Making the Move to Chi-town

Chicago was the hometown of Morris Crimpanfortis IV, and you couldn’t find a more centralized location to base your operations. The number of broadcast TV properties he owned coast-to-coast numbered in the dozens. These were TV stations in markets large and small, from New York City to Victoria, Texas. They were all powerhouses, not a weakling in the bunch. With a bustling broadcast hub in the heart of the Loop, Mr. Crimpanfortis was an icon in the industry. Now the question was: what would become of his wayward son, Morris Crimpanfortis V?

Making the Move to Chi-town

The Genesis of Daddy’s Broadcast Media Empire

Daddy started making his play for full-power TV stations about twenty years ago. It didn’t take a genius, and Daddy is way more than a genius, to realize the newspapers were a dying breed. Plus, the Federal Communications Commission frowned upon owning newspapers and TV in the same market. So Daddy divested our holdings of the very commodity responsible for our success in the first place. It just comes with knowing market conditions and having the stomach to trigger the necessary transactions.

Local TV is the Place You Want to be

Daddy jumped full force into the local TV scene, and achieved stellar results. But was there ever any question? When Daddy sets his mind to something, he is destined to pull it off in breathtaking fashion.

The TV biz provides Daddy with a world-class stage where he can really shine. Over the years he bought, sold, swapped, traded for and flipped network affiliates and independents in markets large and small across the country, always with an eye of landing in metros that are supportive of the advertising side of the family enterprise.

But then, just as everything was hitting its stride, Mama vanished in the Alaskan wilds, never to be heard from again.

In Memory of Mama

Shortly thereafter, we moved all operations back to Chicago. It was Daddy’s hometown (Mama’s had been Seattle), and when you consider all the broadcast properties and billboards that we own that are scattered across the countryside, well . . . Chicago is about as central a location as you can find.

Daddy threw himself deeper into his work than ever before. Even though he was consumed with the herculean task of assembling the TV network, he honored Mama’s groundbreaking work with the outdoor extravaganzas known as “Live-Action Billboards.” As a legacy to Mama, he vowed to make the service a staple of the agency. Daddy did the best he could to nurse the project along, but clearly the Outdoor Division required more time and attention than even he was able to muster.

Another Dream Goes Up in Flames

Of course, I considered myself in line to run the Outdoor Division. It was rather hurtful when Daddy chose my younger sister Noreen over me. Noreen already was employed with the company and had a lot of existing responsibilities. Daddy’s view was she’d earned it; she was more than capable of dealing with additional duties that were being heaped atop her already full plate. But I knew better; I knew there was no way she’d be able to handle her new workload before one day blowing some serious chunks

I was having an increasingly difficult time wondering if I was ever going to fit in with the organization. Every time Daddy bought a new TV station I figured he’d find me a place somewhere in the ranks.

And then I finally hit paydirt . . .

Shanking for Gold

I was a few years out of college and caddying for one of Daddy’s TV execs. He was really impressed with the club I chose for his approach shot to the eighteenth green. A pure guess on my part, it won him a lot of money–I think it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $20.00. He wanted to repay me in-kind and so he had a word with Daddy.

I Was Successful (Trust Me) . . .

Daddy finally came around. It wasn’t like he took pity on me, not that way at all. He didn’t make a big thing of my being a failure, didn’t rub it in my face. He was real understanding, and made a place for me in the Los Angeles flagship station of his TV network group.

While there, I did okay, learning the ropes and stretching my wings. I was feeling more confident by the day and had a good amount of support from the staff.

But then came the “Burbank Blowout” that all but rear-ended my career.


Jetpacks and Chimney Sweeps – Mama’s Lasting Legacy

When Mama was in charge, look out. A true visionary, she had the moxie and foresight to see that her wild-haired schemes came to fruition. Rest assured, there was never a dull moment when Mama was jamming the controls, and the “Live-Action Billboards” were no exception. As they became more sophisticated – they also grew more dangerous – by the day. Stunt performers worked eight-hour shifts ‘round the clock and saw it all: they wore jetpacks, wingsuits and bungee harnesses. Their job was to pitch product and entertain motorists, soaring across the Intestate horizons from 600 feet above. If you think there’s any chance of Hyper-Citation lightening up, think again. We were just getting started.

