Higher Ed

The seventeen-mile commute from my house in Clifton to the office on E. 75th Street was a lesson in itself. Getting into the city, via Route 3 and the Lincoln Tunnel, was a rough start to any commuter's day, but then, once out onto 42nd Street, I still needed to cross over to the Eastside and make my way up to E. 76th Street to park my tiny, manual-speed Renault LeCar in a garage. Between gas, tolls, parking, and plantar warts, it was costing me dearly to have a summer job that didn't pay a dime, but the education I received was worth every dollar, and the reward, well, there is no price that could've been paid. To make the commute that much more tolerable, I began carpooling with Chris, who I had known since the eighth grade and was working for Dancer Fitzgerald Sample Advertising in The Chrysler Building. Chris and I spent that summer really getting to know each other and became very close friends by the time my internship was over. What wasn't over was our relationship. 

The last day of my internship at Korey, Kay & Partners was a typical mid-August, NYC triple-H day - as in hazy, hot 'n humid for the uninitiated. The agency was buzzing and I felt like I was leaving right in the middle of something, which was really still the beginning of something, that was on the verge of really becoming something. That thing was them, but it was also me. Allen and Lois gave me a beautiful blue canvas and tan leather portfolio case as a very generous gift, but it was Allen that awarded my efforts by making me a promise, "If you can get into ArtCenter, go, and then graduate... well, if we're still in business, there will be a job for you here." With that, he gave me his letter of reference. The gift of a lifetime.

It was during my sophomore year at Syracuse that I could begin taking my first communications classes and broke free from the entry-level studio classes the year before. After the summer I'd just had interning, I felt totally over-qualified and inquired with the University about taking classes on the business of advertising at their S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, with its I.M. Pei building of hallowed halls. Maybe it only felt like they laughed in my face, but those doors were not open to me, for apparently, I wasn't really a student at Syracuse University as whole. I'd merely been accepted to Crouse College, and that's where I could take classes, because apparently, even though I was in advertising as an art student, I had no right taking advertising in Newhouse because those were reserved for the business students. Creatives in suits be damned.    

At the Student Store you could buy custom SU rolling papers that had "Preparing You For a Higher Education," printed on them in blazing orange type. This summed up my experience in a rather prophetic way. I spent the rest of my semesters being Art Director for the University Concert Board and designed promotional posters and the occasional t-shirt for artists like The Psychedelic Furs, Adam Ant, Pat Metheny, The Motels, and even Miles Davis, who all played in or around school in the smaller local venues. The BIG acts played the University's brand new, indoor sporting arena, The Carrier Dome. Home to The Orangemen, this quickly became a full-on NY State concert venue with a seating capacity of over 49,000 - and it was just a ten-minute walk from my dorm room. I saw The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Police, and, I kid you not, Genesis - from the tenth row - on the floor. It was time for me to go. It was never getting better than that.


  • Brain

    You didn’t mention the cement campout at the Dome box office for Genesis tickets. Even more uncomfortable than summer camp…what upstate NY month was that?

  • Michael Katz

    It is interesting to see the events in your life that suggest you move on in your journey.

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