The Unabashed Self-Promoter’s Guide – WHAT EVERY MAN, WOMAN, CHILD AND ORGANIZATION IN AMERICA NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT GETTING AHEAD BY EXPLOITING THE MEDIA
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The Unabashed Self-Promoter’s Guide WHAT EVERY MAN, WOMAN, CHILD AND ORGANIZATION IN AMERICA NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT GETTING AHEAD BY EXPLOITING THE MEDIA
“We ARE most amused.” 43,000 pages of Queen Victoria’s journals posted online… as we dig into royal reality.
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.
Author’s program note. In 1979 my first book “Insubstantial Pageant: Ceremony & Confusion at Queen Victoria’s Court” was published by Hamish Hamilton in London and Taplinger in New York. It was treated as front page news in England, because it was based on hitherto unknown and unreported papers, including unpublished documents made available to me by Her Gracious Majesty The Queen.
Aside from their undeniably important content, something else was significant about this matter; the fact that it was the research of an American, indeed the very first Yank ever admitted to the treasure trove that resides in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle. In fact, so far as I know, I remain all these many years later the only American still. And so I am uniquely qualified to write this story.
As every monarch has known, a royal story goes better with a strong, rousing tune, and this one is no exception. Thus I have selected one of the best marches of the Empire on which the sun never set, “Soldiers of the Queen.” It was written and composed by Leslie Stuart in the1890s for the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal. Its lyrics were not merely catchy, they were very gospel to the people who thrilled to their imperial achievement.
“It’s the soldiers of the Queen, my lads Who’ve been, my lads, who’ve seen, my lads In the fight for England’s glory lads When we’ve had to show them what we mean.”
Go now to any search engine and find this pip of a tune which you’ll probably recall from Shirley Temple’s 1939 film “The Little Princess.” It is sure to get your blood stirring if you’ve got even a drop of the old English about you.
Enter by the tradesmen’s door.
To gain access to the sovereign’s private papers, you must apply to the Royal Librarian, in my day Sir Robin Mackworth-Young. The key to entry was being a “recognized scholar.” This meant being a known author or having secured the Ph.D. from a known university. In my case it necessitated being patient until I took my Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1975. As soon as I had it in hand, I left for England, for Windsor, for the papers I needed to complete my book.
Perhaps only a scholar given such access can know and understand the thrill, the giddy excitement as you travel to such riches. But reality entered the picture at once. I was told to go to the tradesmen’s entry where a footman in powdered hair handed me a quill pen and told me to sign in. Me? Tradesmen’s entry? The sage of Cambridge?
More sobering reality.
The footman then picked up a candelabrum and a giant key. “This way,” he said (“doctor” and “sir” omitted), as if I were the butcher’s boy; leading me the few steps to the door at the base of the Round Tower. He unlocked the massive door and told me to ascend the stairs to the top where another heavy door would be unlocked.The concrete stairs were steep; it was cold. There was no light. I was a prisoner in the Tower, locked in at their pleasure, wondering how to get out. Now I was thrilled no longer; I was in a story that could easily be written by Edgar Allan Poe or M.R. James, both masters of the macabre.
“We’ve been expecting you.”
Then as I reached the top, the door swung open, there was light, warmth and a greeting from Miss Jane Langton. She showed me my room, told me which papers they had laid out and explained the rules, viz that I must take tea with the staff daily and leave for luncheon. I resented both rules; I had come a long way to gather what I needed… and luncheon was immaterial. Still I was logged out then, too, to log in again in 60 minutes sharp.
Her Majesty The Scribbler.
Victoria became sovereign by birth, merit being no part of the matter. But she became a writer by hard work, assiduous effort, and the constant perfecting of her craft. I liked that about her from the start, for she knew the burden of the blank page… and she knew the necessity to write regularly, frequently, and follow the writer’s first rule: to write about what she knew. She did, publishing two best-selling books, writing thousands of letters (only a fraction in print) and creating the most important royal journal ever written.
Thus each day I was allowed in the Round Tower, I was in direct, personal converse with the majesty that reigned over a preponderance of the known world. At first, of course, there were her quirks and abysmal handwriting to learn. This wasn’t easy for Queen Victoria was famous for her illegible hand and abbreviations… the text messaging of her day. However, in due course I mastered both to the extent that the staff would bring me papers they were working on and asked for my opinion. Thus, I built bridges with people not keen on my American heritage and became a known master of royal cryptograms, to the extent the staff would often compliment my proven skills… and in truth I earned their regard, though there were frustrating times when the Queen’s execrable handwriting defeated us all.
Now available to the world at.
Now thanks to the generosity of Queen Elizabeth II you need not demonstrate that you are a “recognized scholar” to gain access. No interview required with a pompous minor member of the royal staff; no forced tea or luncheon… just you and the great Queen, from the comfort of your home. All this deserves the highest praise and gratitude and as the complete collection is indexed (a gigantic task indeed), your praise should swell, too.
