January 28, 2011

My wife, Bernie and I, together with our 85 pound Goldendoodle, Jake, walk The Strand most mornings. I also ride my bike on The Strand when I get one of those self-delusional bursts of short-lived commitment to get disciplined about exercise. I’ve moved my family a lot over the years, and the combination of our sons being settled here in LA now, our age, and our giddiness over life in The South Bay, Hermosa Beach has become home – home like no other place has been. It’s not just the familiarity of the place that makes it home. You can get familiar with almost anywhere in relatively short order. It’s not just the weather or proximity to one of the most beautiful stretches of beach we’ve ever seen; it’s not just the ease of getting into other parts of LA, or the fact that our two sons and new daughter-in-law have settled nearby, vital though that piece is for my us. I think the thing that makes this place home for us now is our decision to make it so. We’ve chosen Hermosa Beach as much as Hermosa Beach has called us. And I think that decision to make this our home allows us to see life here through different eyes than we’ve seen other communities. I look for things that help me build that identity of “home.” And The Strand is as good a place as any to catch a glimpse of what makes Hermosa Beach - home.

On one of my solo walks along The Strand last week, early in the morning, with a haze rolling in off the ocean and a piercing stillness that is startling mostly because it doesn’t cost anything, a jogger is headed towards me, emerging from the haze. As we pass each other, the jogger raises his right arm and salutes with a formality I haven’t seem since the last Navy funeral I conducted for a sailor who died in the Persian Gulf. (I used to serve as a priest in the Episcopal Church and for many of those years in an historic parish in Norfolk, Virginia where a good percentage of our congregation was active duty Navy.) This morning’s salute carries with it an authenticity and sobriety that slows the moment to ¼ time and in that state of raised awareness my peripheral vision catches view of the recipient of that salute. It is Gregory Jarvis.

Gregory Jarvis, killed January 28, 1986 aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger is memorialized on a park bench on The Strand in Hermosa Beach. This was his home. His role on The Challenger was as a Payload Specialist, a title that must mean something to other engineers and astronauts, but to someone unfamiliar with that world of engineering, payload specialist sounds like a fancified title, like, “sanitation engineer,” or “shift supervisor.” It isn’t. It is a role requiring tremendous skill and years of study, together with the obvious depth of courage and imagination required to climb into something as dangerous as a Space Shuttle. The fragments of Gregory Jarvis’ remains that were collected from the ocean floor were returned to his family. In Captain Jarvis’ case, his remains were cremated so his ashes could be dispersed in the Pacific Ocean near his beloved home of Hermosa Beach.

The bench where Gregory Jarvis is memorialized is just a block north of The Pier in Hermosa Beach. It may be more familiar as the spot where dogs get a drink of water from the fountain that is at the center of this Memorial or by others as a place to stop – before deciding to continue all the way to Manhattan Beach; but for this jogger, this morning, this place is a place that demands a response – a remembrance – a gesture of appreciation, perhaps awe.

I don’t know if my jogger knew Gregory Jarvis. Maybe he did. After all, Gregory lived here. He played Racquetball and Squash here; he had a family here; he worked nearby in El Segundo for years. So it’s plausible that my jogger knew him, but that’s not important this morning. What’s important is the jogger’s willingness to express something real – something heartfelt – something right and sensible – out in public. What’s important is his willingness to demonstrate regard for the talents and contributions of a brilliant guy dedicated to becoming the best that he could be. What’s important is this man’s decision to salute Gregory Jarvis without a pause... without a 2nd thought - rather than smiling politely at me or seeming the least bit embarrassed.

A jogger – just another guy – who isn’t afraid to reveal something authentic about himself, without ulterior motive. His gesture isn’t motivated by wanting to meet someone attractive, seal a deal, attract another client, get good ratings, pad his bank account, get his kids into the “right” schools, or any of the other things that seem so crucial to the rest of us - but rather, just to offer a simple and brief gesture of respect.

There is reason to hope. There is still so much to learn.

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SuperBowl, Fatherhood, and Darth Vader

February 08, 2011

Over a hundred million Americans watched Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers finish their climb to the top during Super Bowl XVL. Many of those hundred million fans also came to Tivo the best and brightest of Madison Avenue fighting it out for market share and bragging rights. At $100,000 a second, the Super Bowl offers a who's who of corporate climbers that compete on the marketing mountaintops. Like dueling ibexes, these winners take the high ground, maximize earned media, and gives us a glimpse of things to come.

