If you’re a new Reader here on 10 Minutes of Brilliance, it might be hard to believe some of the outlandish things I claim have happened to me. So, I thought it might be fun to see if new Readers can separate fact from fiction. I’ll mention three wacky statements and you can try to figure out if I’m telling the truth or should I have my creative license suspended. Here goes.
1. I once picked up world champion boxer Muhammad Ali in my car and he tried to pick a fight with me.
2. I had my hand on Donald Trump’s wallet and he didn’t think it was very funny.
3. In 1972, I was the Head of the Earth.
Can you tell which statement is true and which never really happened? Surprise. Surprise. All are true. So before we celebrate Earth’s 4.51 billionth birthday, here’s a brief explanation.
STAN: Ha! That won’t happen. No way!
HARRIET: What are you complaining about now, Stan?
STAN: Goldfish said he was gonna be brief. Goldman couldn’t be brief if his underpants depended upon it.
HARRIET: That’s actually kinda clever Stan. Gotta new writer? Just kidding. Now, let Jack finish.
FIGHTING WITH MUHAMMAD ALI
Where was I? Oh, yeah. In 1968, when I was a junior in college, the Kennedy Political Union brought World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali to speak at my college, American University. Ali was a charismatic figure, but he also was unpredictable, combative and larger than life. No one wanted to be responsible for bringing the ferocious boxer to campus, so I volunteered.
I picked up the champ at National Airport in my ramshackle 1965 Mustang. Ali got ino my broken down Mustang and just nodded to me, looking kinda fierce and angry. “I’ll take you to American,” was all I could manage to say.
At one point during the ride to campus, Ali looked around my car and then turned to me and said, “You know, for a white boy, you don’t have a very nice car.” I was both scared and speechless. I just smiled back at him. It didn’t seem like a good idea to pick a fight.
Years later, I’m still confident I made the right decision. I wouldn’t have lasted five rounds.
TOUCHING TRUMP’S WALLET
In 1992, I had a great freelance gig. For two weeks, I toured the East Coast with two incredibly beautiful and charming women, Masha Kezha and Lauma Zumzarez, the winner and runner-up in the Miss USSR Beauty Pageant.
At one point near the end of their two-week tour, People Magazine said they wanted to do an article on the women and asked if they could follow us around the next day. I’d been trying to get People to cover us for weeks so, of course, I said yes.
The only problem was we had nothing scheduled for the next day. So I had about a half day to arrange something interesting enough for People to publish my efforts. I must have been good in a previous life because the Universe couldn’t have been more cooperative. Within three hours I arranged a breakfast meeting with Donald Trump, an afternoon interview with Matt Lauer (remember him?) on the local news show he was on, Live at Five and dinner with Jane Curtain in the Green Room near where Bill Cosby was taping The Cosby Show.
STAN: OK, now Goldfarb’s just dropping names.
HARRIET: First of all Stan, his name is Goldenberg. Jack Goldenberg. The least you can do is remember the name of the guy who created you.
STAN: Oh Harriet, don’t start giving me that sh*t that Goldberg’s real and I’m imaginary.
HARRIET: It’s true, Stan. Now, I know Jack can ramble on, but at least let him continue so he can publish his Earth Day blog before this year’s event is over.
STAN: All right, all right. But please, Harriet, don’t let Readers know I’m not real. If you do, I’ll never work again.
HARRIET: You’ve got a deal, Stan. Now, quiet.
So anyway, after People’s photographer took a photo of Trump and the Russian beauty queens for their spread, I asked if I could have a shot with just me and Trump. I promise you the shot that follows is real, not Photoshopped.
STAN: Jesus, Harriet. Earth Day’s almost here, and Goldstein’s ADHD is in full bloom I just wanna see how Goldberg’s gonna prove his claim he was once Head of the Earth. Ha, that’s a laugh. Goldman’s so lame, he couldn’t be a Head of Cabbage!
HARRIET: Stick around Stan. I’m sure Jack’s got a plausible explanation.
IN 1972, I WAS THE HEAD OF THE EARTH. REALLY. If YOU DON’T BELIEVE ME, ASK THE UNITED NATIONS!