But now it is time to dip into Her Majesty’s actual words, where you find from the very first a woman of honesty, directness, of strong sentiments, but no pretence at all. See for yourself…
On her birthday, May 24, 1837. “Today is my eighteenth birthday! How old! and yet how far I am from being what I should be. I shall from this day take the firm resolution to study with renewed assiduity, to keep my attention always well fixed on whatever I am about, and to strive to become every day less trifling and more fit for what, if Heaven wills it, I’m some day to be.”
On proposing to her adored Prince Albert, (October 15, 1839). “My mind is quite made up, and I told Albert this morning of it. The warm affection he showed me on learning this gave me great pleasure. He seems perfection, and I think that I have the prospect of very great happiness before me. I love him more than I can say…”
And this effusion: “I really cannot say how proud I feel to be the Queen of such a nation.” She entered it into her journal the evening of her coronation, June 28, 1838… but she felt this way every day of her life. I felt this commitment strongly as I worked busily in the Round Tower so many years ago! Now this feeling can be yours wherever you are as you dig in to her most private thoughts. God save the Queen… and every word she ever wrote.
About the Author
Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 60 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com
His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered nine literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a success. Connect with Dr. Lant at www.drjeffreylant.com
Author’s program note. This is a story about a fruit so rich that once you start thinking about it you cannot rest until you are eating some… popping them into your mouth as fast as you can, crushing them… letting the richness of its sweet, sweet juice drip down your chin… glad to have all you can eat… joyfully careless about what you waste… for there will always be strawberries enough for you… you are absolutely sure of that!
But as Deana Carter knows, the lush abundance of strawberries is not unlimited… and so she twangs her tale of high summer, desire, a taste so sweet it maddens you and never satiates… producing a wine you can never get enough of… a strawberry wine… a wine that you can never forget… though sometimes you wish you’d never come to know.
And so, I have selected for today’s occasional music “Strawberry Wine” by Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison, released in August, 1996. Nashville record companies found the song overly long, controversial, and not memorable enough. But when Carter sang her heart out about the summer, the boy… the strawberries and their wine… the record won Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards. Go now to any search engine and listen to it. You’ll find yourself remembering… you’ll find yourself craving… you’ll want their taste again… the berries always see to that…. for they are an imperious fruit.
Her Majesty’s strawberry. On a picture perfect summer day one August I was in Scotland, in the Highlands, at Balmoral… a country castle conceived by Prince Albert, the beautiful German prince loved obsessively by Queen Victoria. For an American used to the White House with its layer after layer of security, Balmoral comes as a rather unnerving shock. “Security” consisted of a single guard, unobtrusive, reading a newspaper. There might be, there must be more… but that’s all I ever saw. He barely looked at us.. smiled… and waved. Thus does Her Britannic Majesty tell you she is beloved of the people and doesn’t need a legion of centurions to protect her… unlike the president of the Great Republic who always needs more… and more.
And so in due course, my friend and I found ourselves in the magnificent park, expansive, serene, as lovely a place as Earth provides. And in the park I found a kitchen garden… the Queen’s garden… and in this garden I saw a strawberry, huge, perfectly ripe, ready to be eaten. And so I reached down to pluck it and enjoy… whereupon I felt a strong hand pulling me up and heard my friend’s voice, no longer amiable, but commanding, imperative, stentorian: “Do not touch that strawberry…. that is the Queen’s berry!” And I realized what being a subject of the Windsors meant, whilst I was the child of revolution and lese majeste/. And so the uneaten berry remained… for the delectation of the Queen.
Even dukes get only leaves.
I was crushed but as my friend was driving I had to give way, and gracefully, too — or else.
Then I had a thought that cheered me up. Even the grandest members of the nobility couldn’t eat of the Royal fruit with impunity. They had to make do with the strawberries’ leaves. And no, I am not making this up. A duke’s coronet proves my point. When a man becomes a duke (and there are only 24 such people in the entire realm of Great Britain) he is entitled to a silver-gilt circlet called a coronet. It features eight strawberry leaves — not one more and never a single one less. Thus does the sovereign elevate ambitious members of the aristocracy… and keep her strawberries for herself.
Other gentlemen of high rank and title are also entitled to strawberry leaves on their coronets. And here there is a most curious conundrum: marquesses who rank just below dukes in the peerage of the realm are entitled to four strawberry leaves… but earls, who rank below marquesses, get eight. What can this mean? For peers, as you may imagine, are protocol mad… and scrutinize their inferiors for any indication that they are claiming rank and privilege to which they are not strictly entitled. You can be sure there’s some fiddle going on here… but if the marquesses are in a pet of high indignation, they have but to look far down at the viscounts and barons who have not a single strawberry leaf between them… and that’s just the way these marquesses mean to keep it — “Honi soit qui mal y pense.”. Strawberry leaves mean strawberry tea.
