Thursday, November 24, 2016

       MY TO-DO LIST

Copyright © 1997  Stan Resnicoff All Rights Reserved

I’ve got a big agenda,
Of the things I wanna do
And I know I won’t be able
To see all of them through
So listen very carefully
To everything I say
‘Cause here is my list of the things
I wanna do today

I’ll have a conversation
With the dolphins in the sea
I’ll tell them everything I know
They’ll do the same for me
And I’ll learn all their secrets
And find out just what’s true
And the day after today maybe
I’ll tell it all to you

I’ll photograph the wildlife
In the Amazonian Basin
Then round-up all my good friends
For a little NASCAR racin’
I’ll sharpen all my pencils
And e-mail every pal
Then go out for a little swim
Thru the Panama Canal

Then I wanna chase a rainbow
And find out where it ends
And throw a giant party 
For my very special friends
And learn to speak a language
That I never spoke before 
And hit a grand-slam homer 
And win the final score

I want to ride a raging river
Shoot the rapids, that’d be fun
Then I want to give a hundred dollars out
To each and every one
I want to carve my initials in the clouds
And paint the entire sky
I might not get to all these things
But at least I’m gonna try

I’ll climb a giant mountain
In the Himalayan Range
Then toss around some papers
At the New York Stock Exchange
I’ll clean up all the rivers
And straighten my sock drawer
And with the time that I’ve got left
I know what I’ll use that for

I wanna feed the hungry
With turkey and desert
And take away all of their pain
And take away what hurts
And turn their heads up to the sun
And set everyone free
And win the Nobel Prize today for 
Peace and Poetry.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Originally published as a paperback by Random House, Eric and I made this flash movie which, among other things, was selected to be shown at Pratt's Alumni Day last year. 

The book is still available at Amazon at:


Click on the URL at the top of this page to see the whole story


THE 1960's

Once upon a time, there were two gas stations in my life.

PENN-PITT:   My Dad, Joe, (commonly referred to as 'Joe R') had a gas station in a pretty rough section of Brooklyn called 'East New York'. It was on the corner of Pennsylvania and Pitkin Avenues and so it was called 'Penn-Pitt.' The neighborhood was white, black and hispanic (generally referred to as 'Puerto Rican at this time) but it didn't matter what race you were because if you were at the gas station it meant you had a car. and in some strange way that car was your race and your religion. And on top of that, this was Brooklyn and everybody was a character. Everybody!

STATE PARK: The other gas station was my brother Don's (with his partner Mendy). It was not in New York City, but in Valley Stream, just blocks outside of the New York City city line in Nassau County. It was called 'State Park Service Station because it was across the road from 'Valley Stream State Park'. Compared to Penn-Pitt it was rural, But the biggest difference was that you could drive in Nassau county at 16. Sixteen! You had to be eighteen in New York City and when you're sixteen those were two very very long years. 

PENN-PITT: Penn-Pitt started off as a small corner station and eventually grew to be a block long, the second biggest gas station in Brooklyn. My first summer job was, of course, pumping gas. First of all you gotta understand that having a car in New York, especially in this part of Brooklyn, was an incredible luxury. It was expensive, you had to deal with parking and maintenance, you didn't really need a car to get around, and the winter was a bitch. Also because most people lived in rented apartments, a car was probably the biggest 'thing' you actually owned. The only new cars I ever saw in this part of Brooklyn were cop cars.

STATE PARK: If Brooklyn in those days was MEAN STREETS, State Park was BETTY AND VERONICA. Now, don't forget I'm only pumping gas in the summer but seeing a convertible (a convertible!) with four teenagers was, after Brooklyn, just like Archie Comics. Kids. All white and clean and happy, going someplace, having fun. I thought that was a myth. And one of the girls was a blonde. A blonde!

PENN-PITT: So Joe R. had three mechanics working for him. 'Rogers' was black, 'Jesus' (who I only knew as Hey-soo) was Puerto Rican and 'Sam' was a white Protestant. The place was always busy. When I said everybody was a character I meant it. Penn-Pitt was it's own Universe. The customers were of every race, religion, shape and size all connected by their car. It was its own asphalt island in busy Brooklyn. It was like the United Nations but with more yelling and more color and more motion and louder. It was a man/machine symphony and Joe R. was a great conductor.

