Syria

by Norman Horowitz


I ponder where the truth is told.
At 81, I think back
To time I served our country.
‘Tis easy to lose track.

I never shot at anyone.
I never held a gun.
I did teach electronics;
Chased women and that was fun.

I was then apolitical.
I did not have the time.
Between school and work, my life was full.
Still, women were sublime.

I went to work at a studio.
Many of them were crooks.
I wondered often about their books.
They pretended they were honest, and I wondered, “Why not?”
Their producers stole from them but only if they could.
‘Twas never important if indeed they often should.

I left to work for CBS.
I worked there three years.
The feds scared them all the time
I understood their fears.
If the FCC was angry,
It worried them to tears.

Our President was Nixon,
Who was an angry guy.
He hated Walter Cronkite as well as all the rest.
He mostly wanted them to die.
He had no litmus test.

Seems Obama’s just a decent guy.
A Nixon he is not.
I think he hates mass killings.
That angers the right a lot.

I wonder why they hate him.
He seems like a decent guy.
He’s against killing innocents
With bombs falling from the sky.

In Syria, innocents are worried.
Bombs fall where they may.
I wonder why destroying them
Just seems to make their day.

We are a warlike nation.
We look around us to find someone to attack.
I hope he tries to stop it:
Our President Barack.

Fergie and Me

by Norman Horowitz

My father instilled in me the notion that the more important a person was, the more approachable they were. For the most part, he was correct.

About 20 years ago, I attended a film market in in the south of France in the upscale small city of Cannes, and I was invited to a dinner party at a restaurant in a nearby village. The event was sponsored by Westinghouse Broadcasting, who were selling a children’s series with Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of Kent.

I was sitting at a table of Brits during dinner and looking for a way to discretely escape.

I was paying little attention and talking with one of the Brits when suddenly he stood up, and there was Fergie, escorted by her PR people, who knew me and introduced her to me.

I took her hand and said that I understood how difficult all this must be, being introduced to so many whom she would never meet again and doing it with charm and grace. She thanked me for saying what I did and how difficult it all was.

I then asked permission to say something that I shouldn’t. She smiled and said, “Please do.”

I went on to tell her that she was far more beautiful than her pictures. She blushed a little and thanked me.

We spent a few more moments chatting before she was taken away by her handlers, and I sat back down at my table.

The Brits couldn’t understand how I had chatted with Fergie. They all wanted to know what I said to her.

I mustered up my “serious face” and told them that I had asked her if she ever had sex with a Jew from the Bronx in her life.

In retrospect, I regret that I whined as much as I did about dealing with my “managements.” I led a great business life.

Kevin Reilly Must Be Very Smart

by Norman Horowitz

It was probably 40 years ago that my boss took home a copy of a pilot that we had made and called me into his office to tell me that his 14-year-old daughter Stephanie did not like it and that we should abandon the project. The show’s producer was with me and he was, to say the least, very upset. How could it be that the project’s future would be determined by a 14-year-old?

We never did produce the series. I bet that Stephanie (who would now be in her fifties) is unaware that she single-handedly killed the project.

There is certain “fragility” in the motion picture and television business. The person with the “loudest voice” will most often determine what gets produced.

And so, I found it amusing when Kevin Reilly, Chairman of Entertainment for the Fox Broadcasting Group, recently said that the networks “are too obsessed…with each other and not enough with the consumer.”

What Reilly won’t tell you is that executives at production companies and networks are expected to “know,” but they all secretly realize that they don’t know and they can’t possibly know all the time. The screenwriter William Goldman summed it all up when he said, “Nobody knows anything.”

I used to throw my management into a tizzy when they would ask if a particular program would succeed, and I would reply that I didn’t have a clue. The truth was, when I put millions of their dollars at risk, I couldn’t guarantee that the company would get their money back, never mind show a profit.

In fact, when I acquired the rights to my first off-network show for syndication in the late ’60s — Dan August, starring Burt Reynolds — I was asked whether it would be a success. I said, “Yes, it would,” and America said, “No, it won’t.”

In contrast, when I acquired the distribution rights to Barney Miller, several of the studio intelligentsia claimed that Hal Lindon couldn’t carry a comedy half hour. It was not that I was right about the program but rather that “the fates” were kind to me, and the show grossed a couple hundred million dollars or more for Columbia.

As a buyer and seller of content, all I could ever say was that I believed that I could sell a particular program. All I “knew” was whether the broadcasters I was selling stuff to might buy said content.

Years ago, I used to say, “Here I am, a forty-something Jewish electrical engineer from the Bronx with one wife, two kids and a dog who sells movies and television programs throughout the world trying to determine what thirty-year-old Christian mothers want to watch afternoons in Gary, Indiana.”

Compare that to Kevin Reilly lecturing his audience. “A lot of us have our head up our asses,” he said. “We’re looking too myopically at the business.”

It continues to annoy me that there are so many executives who pretend that they know stuff that the rest of us are unaware of.

