7.23.2009

Time to Unpack the Adidas.



My name is Nick Carter. I am 6 feet and 3 inches tall and weigh something like 170 

pounds. I was a writer at Wieden and Kennedy for a little over fourteen months, and 

held that position until about 2:30p this afternoon. If you are most of the people who 

work at Wieden, I did not say one word to you during any of those 624,970 minutes. 

Please don't feel like this is your fault. It takes me between 14 and 16 months to feel 

un-shy enough around a new person to talk to that person, so the math just didn't 

work out in our favor. 


And now I'm about to walk out those silly huge metal doors one last time (I'm sitting 

at my cleaned-out desk right now, about to post this and leave), and I'm deeply 

regretting that I wasn't brave enough to meet and know more of you. You are all 

exceptional people. People worth knowing. 


Maybe my guilt- and regret- twinges will stop if I tell you some things about myself 

I might have eventually told you in person, had we become friends. Maybe then I 

can feel like you knew me a little, so you aren't just all "Why in the world did someone 

hire Backstreet Boy and former Paris Hilton infatuate Nick Carter to write advertisements 

for the best advertisement agency in the world? This place thinks so far outside of the 

proverbial box in terms of hiring that they can't even see the box anymore, not even as 

a distant point on the horizon, because they have thought themselves so far away from 

and outside of it (the box)!"


No, I am not that Nick Carter, and no, you are not the first person to notice that my name 

is the same as a formerly famous person's. Let's just say it was difficult for me to 

comfortably buy CDs ("Wow, you don't look ANYTHING like Nick Carter. Just how thick 

are your glasses, by the way?") in the mid- to late-90's, and move on to more fertile 

conversational ground. 



bike-1.jpg picture by nickcarter03

1.) This is me (I am not nearly this cute anymore) riding my first bike down a 

street in Saudi Arabia, where I lived for a year while my dad installed and 

repaired A/C systems in the Riyadh Airport. One afternoon, my dad took me 

to a white tent out in the desert and we watched a cobra fight a mongoose. 

I think this is the Saudi Arabian equivalent of a cock-fight. A cobra and a 

mongoose are pretty evenly matched (what a mongoose lacks in venom and 

general scariness it makes up for with speed and teeth), and they're probably 

about tied in the cosmic series of un- and organized fights since evolution made 

them hate each other, but that afternoon, I watched at thigh-level in a crowd of 

yelling, dusty men as the cobra won with stunning authority. 


Cobra_16b.jpg Cobra/Mongoose picture by nickcarter03


2.) In high school, I played the tuba and defensive tackle. Yes, I was as fat 

as that makes me sound: 270 pounds! The other thing I played in high school 

was professional paintball. That is not a lie.


"Wait a dadgum minute here Nick, you weighed 270 pounds, played the tuba 

at an all-district level, played defensive tackle for a terrible football team at a 

second-string level, and you were on a professional paintball team, and you 

were on the school Math Team, AND you spent most of freshman year carrying  

around a protective plexiglass box of Magic: The Gathering cards? You must 

have been quite popular, especially with ladies!"


Yes, I was like Clark Gable, if Clark Gable had been way overweight with a 

penchant for deeply uncool hobbies and interests which penchant led to Clark 

Gable being not at all popular or attractive to anyone, particularly ladies. 


This is what professional tournament paintball looks like, for those of you 

who've never watched Versus (The network for dicks! ©) at 3:30a. PLEASE 

PLEASE PLEASE mute the terrible music:



3.) My middle name is Wade. I cannot give you any insight into why my parents 

selected that name as opposed to the literally millions of more un-stupid middle names. 


Nicholas Wade Carter. 


4.) Right after I went to college, my dad died. He was big too, bigger than me. After 

that, I decided it was a better idea to not be that big, and so I ran every day and ate 

like a slowly shrinking bird until I was roughly the size I am now. One day at the gym, 

after I'd shrunk, my friend Charlie handed me two 50-pound dumbbells and said 

"That's what you used to weigh. Can you believe it?" Meaning my current weight plus 

the dumbbells. I could barely carry them, the dumbbells, basically had to Heave-Ho 

and swing them back on the rack one at a time, the impacts of which made the whole 

wall-length iron rack shudder and ring.  


5.) I didn't realize I wanted to seriously write until I read this book by David Foster Wallace 

called Infinite Jest. 


infinite-jest.jpg Infinite Jest picture by nickcarter03


I know it's almost a cliche for people my age to point to this specific book as the one 

that opened their literary eyes, but cliches are usually true, so deal with it. Who are you, 

Commissioner of the Cliche Police, running for re-election on a platform of Harshing 

My Buzz? I found this book by accident in a Sam Goody of all places, just sitting there 

on the bottom shelf, taking up most of it (1079 pages long and like four inches thick). 


