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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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"And celebrate, ya der hey, at fest and church party / Before the leaves fall, before the ice-cold malarkey!"
"And celebrate, ya der hey, at fest and church party / Before the leaves fall, before the ice-cold malarkey!"

Ode to a Milwaukee summer

"A Summer Song"

Snap to, Milwaukee and be alert to the season
To Bradford and McKinley, Back Bay and Grant
There are kites to be flown and custard to cone
Saz's at Summerfest – a must in our home

Feel the chill on the hill my friends – you'll smile
And parks fill with jazz, ice cream drinks beguile
In Bay View, on Brady, North Avenue bars
In Washington Heights, State Fair's IndyCars

People come out –
Purple your skin with berries to seize
Or a Lake Park breeze
And dogs run free through the Riverwest trees

Fleeting is our time and I encourage participation
Climb your Harleys and ride – to your fullest elation
Make noise, four-one-four, the Big Bang we must do
Summer's hit Mil-Town, crack open a brew

And celebrate, ya der hey, at fest and church party
Before the leaves fall, before the ice-cold malarkey
Let's smile at each other down Water and Broadway
We've three months to live, what's the flavor this day?

I beg you dear neighbors accept warmth as delivered
To food trucks, lagoon ducks and kayaks on river
Down the Hank Aaron we walk, at the Iron Horse we crow
For it's summer, and this, Milwaukee – Go Crew Go

A rather meta Locust Street Fest experience for Michael Stodola this year.
A rather meta Locust Street Fest experience for Michael Stodola this year.

Motivational Fest

A couple weeks ago, Janet, the kids and I were walking down the middle of Locust Street during the festival, thoroughly enjoying some quality people watching. If you ever want to celebrate the diversity of humankind, that event is essential.

But as we strolled past the incense, local T-shirts and handmade jewelry, I stared at the crush of my Mil-Town peeps and thought, there is something that binds us. Fundamentals that our species are built upon that make us all – the dread-locked Riverwesterners, the formal-dressed elderly couple and the bikini-clad, 6-foot, 2-inch African American goddess – of one will.

One of these fundamental elements is motivation.

And from Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung to Maslow to Daniel Pink to thousands of ad folks, the opinion is that motivation is central to our behavior and the reason our choices are so "human." You can't judge a book by its cover, but by its motivation.

The four motivations that we all share are:

One of these motivations drives most of the decisions you make. It's why you love travel, or why you hate travel. It's why you wear Nike, or always have a girlfriend or hate the 9 to 5. One of these motivations pushes each one of the odorous, beer-zombies of the Locust Street Festival. Sure, we all have needs of each of the four, but mostly one of them is the basis for our set of preferences.

Personally, I need stability.

I fear being homeless, or not knowing about the future, or a shaky workplace. So, the decisions I make are to be a stable breadwinner, and to plan for the future and to work in a stable environment.

If you're about understanding, you feel compelled to find perfection in life, to uncover truth or to explore the world to understand other cultures or find yourself. Think you're about achievement? Maybe you like to reinvent yourself, rebel against your parents and not take their advice, or maybe you love sports or helping others. People who are motivated by bel…

AMC did the ad world proud with "Mad Men," and now they've moved on with "The Pitch." (Photo: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC)
AMC did the ad world proud with "Mad Men," and now they've moved on with "The Pitch." (Photo: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC)

Diary of a Mad Man

For years now, the ever-popular television series "Mad Men" has entertained, delighted and revealed some fundamental truths about advertising (not to mention chain smoking and alcoholism).

And while it takes place in the 1960s, it's completely relevant to the business today – trade the boozing for gaming.

Sure, some of the characters are over-the-top drama queens, but for the most part, we in the advertising world are impressed with the American Movie Channel's portrayal of our day-to-day.

And I believe they've done it again.

The latest ad game on AMC, "The Pitch," couldn't be more different from "Mad Men," but it delivers the same sweet fix of great ideas and big business. The show pits two ad agencies against one another in an all-out fight to win a piece of business from a high-profile client.

The first two episodes, which premiered this past Monday, featured Waste Management and Subway Restaurants as clients. 

In each episode, the producers attempt to reveal some insight into the agencies – from internal conflict to unique perspectives to sheer enthusiasm. Obviously, telling the story of ad folks gearing up to present ideas worthy of winning business takes a little longer than an hour, so much of it is over-simplified and glossed over. However, the spirit of the process, the stress of growing a business and varying degrees of ego are spot-on.

So, hooray for the ad man, or woman. We've positioned ourselves even further away from the sappy, over-sensitive 30-something days, and for the first time in my career, my parents are finally beginning to understand what I do for a living.

No, Ma, I don't have a bottle of scotch in my desk drawer and I haven't slept with my secretary, but I will never stop trying to come up with the best ideas and win some sweet, sweet business.

The heart wants what the heart wants.
The heart wants what the heart wants.

Love and happiness

On an Easter trip back home in Nebraska, I’m in my brother’s backyard sitting by a fire and chit-chatting about life. Somehow our conversation turns into an area between politics and lifestyle, and he casually made a very definitive statement about homosexuals "choosing to be gay." I’m paraphrasing, of course, not having recorded the conversation…

"I’m sorry. What?," I ask.

"People choose to live that way," he returns.

"I’m sorry. WHAT?!," I ask again.

"It’s a lifestyle people choose. They want to be gay," he explains.

As if it were an illicit drug, or some other lowly vice, it was his opinion that "these people" were engaging in homosexuality, and could stop if they would just "straighten up." I was flabbergasted. (I’ve never used the word "flabbergasted" so correctly before.) And in another discussion with a different "Christian" relative here at home, I heard, yet again, the same opinion. Yes, flabbergasted x 2.

Now, for the sake of argument, let’s table homosexuality for now.

Attraction, as a rule, doesn’t ask permission. We, as animals, have no control over whether or not we love crab cakes, or John Coltrane songs, or BMWs. We employ our senses to see, taste, touch, smell or hear something, and we like it or we don’t. Most of the time, we can’t explain why, either. I love scuba diving. My wife hates scuba diving.

And speaking of my wife, the moment I first saw her, she was sitting at the bar at Von Trier’s. I came in after a Brewers game and sat next to her. We had a Guinness and talked about film, Cindy Sherman and advertising and I knew I would be sitting next to her for the rest of my life. I was head over heels.

I had no choice in the matter.

To choose what to love or desire is to be manufactured. Plastic toys are manufactured. Humans, as you well know, have diverse tastes and styles and those preferences are sewn into our DNA before we pop out of the oven. Sure, liking certain things can be enhanced or developed, like th…