While I do lay claim to being Head of the Earth (even if it was self-appointed), up front, I am not claiming I came up with the original idea for Earth Day. I did not.
U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson is credited with raising the environmental consciousness of Planet Earth. The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970, and it was a huge success.
A year later, in 1971, an even more successful Earth Day was held. But by 1972, many of Earth’s inhabitants were already tired of hearing about the environment. They viewed the first two Earth Days as a “been there, done that twice” kind of deal.
And while there were recycling and environmental efforts in other countries, I was concerned that efforts weren’t global. Why clean up the pollution in one country if a neighboring country continues to pollute the air and water?
So, I did the only thing a sane, sensible person could do. I appointed myself Head of the Earth. I had business cards printed, stationary, the whole 394 million yards** (** Circumference of the Earth x yards in a mile x 9 yards).
You might question who gave me the authority to become Head of the Earth. Well, the position was open and there were no other applicants. Besides, I was young and figured it would look great on my resume. Copywriter. Associate Creative Director. Creative Director. Head of the Earth. Yeah, it was a logical progression.
I was serious about helping Mother Earth and about making the efforts global, so I launched International Earth Day.
I produced ads that in free and alternative newspapers (Would someone please explain to millennials what a “newspaper” is?)
I got radio stations across the country to tell listeners about “The 100 Things You Can Do to Save Planet Earth.” I convinced governors to announce International Earth Day proclamations and got citizen groups to hold International Earth Day Awareness events. I even convinced a talent booker on The Today Show to interview an expert on the continued importance of environmental awareness.
When the NBC Talent Booker demanded to know, “Hey who are you?,” I replied, “I’m Head of the Earth, that’s who, and you use the airwaves.”
My Earth Day stationery was on recycled paper, so people must have figured I was for real. Besides, who’s going to argue with someone who has the title (and the responsibility) I had?
But my biggest accomplishment was getting the support of the United Nations. One day I got a call from a high-ranking UN official, Whitman Bassow. He was the Senior Public Affairs Officer of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.
He said, “So, Mr. Smarty Pants, I understand you’re Head of the Earth. Well I‘m the Head of Communications for the United Nations Conference on the Environment. I think we should talk.”
Now, even though the United Nations is not well revered for its sense of humor, somehow my pleas for international cooperation supporting global environmental efforts reached the one person who realized there was a serious purpose to my somewhat comical claim to being the Earth’s protector.
Like the stories I mentioned earlier, I can understand that a preposterous claim of being Head of the Earth and getting on the radar of the United Nations demands proof, so I offer Exhibit A, a typewritten letter on UN stationary giving me permission to use the UN’s name and environmental slogan, “Only One Earth,” on my “Tickets of Admission to Planet Earth.”
NOTE: CLICK ON THE LETTER TO ENLARGE
I’d tell you more about my Tickets of Admission to Planet Earth, but really, you shouldn’t be reading this blog on Earth Day, you should be outside enjoying this beautiful Planet or inside making a list of how you can do your part, beyond recycling, to protect and defend our only home, Planet Earth. After all, there is no Planet B.
Oh wait, one more thing . A special post for my Readers who are Hard of Reading. Here’s 10 Signs America Is Getting Dumber and Dumber. It’s mostly visual.
STAN: Does he always switch gears so fast?
HARRIET: Reading 10 Minutes of Brilliance is a roller coaster ride through Goldenberg’s endorphins with a side trip through his ADHD.
Hey, Readers, let’s go feed the animals!
HARRIET: See. See what I mean?
And now HBO proudly presents… Oh, no, that’s not right. Where was I? Oh, I’ve got it. And now, here are some funny signs that America’s collective IQ has reached new lows.
10 Signs America Is Getting Dummer and Dummer (Click on photos to enlarge them.)
Thanks for hanging in there, Brilliant Readers, to the end. Please leave me a comment so I know you were here. And come back next time for a look at the museums you shouldn’t bother visiting this summer. Now, say Goodnight, Stan.
STAN: Goodnight, Stan.
HARRIET: That’s not what Jack meant.
STAN: Well, that’s what he said.
HARRIET: Stan, You are a total Ignoramus.
STAN: Thanks, Harriet. I think you’re starting to like me.