2019 St. Louis Addy Award Winners: Congratulations! 1989 St. Louis Addy Award Winners: Hey, That’s Me!

Award-Winning, Flashbacks, Press Coverage, Walt a Life

By Walt Jaschek

walt-jaschek-with-addy-awards

Part 1: A Surreal Night for an Addy Newcomer.

Heading to the 2019 St. Louis Addy Awards at Busch Stadium tonight, to cheer on the winners, be inspired by the work, and see old friends. It’s with no small bit of nostalgia that I realize I have been attending the St. Louis Addy Awards for exactly 30 years.

And though I’ve won my share of Addys over the years, none of the wins can compare to that first night, in 1989, when I won not one but two “Best of Show” Addys at the ceremonies at Powell Symphony Hall. It was a mind-boggling night my 33-year-old self was not prepared for. I was also not prepared for the article by Jerry Berger that appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the next morning. 

Here’s a clip of the piece, which everybody from my Mom to my dentist saw. (Back then, everybody read the paper.)

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Headlined “Ad Writer Steals Show,” the article, accompanied by a mustache-laden head shot of my 33-year-old self, begins:

“Walter S. Jaschek, a free-lance advertising copywriter, stole the show the annual ADDY Award competition Thursday night at Powell Symphony Hall.

“Jaschek, who has an office on the South Side, won three gold and two Best of Show awards for advertising produced in St. Louis between Oct. 1, 1987, and Sept. 30, 1988.

“Jaschek submitted only three in the almost 900 entries received by the ADDY committee,

“‘I’m glad I made the right decision last April to free-lance,’ said Jaschek, a former member of the advertising management staff with Southwestern Bell Telephone Co.

“In the Best of Show category, Jaschek won in the radio and print categories. The radio winner was a 30-second commercial, ‘Laugh Catalog,’ for the Comedy Club, which Jaschek created by teaming up with former St. Louis Paul Fey; the print winner was themed, ‘Warm, Personal Letter,’ created to announce the opening of Jaschek Ink.” (The name of my business then.)

The article concluded:

“Hollywood entertainer John Byner served as master-of-ceremonies for the program, which marked the first held away from a hotel without a dinner.

“Of the more than 2,400 guests at Powell, 500 were advertising students from 24 colleges.”

Part 2: Looking Back at 1989 from 2019 (Video and Interview.)

A few months ago, the St. Louis Ad Club, to promote the 2019 St. Louis Addy Awards, asked members for “unusual Addy memories” they could capture on video and post on social media. I was only too happy to recall that first, very surreal win, and how it led to what became known as “The Red Underwear Story.

That’s a crisp and wacky 60 seconds, but the interview went longer. Here’s more of the Q & A.

Q: Let’s get warmed up….tell us a little about yourself. Name, title, where you work, a quick journey through your life in the ad business.

Walt: I’m Walt Jaschek, freelance copywriter and creative strategist, and because Jaschek is impossible to spell or pronounce, I DBA as Walt Now, as in, “What Now?” I have been so blissfully self-employed since 1988, and if you do the math, that means more than 30 years. So don’t do the math. 

Q: What’s the difference between a copywriter and creative strategist?

Walt: Pants. Copywriters wear jeans. Creative strategists wear khakis. So today I come to you as a copywriter. But I have some khakis handy.

Q: What’s your perspective on the focus on winning awards in the advertising business?

Walt: Well, I think there are three reasons they are the big dang deal that they are. (1) We work mostly in anonymity – if you write an article or draw a New Yorker cover, you get a byline. They don’t put bylines on ads, though God knows I’ve tried. It’s a way of saying, “Look. I did this. Me. Do you like it?” (2.) Agencies know awards represent a creative culture, and culture attracts talent. And (3.) let’s cut to the chase: ego. Creatives are a roller –coaster of insecurity and egomania. I mean, would I carry this award around with me if I had more self-esteem?

Q: What about the Addys specifically? How does an awards show that is geared towards the local level different than national shows?

Walt: The appetizers are better. Here in St. Louis, you’re far more likely to see toasted ravioli.  You’re not gonna get THAt a Cannes. No, seriously, I think it’s a matter of building community. Of representing. Saying, look at the work coming out of St. Louis. Take that… Austin. Or to keep it in the district: check it out… Des Moines.

Q. Do you remember your first Addy?

Walt: Sure. You always remember your first.