STATE PARK: 27 9/10.  That was the price per gallon on the Tokheim pump when I started  pumping. The pump had a glass bubble on it filled with gas and a little propeller that turned when the gas was flowing. It always seemed dangerous to me. These were the days whengas pump nozzles had no automatic shut-off.  When someone wanted it filled up you had to listen for the sound of the gas coming up the fill tube and shut down before it gushed out, all over you and the person's car. I tend not to always pay attention so more than once I was rinsing someon's car down with the water can, assuring them that the gas wouldn't hurt their paint, knowing they didn't believe a word I said. Neither did I. Note the maximum dollar sale was 9.99

PENN-PITT: I've regretted many (many) things in my life and one of them was not photographing the incredible reality of daily life at the gas station. Even when I was in design school I wasted my time photographing inanimate objects when right in front of me was all the human visual drama and beauty that Brooklyn and cars in the '60's could offer. Just a photo of my Dad's desk, piled with a mountain of papers, strange greasy auto parts and various other stuff...and you know, in all those years I never once remember my dad actually sitting at that desk.

STATE PARK: In the '60's foreign cars were a rare sight. Occasionally in the summer in Valley Stream I'd see some foreign sports car pass by but on a regular basis there were only a few volkswagons around and they were always a curiosity with their air-cooled engines and gas tank in front. On a regular basis we had one customer who drove a Volvo, but he was Swedish so the whole thing fit together nicely. He also put that little line thru his 7's when he wrote the number. 

PENN-PITT: Since I was in school I pretty much worked only during the summers and the August summers in the city can somedays be brutal. Hot and humid with the sun beating down on everything. But what I remember most was that occasional warm short summer shower, heaven sent to briefly cool things off...and when it passed there was this unique aroma and vapors rising off the oil-soaked black asphalt of the gas station. Perfume.

STATE PARK: One day a guy drives in and his car is sputtering and missing badly. He leaves his car with my brother to fix and I noticed when my brother opened the hood and checked things out out he just re-connected some wire and the car started running perfectly. Later when they guy returned my brother charged him fifteen dollars or so and the guy went happily along. Fifteen dollars wasn't a lot of money but it seemed like a lot just to put some wire in it's place. So I asked him about it. "Ah", he said,"I didn't charge him for putting the wire in it's place, I charged him for knowing what place to put the wire in". I learned a lot from my brother.

PENN-PITT: I have to remind you, and myself, that cars were 'simpler' machines back then but also much less reliable than they are now. Things regularly went wrong. If you had a car your relationship with a gas station was probably one of your most important relationships, especially in the winter. 

STATE PARK: My brother Don somehow figured that renting trucks to people would be a good new business. I asked him why trucks. He said that if you rent a guy a car he goes out and has a good time, but if you rent him a truck he goes out and does some business. That's what I recall. This was a LONG time ago when the idea of renting itself was new. So he and Mendy became MENDON and I was there when they rented their first truck, a step-in, to a local kid, Jimmy McIntire, and then it seemed like they waited around the whole day for him, and their only truck, to safely return. They both did. The business grew.

PENN-PITT: For many years PENN-PITT was the only gas station on the intersection of Pennsylvania and Pitkin Avenues. Then one year a new gas station was built caddy-corner from my dads. Now there were two basic kinds of gas stations; owner-owned, like my dads and company owned like the new one across the street. Owner-owned is pretty self-explanatory; my dad had a deal with Flying A to supply gas but it was his station to run, to hire and fire, to make a profit or not. A company station was owned by the giant oil company. They hired a manager and paid him a salary. An oil company had endless monies and the station they built was big, beautiful, spotlessly clean and orderly. Compared to them PENN-PITT was barely controlled chaos, with cars and trucks everywhere. My dad knew I admired the neatness of the company station. "Let me tell you something Stanley," he said, pointing across the street. "The reason they can be so neat and clean is that they don't really have customers or much repeat business so if you're ever looking for a good mechanic, look for one whose busy, and probably greasy, not clean." Smart man.

                                                            TO BE CONTINUED... 

Friday, November 11, 2016



     So if you got to this page from Facebook you've already seen this clip. It's from a very funny 'TRIBUTE PAGE' (If you can believe it) that a guy named Matt created to my 1986 Mattel toy...LEON NEON. There's a link later in this blog to his LEON NEON page.

