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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

Fun in the Sun at the SAAC Show!

Filed under: Editorial, Fun, Travel

Hi Everyone!

I just returned to the office after being at the always-awesome SAAC Show in Long Beach, CA, last week. I’ve been attending the SAAC Show since its last year at the Towne & Country hotel in San Diego and have been a huge fan ever since. I don’t know if it’s because the show is the last of the year for many people or the relaxed vibe of Cali, but this show always has a distinct atmosphere to it — one of profound fun, where everyone is laid-back and happy.

See below for a smorgasbord of photos I took chronicling the week. Two of my favorite moments that I missed the chance to photograph? My pal Jamie Raynor from JournalBooks, who is always the epitome of moderation, reason and decorum, succumbing to the crazies and doing Irish Car Bombs (rock on, Jamie!) at the iPROMOTEu “SupplierPalooza” party and Kris Robinson, vice president of Counselor Top 40 distributor PromoShop, getting five other people to join him in sticking their fingers in shots of Sambuca, lighting them on fire , raising their arms in the air and declaring themselves the “Statues of Liberty.” And truly, I can think of no better analogy for the SAAC Show and this industry: “Give us your weirdoes, wackos, loonies and kooks…” ; )

More next week!



Moderne Glass’s Stan Breckenridge (left), the current PPAI chairman of the board, shown here with Mel Ellis, president of Humphrey Line, at the Advertising Product Suppliers (APS) meeting held last Monday in Long Beach, CA, during the show. Why is Stan bandaged, you may be wondering? During a slightly contentious portion of the meeting involving PPAI’s dues structure, Stan was a little body-checked against the boards, verbally, by some suppliers in attendance. Being the good sport he is, Stan rose to the occasion with aplomb and emerged at the post-meeting cocktail party donning this head bandage. The reaction? Everyone just cracked up at his quick wit.

Worldwide’s Steve Rone, Del Rey Nut Co.’s Mark Hobbs and Promo Marketing publisher, my pal Matty Barnes, enjoying cocktails at the APS cocktail reception following the meeting.

ASI’s president/CEO, Tim Andrews (center), poses here with the industry’s beautiful couple, Mark Hobbs and PromoBiz’s Nadine Panetti. Both Mark and Nadine are on Counselor’s inaugural “Hot” list in the August issue.

ASI’s director of ESP, Candace Hershey and Ross Silverstein, CEO of CounselorTop 40 distributor iPROMOTEu, at the Irish Pub in Long Beach. Everyone who loves to party at this show always ends their evenings at this place, which, I know, has a formal name. However, everyone who’s any rummy just calls it – with the wave of a hand — “that Irish bar across the street from the Hyatt.”

My favorite day at my favorite show: Pool Day at the Hyatt during the SAAC Show! Started a few years back by a collective of rummies sunning themselves by the pool like liquored-up lizards, this is my High Holy Day of frolicking … the one I look forward to throughout the year. Here, Bravo’s Greg Livings – one of the charter members of Pool Day – gets ready to order everyone’s drink of choice: The Greyhound (that’s a refreshing blend of Grey Goose and grapefruit juice for those of you who’d like to know….). Over the years, it would be a fair statement to say that we’ve all drank PACKS of Greyhounds.

Liqui-Mark’s vice president Josh Goodelman, a novice of Pool Day, was hooked after his third Greyhound. I think he realized he was in for a treat when Javier, the Hyatt pool waiter who takes care of us every year, showed up like a vision bearing drinks and remembered us all from last year, by name. Now that, my friends, is how you make an impression. Note I didn’t clarify if it’s a good impression… ; )

American Ad Bag’s Gary Semrow, with what was his first of many beers of Pool Day.

Providence’s president Hank Riccitelli and Express Pens’ Matt Linderman catch up by the Hyatt pool.

Matt Linderman, my BFF Tom Ngo from Key-Bak, his adorable colleague Barbie Brandon and Awesome Lines’ Jodi Friedman take solace from the sun, which was scorching in Long Beach last Tuesday.

Promo Marketing magazine’s Vicky Tirpack, a character in her own right, and Lisa Horn (right), PPB’s former editor and now an industry marketing consultant, hanging out by the pool.

Some of my favorite die-hard pool pals, from left: Media Tree’s Steve Greene, Pencoa’s Stacy Horton, Avaline’s Lisa Parker and American Ad Bag’s Gary Semrow.