Q. Do you remember how many Addys you’ve attended?

Walt: No. I’d have to count the hang-overs.

Q. Is there a specific Addy story you’d like to share with us today?

Walt: I won my first “Best of Show” Addy in 1988 when I was 33 years old, my very first year of freelancing, for the ONE and ONLY THING I submitted that year: a one-page piece of a paper — a funny letter announcing my business launch.  Unprepared, I had to go on stage at the Fox in front of a huge crowd to accept from comedian John Byner, and pictures of me from the podium have a shocked, deer-in-headlights quality.  I improvised something about being glad I wore my “lucky red underwear.”  That was too much information, now and then. 

Q. But the red underwear thing became a running joke, right?

A. Right. That line became a running joke, and at another Addy ceremony years later, when I teamed up with Paul Fey and won a “Best of Show” for radio, we actually brought red underwear up to the podium and threw them into the audience. People were grabbing at them, like Fred Bird throwing t-shirts at Busch Stadium. For years after, people would say to me in public:  “I still have your underwear!” Depending on who I might be with, that could be a little disconcerting.

Q: What lesson can we take away from your Addy story?

Walt: My quite serious take-away from that silly story is this:  Enter SOMETHING.  Even if it’s it’s only ONE thing. And even … if it’s the ONLY thing you got. ‘Cause, who knows? Weird stuff happens.

Q. What piece of advice would you give to anyone considering entering the Addys this year?

Walt: iBuprofen. Take it early And often. Also: have a speech prepared. Just in case. otherwise. You could end up like me. (Holds up Addy award with red underwear draped over it.)

Q. Thanks, Walt.

Walt: See you at the show!

Writer and Creative Strategist Walt Jaschek is a 2018 inductee into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame.

A Brief Tribute to Stan Lee and a Story About my “No-Prize.”

Comics, Flashbacks, Letters to Editors, Treasures, Walt a Life

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In 7th grade, I wrote a gushing fan letter to Stan Lee. The letter was subsequently published in its entirety in Captain America #107, November, 1968. A thrill. Here’s the cover, by Jack Kirby (another hero:)

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But it got better. Stan deemed the letter worthy of a “No-Prize,” his inside-joke “award” for fans – an envelope with literally nothing inside. So when, a few weeks later, said envelope from Marvel arrived, my 12-year-old head hit the ceiling.

This is my way of saying… RIP Stan, entertainer extraordinaire, wizard of words and worlds, and an outsized influence on many, including me. I’m so happy you lived long enough to see your co-creations explode into every corner of pop culture. Thanks for the ride.

And thanks also for this little envelope: no prize I’ve gotten since surpasses.

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“Congratulations,” it says. “This envelope contains a genuine Marvel Comics No-Prize which you have just won. Handle with Care.” I did, through the decades. That’s a pic I shot recently. The outer envelope (from 625 Madison Avenue, New York, 10022) has yellowed. The No-Prize itself… is mint. 

People Who Talk In Movie Theaters: Target of H.U.S.H. (Help Us Silence Morons)

article, Flashbacks, Humor Column, Newspapers, Opinion Pieces

I sold this humor article to the feature section of the Colorado Springs Sun newspaper in the summer of 1982. It documented the start of what became a lifetime of irritation with movie-theater talkers. I’m much better now (people have learned, I think), but this irritation led, in 1987, to a published letter to TV Guide, and later, in 1993, to a plot device in Mel Cool: Mall Cop (sample panel below.)  But it was back in Colorado the blood started boiling.

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Vigilantes Needed In Movie Theaters

Special to the Colorado Spring Sun
By Walt Jaschek

I’m not a violent person, really.

In fact, I’m the kind of guy who will capture an insect and set it free rather than endure the trauma of squashing it.

I will cross a busy street rather than confront vicious-looking squirrels and rabbits.

I will befuddle mugger in dark alleys by breaking an a capella rendition of “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No.” (Experience has shown that any song from “Oklahoma” will scare off the criminally inclined.)

So we should establish at the outside I’m an average, gentle fellow, spending my days pondering the meaning of life, examining man’s inhumanity to man, and devising methods for getting that blonde down the hall over for a game of strip Scrabble.

Lately, however, I’ve been frothing at the mouth in frustration and anger, and I feel as if at any minute I’ll sprout a green wig, torn pants and absolutely Hulk-out. The source of this hostility:

Morons who talk in movie theaters.