Fortunately, there is more you can do with your strawberry leaves than wait for the Queen to make you a duke. That, after all, could be a long time coming since the last non-royal duke was his grace of Westminster, in 1874. It’s true that her present majesty when a young woman offered to make Sir Winston Churchill duke of London… but he declined and there the matter rests, perhaps forever.
And you’ll agree, this situation could be more than irritating for those who every morning see in their looking glasses, not milord this or the right honorable that but… His Grace the Duke of… resplendent in ermine and strawberry leaves.
These men, well bred for hundreds of years, offer the correct aquiline features, the correct pedigree, with generations of the right fathers and acquiescing mothers, masters of every arcane procedure, the right words and impeccable cravat, these men I tell you are smoldering with rage, aggravation, frustration, worthies all marooned in the wrong time. For them, each of them only the calming propensities of strawberry leaf tea will do… poured in a fragile cup of Minton, delivered by Nannie who always knows just what to do. “Have some more sugar, ducks. There, there, it’ll be all right.”
And so does Nanny, who loves you best, goes out with wicker basket on her arm, to the places she knows well, where the fresh wild strawberries grow or the sweet woodland berries. Take 1 tablespoon of dried rose petals, 1/2 teaspoon of yarrow, 1 teaspoon of strawberry leaves, a pinch of mint or blackberry leaves. Add 1 cup of boiling water and allow to steep. Choler cannot long exist in the presence of such determined coziness.
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886).
It was perhaps in pursuit of these ingredients that Emily Dickinson, mistress of opaque language, stepped out, “Over the fence” …
“Over the fence — Strawberries — grow — Over the fence — I could climb — if I tried, I know — Berries are nice. But — if I strained my Apron — God, would certainly scold! Oh, dear, — I guess if He were a Boy — he’d — climb — if He could!”
So, let’s leave it like that, for as Deana Carter sang, “It’s funny how those memories they last. Like strawberry wine… (when) The hot July moon saw everything” and the strawberries were there, bright and beckoning, just over the fence.
About the Author Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 50 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com
His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered nine literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a success. Connect with Dr. Lant at www.drjeffreylant.com
1. not knowing the market. Too many info-products are egotistical productions. If you want to make money from such a product, you must direct it squarely at a large and growing market that has a pain you can take away … or an aspiration you can help them achieve.
2. not delivering useful information. Most how-to books and products are useless .. . they don’t provide the exact details people need to achieve the promise of the product’s title. But why should anyone pay good money for a product that doesn’t deliver what they want?
3. not producing client-centered marketing materials. If you want to motivate an individual to buy a product, you’ve got to tell him just what he’s getting, all the advantages, benefits you have for him. But most info-producers talk about their products… not about client advantages. As a result, most of the marketing communications produced by info-entrepreneurs end up where they belong … in the trash.
4. not hammering home these benefits in an organized, efficient, relentless way. If you want to make money in the information business, you cannot be vague or obscure about the advantages you’ve got for your targeted market . . . you must be direct, pointed, persistent.
5. not updating products, selling them for years. Most information publishers take a product out of circulation after a year, two at the most. Smart ones pinpoint a market in need, produce a valuable problem-solving product, and resolve to sell their product so long as this market has this problem. Updating is therefore inevitable.
6. not creating a line of problem-solving information products. Information entrepreneurs who become rich do so because they don’t put all their eggs in one basket … or one product. They diversify, not only updating all products but regularly adding new products . . . both those they create themselves and those they get others to create.
To solve these, and a host of related problems, Pick up your copy of:
Author’s program note. Rarely if ever have I seen my fellow countrymen so riled up… irritable, angry, rude epithets at the ready, bad behaviors endemic. What’s going on? Try these for openers…
A rotten economic situation that just won’t get better… and you’re afraid it never will. And so you worry (for the umpteenth time) about just how secure your job is. Is there some guy in Mumbai who’ll be glad to do it at half what you get? You’ve raised the subject with your boss… but his answer was not reassuring and now he won’t look you in the eye.
A president whose leadership style gives us no leadership… and nary a Republican presidential candidate who doesn’t cause multitudes to hold their noses, gagging, and wonder why our mind boggling lengthy and expensive campaign produces candidates we can’t stand or respect, much less admire.
Sickening scandals like the one still unfolding at Penn State, scandals that make us wake up in the middle of the night shouting, “What the…… is going on around here?”. Sometimes we wonder, and not just once either, whether anyone is honest, decent, and unarmed anymore… or whether it’s only suckers (you being one) who play by the rules.
Every day we pick up the newspaper and read about another murder in the neighborhood, our neighborhood. Are our neighbors only “good” because we don’t know their secret lives and the home truths that haven’t yet been disclosed?
