Заповіт / Testament

Reflecting on my father’s passing, this came to mind.

All Ukrainians are familiar with Taras Shevchenko‘s “Заповіт” (Zapovit; “testament”). However, I found Borys Humeniuk‘s very moving and I wanted to add it to this blog. It captures the spirit of the Ukrainian soul, how it stays alive. How it has survived and thrived for centuries.

This is why we instill these cultural values in our Ukrainian children.

Борис Гуменюк

«Заповіт»

Сьогодні знову копаємо землю
Цю ненависну донецьку землю
Цю черству закам’янілу землю
Тулимося до неї
Ховаємося в ній
Ще живі.
Ми ховаємося за землю
Сидимо в ній тихо
Наче малі діти за маминою спиною
Ми чуємо як б’ється її серце
Як вона втомлено дихає
Нам тепло й затишно
Ще живі.
Завтра ми вже будемо мертві
Може багато з нас
Може всі.
Не забирайте нас із землі
Не відривайте нас від матері
Не збирайте на полі бою наші рештки
Не намагайтеся наново скласти нас докупи
І – благаємо вас – ніяких хрестів
Пам’ятних знаків чи меморіальних плит.
Нам це не треба
Адже це не для нас – для себе
Ви ставите нам величні пам’ятники.
Не треба ніде карбувати наших імен.
Просто пам’ятайте:
На цьому полі
У цій землі
Лежать українські солдати
І – все.
Не віддавайте нас батькам
Не хочемо щоб батьки бачили нас такими
Нехай батьки запам’ятають нас малими дітьми
Неслухняними хлопчиками
З рогатками з синцями на колінах
З двійками у щоденнику
З повною пазухою яблук з сусідського саду
Нехай батьки сподіваються що ми колись повернемося
Що ми десь є.
Не віддавайте нас дружинам
Нехай кохані запам’ятають нас красенями
Такими які подобалися багатьом дівчатам
А дісталися їм.
Нехай вони запам’ятають наші гарячі губи
Наш гарячий подих
Наші палкі обійми
Нехай вони не торкаються нашого холодного чола
Наших холодних вуст.
Не віддавайте нас дітям
Нехай діти запам’ятають наші теплі очі
Наші теплі посмішки
Наші теплі руки
Нехай діти не торкаються тремтячими губами
Наших холодних рук.
Ось в цих окопах
Які сьогодні для нас тимчасове житло
А завтра стануть нашими могилами
Поховайте нас.
Не потрібно прощальних промов
В тиші яка настає після бою
Це завше виглядає недоречно
Це наче штурхати загиблого воїна
І просити щоб той встав.
Не треба панахид
Ми й так знаємо де тепер буде наше місце
Просто накрийте нас землею
І – йдіть.
Було б добре як би на тому місці було поле
Колосилося жито
Щоб жайвір у небі
І – небо
Багато неба –
Ви можете собі уявити якій хліб родитиме поле
Де лежать бійці?!
(В пам’ять про нас їжте хліб з поля
Де ми полягли.)
Було б добре якби на тому місці були луки
І багато-багато квітів
І бджола над кожною квіткою
Щоб надвечір приходили закохані
Плели вінки
Кохалися до ранку
А вдень щоб приходили молоді батьки
З малими дітьми.
(Не перешкоджайте дітям приходити до нас.)
Але це буде завтра.
А сьогодні ми ще копаємо землю
Цю дорогу українську землю
Цю солодку ласкаву землю
Пишемо гуртом саперними лопатками
На її тілі
Останній вірш української літератури.
Ще живі.