Jetpacks and Chimney Sweeps – Mama’s Lasting Legacy

Getting More Sophisticated – and Dangerous – by the Day

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since Mama departed the scene after rolling out “Live-Action Billboards” on the south side of Seattle.

Today, it doesn’t matter if it’s 842 Indie cars racing nonstop coast-to-coast on Interstate 70, or a cast of jet-propelled “Queen of Diamonds” card-riders over Atlantic City; Mama’s fingerprints are evident in all aspects of these breathtaking, mind-boggling, one-of-a-kind, high-flying displays.

She was always one to push the envelope.

Mama Really Knew What She Was Doing – And Still Does

When you’re dealing with the genius of the Crimpanfortis crowd, and especially Mama, you knew that things weren’t going to stand still. The pot was always going to be stirred. The same definitely held true for the evolution of “Live-Action Billboards.”

Under Mama’s resourceful watch, they went from being a novelty to cutting edge to edgy to heart-pounding to “you-can’t-be-serious” in record time.

From Diapers to Jetpacks – It’s all about the Show

Case in point was our diaper-clad friend, Murph the “Muffler Prince,” and his bulldog sidekick. What started as a staid, run-of-the-mill, two-dimensional billboard ultimately transformed into an extravagant Interstate display featuring a gigantic hydraulic lift, identical to the ones you see in automotive service bays, that was 10 times larger and raised to an elevation of 185 feet!

Mama just loved the bungee cord and had a thousand-and-one uses for it. Performance artists for Murph the “Muffler Prince” were soon hurtling toward the I-5 pavement, ending up perilously close to palpating motorists. It got really intense when performers began jousting with mufflers on their way down, then using them as crude pogo sticks to bounce along the Interstate. This went on 24 hours per day, seven days a week, rain or shine. The crew now consisted solely of stunt people. They also had to learn how to sing and dance–or at least pretend.

The Whole Freeway was her Stage

Mama didn’t stop with mufflers. She scoured the marketplace for products and services that lent themselves to the dynamics of a quality live-action presentation.

She rendered the freeway stage setting for North Roxborough Chimney Sweeps featuring the massive cutaway of a chimney with a spiral staircase leading to a brick-lined fantasy village. The sprawling panorama rose to a height of 205 feet. Fifty-six chimney sweeps interacted with the villagers 24/7 with lots of singing and dancing in clogs and pointy-toed boots–and of course bungee jumping. It evoked a Mary Poppins kind of feel, catering to the awestruck eyes of motorists who slowed to take a wondrous gander.

New Form of Advertising Takes Country by Storm

The Crimpanfortis organization aggressively expanded into other markets. Various products were presented in outrageous places, igniting the collective conscious of an enraptured public. Advertisers lined up for a piece of the action, a place in the sun.

It was just the beginning.

As we will see, one display after another, each more outrageous then the last, began rolling out resulting in the rollicking displays we are all familiar with today.

Just as long as Paymor Kalabrashion and his crew are kept at bay . . .

Kalabrashion Uprising: A Multimedia Arch Enemy

We find out in life that things just don’t happen overnight. That includes bitter feuds that result in fierce rivalries spawning buckets of libel, slander and toxic treachery. The bad blood between the Crimpanfortis and Kalabrashion clans stretch back five generations, before the two cataclysmic sunspot attacks nearly decimated Planet Earth. We find that Brookens Kalabrashion got his nose out of joint because Morey Crimpanfortis was more agile and adept at bringing in new business. Jealousy and animosity became the fuel that propelled the Kalabrashion crowd into mimicking the Crimpanfortis and counterfeiting everything they did to attempt to gain fame and fortune for their own sordid gain.