We read about some drug bust at the school down the street… and are horrified to see the police photo and recognize our kid’s favorite teacher. We run upstairs and check the closet and dresser drawer to see if this has touched us even closer. You’re fortunate today… nothing out of order… but
the word “yet” comes immediately to mind… since these days you expect something bad to happen any time now and aren’t particularly surprised when it does.
We read about… and are as concerned as our busy lives will allow… another species declared extinct… another Web sex scandal… another political official with a skill for theft and plausible denial. You feel sure he’ll get off easy when his time in court comes up. Is that what the bandage over the eyes of the statue of Justice is supposed to mean?
You’re concerned about America’s unending wars in countries whose names you cannot pronounce, much less find on a map, but which you are paying for. You’ve got a friend whose young cousin, proud and handsome in his Marine Corps uniform, was killed by a sniper… a boy just 20 years old.
The thought haunts you all day… You want to believe such early death helps the country in question, America, the world… but you don’t. You see that boy’s eyes and feel them boring into you, asking one question over and over — “Why?”… and you just can’t give a good answer.
You feel increasingly helpless as the barrage of bad news, miseries, muddles, mayhem just won’t quit. You want time off from it all… but these realities, details delivered to us faster than ever compliments of the Web, constitute the unceasing rhythm of our lives.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg.
We wonder if, after a lifetime of contributing, Social Security will be there when we need it… and whether Medicare will provide the level of service we’ll need. A gal from our office had that acute breathing problem and was put on a respirator; the hospital didn’t want to pay for it… and the matter now resides in their legal department. We want care… we get lawyers. It makes us very, very nervous…. and sad.
We wonder how some shady Greek and Italian politicians can have so much influence on our lives so far away. What kind of magic powers have they got that force us (however superficially) to pay attention to what they’re doing… and doing… and doing, all of which threatens the stability and satisfaction of our lives? You want to say it’s “unfair”… but you know no one cares what you think about the matter… and you don’t want people to think you’re a wimp. So you stay quiet and unsatisfied… it’s just the way things are. And so the days pass…
… until the calendar tells you it’s Thanksgiving, the official day, sanctioned by custom and dictated by law, you get together with family and friends to eat too much and give thanks for your ability to do so. But this year, you just don’t feel like it, though you wouldn’t mind a piece or two of pumpkin pie. What’s a body to do?
I’ll share something that works for me… don’t waste your time enumerating all the good things you’ve got, especially when you realize most of them are flawed and superficial. Instead, focus on the myriad of problems, inconveniences, woeful situations and debilitating malevolence you don’t have… bullets you have dodged for another year. This will make you feel really thankful about things that really matter. Here’s how it works…
Preparation and The List
This year I attend my 64th Thanksgiving, so I consider myself a man with some experience in the matter. Put this experience to work by putting aside the usual falderals… don’t just hold hands and ask little Janie to say the blessing. Janie is probably too young to have much insight into the event… and will be unable to perform her helping role to perfection. Thus the end result will be unutterably banal, like all the years before.
Instead, seize this bull by the horns and brainstorm a long list of things you are thankful you don’t have to do, think about, or consider in any way. Be brutally frank.
Item: your boss got fired because of that restroom peccadillo, and you never have to see him again. That was huge!
Item: your estranged cousin Herbie, bete noir of many years, has gone missing, no one knows where. If he never returns, that would be too soon.
Item: Your darling daughter didn’t marry the wild idealist who always played the zither and never bathed. Delicious.
Item: your neighbor’s noisome pooch Mickey, gifted with a piecing yelp and high decibel duration, ran away in pursuit of amorous freedom. He will of course be missed by someone… but not by you.
Keep going! Don’t stint! As you get into the task, you see that the things you don’t have, that you were afraid you would have and forever are the very things you always needed to make this holiday sing.
Now type your list. You will never remember them all and since each adds its mite to the happy event, do not rely on memory. Practice, too, reciting them. Read slowly…. with deliberate cadence and gravitas in your voice.
Having recited this list you will feel, perhaps for the first time in months, truly happy for you have discovered for yourself and shown the world the ample bounty of happiness at your fingertips, Thanksgiving now and forever your favorite holiday.
This is an excerpt from Dr. Lant’s new book: “Thanksgiving: Some Remarks on Turkeys and Their Day”
Available at: http://www.drjeffreylant.com/store/p55/Thanksgiving-turkey
It is exactly 463 miles from Maywood, Illinois where I was born on February 16, 1947, to Duluth, Minnesota, where Bob Dylan was born May 24, 1941. In these few facts, there is a multiplicity of meaning… for I, a deep-rooted Midwestern boy myself, take my hat off to you Shabtai Zisl ben Avraham, aka Robert Allen Zimmerman, and then, at various times and various places, Elston Gunnn, Blind Boy Grunt, Bob Landy, Robert Milkwood Thomas, Tedham Porterhouse, Lucky Wilbury, Boo Wilbury, Jack Frost, and Sergei Petrov.
