artistry in seducing the clients and paving the way for what I saw as a virtual lay-up the next morning. The crowning moment was when he got up and taught the Hill Billy band performing that night, Kinky Friedman’s immortal They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore.  

          The next morning came much earlier than expected, as they always do when you close a bar, especially in Nashville.

          Of course, the top people we had to impress looked like they’d never touched a drop in their lives. And then it happened: Kelly was mute for a long while. I was forced to fill the gap and go through the motions with every cell, and Synapse was screaming to spew all the bile in my stomach. And he was on the precipice of a grand mal seizure. That would’ve been forgivable, but the reality was far worse. I could read in his eyes he no longer saw his role as a drumbeater. He was now an upper-management figure there to appraise my performance. Every impulse told me to leap across the table and strangle the cocksucker in front of witnesses. The only reason I didn’t?  The vision of myself prey to Tennessee Justice: the chain gang, endless butt fucking, and the final shuffle to the hangman’s noose.

          On the trip back to NYC, Kelly was once again full of good cheer, retailing his victory to stewardesses and passengers trying to sleep. If Jack Daniels didn’t pick up the deal in 3 days, he would personally take the presentation to Penn Cavanaugh at Somerset (Frank Rohr’s Rolex-wearing butt boy and scion of The Leveller Dry Gin, as you may recall), and he would leap at a beer drinker’s guide. Total bullshit, naturally, but I was too tired to organize a necktie party in the first-class lounge. In less than three days the form letter from Brown-Forman arrived: We have reviewed…

          That should have been the end of it, but it wasn’t…

          A few months later, I got a call from Brendan in the middle of the night. “The bastards at Daniels have stolen MY concept. I am contacting my attorneys in the morning, and you’ll get a cut. You need to contact your paisano Gomatos because when this shit goes down, he’ll be lucky to get out of Dodge with a Deliverance grade corn holing. Meredith Publishing is drawing up the papers now to buy the project lock, stock, and barrel.

          I resolved never to speak to Kelly again.

PART II (Coming Next Week 05/29/2024)

William Benson Huber

Ad Altare Productions 2024

All Rights Reserved

801 Stokes Mill Road 

Stroudsburg, PA 18360

Attn; William Benson Huber

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