It’s my curse. No matter when I sit in the theatre, it is inevitably next to the rude, crude, impardonnable types who blatantly babble during the film.

I sit there and seethe, transferring my anxiety by man-handling my Milk Duds.

As a frequent patron of the cinema, especially during dollar nights, I have found our town to be in excess of quote of loudly express their every non-thought.

We’ll all had to deal with these troglodytes. You’ll be watching a steamy love scene and the guy behind you will complaining about the lack of butter-like-material on his popcorn.

You’ll be absorbed in a riveting moment from a psychological thriller and the woman in front of you will be criticizing the actresses’ hair styles.

I’m nostalgic for the days when people went to the movies to neck. At least they did it quietly. These days, these seem to go to form networking events.

I suppose television is at fault for this tendency toward unrestrained verbalizing. Families are used to sitting around the living room, having open conversation during even the most intense moments of whatever CSI is playing these days.

Specialists in primitive human behavior have identified three sub-genres of movie theatre malevolents:

  • The “Oh, Wow” type. Has just consumed a box of Good ‘n’ Plenty, some Nibs and two Quaaludes. Gasps at every bright color or blast of stereo; reads the credits out loud. 
  • The pseudo-intellectual. Pretends to subscribe to Film Comment. Feels obligated to critique the cinematography. Loves to loudly identify where he’s seen that character actor before. Hums along with the film score. 
  • The slug. Yells “go for it” during the sex scenes. Complains bitterly about the previews (which are, after all, the best part of movie-going). Needs to have the plot explained to him by the guy named to him. (“No, the Shire is Frodo’s home.”) 
  • A catch-all category for couples who try to figure out the murderer, people who laugh at violence, and anyone else who must offer their opinion above a whisper.

So what’s to be done about this unmannered subset of humanity? I’ve suggested to local police that talking in movie theaters be made a misdemeanor, but I’m told this would take untold overtime pay.

Vigilante action is, then, our only recourse. We must gag the verbose Mom and her inquisitive children. We must silence the spaced-out pontificators. We must squelch the Sprite-slurping hecklers.

We’ve paid good money to see the film without distraction and no jury would convict us for defending our right to discussion-free screenings.

I’m not a violent person, really. But this is war.

Walt Jaschek once went to a lot of movies.

1986: Walt Jaschek Gives Blood for Southwestern Bell

Flashbacks, Motivational, Walt a Life

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TBT 1986. Giving blood @ Southwestern Bell during my stint there. This pic by George Stenitzer made it into the company newsletter, even though “thumbs-up” was code for “feeling faint.”

I’ve given blood since and have not been such a wuss. Ask the American Red Cross.

Walt Jaschek says it only hurts a little.

Stoogecoach: A “Three Stooges” Western, 1987

Comic Writing, Comics, Flashbacks, Licensed Properties, Spec

 

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3stoogespg1-stoogecoachYou probably don’t remember “Stoogecoach,” our 1987 Three Stooges comic, but that’s because it was never printed. Ask Don Secrease or me about it sometime when we’re drinking.

Those are the first two-pages of a completed,  22-page second ish. A first issue, “Of Stooge and Screen,” is around here somewhere, too. It has some great pin-up pages by Paul Daly.

Let’s just say the indie publisher who told us he had the licensing rights to the Three Stooges turned out to be… wrong. But only after we completed two full comics.

It was 1987. We were learning. Contract first, then the fun begins.

Censored Doonesbury Comics of 1976: Revealed (Again)

Comic Strips, Content Writing, Flashbacks, Reporting

Get ready for hot, sexy comic strip action: 1976-style!

Just kidding. What you’re about to see is, by today’s standards, quite tame.

But in November, 1976, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (and about 20 other newspapers around the country) made an editorial decision to withhold publication of a 5-day run of the Doonesbury™ comic strip, and replace it with reruns.

At the time, I was a 21-year-old feature columnist for The Current, the student-run newspaper at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. I was also a crazed comics fan. Realizing I could fill a column, provide a “public service,” and see the blacked-out strips myself (not easy, pre-internet), I pitched then-editor Tom Wolf: “Let me ask Universal Press Syndicate if they’ll let us run ’em. For free.”

Tom and the syndicate said, “Do it.” We printed the strips with my article, which you can read below. 

First, of course, you want to see the strips.

Here they are, as printed in the December 2, 1976, edition of The UMSL Current.