Our lives have crossed often, as I will show you here. But an understanding between Bob Dylan and Jeffrey Lant is the work of a lifetime, and your true importance is that through sentiments which often seem to drive us apart, came your rendition of the great truths which have kept and must keep us together.
“Get that Jew out of my kitchen”.
It is hard to see amidst so many travels the small tight-knit Jewish community he was born into. Neither Minnesota nor Illinois, its very near neighbor, were particulary welcoming to Jews, especially ones which in Dylan’s family came from the Eastern European countries of Ukraine and Lithuania, places they particulary despised, avoided, and condemned.
I had a vision… I had a shocking vision into what the “real” Midwestern Americans thought about Jews. When I brought home from school the brightest boy (next to me of course) in my class, he was a New Yorker, he looked “ethnic”, and was sharp as a tack.
I remember as if it were yesterday, what my grandmother said when I brought him home to the house through the kitchen entrance, used only by family and friends. I introduced him… not a word was said about Judaism until completely without warning, she shrieked “Get him out of my kitchen! Get him out now!”
I’ve never told this story before, but now is the time to do so, since it demonstrates how even amongst the “best families” anti-antisemitism was rife, if not voiced. I know, and I was appalled.
I, as the son of a leading family, was promptly forgiven for my picadillo. As for my grandmother, she never mentioned it again, in any way, shape, or form. Bob Dylan faced his situation in a vastly different way than I did with mine. For him, there were no swimming parties, no lazy afternoons at the club house, no finding golf balls hit by errant duffers. All this came to me as if by right, for so we regarded it, by right.
For Dylan, things were different. And where I watched the Lennon Sisters, where Lawrence Welk directed his lily white Champagne Music Makers, and had two-toned shoes just like Pat Boone, and a cap like Davey Crockett wore, Bob Dylan fled his boyhood home in Hibbing to the bigger world of the University of Minnesota, where he enrolled in 1959, and where I taught as a lecturer many years later.
I stayed in school, never left, attended 12 universities, and got four degrees, including a Ph.D. from Harvard. I chose the comfortable route. Dylan, by contrast, had heebie jeebies, ants in his pants. There was always something new with him… that never changed.
Rock’n’roll was here to stay, but not for Dylan.
Studying was never his objective… American folk music was. But only for a short time, providing yet another escape hatch from dead end rock’n’roll.
“The thing about rock’n’roll is that for me anyway it wasn’t enough… There were great catch-phrases and driving pulse rhythms… but the songs weren’t serious or didn’t reflect life in a realistic way. I knew that when I got into folk music, it was more of a serious type of thing. The songs are filled with more despair, more sadness, more triumph, more faith in the supernatural, much deeper feelings.”
With strongly held sentiments like these, and just a few bucks in his pocket, Bob Dylan did what every aspiring, counter cultural artist did: fled to New York… the Big Apple even then; de rigeur if your politics were Left, you had a world of drugs to sample, and your sexuality was promiscuous, but ardent.
Here, young Bob Dylan and I diverged again. I went to Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa (Harvard only came later). My agenda included “God Bless America” and staying straight and squeaky clean in a place where one may safely send one’s children, and where the “real world” scarcely made an appearance at any time. As for sex… that wasn’t even invented until 1968, remember?
It was about this time, I can date it almost to the minute, when Bob Dylan’s America and mine broke apart. The chasm between us was so deep, it still exists today, and worse than it ever was. He was on his track, I was on mine.
He, from February 1961, played at clubs around Greenwich Village. He was a magpie, picking up a song there, a lyric here, a soused composer somewhere else, and a singer whose golden voice failed to obscure the fact she was a heroin addict, at $25 a day. She would sit on his lap, and look in deeply at what she could only see. Bob Dylan saw this, as he saw everything. For without even knowing the word, he was a humanitarian… and therfore a friend to all, whatever they thought of him. And what they thought was often unnecessarily hostile, mean spirited, and dismissive.
In my case, because I came from West Los Angeles, I was appointed by the administration as the master of interracial relations, and the cataclysms which, like East Los Angeles (called Watts), frightened the bejesus out of America, as it watched black marauders destroy the basis of their lives, and what they could do to yours if they weren’t stopped.
By this time, Robert Dylan (he had legally changed his name again in 1962), was becoming savvy about the record business, but not savvy enough. In 1968, the BBC took a film recording of “Madhouse on Castle Street”, starring Dylan, and gratuitously destroyed it. There is no copy extant today, because those bozos thought he was a has been.
My path and Dylan’s didn’t cross much anymore after he changed his musical direction as easily as he shed and gained a new name. He was looking for something, but what was it? Perhaps he didn’t even know.
