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Persistent Familiarity

Published: August 13, 2015

Author: Todd Mintz

“I can hear the bull frog callin’ me…Wonder if my rope’s still hangin’ to the tree…” Credence Clearwater Revival, Green River
A couple years ago, 3Q Digital had a company retreat in San Francisco and part of the itinerary consisted of having each of the employees take modified Cable Car buses around town.  The Presidio was one of the planned stops, which, for those not familiar with the city, is located right next to the Golden Gate Bridge.  As I exited the Cable Car, I realized quite quickly that I was staring at the very spot where Jimmy Stewart fished Kim Novak out of San Francisco Bay in Vertigo, one of my top 10 movies of all time.
As I walked away from the Bridge into the Presidio, I realized I entered the spot for the final shootout in Point Blank…which happens to be one of my Top 20 favorite movies of all time.
Being the huge movie buff that I am, I was totally thrown for a loop by this unexpected confluence of events and, truth be told, this unexpected and unplanned circumstance was the personal highlight of the trip.
However, I also somehow tapped into an unconscious feeling that bore fruit much later when I watched a fascinating documentary called “Los Angeles Plays Itself,” which takes viewers on a three-hour tour of Los Angeles as it’s presented as part of the history of film.  Of particular interest to me is that the filmmaker demonstrated multiple instances of the same setting being obviously featured in different productions.
The insight that I gleaned quite powerfully was that in many ways, films from the ’70s and prior don’t necessarily exist in their own self-contained universe.  Rather, there exists some sort of fictional ethereal plane where all these films actually intersect each other…where Lee Marvin’s character can walk out of the Presidio just in time to see Jimmy Stewart fish Kim Novak out of San Francisco Bay (with the car chase from Bullitt happening out in the distance).
What makes this scenario even more compelling for me was that the first 17 years of my life was spent on the West Side of Los Angeles contemporaneous to when these classic ’60s and ’70s films were being made.  I can watch “Day of the Dolphin”, recognize Marineland, and tie it to a series of long-lost memories.  The introductory restaurant scene in “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie” is a place I frequented as a young kid.  “The Outside Man” totally messed with my mind as it was filmed all over the locale where I grew up, right about the time where I became acutely aware of the world around me.
Because these settings were so familiar and because I’ve seen so many films from this era, the great majority of them have lost their individuality and are contained in my head as if they were a singular unified memory.  While the characters aren’t real to me, their settings very much are, and though the locations have evolved with the passage of time, being present in film freezes them eternally.  Since I do not have any contemporary mental picture of these places, there is a present and compelling connection taking place for it is as if I, as an adult, is looking back through the eyes of myself as a child looking at my environment not with the awe-like wonder of somebody new to this planet but with the vision of an experienced observer who has long evolved past that place and sees how two-dimensional life used to be before technology and education rocketed me forward.
Many clients I work with labor on the mistaken assumption that their AdWords accounts are unique as the products/services they bring to the marketplace.  It’s true that no cookie-cutter approach works with clients as each has different requirements and needs that must be respected.  However, the bleed-over between all the accounts I’ve worked with is pretty large, and one can see each client as a different house in the same subdivision rather than unique neighborhoods or destinations.  Because client characteristics are very similar as they pertain to paid search, processes like Alpha Beta work well with all our clients, and once I discover a successful tactic in one account, I can immediately spin it off to another.
Mental Maps, like Physical Maps, evolve over time.  However, the landscape of both is persistently familiar and with that familiarity, one can maneuver through it comfortably and effectively.

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