The Evolution of a Multimedia Arch Enemy

How the Kalabrashion Crowd Became our Bruising Nemesis

Without question, our biggest threat to market supremacy and ultimate survival is Paymor Kalabrashion and his band of disreputable miscreants. Paymor is undisputedly Daddy’s fiercest, most unforgiving rival. The families have been slugging it out for the better part of five generations. And like any other longstanding feud, it has not gotten any better with time.

Paymor’s great-great granddaddy, Brookens Kalabrashion, was as close to a gossip-monger as you could get. His two-bit, flea-bitten “newspaper,” if you could even call it that, was a salacious collection of libelous innuendos and half-truths that somehow allowed him to eke out a living while eluding the legal clutches of those he regularly and maliciously maligned.

Bottom Feeders from the Get-go

What Brookens lacked in class and ethics he made up for with an aggressive business acumen that bordered on belligerence. No dummy to bottom-line sensibilities (and bottom-feeder tactics), he targeted the burgeoning Crimpanfortis media empire as a vehicle for his toxic brand of tattletale scuttlebutt. As a thinly veiled freelance reporter, he offered up fabricated tales that masqueraded as being wholly authentic, with a style that he considered both hard-hitting and colorful.

Acting more along the lines of an informant or stool pigeon, as opposed to an honest-to-goodness journalist, he agreed to “sell” these salacious tidbits to the Crimpanfortis media conglomerate in exchange for stock in the company and “future considerations.” The way he saw it, if he could ride the stately Crimpanfortis coattails, he could make a name for himself while carving out a lucrative stake in the corporation’s growing national audience.

The Old “Carriage Stand behind the Train Station” Trick

Old Morey Crimpanfortis didn’t see it that way. He didn’t just laugh Brookens out of his office over the gossip-monger’s perverted business proposal, he ordered him out, Flanked by armed guards, the sputtering counterfeit journalist was dragged out of the building and rudely deposited in the area across the cobblestone street and down the brick-lined alley, where carriages waited behind the train station.

Brookens wasn’t about to take this rebuff lying down. Burning with rage, fueled by jealousy, he vowed to bury the Crimpanfortis family before they achieved any level of success. That touched off nearly a century-and-a-half of some of the most vile and malicious business practices ever perpetrated in the annals of free-market vindictiveness.

Whatever You Can Do I Can Do Cheaper

Thinking he could do it better, Brookens built his own twisted empire. But the only way he could compete was to lie, cheat and steal–which he proved very adept at. These malevolent practices only became more pronounced generation after generation until now. No one knows the depths that Paymor Kalabrashion, representing the younger, up-and-coming iteration of the family, is willing to plumb in order to get his way . . .  including, perhaps, murder.

It should come as no shock that the off-kilter Kalabrashion agency is heavily into live-action billboards. But nobody . . . nobody does billboards like Daddy. The Kalabrashion crew is nothing but a weak imitation. They don’t have the first clue about putting together a world-class display, yet they gladly take a bunch of cheesy shortcuts to save time, money and personnel. And it shows, too, if you know what you’re looking for.

Wrongheaded Purveyors of Deceit–You Gotta Just Love ‘Em

Everything the Crimpanfortis family rolls out, the Kalabrashions have an answer for– only their answers are perverted and wrongheaded. They are nothing but cheap purveyors of darkness and deceit. Whereas the Crimpanfortis family lifts civilization high, the Kalabrashion’s goal is to tear everything down. If something is supposed to be fun and alive, the Kalabrashions make it dreary and foreboding.

Paymor, the vilest member of a vile family, is a bit older than me. I have never met him and have been told to avoid him at all costs. He’s up to no good and will stop at nothing–even if it entails violent criminal activity–to sully the esteemed Crimpanfortis name.

In short, he’ll wink at you while ordering his lieutenants to wrench your nose off . . . with a pair of loose-fitting pliers.