Then one day I got myself trapped in a booth at a local restaurant here in Cambridge. I had just recently been diagnosed with having Parkinson’s Disease, and I acted like no one in the world ever had a disease before and certainly pointed fingers and laughed at mine. It was pathetic, self-pitying, a dead end. Then, I remembered a song I had used as background music for a poetry reading once upon a time. It was Bob Dylan’s version of “Forever Young”, published in 1974.
I had spent my whole life doing what was expected, doing it when expected, doing it with as little ruckus as possible, and above all, doing it oneself, becoming a burden to no one. How I could get out of my coat, wedging me as it did in the booth, so that I could go neither forward or back, I did not know. But then, these lines, rose as if by magic from my roiling brain:
“May you always do for others
And let others do for you”
There was Bob Dylan, masquerading as the voice of God, and doing a damn good job of it, too. I was ready to change my modus operandi of a lifetime. I was ready to let people help me for a change, and it was Bob Dylan right there before me who made me willing to have it happen. He was the one who pointed to the insidious refrain…\
“May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you”
And so far, I’ve been doing pretty well listening to his advice.
On December 10, 2016, on a splendid evening soon to come in another memorable event in the Swedish dynasty, they will have front row seats as the Swedish Academy bestows its highest honor, the Nobel Laureate for Literature.
Bob, if I may advise you in a small sartorial matter, do not appear in white tie with tails. It is not you. Come instead as the man who has shown the world not just about various kinds and types of music, but about how music can beautify and cleanse a world so deeply disunited.
And, remember when King Carl XVI Gustaf (b. 1946) hands you your glittering prizes, you will have no greater admirer than I, for you deserve the thanks of the world for having a full heart, and knowing what to do with it.
As for His Majesty and his beautiful commoner Queen, Silvia Sommerlath (b. 1943), you can be sure they had a helpful hand in this election, after all, they are the same age we all are, and love your music in all its varieties.
Sing them, “The Times They Are a-Changin'” (1964), for they certainly are. Skol!
Now 70, a bonafide septuagenarian, Harvard educated Dr. Lant looks upon his much favored life with happiness and joyful acclimation. Author of nearly 60 books and well over 1,000 articles, this is a man who knows how to tell a story and tell it well. To see his complete oeuvre, go to www.drjeffreylant.com
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First there was the thunderclap, sharp, unyielding sound overawing all, pulling me anxious from my bed; to be swiftly followed by a cascade of erratic sound, my sundered rest punctured by noises that made the end of the world seem puny and insignificant by comparison. I was alone and soon to be unhappy, bereft, no comfort, my world altered forever.
This is the story of what happened just the other day. I know that sympathetic folk worldwide will join me in my lamentation… for this is a tale any one of us could have penned and which all of us might easily share and could as easily experience.
I call it Ex Libris, and it is a sad tale.
“84 Charing Cross Road”
If you’re a Bibliophile like I am, I don’t have to introduce you to this cinema classic released in 1987. It features an adamant, opinionated, chain-smoking, wise-cracking, irreverent New York writer (is there any other kind?) expertly played by Anne Bancroft (1931-2005), a lady in love with books, the more obscure and esoteric the better. Her correspondent is a soft-spoken London-based expert in finding out-of-print English books. (perfectly rendered by Sir Anthony Hopkins b. 1937).
He has at first no clue quite how to handle this rather alarming customer; then discovers that she is what all writers and lovers of language require, a Kindred Spirit, puckish, golden hearted, honest to a fault, friend, jousting companion, lover of words, lover of those who shape these words, dram at the ready but never to excess; willing to let the rest of us into their enthralling lives, changing us forever, even the ones who bathe infrequently and are too vocal about their ill-considered (and frequently
I had absolutely no trouble adhering to the rites and precise rituals of their arcane mysteries, not just in London either, but New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Oxford, Chicago. Chicago?
Purists may wrinkle their fastidious noses but, yes, Chicago where I sprawled for hours (age 12 or so, thank you very much) in the magic caverns tottering in unimaginably lofty formations on Clark Street. Yes, Chicago, “my kind of town, Chicago is” where I often heard my mother warn me that I could have all the books I could carry but not one more. Then hear my practised wheedling for more and still more, for my mother believed in the curative powers of disintegrating fine tooled leathers and the cats which could lead you if they would to wondrous editions not yet found by my tardy and less persistent competitors. Yes, Chicago, too, by all means, and proudly.
Where have these discriminating tabbies and their erudite successors gone? I feel guilty and ashamed that I don’t know, such is the undeniable pull of these establishments and their silky inhabitants down my ages. Forgive me!
I know now what I could hardly even imagine then; that I was either born with or early acquired the unquestioned demeanor and certain stance and undoubted swagger of a Bibliophile. That is to say, I was a lad for whom doors were open wherever I went, wherever books in all their aspects and appurtenances were favored, as they were widely and worldwide.