And here’s my translation…

Borys Humeniuk

“Testament”

Today we dig the earth again
This hateful Donetsk earth
This stale petrified land
We nestle in it
We hide in it
We’re still alive.
We hide behind the land
We sit in it quietly
Like small children on our mother’s back
We hear the beating of her heart
As she breathes wearily
We feel warm and cozy
We’re still alive.
Tomorrow we will be dead
Perhaps many of us
Maybe all.
Do not take away from our land
Do not distract us from our mother
Do not remove our remains from the battlefield
Do not try to put us back together again
And – implore you – no crosses
No memorial signs or plates.
We don’t need them
It is not for us – for ourselves
You put up majestic monuments for us.
We don’t need to mint our names.
Just remember this:
On this field
In this land
Ukrainian soldiers lie
And that is all.
Do not give us to our parents
We do not want them to see us like this
Let them remember us as young children
As misbehaving little boys
With slingshots and bruises on her knees
As pairs in a diary
With a full bosom of apples from a neighbor’s garden
Let parents hope that we return some day
That we are somewhere.
Do not give us away to our wives
Let our loved ones remember us as handsome
The way we were liked by many girls
Yet they found us.
Let them remember our hot lips
Our hot breath
Our passionate embrace
Do not let them touch our cold foreheads
Our cold lips.
Do not give us away to our children
Let the children remember our warm eyes
Our warm smile
Our warm hands
Do not let the children touch with trembling lips
Our cold hands.
Here in these trenches
Where today we lie
Which tomorrow will be our graves
Bury us.
No need to farewell speeches
In the silence that comes after a battle
It always seems inappropriate
It’s like nudging a fallen soldier
And ask that he stand up.
No need for memorial services
We know now where our place is
Just cover us with earth
And go.
It would be good if this place was a field
Cradling rye grass
To be a lark in the sky
And the sky
Lots of sky –
You can imagine what bread this field would yield
Where are fallen lie ?!
(In remembrance of us eat the bread made from
The fields where we died.)
It would be good if the place were meadows
And many many colors
And a bee above each flower
To have our loved ones come at twilight
To weave wreaths of flowers
To make love until the morning
In the morning have young parents come
With young children.
(Do not prevent the children from coming.)
But this will be tomorrow.
Today we dig the earth
The way of Ukrainian land
This sweet gentle land
We write with spaded shovels
On her body
The last verse of Ukrainian literature.
We’re still alive.

Brilliant Use of “Skip Ad” Function

uk_skip_ad

Via Agency Spy, how a UK charity and Leo Burnett Change made a masterful use of the “skip ad” function seen on so many online videos.

Change is a collective dedicated to making powerful communications with positive social impact

.

Ad agencies continue to do brilliant creative work, regardless of how much the world changes. Click here to watch the video.

I love great ideas!

Think Small

femaledrivers

Earlier today, I was reminded of how insanely great the Volkswagen ads of the 1950s and 1960s were, which was named the best campaign of the century by Ad Age.

Good design and excellent copywriting will always sell your product or service. In the ad above, the lead paragraph alone is simply brilliant: “Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things.”

Using today’s standards, the ad may have been rejected for being sexist. But you have to admit: focusing an entire ad on just one selling point is a really good idea.

When I see simple ads in today’s media, I appreciate it — and you should, too.

Never Lukoil

Alekperov and Putin in 2006, working closely.

Five years ago, it dawned on me how I never buy gasoline at a Lukoil station. I sampled my Ukrainian friends and members of my family — all answered the question “do you ever buy gas at Lukoil?” the same way.  “Never!”

Why is that?  Probably because they’re Ukrainian and don’t appreciate remnants of the old Soviet Union, of which Lukoil is one. Nearly all my Ukrainian friends are refugees or children of refugees, who escaped from the Bolsheviks after The War. Of course we remember the Holodomor, the Stalin-ordered genocide of 7,000,000+ in 1931-33.  Add the forced Russification of Ukraine over the centuries and you’d have to agree with those who bypass Lukoil gas stations when given the choice.

But is this reason enough to cause so many Lukoil stations to be so quiet that you’d think they’re not open for business? The only ones who seem to get any business at all are the ones co-located with Dunkin Donuts. In Edison, a Lukoil station on Route 1 was so slow I was amazed at how long they held out before surrendering.

A decommissioned Lukoil gas station on U.S. Route 1 in Edison. It was once a busy Mobil station.

Are there that many Ukrainians (and other post-Soviet ethnics) in New Jersey to make that kind of difference? I don’t think so. I think it’s just poor marketing on the part of Lukoil.

