South of Jewfish Creek
Dear Friend &
See the date (above) of this newsletter?
Guess what? That date is a flat-out lie.
That's the date this letter should have been written.
It wasn't. I didn't get this newsletter out in time because I
have a new "hobby" that occupies an enormous amount of my
time. My new hobby really sucks. You know what it is?
My New Hobby Is Moving!
Remember Hurricane Irene? You probably don't
unless you live in South Florida. The truth is, most of us
just flat out don't give a shit about anything that happens
outside our immediate geographical area... unless, of
course... that event somehow affects us personally or
business-wise. Ah, whatever. Anyway, Irene was one of the last
hurricanes of the 1999 season (she popped up in the middle of
October) and wasn't even supposed to hit the Keys at all. Not
only that, nobody much cared because Irene was only a Category
One hurricane which is as low as you can get on the "hurricane
meanness" scale. Category One hurricanes get "minimal" wind
speeds from 74 to 95 miles per hour.
I go to bed not even thinking about Irene.
Well, the forecasters mispredicted (I think I just invented a
new word) the track she was going to take and she made a
bull's-eye directly on the house in which I was living. I
lived in the bottom half of the house and, at the time, my
aunt and uncle lived in the top half.
Category One. No big deal. Except somehow,
everybody forgot it is the water damage from a hurricane which
wreaks the most havoc. Those high wind speeds make the most
dramatic video bites for the TV news casters... but... it is
the amount of water the hurricane dumps on the land which
mostly determines the extent of the damage.
Guess what? Irene dumped 13 to 16 inches per
day on some parts (including my part) of Florida. When
I woke up, much of the stuff in my apartment was floating.
The property on which we were living literally turned into
"Lake Halbert." My Aunt Wanda actually took photos of me
paddling my poke boat in the driveway and all around the lawn.
Bottom-line: The damage was so extensive, I
had to move. At the time, I had a little office I really
didn't need. I just had to have a place to go so I
could get out of the house once in a while when my uncle was
sick. My little "getaway" was next to the gym where I worked
out, thus, I decided it was as good a place as any to move
Damn, did that ever suck! The master
thermostat to set the temperature for all the units was
located in my office... but... I wasn't allowed to operate it.
For whatever bizarre reason, I was always freezing my ass
off... or... about to expire from heat exhaustion.
Not only that, the walls were all of about
1/4" thick so I could hear everything going on in the gym...
including... a bunch of porker women yelling their way through
an aerobic class at all hours of the day and night...
including... the hours before sunrise.
Plus, the roof leaked.
Thus, I decide to move a bit further up the
road to a nice place called the Pelican Motel. I end up living
there for more than three months. Clean, neat and basic. All
is well... except... I had to learn to do what I later termed
"The Pelican Shuffle." In other words, once, twice, or maybe
even thrice a week...
I Had To Move
To Another Room!
Once I had to move from Unit 4 to Unit 5. Know
what the difference is between Unit 4 and Unit 5? NOTHING!
Almost all the rooms are clones of each other. Apparently, the
"Pelican Regulars" (snowbirds who come to the hotel year after
year during the winter season) often insist on having
their exact same room every time.
Now picture this in your mind: Let's say
you've got a Dayrunner calendar where you keep track of all
the stuff you gotta do... and... two or three days of every
week, the first thing you gotta do on those days is...
Do you have any idea how much moving sucks?
Even if you only have to move across the hall?
It's a nightmare. But, the nightmare
eventually ends because... TA DA!... the houseboat I bought in
Cocoa Beach is finally moved to Peg Leg's Marine Center...
and... I am able to move aboard.
Yahoo! I am finally living in my home.
But, I want my new home to be spiffier than it is. I want
solid oak floors on the entire interior of the boat. I want
the boat painted "my colors" (peach and teal) and a zillion
other things done. The marina hires guys to do this stuff for
While I'm Living
On The Boat!
Have you ever decided to live in a house at
the same time it is being remodeled? Trust me, you won't do it
twice. If you ever even think about doing it, rent the movie
"Money Pit" starring Tom Hanks.
I learned all kinds of new stuff while my boat
was being remodeled. Like what a "floor leveler" is. Just in
case you're like me and had no idea such a thing existed,
here's what it is: Let's say you have a floor made of
something other than wood... but... you want the floor
to be wood. In that case, some chain-smoking construction
worker who hasn't bathed in a month will use a tool (called a
"level") to check out the levelness (what else?) of your
pre-existing floor and discover if it is 100% level or not. He
does this because he wants the original floor to be level
before he puts down your new wooden floor. If it's not 100%
level, he takes a grey putty-like substance ("floor leveler")
and smears it on the unlevel parts of your floor and forms and
shapes it till his device says your floor is level.
How did I, Sir Gary of Halbert learn about
floor leveler? Well, one night it is time for me to go nighty-night.
There is dim lighting coming from my bedroom and, I see no
need to turn more lights on. Because floor leveler goo is
greyish, it doesn't reflect much light. Thus, I learn what
floor leveler is the hard way...
I Step In It!
Now listen up. Floor leveler has to lay around
and harden (just like concrete) before you can put your wooden
flooring on it. Who knew? As I just told you, I stepped in
this big, grey blob of something resembling powdery grey cat
shit which I proceed to track all over my houseboat. The next
day, the construction workers yell and howl and laugh at me.
"I'm a copywriter!" I yell back. "How the hell am I
supposed to know about stuff like floor leveler?! Can any of
you assholes do a mathematical, demographic regression
analysis on a marketing campaign?"
