Elmore Leonard’s Swag is the literary equivalent to Grand Theft Auto.

It’s a page-turner you can’t help but burn through, fueled by sex, drugs, murder, armed robbery and automobile theft.

Towards the beginning of the novel, Frank Ryan (one of the robbers) reflects on his days as a car salesman.

One day the dealership had a sales guru in to teach Frank and his associates how to move more hoods.

The guru asked Frank, “What’s your name?”

To which Frank responded, “Frank Ryan.”

“No it’s not”, said the sales guru, “Not over the phone. …

In the introduction to Breakfast of Champions, Vonnegut tells the story of a mentor he had once upon a time, a copywriter named Pheobe Hurty, who hired him to write advertising for her department store.

I found this to be a fascinating introduction, primarily because the book itself feels like one big beautiful ad (or a parody of an ad) for Wheaties.

Not only does the book cover look strangely similar to the iconic box that houses the cereal, but the title of the book is actually the cereal’s slogan

“Breakfast of Champions.”

Kurt Vonnegut writes a line or two reassuring the…

Wright Thompson, the marvelous sportswriter and author of Pappyland, warns of the dangers of advertising, specifically in the world of whiskey…

*Thompson is typing now*

“More and more today, we don’t want to do the work or take the chances required for greatness, and we try to fix all those shortcuts on the back end with marketing and branding — modern, fancy words that mean lie.”


Thompson’s words hit a tender spot for me.

In part, because I make my living concocting this devilish black magic and, naturally, I’m more apt than others to take this criticism personally.

In part, because I think there…

My generation and the generation coming after my generation (ha!) seem to be anti-condoms.

We’re so adverse that highly-paid admen have been hired by brands like Durex and Lifestyles to figure out why people aren’t “wrapping up” before having a good romp in the sack.

The answers these admen have come up with are reflected in the advertising these brands are putting out.

Trojan hired white, slightly nerdy rapper, Lil Dickey, to promote their condoms by talking about how gross it is that people are having sex without protection and how this can in turn lead to STDs.

This has…

John Updike wrote somewhere…

“Celebrity is a mask that eats into the face.”

As someone who is so far away from being anything close to a celebrity, the quote feels laughable to reference here; if not preposterous.

However, where I think it’s applicable to us mere mortals is this idea that we become known for being someone and we become good at being this someone and we may even become “rich” at being this someone and then, one day, when we catch a glimpse of this someone in the mirror staring back at us and we no longer recognize this someone or no longer want to be this someone…

You hear stories of tribes killing some great beast and using every piece of the beast, from the hide to the loin to the organ to the marrow swimming through its bones.

This was my grandmother.

Her name was Mitsuko Ijima. She grew up in Japan in a time when almost everyone was poor, a kind of poor she didn’t just feel in her pockets but in her stomach, a kind of poor she only forgot when she’d hear planes race through the sky and she’d race these planes to shelters, scared of what they might drop.

She told me…

Last year, I fell in love with a girl in Denver, Colorado. It’s a long story. A good story. Perhaps, a bit tragic.

I’ll keep it short and sweet (for the sake of brevity and because I don’t feel like throwing up this morning’s cup of coffee).

We grew up in the same town in Southern Indiana.

She had always been a serious crush of mine. She eventually moved away. I moved away not too long after her.

A decade later we got reconnected ( on Instagram of all places) and I fell hard, from afar.

One morning, I wrote…

Writers have been trying and failing to write about sex for decades.

This might be from lack of sexual prowess, cultural taboos or simply tremendous difficulty in finding the words to describe the act in such a way that doesn’t read like a raunchy PornHub title.

Regardless, even the world’s greatest writers seem to draw blanks when their characters find themselves stumbling into the bedroom.

Ernest Hemingway would often pass over these acts in his books entirely, leaving the reader’s imagination to fill in the gaps.

While this forgoing seems to have worked out quite well for him, I think…

Ben Cake asked me what I was working on.

I told him a novella.

Naturally, he asked me what it was about.

I told him: a heartbroken gent suffering from Schizophrenia who finds himself in and out of bed with countless women, many of which who do not exist.

(If this feels a bit out of left field, in addition to writing advertising, I moonlight as a poet and a writer of prose.)

Then, Ben made a recommendation.

Ben is the best writer I know and when he tells me to read something, I read it, immediately.

Upon hearing the idea for my next book…

If you’re in the cattle business, you burn cash fast on “feed”.

Those big beautiful beasts have got to eat and unlike us humans, it takes a whole hell of a lot to keep them full.

The average cow eats about 24 lbs of feed a day, which can quickly become tens of thousands depending on just how big of a cattle operation you’re running.

Because of this, cattle farmers are often guilty of feeding their cows super strange shit like… gummy worms, marshmallows, candy corn, hot chocolate mix, Kool-aid mix, chicken shit, ground limestone, sawdust, crabs (not the ones…

Cole Schafer

I write pretty words and sometimes sell things. https://coleschafer.com/subscribe

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