Happy Is Fast While Sad Is Slow

About twenty years ago, I attended a Tony Robbins event in Del Mar, California.

Tony spent a good deal of time discussing pain and pleasure and concluded that individuals will do whatever possible to avoid pain and have pleasure.

He had five poor individuals on the stage with him, and the subject was “time.” He was trying to determine what represented a long time and what represented a short time. He was making no progress, so he ambled into the audience.

As all six-foot-seven of him loomed above me, he glanced at my nametag and said: “Okay, Norman, we have never heard from you. What do you think is a long or short time?”

I thought for a second and answered: “A long time is any amount of time when you are having pain and a short time is any amount of time when you are having pleasure.”

Tony loved my reply, and we all discussed it for a half hour.

Very early in my career, I discovered that, when the staff was having a good time, we/they performed better, and the time at work simply flew by.

I once was interviewed by the New York Times concerning my departure from Columbia Pictures and my starting a television company for Polygram. I told the reporter that I had left Columbia because it stopped being fun.

My new German/Dutch management went nuts when they read it. They had absolutely no concept of fun at work. The head of the company (a lawyer) called me and asked what I meant. I was not proud of myself when I answered that perhaps it would be better stated if I had said “the gratification of success.” He was happy about that.

I wonder how they deal with that issue at Harvard Business School.

I recently came across a quote that I wish I had written: “Money in all its disguises is the religion of humanity.”

Those that maintain that money can’t buy happiness are correct to a certain extent. However, money can certainly provide a certain amount of pleasure…and yes, even happiness.

But, however you find (or define) happiness, I’ve always believed that happy is fast while sad is slow.

I will conclude with a poem I wrote just before Thanksgiving. I call it “Doggies”…

It’s Thanksgiving soon, and I remember so well
The sights, the sounds, the warmth, the smell.
We had big dinners, and kids came too.
When it was time to eat dinner, it was all so swell.
Dinner was liked by our dog Annabelle.
She was imported from London, all fluffy and white,
A Maltese so tiny, but she was a fright.
She barked at all doggies and wanted to fight
Them no matter how big, and she was so slight.
She was the same color as our living room rug.
She loved all celebrations, and she looked all around
‘Cause people dropped food there that Annabelle found.
She would sleep with my children and cuddle up snug.
She was so sweet, and she was so nice.
I think of her often, not once or not twice.
The years are all gone now; they sped quickly by.
I think of dear Annabelle, and at times I cry,
For things are so fleeting no matter I try.
She’s gone forever; it’s been sad for me.
Yet I found Valerie; she was such a love.
She had a big doggie, a gift from above.
The dog’s name was Jerry, a hundred pound Doodle, all fluffy, all white.
Jerry was also quite crazy but such a delight.
Now Valerie’s gone, and Jerry’s moved away.
I miss her and two doggies both by night and by day.
Happy is fast while sad is so slow.
I need to move on. I need to just go.

Primarily the Truth as I Know It

by Norman Horowitz

I found myself in the Air Force at 19, and at 20 I was an electronics instructor teaching six hours a day, six days a week, playing golf, drinking beer, and chasing women. I was young and healthy, away from my parents, and enjoying almost everything.

There was hardly anything “military” in what I did. All I needed to do was show up in uniform and teach.

I discovered at that time that many of the 1,000 men who were married and lived off base with their wives were more intent on chasing the women who attended our school than I was. It was Peyton Place with everyone wearing blue uniforms.

There were no rules that I was aware of (or paid attention to) that precluded consensual sex with the women who were in the service. I even laughed at the time that oral sex was forbidden and I always wondered why. It was considered “an unnatural sex act.”

In my squadron office, there was a very pretty blonde-haired, blue-eyed, statuesque woman who was the service records clerk. Her name was Linda, and she was my friend, and most of the married men in my squadron were chasing her, including the Commanding Officer, his Adjutant, and the First Sergeant of my squadron.

I started dating Linda about six months after we first met, and we had a very pleasant intimate relationship for a couple of months.

We both knew the transient nature of our relationship. She once told me that, as the service records clerk, she decided who got assigned elsewhere, and if our relationship ended badly, I would end up in Alaska or some remote part of Turkey.

Every two weeks, I needed to report for pay to the Commanding Officer, the Adjutant, the First Sergeant, and of course Linda. I knew (as did everyone else) that all three men were trying to have sex with her and all three were married. It was very funny, as the three men — who knew I was dating Linda — would ask me about the details of my sex life every time I reported for pay.

Almost all of the men, married or not, were trying to have sex with all of these women as often as possible.

That brings me to General Petraeus.

I look upon monogamy as an agreement between two adults not to engage in extramarital sex. Just why in Heaven’s name should it be an issue for everyone else — or anyone else for that matter?

Extramarital sex has nothing to do with society in general, but rather only with the family involved.

General Petraeus has ended his career, and I continue to wonder why.

I wonder how many members of the House or Senate are now or have ever been monogamous.