Smugglers' Inn started as a theme restaurant in Blaine, Minnesota and has become, if not a legitimate advertising agency, then a viable agency alternative with two dedicated ad employees, Carol Henderson, art director and Jarl Olsen, copywriter. Read the whole saga in these posts or click the pirate to follow the entertaining tweets of our dishwasher, Pongo. Who may or may not be an orangutan.!/PongoTryHard

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Christmas Memory

photo courtesy of Carl Corey
‘Tis the time of year when your pals at Smugglers’ Inn start looking at what we’ve done in the previous 11 months and bemoaning the fact that, at this rate, we’ll be able to afford that wide-format printer when Chelsea Clinton is in her second term.  We believe in Christmas miracles, but it seems Santa, like fortune, favors the rich.  Then, something happens and we say, “Awe, crap!” down a glass of eggnog and start beatifying every plastic holly leaf and over-sweet cookie the season has to offer.  December 18 though, still finds us meditating on what we don’t have.

Bert Gardner was not an easy man to know and, some would argue, a harder man to like.  For much of his life, Bert was a fixture in Twin Cities advertising.  Possessed of an imposing frame and what drill sergeants refer to as a “command voice”, Bert strode about like a bear on its hind legs, investigating everything, raising up that or those he deemed worthy and swatting down the pretentious and the tedious.  While Bert did not generally suffer fools, he was a great friend of Smugglers’ Inn.  Perhaps our strange business model (to date, there are no other restaurant/ad agencies) appealed to his sense of the absurd.  Maybe he just liked our clam chowder.  Whatever the reason for it, we could always count on Bert for an encouraging word or a voiceover when we needed Orson Welles, but couldn’t afford the bill to re-animate his frozen corpse.  

Bert was a not-untalented writer.  Every year at this time, Bert would send out a CD of himself reading a Christmas story that he had penned.  The stories always involved a dog and usually one or more small children.  They were sappy stories with happy endings that would always leave you with a tear in your eye.  Everyone loved them.  We loved them.

This December, there was no new story from Bert Gardner to slap us upside our self-referential heads and inform us that the time had come to suspend our hard-won cynicism for another holiday season.  Just over a year ago, after a death that was so protracted that he felt compelled to make apologies for it in his blog, Bert Gardner passed on, surrounded by his loving family and probably more than one dog.  Well, we aren’t sure Bert believed we “pass on”, but it’s too harsh to think that Bert’s spirit isn’t alive somewhere, grinning, riding motorcycles and writing Christmas stories that turn us, for a while at least, into human beings.  Please join Smugglers’ Inn in a toast to our very dear, very dead friend and to those friends everywhere who will forever hence belong to holidays past.