Mr. Rowe Goes to Washington (and Peoria, etc.)

October 10, 2010

Finally home, and man am I tired. Frankly, I don’t remember the last time I felt this whipped. Then again, I don’t remember the last time I’ve been this old. Coincidence? Probably not. Looking back, I can see now that each of the last ten days required a separate part of my brain. Which is probably why nothing got my undivided attention.

Started in Peoria, where I got to know the big shots over at Caterpillar, and some of the smaller shots as well. Really an amazing company and a very nice bunch of regular folks. They love, love, love mrW, and we’re going to do some very cool things together. Took a tour of the factory, gave a speech of sorts to a few hundred office types, had a turkey wrap with the new CEO, gave another speech, and shot some promos for the upcoming Con Expo thing in Vegas. Also had a great dinner at Denny’s (not the restaurant, but the home of one of the big shots) and left with an extraordinary bottle of rare Australian port. Shortly, it will go from “rare” to “empty.”

Headed from there up to Mackinac Island to shoot another Dirty Jobs special. This one is called Dirty Conversations, and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Dirty Jobs is little more than a talk show without a set and a bunch of smart aleck guests with dirty minds. It also proves that I will return to Mackinac for any thinly veiled excuse imaginable.

The crew and I had a ball, as did the twins who accompanied me throughout the show. Some of you will recall the Maedel sisters, Carolyn and Marilyn. Well, they’re back – chattier and charminger than ever before, finishing each other’s sentences and recalling their favorite moments from Dirty Jobs with more enthusiasm and encyclopedic accuracy than yours truly could ever hope to match. For identical people, they’re utterly original. And how they wound up in my bed at 3 am one evening is a tale so harrowing and disturbingly true that the details will need to be vetted by my imaginary publicist. Suffice it say that Barsky was to blame, and my journal now has another long and troubling entry.

The next day, (or maybe it was the day before?) some people from another Fortune 500 Company flew to the island to discuss a relationship with mrW. This was unexpected but very good news. Any company that supports manufacturing and skilled labor is a welcome, and this is a big one. It seems likely we’ll find a way to work together on something, at which point I’ll be able to refer to  them by name.

From Mackinac it was down to Detroit for a few days with Ford, and then over to New York to participate in something called Ad Week. Ad Week in Manhattan is a lot like Fashion Week, without the skinny models and silly clothes. People come from all over to discuss what’s new and exciting in the fascinating world of crass commercialism, and I was invited to speak about how mrW is changing the way many companies view the spokesperson/customer dynamic. Very flattering.

I talked mostly about the tension between authenticity and production, and the difference between a host and a guest. I argued that the traditional spokesperson was an endangered species (Howie Long) and shared my view that celebrities who get paid to hit a mark and read a prompter are overpaid at any price. My friends at Lee and Caterpillar also participated, and explained to a baffled crowd how I insisted on interviewing them at length before agreeing to do business. (Hey, who says an audition can’t go both ways?)

Then it was down to DC to scold Congress for not watching DJ. Actually, I went there to officially launch a campaign called “I Make America,” or IMA, which I tried but failed to rename “I Make a Mess.” Sponsored by The Associated Equipment Manufacturers, or AEM, IMA is the latest co-branded venture for mrW, which in my mind is A-OK. The initiative is designed to highlight the contributions of hundreds of real people who work in manufacturing, and ultimately reverse a pile of lop-sided trade agreements and harebrained policies currently destroying our ability to compete with modest little upstarts like China and everybody else.

This was my first experience addressing our elected officials and probably my last. That’s not to say that it didn’t go well – I’m told the event was a resounding success. But Washington DC is a place unto itself – a giant, sleepless PR mechanism that never pauses or slows down. The reporters’ questions to me were esoteric and very detailed, which or course lead to thoughtful responses like “Beats me,” and “You don’t say?” I’m not an expert on free-trade and foreign currency fluctuations, and after Colbert’s performance last month in front of a similar crowd, I was determined to be myself, tell the truth and keep it simple. This seemed to confuse people at first but whatever – I relied mostly on the Dirty Jobs mission statement and argued that our problems in manufacturing were really just another symptom of a dysfunctional relationship with dirt, work, and skilled labor. It actually played pretty well. I just had to repeat it till I was hoarse. Earlier that morning I wrote an op-ed piece for U.S. News and World Report.  Apparently, they actually printed it.

From there it was back to the hotel for an all night conversation with my friends at Discovery who have become curious about what I might have planned for the next stage of my Forrest Gump inspired career. As some of you know, my current deal with the Network is closer to its end then it’s beginning, an undeniable fact that causes my masters in Silver Spring to frown at their productions schedules and ask questions like, “Now what?” Though we failed to resolve that question, we did succeed in destroying another mini-bar and promised to revisit the matter a few seconds before my contract actually expires.

The flight home from DC would have been direct, but for a quick detour in Milwaukee and another meeting that was almost too good to be true. Master Lock. This is another remarkable company with a real commitment to skilled labor and a genuine desire to help support mrW. Who am I to say no? Standby for more on that as things develop.

That’s enough for now. I’m taking another nap and wishing you all a pleasant week.



