The old and famous


The always interesting Lurzer’s Archive has this fascinating look at the trend of famous, older women appearing in ads for various fashion brands. This is a welcome development as far as I’m concerned; most advertisers are obsessed with youth and targeting their ads to a younger consumer. These products presumably are not strictly trying to reach the geezer demographic. Of course, the buyers of expensive luxury brands skew older; those are typically the consumers who can afford them. But fashion brands can’t afford to be seen as being “for old people.” That would be the kiss of death.

The flip side to this trend is the way products like Medicare insurance plans advertise. They wouldn’t touch this sort of thing with a ten-foot pole. Not because Joni Mitchell is a chain smoker. Or because Joan Didion is too elitist. (Well, those reasons, yes.) But mostly because these ladies are just too damn old.

In my job as a copywriter and Creative Director I work with a great many brands that provide Medicare insurance and other kinds of health-related products that are solely aimed at oldsters. Typically, these brands demand that the actors and models appearing in their ads be deliberately younger than their target audience. While I can buy this argument to a certain point for products like adult diapers, which might want to expand to a younger audience, in the case of Medicare insurance, it can’t be sold to someone under 65 who is not on Medicare. (The only exception is people who are permanently disabled; but rarely do you see ads for Medicare insurance with disabled actors.)

The clients’ reasoning for “younging up” their models is that today’s aging baby boomers are “different” and think “younger” than earlier generations. Never mind that this is a highly debatable premise when you are looking at a hip or knee replacement or living with some chronic ailment. The practical effect is that we sometimes see ads with actors who look decades younger than the 65-year-olds who are the customers we’re targeting for Medicare supplement plans and the like. There is an art to finding models who look their age but also look good for their age, not simply casting people who look ten years younger than they’re supposed to be – which is the way many clients want them to look. So I say, good for fashion brands for showing older people who aren’t trying to hide their age. Maybe brands that are actually targeting older consumers will someday catch up.


A walk among the Italian spruces
is all very revealing
the way you tell me that the trees remind you
of the phallus of a lover whose name you forget
or maybe never knew
I could tell you if you asked me
We have history together
and those names never come back

@Daniel von der Embse

Roger Angell on life in the nineties


The blogger Diahann Reyes has an interesting post about aging from a woman’s perspective. Her post recalled this excellent essay by the great New Yorker contributor, Roger Angell, who writes with his typical detail about living to be in his nineties. I found myself relating to so much of what both writers have to say. I especially identify with Angell’s discussion of feeling “invisible.” I first noticed this feeling after turning fifty. I thought I came up with the idea, but evidently not. Oh well, another sign of dementia.




Surpassing Her Stature by Hidayet Karakuş

I can’t stop reading this poem…over and over. If I should ever write a poem as good as this one, my work would be done.

Leonard Durso

with her slender heels as soft as can be
weary of the calloused caresses she knows
her mane shying at the prodding of the stirrups
one woman
shall break the bit that hampers her within
and canter off to a new mountain lea

lips pursed by the drawstrings of longing sealed inside them
in her sleep she surpasses her stature and rein
though she seems often by quandary enchained
returning to that same page of her book
to read it painfully over and over again

translated by Suat Karantay

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Swimming in the warm spings

The requiem that lowered
my old friend into the ground
play on in my head
never escaping my memory
Looking out over dark patches
that once held life
barren now but for the twinkle
of water in moonlight,
I think of him as a boy
swimming in the warm springs,
one day to be joined there by me


This poem first appeared in The Woventale Press, June 2014.


©Daniel von der Embse

Snow dancer

Your pixie breath catches the light
on an icy cold day when snow
sets off the color of your pink hair
Dancing in front of me just a moment
so that I notice your eyes are black
painted on the surface of your face,
impenetrable as the frozen water beneath you
Just a moment before you are gone –
your presence fading in vapor
leaving me exposed, skin stuck to await you



It’s a good day to stay indoors and write. Enjoy the snow.



©Daniel von der Embse

Smell of bones

On the block where the charnel house sat
overgrown with spearmint
making the combination of smells
like sweet tea swished in trench mouth –

The scent is carried by the wind into my garden
where a fat black cat watches for fleeing rats
flushed out of hiding by crashing skulls
in the first part of day before the light becomes too great

Awaking on this spring day to clear the house
of corpses and make room for those coming,
I sit and breathe deeply to smell the stories
of the dead – each one in its own way mine



This poem first appeared in The Blue Hour, January 2015


©Daniel von der Embse

Letting go the ghosts

In Seattle we amble
along once familiar streets
nothing the way we remember
but the rain, deep, soaking

Wandering the scenes
of our broken courtship
surrounded by ghosts,
waving the warning signs
that were there all along
but forgotten

We hold onto each other
like lost tourists
and walking faster I feel
with each step how easily
you could have let me go

Thankful that you instead
let go these haunted places,
we talk about home
where dry clothes are waiting
to change us back
into our old selves again

This poem first appeared in CandleLit eJournal, November, 2014.


©Daniel von der Embse