Reading this book, it occurred to me how incredible and unlikely it is, when you think 

of all the words that make up our language, and consider the literally infinite number of 

ways to arrange those words, what staggeringly long odds a person who wants to arrange 

them in ways that are pretty, sad, funny, or true (or all those) truly faces. And how brave 

it is when they go ahead and face them anyway. Since I read this book, read for the first 

time writing that spins beauty from air as if magic was easy, makes you forget it's writing 

at all, really, and not something that's happening in front of you, right now, for real, I've 

wanted to try and write like that too. 


I tried to do it WK, but never felt like I was doing it particularly well. In my opinion. I just

don't have the mental cajones to handle the Chaos and general hair-on-fireness. I admire the 

people who do. So I'm going to go try and write somewhere else for a while, somewhere more 

peaceful, and see if that works better. 


And maybe someday I'll come back here with my hat in my hand and ask for another shot. 

And if the folks in charge give me one, I can almost guarantee I will not talk to you then 

either. But it won't be your fault. That's just how I am out there in the world, as opposed to 

here, typed out.



-nick


*********

Post Script:

*********


Some of those things up there I have not told anyone but my closest friends. And even 

though you didn't ask me to tell you those things, you now officially owe me some dirt on 

your own personal self. This isn't just about you guys knowing dumb shit about me, it's about 

me using a medium where I feel comfortable to make a lame attempt at 11th hour bonding 

with people around whom I was too timid to bond in real life. So play along, if you can 

temporarily shrug off the feeling that everything earnest is lame and uncool. I know this is 

hard for people in advertising to do. 


In the comments, tell me/everyone something I/we don't know. Just one thing. Use your name.


18 comments:

highlightsofeverything said...

i enjoyed reading this because it was honest. good luck, keep writing.

matthew hilber said...

nick, it was truly remarkable how deadly silent you were. i'll always remember our dinner in LA precisely for that reason. good luck with the big wide world.

Jane said...

Item. I touched a priceless painting.
When I was a junior in HS and visiting colleges, I wandered around the museum of one school in the middle of the country. They had a Monet, the first Monet I'd ever seen in real life. I loved Monet, because, you know, I was a 16-yr-old girl in the mid-nineties and having a poster of the waterlilies or that arching bride with the willows was pretty prerequisite. Especially if you also had a Les Miserables poster and a Cure poster and, well you get the picture. I also had covered the ceiling in my bedroom with those glow-in-the-dark star stickers. So, this real life Monet, Wistarias. All this mass of thick daubed purple and whites and paint that just makes nonsense of color and they way we use our eyes to see things. Nothing like my glossy posters. I reached out and touched it. Cardinal no-no in any art museum. But I did.
Jane

Flicker said...

Here: I've watched every single episode of the Gilmore Girls (some more than once).

That's the thing about this place, it needs a Nick Carter and will feel emptier with out you here. Come back soon.

-aaron

Mrs. R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eric b. said...

you know, I worked with you and talked to you quite a bit (considering your shyness) and never learned that you and I could have played magic.

I got in on the beta of that game and had some damn powerful cards. cyclopian tomb, force of nature, lich, ancestral recall, vesuvan doppelganger and some others I can't recall. so take that.

take care nick, you're an excellent writer. I hope you find what you're searching for.

matthew hilber said...

ah yes, the personal item:

a rookie copy writer at this agency once tried to give me a nickname, and i've held it against them ever since - not because i dislike nicknames, but because it was so goddamn unimaginative.

nick, i valued your silence because it meant when you do opened your mouth, you actually had something to say.

stay golden.

Anonymous said...

I like you.

Ken Berg said...

When I was 4 or 5 and I couldn't write I talked my Mom into drafting and mailing a letter to Batman via the "Batman Hotline" forum in the back of the comics. That one that collectors/fans used to discuss plot lines and the like. "He" wrote back some time later and told me he and Robin couldn't make it because it was too cold in Alaska where I lived. I'm still hurt by that because you know that Godamn Batman's got all that really tech shit, which I'm absolutely certain included a heated suit.

Don't forget you sound exactly like the actor David Morse when you talk. It's uncanny. It took me a while to figure that out, but I did. Best wishes wherever you go, your writing is brilliant.

arla jean said...

As the typical extrovert, I always want the shy ones to talk to me. I think about riding in the elevator with you and mulling over the things that I wanted to say but knowing that you wouldn't say much, if anything, back. For some reason, that would make me laugh inside. So if you ever wondered wtf I was smiling so hard about, that's it. I loved reading your story. Good luck out there in the world and thanks for sharing about yourself.