19 thoughts on “Mr. Rowe Goes to Washington (and Peoria, etc.)

  1. Good news for mrW. Interesting stories too. Hopefully that imaginary publicist will appear someday and we’ll get the low down about those twins…and what’s up with all the slings and duck pins???

    Very cool things ahead for mrW. Enjoy some R&R, Mike. You’ve been a busy boy.

  2. I’m exhausted just reading this. Do not feel old Mike; feel wiser.
    I was fortunate enough to attend the IMA launch.
    I met you and was able to talk a bit with Camila and Michael. The amount of exhaustion you feel can be, from a bystanders point of view, supplanted by the dedication and conviction you impart.
    Mike, you deserve much recognition. The beginnings of a renewed sense of esteem and regard towards the trades is upon us. Many are starting to sit up and take notice.
    In no small part you have, through your fans and friends at mrW and DJs, begun a revolution of sorts.
    “You must have long-range goals to keep you from being frustrated by short-range failures.”
    – Charles C. Noble
    The only failure here is your lack of rest.
    But all too soon, you will be raring to go again.
    Thank you, Mike, for your efforts.
    Pia aka MiM

  3. Very busy indeed. All things must come to and end, which I guess will be true for the production of Dirty Jobs soon enough. But, like everything else in life. The end of one thing ushers in the beginning of something new and bigger. In this case the end and new beginning are over-lapping. I rather like the comparison to Forrest Gump. What more can I say. It’s in the top ten of my most favorite movies.

  4. Wow! Rest up Mike. You deserve it. It put my head in a spin just reading this! Go mrW! You should be so proud of all your achievements with this site and all it stands for.

    Well done. Now, go and get some sleep.

  5. Mike, congratulations on the continuing success of mrW! I love that the message is catching on and that your hard work is paying off.

    Oh, and twins? Nice.

    Enjoy that nap.


  6. Wow, makes me feel guilty for having a few days off! Congratulations on a job well done and get some rest. If you are exhausted I can’t imagine how tired Carolyn and Marilyn must be 🙂

  7. Man, that 10 days would have killed me. Your Washington talk was great, I was a little nervous for you after Colbert belly flopped, I wanted you to get a little political for a change and tell someone to change some regulation but in the end was glad you stuck with your DJ theme and didn’t go there. I’ve tried to figure out trade rules and frankly it’s confusing as hell. I could see how that conversation could turn badly in a flash for anyone who isn’t an expert in that area.

    Can’t help but wonder if you and Discovery have some new ideas cooking. Guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

    Ad week must have been interesting, your relationship with sponsors is another example of how you think outside the box, I can imagine the shocked faces in the audience while listening to Caterpillar and Lee explain your “relationship”.

    Thanks for the updates Mike. Can’t wait to see the twins again, they were delightful.

  8. Hi Mike,

    I just wanted to chime in and congratulate you on everything you are accomplishing. On a very selfish note, I hope you have many years of Dirty Jobs ahead of you!

    Enjoy your nap and have a great week…


  9. Sounds like things are going well in your world. I would love to see you have a sit-down with Bill Clinton. I think between the two of you, our country’s problems could largely be solved. Get some rest, we’ll need you full of energy to solve that whole global warming thing next week. 😉 Love ya!

  10. Wow, Mike… just wow. I still think one of the best ways to bring all these aspects of your incredibly busy life is to do a mrW tour. You are one of a kind and hold a lot of power in your hands right now! Use it well.

  11. Mackinac must have been beautiful. With all that traveling and work I’m sure glad your getting a well deserved rest. I was wondering however,did Barsky ever get over his Vertigo? Your friend, Shannon

  12. Hi Mike,

    I trust that by now you are well rested from your whirlwind tour with the skilled tradesmen up North.

    Although I admire your gallantry in highlighting America’s decline in the manufacturing industry, don’t you think that you should have also shared blame with the US GOVERNMENT, BIG BUSINESS, (ROI) RETURNS ON INVESTMENT, BOTTOM LINES, WALLSTREET, and just plain old dirty, rotten GREED?

    I’m not trying to “MUCK UP” your op-ed piece for US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, I’m just trying to be “politically correct.”

    On second thought, maybe your DC trip would have fared better if you had taken Marilyn and Carolyn with you! LOL I LOVE THE TWINS! Truly charming!!! 🙂

    Thanks for providing a voice for those who are not able to speak. Have a great weekend!

    Lisa —- standing under the brown dust clouds in the COTTON FIELDS OF LUBBOCK, TEXAS. You can’t get much dirtier than that.

  13. Yeah thanks for coming to Caterpillar. Well not realy. Like you said you spoke with the office people you didn’t even get to realy speak with the people that make these tractor. The ones that put the real work in. Becuase if it wasn’t for the people that assemble, weld,and machine them you would not have cat tractors. I thought you are helping out the skill trades. Why don’t you come back and see the real work come spend a day with me no a week and realy see what we do. But wait dosen’t cat own you so when you came here they told you what you where going to do who you where going to speak to and every thing else for that day.

  14. Hey Mike-

    Just love watching you in the evenings around dinner time. If you ever are in Denver and want to grab a beer- just holler!

    Cheers to being gainfully employed- dirty or not!

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