A Mobil station was distinctive and consistent with the brand.

When Exxon settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 1999 to complete their acquisition of Mobil, they agreed to sell all the Mobil stations in New Jersey. Lukoil and Valero were among those who bought or rebranded many of those stations.

Lukoil came out with advertising around the slogan “We ♥ Cars,” with help from Arnold Worldwide of Boston. The agency’s goal was to make the brand “likeable.”  That didn’t last long and I personally did not see them “moving the needle” much as far as brand awareness is concerned. In a story on Lukoil’s sports sponsorships in Philly, a Wharton professor had the best quote…

“Lukoil’s done an excellent job introducing their brand here and deserves points just for getting that done in [Philadelphia-headquartered] Sunoco’s back yard,” said Scott Rosner, a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and associate director of the school’s Sports Business Initiative. “Gasoline purchase decisions are generally based on price and convenience, but when a driver’s away from home, brand-name recognition is a big factor.”

Really? The brand was introduced? Branding is much more than a logo and a slogan. What does it stand for? Who’s behind it? What makes customers feel good by doing business with these brands? Where’s the experience? I have a hunch the good people at Arnold had a limited budget with which to work — both for creative and media.

A former Mobil station, re-skinned as a Lukoil station. Looks the same, only red.

Valero took a different approach. They overhauled their stations with distinctive architectural detail, welcoming convenience stores and good lighting. As a result, their gas stations are always busy. Customers fill up and come inside the retail shop and spend more money. The resulting point-of-sale “experience” is favorable and helps build loyalty. They may not believe in the brand, but they do appreciate the experience.

Mobil had a great brand and their marketing was top-notch. It was my favorite gasoline brand — I’d go out of my way to buy Mobil. They had a unique selling propostion (USP) with “the detergent gasoline.” With Herb Schmertz, they had an opinion, including and an ad every Thursday on the op-ed page of The New York Times. Their advertising stood out. Imagine if Lukoil took a similar approach. How would their corporate “personality” be changed if they had come out with an ad like this?

It’s a shame that Lukoil, responsible for more than 2% of global oil production, would squander a chance to make their brand a leader in the U.S., where there are more Lukoil stations than any other country outside of Russia. Good distribution is critical to making a brand a complete success. In this case, it seems good distribution can’t get enough quality brand support.

Old School Volleyball

Eugene Selznick passed away last week. He was one of the greats who helped popularize volleyball in the U.S.  Go ahead and read his obit in The New York Times, which contains this beauty of a quote:

On his 75th birthday, Selznick told an interviewer how he had become interested in volleyball, and beach volleyball in particular. “I liked all sports,” he said. “But volleyball was much nicer, because we played on the beach, and there were lots of girls in bathing suits. Those other sports didn’t have that.”

He was also big on “Old School Volleyball,” which I love:

  • Don’t hit into the block.
  • Don’t miss your serves.
  • There is no next time.
  • Be ready to defend the area you left.
  • Creep then fly.
  • Block by grabbing the ball.
  • Any set above the net is good.
  • Help your teammate.
  • Be ready to hit the worst set.
  • Get your hand up and hit the ball down.
  • Don’t stop hitting.
  • Don’t stop playing.
  • Go outside.
  • Serve cross court.
  • Don’t set in front of the blockers.
  • Don’t trap your hitters.
  • Learn to read.
  • Don’t stand behind the block.
  • Follow the ball and be ready to defend and attack (anticipate)
  • A setter can only lose a game, can’t win it.
  • Footwork, Footwork, Footwork

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

In honor of MCA’s passing, one of the Beastie Boys. Like me, from Brooklyn.

Very influential — and always recorded very loud.

She Can Sing

Of all of today’s big music stars, I’ve always thought Lady Gaga could sing. This duet with Tony Bennett proves my point.

“Big band” and jazz singers don’t have the benefits of new electro-tools such as Auto-Tune, so the next time you hear a pop song, listen carefully and see if you can tell the difference. I think I can. If not, I ask my daughter — she knows.

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