For my money, the Volkswagen "Force" spot about the young boy in a Darth Vader mask trying to turn on the family Passat was the big winner. The spot generated 10 million views online before the first snap. I do have an admission to make in that this was the very first Super Bowl I watched with my own son Wyatt. So you can say I am a little bit biased, just a little bit, ok alot, but it was still an elevated solution that hit all the right notes of humor and authenticity. I also know this because my six-year old godson and his young brother put on their own living room half-time performance dancing to “Thriller” in their Darth Vader masks! You can view the VW spot here at YouTube

I was also really interested in the Telaflora spot. Telaflora's collaboration with Faith Hill rolled out a signature collection of floral arrangements in a Schwarzkoph display of integrated strategy through traditional, interactive, and mobile media. “The Faith Hill Collection” at Teleflora can be purchased online with the help of a mobile app, the “Flower Coach”, that helps you take the guessing out of gifting and greetings. For many of these campaigns, Twitter and Facebook fans are stoked early and often to maximize earned media months before and after the game. It is hard to compete with a Faith Hill that's been weaponized by 21st century marketing strategies.

You can count on more of these integrated marketing strategies reaching you outside of the hash marks and inside the hashtags. Chevy Cruze gave us forewarning at the Super Bowl that your car will come standard with power steering, passenger side airbags, and Facebook. Are you ready for a dashboard navigator to tell you that you are lost physically and socially? I wonder what Wyatt will be watching forty years from now at the big game. The future is coming and you'll probably see it first at the Super Bowl.

Christopher Salling is a Senior Partner and Creative Director at Paolucci Communication Arts in Palos Verdes, CA.

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Adams and Gimlen Orthodontics Halloween Candy Buy Back

February 16, 2011

On November 2nd 2010, Adams and Gimlen Orthodontics participated in our first annual Halloween Candy Buy Back. We had an amazing response from our patients; 190 pounds of candy were collected and delivered to Operation Gratitude.

Operation Gratitude seeks to lift morale and put smiles on faces by sending care packages addressed to individual Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed in harm's way. Operation Gratitude care packages contain food, hygiene products, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation, all wrapped with good wishes of love and support.

From our Military overseas:
“I want to personally thank you for sending Operation Gratitude care packages. It meant a great deal to me and the other Soldiers to receive letters from children and a box of goodies. I thank you for all your support of the Soldiers. For many of us this is our first time away from our families for this long and also away from our homes for the holidays. It is people like you who give us a smile, give us a moment of joy, and that we appreciate for the support from the American people.” R.T.Mac

“Thank you for the care package and the well wishes from those who support your efforts. My name is Sergeant First Class B.R. I am currently deployed in Southern Iraq on a base called COB Basrah. We arrived here in the last month of Operation Iraqi Freedom and are now working for Operation New Dawn. With this new mission come new challenges. One of the reflections of this mission is not only the drawdown of forces, but the drawdown in services and supplies while we are here. The comfort and hygiene items you sent came at a perfect time. Our PX has been short on both items so they are all the more appreciated. I wasted no time in dishing them out to the guys. And thanks to you I was able to take care of my troops. I made their day a little more comfortable and you all made us feel loved, supported, and appreciated. Some of my guys here have not had much support from back home in the way of letters or mail so this was a good consolation for them as well. Again, thank you for the package, the support, and notes of encouragement.” Sincerely, a grateful Soldier, SFC B.K.R

From a Military Mom who did not get to celebrate Christmas with her son:
"My son and his fiancé serve with the USS Abraham Lincoln (currently in the Gulf) and she contacted me yesterday about receiving one of your boxes. Pam couldn't believe all the stuff that people had donated. She said she cried reading the letters enclosed because she didn't understand why anyone cared. I told her Americans are grateful for her service, and she replied, 'Yes, but to take time out of their busy days to collect and donate, to write me a letter, to pay for postage... all for someone they've never met?' ...... To receive this package right before Christmas did more good for Pam than the donors will ever realize. It had been a long hard week for her over there, and the upcoming holiday wasn't making it better. Like a knight in shining armor you stepped in and delivered a box of joy to a very special sailor. Thank you"

At Adams and Gimlen Orthodontics we not only seek to improve the smiles of our patients, but we also believe that we should help to improve the community and world we live in.

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