Warning: they are very safe for work.

Doonesbury™ by Garry Trudeau

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The Doonesburys You Didn’t See

By Walt Jaschek

Most St. Louisans will never know how good Joanie Caucus is at breakfast.

There were were, Tuesday, Nov. 11, breathlessly watching as Joanie makes her final moves on Rick Redfern. Eating dinner in his apartment, Rick compliments Joanie on the meal she had made. “Thank you, Rick,” she says. “I’m pretty good at breakfast, too.” Rick’s face contorts. Joanie thinks to herself: “As the kid goes for broke.”

The next day, we were intrigued further, as Virginia Slade — having just withdrawn from the Senate race — dials Joanie’s apartment in the morning… and gets no answer!

The day after that, we were suddenly and mysteriously back on the familiar football field with Captain B.D., no mention made of Joanie’s romantic adventure.

It was enough to drive Doonesbury fans zonkers, so to speak. Local fans of the terse, explosive, provocative comic strip realized The St. Louis Post Dispatch had substituted alternate episodes rather than finishing the Joanie and Rick sequence.

We called Joan Dames, features editor at the Post, and she was quick to clarify this comic strip tease, AKA the Doonesbury dilemma.

“The editorial board of the Post decided to take out the sequence that showed Joanie Caucus and Rick Redfern in bed,” said Dames. “We thought it inappropriate for a family page.”

But the Post wasn’t alone in blacking out the strip.

Lee Salem, a representative of Universal Press Syndicate (which distributes Doonesbury to 450 newspapers) said about 20 papers dropped the sequence. But those papers, including the New York Daily News, make up a large chunk of circulation.  Most of them just dropped the Nov. 13 strip.

Riding out this controversy, as he’s done before more than once, is Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, the most electrifying force on the contemporary comic art scene.

As an undergraduate in 1968, Trudeau started drawing a strip for the Yale Daily News called “Bull Tales.” It introduced a cast of rich, mimetic characters like Mark Slackmeyer, Zonker Harris and Mike Doonesbury. When Universal Press offered to syndicate the strip nationally, it was dubbed after the persona presumably closest to that of Trudeau.

In its short history, the strip’s virtual world has developed and diversified, the characters shuffling, the concepts sharpening. Trudeau’s insights, pacing and crisp characterizations have enthralled legions of readers, while giving them some of the gutsiest comic strip humor since Walt Kelly’s Pogo.

The Joanie and Rick affair is just the latest of Doonesbury’s envelope-pushing concepts. While their sex life may be casual, the establishment of it — and the reaction to it — wasn’t.

“We only got about 20 letters and about as many calls, but some are very angry,” said Post features editor Dames.

“Most kids don’t read Doonesbury. But parents do get upset when this type of material appears on the comics page. We thought it wasn’t appropriate,” she said.

With a smile in her voice, Dames added: “Listen, we live in Sex City, U.S.A. We’ve got Masters and Johnson here, and even they say that sex  without commitment isn’t that exciting.”

“Trudeau said that he did this because he wanted everyone to take a stand on pre-marital sex,” said Dames. “So I guess the Post took a stand. But we’re really not bluenose about this. Just today (Nov. 18, 1976), we ran a story contraceptives. Take a look at it.”

At Universal Press, Lee Salem emphasized that his syndicate carefully reviewed the strips.

“With Garry, as well as with all the creative people we do business with, the material is gone over carefully,” he said. “With this particular piece, we had a long session over the phone with Garry, and we thought, considering Joanie’s character and that of Rick Redfern, the sequence is justified.”

The sequence was certainly justified to those readers who have shared Joanie Caucus’ long and winding road to happiness. 

Joanie worked hard in Slade’s campaign, but times turned bleak when Virginia decided to throw in the towel so that a third candidate could successfully beat the incumbent. The only light in the darkness  for Joanie — who only weeks before had been hurt by a guy who was gay — was political reporter Rick Redfern.

That’s where we came in, remember?

Trudeau has said it is the challenge of the cartoonist to, among other things, “invite the reader to involve himself in a new reality set up as a sustained metaphor for his own; to let the small meanness and foolishness of life face each other in distortion … and to seek out the vignette that speaks to the lives of many.”

Joanie got to make her “good breakfast.” That is her small pleasure.

We got permission to print the blacked-out strips.

That is ours.

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Walt Jaschek hopes you have enjoyed this frisky flashback to the sexy 70s.