As our numbers grew by the Hyatt’s pool last Tuesday, so did the amount of cocktails coming out on Javier’s tray. Rock on, my little lounge lizards!

Lest you think it was only the imbibers out by the pool, some moderate, respectable members of the industry also took the time to socialize and catch some rays. Here, Bob Waldorf (left), industry veteran and former CEO of Lee Wayne, and Providence’s Hank Riccitelli – old friends from way back – enjoy some downtime.

Logomark’s Kimberly Horton, Larry “The Velvet Fog” Sitten and Josh Goodelman enjoy some relaxing moments by the pool before the start of the SAAC Show the following day.

Bravo’s Greg Livings (with his impressively inked back facing the camera), Hannah Promotions’ Shauna Feldman and Bravo’s Brian Starke, enjoy some smokes and pancakes.

Gary Semrow, toasting the end of another awesome SAAC Pool Day… Until next year, everyone!

Tanned, glam and fabulous, Pencoa’s Stacy Horton (left) poses here with pal Maureen Williams.

One of the nicest, most creative couples in the industry, Geiger’s Gaye Kruger and Dave Ribble.

My friend Nadine Panetti, also known as the Saucy Aussie, threw a soiree at her home in Culver City and was gracious enough to invite me, along with some other industry friends. Here, Del Rey’s Mark Hobbs (and one half of the reason Mark and Nadine are the industry’s reigning “beautiful couple”), Maureen Williams, ASI’s president/CEO Tim Andrews and ASI vice president of supplier sales Ron Ball, revel in a mellow evening with goof friends before the craziness of the show starts.

Mary Ryan, who works with Nadine at PromoBiz and assisted her with the party, smiles on her way to serve more of Nadine’s mind-blowingly good champagne punch.

Gold Bond’s Mark Godsey, shown here with Nadine’s fluffy cat, which he referred to as his “date for the evening.” Mark never says much around me (proving, without question, that he is a smart, smart man), but when he does it is wickedly funny.

Tim Andrews, holding court in Nadine’s lush Tiki Bar backyard garden, and laughing heartily, enjoying everyone’s company.

Ron Ball, exhibiting a sly, mischievous look familiar to many of you in the industry, that says: “I just did something naughty.”

PromoBiz’s Mary Ryan, giving Ron a quick shoulder rub. I think he had “a moment.”

At the Jack Nadel Int’l. luncheon for its management and sales associates, held at Tokyo Wako in Long Beach last Wednesday, some of the company’s finest gather for a photo. From left: Jeni Scott, Debbie Abergel, JNI’s vp/vendor relations, Stephanie Peyrefitte and Michelle Kajan.

Craig Reese, senior vice president of Counselor Top 40 distributor Jack Nadel Intl. and one of my favorites in the industry, shown here with his account coordinator, Katy Smith.

Dan Madden, left, shown here with Jack Nadel Int’l. president, Craig Nadel. A few words now about one of my oldest and closest industry friends, Mr. Nadel: At my very first PPAI Dallas Show 11 years ago, I was waiting outside of a room to cover a PPAI committee meeting for Counselor. I was hesitant to go in, because the meeting had already started and I didn’t know a soul. Craig showed up soon after I did and, despite the fact that he was on the PPAI committee whose meeting was being held, he sat in the hall and talked to me the entire time. In short, he had me at “hello.” One of the smartest people I know in the industry, I value Craig’s friendship so much because he is one of those rare people born without the bullshit gene. What he thinks comes right out his mouth, which is utterly delightful and refreshing in this era of spin. Craig likes to say that despite the fact that we’re so different, we’ve stayed such close friends over the years because we love to dish about three universal topics: Sex, politics and the industry. “If you knew anything at all about sports,” he tells me, “we’d have it all covered.” There are 12 people in the industry I’d lie down in traffic for; Craig Nadel is in the top five.

Key-Bak’s Barbie Brandon, Jack Nadel Int’l. senior vice president Craig Reese and Brilliant Results’ magazine publisher Maureen Williams bask in the glow of the sunset at Alegria, a tapas restaurant in Long Beach. Craig Reese and I have known each other for years, and my nickname for him is “The Porkchop”… next time you see Craig at a show, ask him why!

Maureen Williams, one of my closest friends, Christian Brandt, ASI’s executive director of distributor sales and my brother from another mother, and Express Pens’ Matt Linderman, who holds a special place in my heart along with his father, Michael, at Alegria. Christian turned 35 years old last Wednesday, and though we know he’d rather have been celebrating with his wife Jen, and their sons Christian and Tyler, his ASI friends held an impromptu soiree to acknowledge the fact that he’s no spring chicken anymore. That sound you hear is Christian shuffling off to the La Brea tar pits with the rest of the fossils. ; )

Ah, Michael Linderman. Michael, the owner/president of Express Pens/Express TimeSource in Austin, TX, was the very first person I met in the industry 11 ½ years ago, when he was PPAI’s Chairman of the Board. How frakin’ lucky did I get with that stroke of serendipity? When people comment on how many folks I know in the industry, a lot of that has to do with Michael, who, when I was brand-spankin’ new and didn’t know ANYONE, introduced me to all the movers, shakers and celebs in the industry – many of whom I’m good friends with today.

Worldwide’s Steve Rone and my pal Todd Singleton, owner of the LA-based distributor The Singleton Co. Inc. A world about just how amazing Todd is: I call him my Jack Johnson of the industry – a true renaissance man who surfs, skis and is an amazing artist. Everytime I’m with him, I feel just a little cooler because of it.

Matt Linderman, Shauna Feldman – my wild child gal pal, who works for Canadian-based distributor Hannah Promotions and is also on Counselor’s “Hot” list in the August issue – Brian Starke, co-owner of Toronto-based Bravo Awards, and Key-Bak’s Barbie Brandon. I have truly lost count of the many awesome industry people I’ve met through Brian and his business partner Greg Livings. They are the magnets for the most fun, chill people in the industry and the vortex of la vida loca!

(From left): PromoBiz’s Nadine Panetti, ASI’s Tim Andrews, AdMints’ Brett Hersh, Me, ASI’s Christian Brandt and Del Rey’s Mark Hobbs gather for a group photo in the midst of celebrating Christian’s 35th birthday.

Hannah Promotions’ Shauna Feldman, Bravo Awards’ Brian Starke and the newest member of AARP, Christian Brandt.

Doing their best impersonation of KISS’s Gene Simmons, Shauna Feldman and Matt Linderman roll out their tongues for the camera.

Christian Brandt and Matt Linderman, having a “man-date” moment. Should you ever overhear a conversation between these two, it will go something like this:
“Is that a Versace shirt” “Of course!”
“What kind of moisturizer are you using these days?” “Dude, I wouldn’t touch anything but Clinique!”
In short, I think these two metrosexuals have a firmer grasp on the latest fashion and hot new grooming products way more than I do.

AdMints’ Brett Hersh, a member in good and well-deserved standing on iPROMOTEu’s “Fun Thirty” list, shown here with another charter member of the “Fun” list, Mark “I call him ‘McDreamy’!” Hobbs.

Worldwide’s Steve Rone, Key-Bak’s “Boy Toy Barbie” Brandon and my pal Greg Livings, co-owner of Bravo Awards. You could do a lot worse than be photographed with these two hotties! Some girls have all the luck, Barbie! ; )

Christian Brandt, my brother from another mother at ASI, and I. When I’m on deadline with one of our magazine or an article I’m writing and whining like a child, Christian is the one who tells me to suck it up and reminds me that I have one of the best jobs ever. “And,” he frequently says, “You’re not exactly a model employee so you should count your blessings that ASI puts up with your antics.” He is not wrong.

Express Pens’ Matt Linderman, greeting a friend at iPROMOTEu’s “SupplierPalooza” party at the Irish Pub in Long Beach. Ross Silverstein, iPROMOTEu’s CEO, can be a pill (and I should know, as I am a world-class pill), but he does know how to throw one hell of a party.

Matt Linderman, enjoying his “happy juice” [read: the first of many pints of Guinness].

iPROMOTEu’s “SupplierPalooza” was a huge hit and attracted every noteworthy industry partier and celeb. ASI was one of the main sponsors, and we’re all for events where suppliers are recognized, acknowledged and appreciated for their many efforts.

Back in the heyday of excess, the ‘70s, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were christened the “Glimmer Twins” by the press due to their decadent, eccentric and outrageous behavior that became legendary and defined the Stones as the Greatest Band Ever. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Brian Landow (left), owner of Counselor Top 40 supplier Lanco and Ross Silverstein, iPROMOTEu’s CEO. Separately, their partying is famous in the industry; together, they’re our very own Glimmer Twins.

My gal pal Shauna Feldman of Hannah Promotions in Montreal squeezes the stuffing out of me (and in certain areas, that’s a LOT of stuffing!) while the band rocked on at Ross’s “SupplierPalooza.”

Express Pens’ Matt Linderman, apparently emulating a cricket, attempts to bite the head off Shauna Feldman.

“Leave the guns; take the cannolis.” Here, Ross Silverstein’s good-natured consigliore, Pat Caccamo and I smile for the camera.

Christian Brandt, shown here with iPROMOTEu’s Pat Caccamo and Ross Silverstein, enjoying the hosts’ hospitality.

Rich Golden, the director of the SAAC Show who does an amazing job every year, snapped this photo of ASI’s senior vice president and publisher, Rich Fairfield, me, and ASI’s vice president of supplier sales, Ron Ball. If anyone can explain to me why I feel the need to flash the same Cheese-Whiz-on-a-Cheez-Nip smile every time a camera is within 10 feet of me, drinks are on me at the next show. Seriously. I’m tired of seeing my own Chiclet teeth.

I just happened to be in the JournalBooks’ booth for something you just don’t see every day: A distributor client, Kimo Spencer with AIA/320 Productions Inc., brought JournalBooks’ vice president of sales Tim O’Boyle, creative director Jamie Raynor and Valerie Serwer, shown here, a to-die-for homemade blueberry cheesecake decorated with confection roses. Did I have a piece? You betcha! Which is, no doubt, one of the reasons you could park a car in the shadow of my ass.

Ron Ball, ASI’s vice president of supplier sales and my “work husband” relaxing at the Hyatt bar immediately after the show. Hey, it’s exhausting being Ron Ball. Just imagine how early he has to wake up each day to decide which pinky ring to wear.

My pal and favorite partying cohort, Gary Semrow of American Ad Bags. Know this, if you’re carousing with Gary at a show, your chances of getting tossed from a bar will increase exponentially. However, you will have the time of your life and never laugh so hard in the process.

Every supplier’s favorite bag supplier, the super-cool Nick Wright from Ogio. Hands up – is there anyone in the industry who doesn’t love Nick??? Didn’t think so…  


  1. Josh Goodelman Says:

    Michele –
    When are we getting married?

    Tuesday August 12, 2008
  2. Michele Bell Says:

    Just as soon as Betty Ford caters wedding receptions, Joshy! ; )

    Tuesday August 12, 2008
  3. Cindy Jorgenson Says:

    Remind me again why I didn’t attend the SAAC show? What the hell was I thinking and why didn’t you smack me when I told you I wasn’t going?

    Thursday August 14, 2008
  4. Michele Bell Says:

    While at SAAC and cavorting with all the crazies, I was thinking the SAME thing, Cinful! You always add so much to the party… ; )

    Thursday August 14, 2008
  5. Stacy Horton Says:

    Michele, next year I will be more careful of where I am and who has a camera:)

    Thursday August 14, 2008
  6. Michele Bell Says:

    Like an annoying member of the paparazzi, I’d follow you anywhere, Stace! ; )

    Friday August 15, 2008
  7. Steve Greene Says:

    Thanks for not including me when you talk about people getting thrown out of bars!!!!!!!!!!WoooHooo

    Sunday August 17, 2008
  8. Michele Bell Says:

    No worries, Greenie! Only in our group of wacky friends would you come off as the well-behaved “voice of reason.” LOL!!!!!!!!

    Monday August 18, 2008
  9. Dennis Sherman Says:

    Michele – would you lie down in traffic for me?

    Tuesday August 19, 2008
  10. Barbie Brandon Says:

    OMG!! “Boy Toy Barbie”??!!
    What a fun time.

    Tuesday August 19, 2008
  11. Michele Bell Says:

    It was AWESOME getting to see you, Barbie, and having time to hang out! You’re so much fun to party with! : )

    Tuesday August 19, 2008
  12. Shauna Feldman Says:

    You are so lucky I love you like a sister. First the cover of Counselor and now this, huh? How has no one broken your camera yet?

    Wednesday August 20, 2008
  13. Michele Bell Says:

    It is your fault — you and your blinding hotness — that you’re so omnipresent in my blog and in August’s Counselor, Sista! LOL!!!!!!!!!!

    Thursday August 21, 2008
  14. Sandra_Dalene_VanAlstine Says:

    Sandra Dalene VanAlstine – Wanted to introduce myself

    Sandra Dalene VanAlstine

    Saturday August 1, 2009
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    Thursday November 12, 2009

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