Unfavored school mates and taunting cousins (self designated sans peur et sans reproche, especially if a grid iron and locker room were involved) might deride, but they would do so at their considerable risk and undoing. Bibliophiles, remember, have the benefits of deep memory and the certainty that revenge is a dish best tasted cold.
In those long-ago days I brought home a steady stream of prizes with resounding names, grandiose certificates, the letters patent of our realm, and even Yankee cash on the barrel head. Such unanticipated (to them), irritating developments, which caused my more brawny, athletic peers to rethink their positions, and (no matter how reluctantly) to treat me with the reverence and veneration I so richly deserved. Parents of such sad scoffers might be heard, and in public, too, intoning this righteous sentiment: “Why can’t you be a scholar like Jeffrey?,” words which no doubt enlivened and encouraged the sorry lot. Their roles in life have no doubt been the better for it.
Every click a diminishment, a certain loss, a looming tragedy.
I live in the middle of the greatest constellation of words in the Great Republic, Fair Harvard and dozens of institutions of higher and other learning, over 70 such institutions just minutes away, the whole one of the greatest achievements of our species and a light to people everywhere who appreciate and advocate humane values and a world of peace, serenity, fairness, and equality, the hallmarks of this special place and its abiding message to the ages.
Generations from now historians and other researchers into our past will call this the Golden Age, the final days of what we have worked so diligently for a thousand years to create, foster, and maintain, including language and the books which enshrine it forever.
The proven vandals, the assured barbarians are not just at the gate, they are placed within our glorious precincts by our very children, placed here by committed parental thrift and scrimping; each more adept than the one before in their proven ways to eradicate what we have so loved, supported and honored; imposing standards which are no standards at all.
Come to Cambridge, to Harvard. The future is breaking here like a brand new, unwelcome dawn. As if by wizard’s wand, institutions once boasting that they were citadels of progress and the liberal arts now are teetering on the knife edge of extinction; buildings gone, faculties dismissed, the very idea of liberal arts and progress derided and dismissed; the potent weapons click by click on the agile fingertips of the young and careless, are dooming not just multitudes, useless cargo on Spaceship Earth, but our very species. Truly Father forgive them for they know not…
I’m forced to join the revolution
I have for the last many years, harbored a guilty secret. I cannot bear to send my books to other homes and foreign shores. I hide them in places where even I forget, but better work of literature misplaced by sympathetic hands than gone forever, a sacrifice to the savages and their wanton ways.
The books that fell were a small part of the thousands of books which have found sanctuary here and over the course of my entire life. They were stacked and crammed and buried and pushed and shoe-horned into a space sustained by the thickest of woods, mahoganey. Now and again I would look at them and sigh, for like “Sophie’s Choice” (1979) by William Styron, I knew I would have to make a decision, and that the decision would be unwelcome, whatever I decided to do.
And so, God stepped in, impatient with my inability to decide, and said, as sure as he’d send a telegram, “Clear the shelves of these books!” And He did.
Thus, my precious books, though only a few hundred of the total inventory, were marked for extinction, coming in the shape of the Goodwill truck from Somerville. They have pestered me often for them, and now, at last, they shall have their way. Of course I feel terribly, which is silly, isn’t it? Because as my assistant, Kris McNamara said as he helped me pick up the fruit of generations, “Everything you want is on the internet anyway, what’s the big deal?” But then, he is only 33, and can scarcely remember anything the outrage that I have lived with for so long. And so we in our turn shall be forgotten, too.
The Goodwill truck will come, life will go on, though admittedly altered and lessened. As for me, I have hidden as many of them as I can, in places no one would ever look. You see, I shall not go down without a fight, all flags flying, every page intact, every word. For even if I become known as the last man of suitable standards and goals, I shall accept that title, that honor, with gladness and pride, the stearnest demeanor… for even then there will be hope.
Whether you have seen “84 Charing Cross Road” before (lucky), or, whether this is your first time seeing this magnificient film (lucky), this distinctly moving film, I advise you to go to any search engine and watch it. In the meantime, here is the film score to whet your appetite:
10 Egregious mistakes to remove from your marketing documents.
Your Copy Focuses On Yourself, Not The Prospect. – talking about the seller and what your offering. Every worthy thought about the seller, by the seller, for the advantage of the seller—is irrelevant. Success in selling more of your products and services is in direct correlation to the extent that the prospect feels you exist for him, that you can help him, that you care for nothing so much as for him.
You Think Your Prospects Are As Interested In What You’re Selling As You Are. – Your prospects are not interested in your products or services. They are interested only in themselves, in their (all too often) petty aspirations, flawed desires, crack-brained anxieties and foolish fears. Thus it is to these — not the manifest wonders of your product or service — that you must appeal. No one will ever be as interested in what you are selling as you are, particularly if you are the inventor of said wonder. Expect no one to be as interested as you are.