Well, I dare say THAT shut them up.
Onward. Have you ever been in a "Home Depot"
store? They've got so much weird shit in those HUGE stores,
it's like shopping on Mars. But, Home Depot has saved my soul.
They have illuminated for me, the missing spiritual chunk of
my life needed to make me happy, fulfilled and at peace.
Believe it or not, Home Depot taught me this lesson in only
four words. Yessirreebob, they got a sign in there which
completely straightened me out. Here's what it says:
Do you know how often I have forgotten grout
sponge? Actually, I have forgotten it (until now) every single
day of my life. That's why I am convinced it was the major
reason things had often gone badly for me. Can you even
imagine trying to have a halfway decent day during a 24-hour
When You Have Completely
Forgotten Grout Sponge?
I think it's probably impossible.
I still don't know what "grout sponge" is
(please don't tell me and take the mystery out of it) but, I
never forget it anymore. Besides, now that grout sponge
is never far from my consciousness, I sense my life is
beginning to improve.
My houseboat is very livable now. In fact,
it's a great place to live. Even so, I took it to a boat yard
where they are pulling it out of the water to scrape and paint
the bottom. The boat yard is also repowering it with brand new
engines. They say this will take about 30 days. Translation:
It will take 60 to 90 days. They say it will cost about
$25,000. Translation: It will cost $50,000 to $75,000.
Where do I live now? I'll have to learn how to
use my GPSR (Global Positioning Satellite Receiver) to find
out. This is a little gizmo which tells me (if I could figure
out how to use it) what my exact geographic location happens
I've decided to travel while my home is being
worked on. I just came back from spending a few days with Joe
Polish. He has a new house. He thinks his house is great.
Actually, it is as mediocre as Peter Louis. With minor (almost
indistinguishable) differences, it looks like every other
house on his street... which were... of course all built by
the same builder. Being the "King of Carpet Cleaners" his
floors are naturally made out of...
Concrete which is painted a variety of goofy
colors which has a magnetic attraction for every kind of dust
and dirt found in all of Phoenix. Joe also has a new Jaguar
bought for him by Bill Phillips of EAS. Bill bought Joe the
car because... even though Joe gave Bill most of the better
ideas used to promote Bill's book ("Body of Life")... Bill
didn't give Joe any of the credit whatsoever. Bill didn't have
the balls to talk with Joe in person about that subject so, he
bought him the car. Joe likes the car but, if you'd paint that
sucker red, it would look almost exactly like an $83,000 Miata.
Since he drives the car in Phoenix, the door
handles get so damn hot, you have to hold a rag in your hands
to open the doors to avoid getting a first degree burn.
Speaking of Phoenix, why the hell does this
city exist anyway? Can you imagine 150 years ago, some guy and
his wife riding across the country looking for a place to
live, they come to the Phoenix area... the guy looks at his
wife and says...
"Honey, Let's Settle
"Oh, gosh yes!" his wife immediately
replies. "It's 130 degrees, there's no water, no trees, no
vegetation and, the Indians have mostly all died because sun
tan lotion hasn't been invented yet."
They settle there and live in caves during the
day to escape the heat, procreate at night and, their fourth
of fifth generation progeny have all purchased "Starbucks"
franchises and constantly consult Fengshui experts to help
them adjust the energy flow of their environments.
You know what else? While I was visiting Joe,
I gave him what may actually be the most profitable marketing
idea of his pathetic life.
Because I have no home, in less than one day
from the time I finish writing this newsletter, I am flying to
New Jersey to help Nate Aventino and the people she works with
create a couple of "killer" promotions.
You know what I've decided to do next? I'm
going to put on a seminar. You know what it's going to be
about? Well, I don't know either. I'm going to call it...
'No Agenda' Seminar!"
Got questions about copywriting? Then I'll
talk about copywriting and answer your questions the best I
Want to know something about the stock market?
Ask me and I'll reveal shit you never even dreamed about.
Plus, my son Bond will disclose even more.
Got Internet questions? I bet I can (with the
help and expertise of my attendees) give you answers which
will knock your socks off.
Want to know where the really hot chicks are
in Rio? We'll stick ear plugs in the ears of all the ladies at
my seminar, and I will lay some truly scorching info upon you.
What I want this seminar to be is...
The World's Ultimate
You're gonna have to pay to come though. But
not too much. I'm gonna keep it cheap because I want a lot of
When is this seminar going to be held?
Exactly when? I don't know. I'm leaving that
all up to Theresa. Where are we going to have it? I'm leaving
that up to Theresa also. Exactly how much is it going to cost
you to attend? I'm leaving that up to her too.
Why am I doing it this way? I have to. I'm too
busy moving to do anything else.
What should you do if you want to come? Well,
since Theresa doesn't even know about this yet, she'll need a
few days to start making arrangements. In the meantime, if you
really want to attend, you have to call...
You'll get Theresa's voicemail and, after the
beep, you've got to leave a message something like,
"Theresa, this is John Q. Everett (or whatever your name is).
I am interested in coming to Gary's 'No Agenda' seminar.
Please give me all the details." Then be sure to leave
your phone and fax numbers, your e-mail address and, your
real address. I don't know how she'll choose to respond to
these calls but, I want her to have every available option.
Gary C. Halbert
|| Are you pissed off at me for writing this
newsletter instead of the one about copywriting I was supposed
to write? Well, guess what? I don't care. After all the moving
and relocating and traveling I've done recently...
Felt Like Writing About!
Instead, I felt like ranting... and... the
truth is, I never liked you very much anyway.
Copyright © 2003 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights