Filed under: ASI Shows, Fun, Travel
Hey there Everyone!
My apologies for just getting this final blog installment from last week’s Advantages road show through the Midwest to you now. Frankly, it took a few days for my internal organs to stop quivering. Some people may leave their hearts in San Francisco, but my lungs and liver are in Des Moines and St. Louis.
After a 30 minute-cab ride to a field in a county in St. Louis guaranteed to be “police-friendly” to fireworks, we all set off — led by Tom Vann (aka “Tommy T-shirt”) — $250 worth of sky rockets in flight. There were no injuries, only jaw-dropping splendor. And the experience reiterated something I already knew — men are much more fascinated with blowing up bright, shiny objects than women ever could be. How do I know this? Because after five minutes of “oohs” and “aahs,” myself, Crystal Duckett from Gemini Industries and Lisa Sembro from Lanco were ready to hit the bar.
First, yes, we all survived the “fireworks” incident without injury or incarceration. This can be attributed to Tom Vann (aka “Tommy T-shirt”) who actually planned out and Googled where we were legally and logistically allowed to set off an insane amount of “skyrockets in flight.” To him, I send a hearty thank you for being such a Type A personality. Tim Andrews, ASI’s CEO/president — who is the master of the quick, witty quip — was in New York last Friday accepting the prestigious Neal Award (one of business journalism’s highest honors) for Counselor magazine’s 2007 State of the Industry issue. He sent me this text message after monitoring our antics on the blog: “Michele, glad to see you’re adhering to ASI’s ‘two-drink maximum’ rule. By the way, fireworks aren’t a business expense.” Second, the last day of the road show, in St. Louis, was held jointly with the Stitches magazine show and drew 411 attendees, about half of which were embroiderers. The wearables exhibitors were thrilled, of course, and everyone agreed that they couldn’t remember a more successful week in which each city drew over 150 distributors.
Now, for your amusement, more photos from our last night in Kansas City, from throughout the week and some shots of the most notable [read: wacky] characters on the tour and the famous “celebs” they resemble. I can only tell you now that I’m home, I miss seeing these people every day. Hunter S. Thompson, the infamous “Gonzo” journalist, once uttered this gem: “Crazies always find each other.” I wholeheartedly and happily agree. Nothing brings people closer than cocktails, long travel and rousing ’80s power anthems. I thank them all — Key-Bak’s Tom Ngo, Eddie “E” Roth (my brother from another mother) from Aunt Beth’s Cookie Keepers, “Tommy T-shirts” from Target Graphics, Dan Burke from Avaline, ASI’s Nick DiNicola, Laura Fisher & Steve Cattau, Andy and Daniel Townes (Dan, you would have been proud!), Jason Grindall from Graphco, Bryon Daley from the Better Life Line, Dreama McDaniel from Expert Performance T’s, Mike Contreras from Perfect Line, and Crystal Duckett from Gemini Industries, among many others — for being so welcoming, friendly and fun. They made my first road show one for the books. And to them — my little roving band of ramblers — I say, keep in touch and “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Meet Us in St. Louis (But Only if You Have Bail Money & An Alibi)
After a day being the smiling face greeting attendees at the front desk of the Advantages road show in Kansas City, Daniel Townes relaxes on the bus and gears up for the four-hour ride to St. Louis.
Expert Performance T’s Dreama McDaniel and Bryon Daley from the Better Life Line taking their customary seats in the back of the bus, where all the characters resided.
(From left) Jon Robertson from ASI Computer Systems here with ASI’s Laura Fisher and Steve Cattau, who definitely kicked the party up a notch.
Daniel Townes, who dressed up in his swanky tuxedo T-shirt for this truck stop on the way to St. Louis, and my pal Laura.
Me, Raymond Hung from Issun and Dreama McDaniel getting our trucker on at the rest stop.
The motherload of fireworks, shown here with Eddie Roth standing next to it for scale. Why did we buy this? Never underestimate the power of large groups of people to engage in questionable — though fun — behavior.
The first of many, we shot off this firecracker in the parking lot of the Hilton St. Louis. I’m sure the hotel staff has never quite been made aware of guests checking in to their establishment in quite such a fashion.
They Say We’re Crazy But We Have a Good Time; We’re Just Looking for Clues at the Scene of the Crime
Benji Kohn, our fearless bus driver, myself and Eddie “E” Roth at the Lotus trap in Des Moines.
Tom Vann (“Tommy T-shirt”), Laura Fisher and Andy Townes, fairly early in the evening when we all still had a grip on sobriety.
At the Upstream Brewery in Omaha, where they clearly embrace variety and excess, they offered a “sampler” of beer.
Laura Fisher and David “D.J.” Jungling from ASI Computer Systems, who, as legend goes, once led a road trip to Tijuana during an Advantages road show through Cali. Because at ASI, that’s how we roll.
Andy Townes and Laura, enjoying the ambiance in Omaha.
Brian, who drove the truck containing the exhibitors’ booths and products all week from city to city with Andy Townes, with the ever-photogenic Laura.
Avaline’s Dan Burke, Dreama McDaniels, Daniel Townes and me at a swanky truck stop on the way to St. Louis.
Tommy T-shirt & Tom Ngo carting $250 worth of fireworks onto the bus. Any rational person would have questioned this decision at this precise moment; we all cheered.
Eddie “E” Roth and Laura before boarding the bus on the way to St. Louis for a showing of the gut-wrenchingly hilarious movie “Superbad” and another round of road sodas.
Nick DiNicola, who runs the Advantages road show and was the camp counselor, counting heads to make sure his drunken little ducklings all teetered back onto the bus.
Avaline’s Dan Burke, whose smile gets measureably wider with each cocktails, offers a toast.
Separated at Birth?
Though he clearly doesn’t have brakes, if you close your eyes, Andy Townes (left) is the audio equivalent of “Mater,” the character in “Cars” voiced by Larry the Cable Guy. Tom Vann, aka “Tommy T-shirt,” is the spitting image of Barney Rubble. Next time you see Tommy, offer him a brontosaurus burger.
I’ve lost count of the number of times people have compared me to Karen from “Will & Grace.” Maybe because she tosses off little bon mots like this one: “I’d like a vodka on the rocks… And by ‘rocks’ I mean crushed pills.” Mercifully, my voice is about five octaves deeper than her’s so at least when I speak it doesn’t sound like a cat being declawed without general anesthetic. My cackle of a laugh, on the other hand…
The only thing more prominent than Dan Burke’s hilariously wacky personality is his chin, which bears a striking resemblance to Buzz Lightyear’s from “Toy Story.” Here, Dan makes Avaline proud and does his best “To infinity and beyond!”
With his swarthy good looks and cheesy ’70s shades, ASI’s Nick DiNicola — the man with the patience of Job who keeps the whole Advantages road show circus rolling — reminds us of Eric Estrada’s character from “CHiPs,” Frank “Ponch” Poncherello.
Key-Bak’s Tom Ngo, one of my oldest friends in the industry, graciously offered to sigh up for last week’s Advantages road show through the Midwest and accompany (read: “chaperone”) me. He’s like the character “Lloyd” from “Entourage” because whenever Ari Gold — a weapons-grade wacko — needs his help, Lloyd is there. (I would be the “weapons-grade wacko” in this analogy.) On the bus, Tom was the one with the steady hand keeping everyone’s drinks chilled and filled to the brim.
With spiky hair so vertical it has its own hemisphere, Aunt Beth’s Cookie Keepers’ Eddie Roth (aka “E”) looks so much like the character “Syndrome” from “The Incredibles” that Mike Contreras from Perfect Line kept showing photos on his iPhone of the cartoon, holding it up to E’s face and asking distributor attendees at the show if they noticed a resemblance. The response? A resounding “Yes!”