My contribution - My girlfriends and I just graduated from high school and drove my boatlike 1978 Buick LaSabre to a camping music festival where I, obliviously, drove over an occupied tent. We arrived well after dark and we were ready to party! I was so excited that we had smuggled our friend through in my trunk that I thought that the folks screaming were just sharing in our excitement! I heard yelling, I yelled louder "Wooo Hoooo, WE'RE HERE!" Then they seemed kind of angry and my excited-ness became belligerent-ness because, of course they were pissed that I had scored the super sweet parking spot right by the road, right? As I start yelling the F word and waving my middle fingers around, my friend turned to me and said, "Arla, maybe you should listen to what they're saying". What they were actually saying was "You've killed our friends!!" They were pointing to the passenger side front tire of my car. I looked over and there was a half of a tent sticking out from under the Buick. Thank fucking god the tent started to move while we were all staring at it in shock. Two teenagers jumped out, one guy, one girl. Apparently they had been involved in a heavy make session and rolling back and forth in the tent. They had both rolled to one side right when I drove over the other side. We all jumped back in my car and found a new sweet spot very far from those people. The rest of the weekend was amazing! That's the story about how I narrowly avoided vehicular homicide.

Christina Piluso said...

I loved working on Starbucks with you. And I like that you don't talk much, cause I don't really either.

I'd love to share some detail of my life with you but at the moment I am drawing a complete blank and it seems totally forced. So I'll have to come back to it. Maybe that's my detail - I panic under pressure and my mind goes blank. Not exactly the best quality to have while working at W+K. Shit.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Carter,

When we where working on a Christmas campaign and you wrote the line: "I will roast chestnuts with my mindfire." I laughed really hard.

I also laughed when you wrote " I will invent a species of Holly that is four times as shiny and fragrant as regular holly." And "The only thing inside the Christmas Hall of Fame is a picture of me, smiling. Admission is $7."

You didn't need to add the "admission is $7" part but you did and it is brilliant.

I really enjoyed starting at the same time.
You have excellent (and very tiny) penmanship.
I find your style of cynicism especially refreshing. (Minty?).

thanks so much for **eXceLlEnT** blog post.
it's really good stuff - you should consider a career in word writing.

--

Anyhoo my story is in the 'earnest and sweet' camp.
If ya'll think its lame - you can SUCK IT.

I wanted to work at w+k since I took a field trip here with my graphic design class from Portland Community College in 1995. But since everyone knows that people who go to community college are unartistic, stupid, and poor. I pretty much thought my chances of achieving this goal we're 0.6% I remember looking up at the wall of photos (at the old building) and being like holy shit these people get paid????

During school I worked in the preproduction department of a small print shop. It was one of those job where you feel like you will be stuck there forever - until you die.

I worked with a couple of mean and unhappy middle aged graphic design burnout ladies. And 20 or so press operators from war-torn regions in southeast Asia.

One evening I told my coworker S.U.S.A.N. H.O.R.V.A.T.H. my dream to one day work at w+k. She laughed and told me it would NEVER happen, that I should forget it altogether and that basically sucked. I know it's stupid - but it hurt so fucking bad.

This little incident has stuck with me for years.

When I got the call - may 2008 - I cried like a little girl.

congrats on the new gig.
- Mr. Carter (the other one)

Jason said...

I've never met you but I like to think we'd be friends. But now that I wrote that out loud, it'd take longer.

Peter Yue said...

I've seen you walk around and be the silent participant. Doing what you do well, but with extreme ninja-like stealth. Nothing wrong with that I may add. Actually, I like it a lot.

MarcoPolo said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRlUszFnCkA

Ashly Stewart said...

Nick, I just found this and it's wonderful. I really admire you. I agree, you may be silent, but when you do have something to say, it's so profound. It comes out beautifully and it's an art I would like to be better at myself. I'm always talking and I am working on listening better.

Your writing is inspiring too. You're such an honest person.

I hope I can get to know you more. I'm glad I got to work with you at ID. I had no idea I our first conversations were so painful for you, as I talked and talked and talked. Sometimes when we would sit at the table in the kitchen at ID, the silence would make me so uncomfortable, but overall, I felt like it was helping me to grow.

My thing: hmm. When I was a kid I stole office supplies from my oldest sister. I did nothing with them. I simply hoarded them in a hiding place in my room. I've had a thing for office supplies my whole life.

Also, when I was 15 I wanted to sneak out, but I had no where to go. I didn't party in high school, I was the uncoolest cool kid ever. But I decided to sneak out anyway and I convinced my best friend Brittney to come along. We lived 15 miles out of town. In the middle of a summer night, we rode our bikes into town and by the time we got there, we couldn't think of anything to do. We bought candy and rode back. We repeated this one other time.

Also, I feel like you should know I had a really strange crush on Prince as a kid. I checked out his biography all the time, but I never read it.

Anonymous said...

Nick.
I know some awesome people. I really do. I'm very fortunate to have some of the most awesomest friends in the world. Although I know you a little bit, I can't say that we're friends. You don't know anything about my family and I know very little about yours, you don't know my favorite food and I don't know your favorite color...I could go on, but what I really want to say is that I think I know enough about you to say that you are the most talented person I've ever met. The words that come out of your mouth or computer or wherever, in tandem with the thoughtfulness about what you speak, write or whatever, is a magical magicness of magic. I know what I'm writing sounds like crap in comparison to what you write, but I just had to say it. You are wonderful. Please don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Because they're liars.

Anonymous said...

And by "anyone" I mean you. You are wonderful. Please believe it.