You’re Trying To Be Clever. – thinking you’ve produced the most clever piece of marketing ever conceived. Why? Because it’s different. Because it gets the attention of the reader. Because that reader laughs. Because that reader doesn’t simply pass by oblivious to the important creative statement at his fingertips. But does this marketing work? Do people take action — buy something — as a result of seeing it?If it is that rather than the creation of believable, client-centered benefits for his products and services, the “clever” creator of such marketing materials relies on his deep pockets to create familiarity. Such a person bets that familiarity is more important than real prospect benefits and an immediate incentive for action.Now hear this: the aim of your marketing materials is not to be clever. Is not to dazzle your prospects. Is not to convince them that you are the brightest little boy or girl on the block. Even if you are. All that — for marketing purposes — is irrelevant.Now hear this: the aim of your marketing materials is not to be clever. Is not to dazzle your prospects. Is not to convince them that you are the brightest little boy or girl on the block. Even if you are. All that — for marketing purposes — is irrelevant. The only purpose for marketing. The only purpose for your marketing materials. The only point at all of any kind of marketing — is SELLING YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE. Nothing else matters.
You’re Trying To Educate Your Prospects.- trying to educate them so they understand their need for you. Marketers are not in the education business.They are in the selling business.Your objective in marketing is not to find a market and educate it to an understanding of what you can do for it. But to identify a market with screaming wants and needs — and the means to pay for satisfying them.What should you do to educate a market? “Don’t bother.”Educating has nothing to do with marketing. Be interested in meeting the wants and needs of your market and selling to your prospects.
You Don’t Have A Major Client-Centered Message That You Hammer Home Again And Again. – if you think creativity and originality are infinitely more important than hard-hitting persuasiveness, think again. More it’s making the same point over and over and over again — from every conceivable angle — in a determined attempt to move your reader to do something. – a certain quite specific something that we inspire and command.By taking a besieged prospect, overwhelmed by other marketing messages, fearful of taking action, uninterested in taking action now and move them to take action NOW means:
hitting the prospect’s self-interest;
piling prospect benefit on prospect benefit to create a rich layer cake of desirabilities;
fostering a sense of urgency — of acute need — to take action NOW;
getting the prospect to feel not only what he’ll get by taking action but what he’ll lose by failing to do so.
Leaving them with no choice but to act NOW. Or face unbearable regret and gnawing discontent that he failed to do so.
You’re Trying To Be “Professional”. – feeling Professional Behavior as a means of getting ahead.What matters in marketing is relentlessly focusing on your prospect—in each and every way. Your own professional image should always be secondary to your ability to convince your prospect that you place his welfare first; that you can deliver benefit after benefit he’ll find meaningful and that persuade him to buy what you’re selling.Thus, nothing matters that is not directly related to your prospect. There can be no justification for writing marketing documents — however “professional” they appear to you, seemingly cogent in their dull pomposity — that fail to excite the prospect with what you can do for him and fail to tell him what he should do NOW to get the benefit you can deliver.
You Haven’t Frightened Your Prospect. – In the marketing business, we have known for a good long while that fear is among our most potent prospect motivators. Particularly fear of loss.The fear you use must be:
grounded in reality
sustained by credible specialists, and
reinforced, time and again.
You must use every dark fear of every prospect as a lever to get that person to take action and connect with you—so that you can remove the cause for the fear and make that person’s life better.
You Drone On About Product And Service Features, When All The Prospect Wants To Know About Is The Benefits He Gets By Using It.- Let’s start with definitions. A feature is a characteristic of a thing. Size, color, weight, speed, availability, special conditions of use — all these are features.And is why the consummate marketer is far more interested in prospect benefits —that is advantages or helpful results—than in product or service features. For it is benefits that sell, not features.LEAD WITH BENEFITS. FOLLOW WITH FEATURES.
You Write in Jargon That Makes It Difficult For Your Prospect To Understand You. -Jargon means language understood by a select group. As such, by definition, jargon cannot be understood by everyone. Therefore, to write jargon is foolish and self-defeating.If you want to write cash copy, copy that will sell your products and services, your objective should be to write the cleanest, clearest, crispest copy possible. Nothing — not even jargon that seems common in an industry — must stand between you and your prospects. Nothing.
Your Copy Is Deadly Dull. – the best marketing copy should read like the most compelling of feature stories. Only with this difference. In such a story, you know you are reading about someone else. If you want to be in that story, you have to project yourself into it. But in marketing copy, you don’t have to project — it’s already about you. The best marketing copy is an exciting dialogue (even if it takes place on a single piece of paper) between two people — and only two people — you, the seller, and the single prospect/buyer who is reading what you have to say about him, his problem, and how you will solve it.
Find close to a dozen more of these erroneous copy-writing mistakes that are costing you dearly in
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