Just so you get a quick idea of how this all worked.: In 1985 my job was to come up with some creative ideas and try to make prototypes any way I could to test and evaluate. Then I'd make a presentation and if the idea was good enough it would be 'taken-over' by engineering and marketing and it'd be out of my hands. I'd go on to other new ideas. Sometimes I'd see bits and pieces, prototype boxes or what have you when I'm walked  thru the building but really I'm out of the loop until one Saturday morning I'm lying in bed watching cartoons when this BLASTS across my tv screen.

I didn't even know they were making a commercial. It was my first Mattel product and it's on TV. How cool is that. 

It started with this new group I was now in...NBC (New Business Concepts). I thought it would be cool for kids to have something like neon for kids to be able to make themselves.

I gathered that the running joke in the toy business was that you added the glow-in-the-dark feature when product line was on it's last legs. That's one way to think about it but what if you made the glow-in-the-dark THE MAIN feature So my idea was a KID-NEON (I called it that), a 'wire-like toy that any kid could manipulate creatively and see glow. In the biz that's considered an activity toy.

But I had no idea if this could be made, and at what cost and if anybody would even be interested. So I showed my idea to Susannah who sent me down to meet Wally Shapiro, a chemist in Mattel's Chem Lab. A Chem Lab. All this was new to me. Whereas back in New York nobody was ever happy to see you if you needed them to do something, Wally was both a pleasure and a treasure to work with. He reminded me about co-extrusion and suggested we start with an already available electrical wire since their industrial coverings would help us satisfy the wire safety requirements. He sent me off to shop and experiment. I bought and bent many different wires, imagining them surrounded with a layer of glow-in-the-dark soft plastic. I got the wire I liked best from a small hardware store in Long Beach. I gave my wire samples to Wally and a week or so later he's calling me to come down to the Chem Lab and when I do here are these fantastic industrial cardboard reels full of different color and wire KID NEONS. These are like some of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. 

About this time I realized that the name KID-NEON came out sounding too much like KIDNEY-ON and I changed the name to LEON NEON. It really didn't matter what I called it because Mattel had a special group that came up with all the toy names. 

I might have mentioned that our group shared a building with Mattel's A-V group so one day, after practicing all night to get the bending and the timing right, I asked my pal Clark Dugger to leave a camera and lights (and a footswitch) rolling on me while everyone went to lunch. I sat in the empty studio and I think it only took me a half-dozen takes until I got this. 


And finally the 'PRESENTATION' day. Here's where all the people who'll decide on the fate of your toy will decide on the fate of your toy. And here's where, my friend the reader (you) are going to have to use your imagination. The fact is that Mattel's locked-down cameras at that time (1986) weren't good enough to let you see the 'glowing' part of the action so you'll just have to take my word for it. Also the sounds from the audience should give you a clue as to how it all went. Anyway as the lights went out an 'invisible' black curtain blocked the audience from seeing three 'dancers' (designers on our team) sneak in behind it. The center dancers body and arms were totally covered in LEON-NEON, but the two outer dancers only had one hand each covered with LEON-NEON.  When the black curtain dropped the writhing three dancers appeared to be a single lit-up person (that's the first scream) and then, as the music continues, the hands very slowly move farther away from the body than humanly possible (the second outburst). You'll just have to imagine (but it did look cool!)

So it was accepted, taken out of my hands and put thru the Mattel machine that made it into a real product line ready for the whole American enterprise system.

Lord, my product even appeared on the back of boxes of Kellogg's Corn Pops. And it don't get much better than that in this U.S.of A! Better believe it!

Oh, by the way the naming group couldn't come up with a better name than LEON-NEON (and they tried) so LEON-NEON it was AND because it was an extrusion (meaning little hand labor), they could and did make it here in America. And since theyb were making it here, somebody from Engineering called me up and wanted to know where the hardware store was where I bought the electrical wire I used.

It made the back end of the toy 'TOP TEN' one month. It wasn't a big deal at Mattel. It was just a novelty item and lasted one year. But still the best, most creative and honest review can only be found at Matt's X-ENTERTAINMENT page here: 

I wasn't sure this was meant for me but it ws laying around so I took it. It's the in-store point-of-purchase display. I couldn't believe this stuff even existed for LEON-NEON.

And finally, because you never know where this stuff leads you, Mattel gets this letter from a Veternarian asking for samples and info on LEON-NEON because it seems to make good emergency splints for small animals. His letter took it's time getting to me but rest assured his cup runneth over.