TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: LAX PR campaign proved to be no Winner ineyes of the public

If you've already broken your New Year resolutions, there's still

time to add a new one. Drink wine every day.

The vino industry received stellar PR last week when an avowed daily

imbiber suddenly died. How could that possibly be good, you may

earnestly ponder. Well, he was 112 friggin' years old, that's how. The

oldest man alive. Well, until last week, obviously. Jack Daniels should

itself locate an octogenarian drinker of its whiskey for salubrious

promotional purposes.

My neighbor Ted, who consumes "the Jack" religiously, would be good. He

looks to be about 103, and is very physically and mentally active. Still

remembers all the state capitals. Trouble is, he's only 52. I think the

sun and his son are to blame for the premature aging.

Speaking of neighbors, one of mine is the Los Angeles Airport, which I

teased last year for its depiction of nude men on the floor of one if

its terminals. Here we go again with another LAX-cident.

It seems a local PR agency, Winner & Associates, made a controversial

$9 million during its three-year contract to educate the public

about the airport's planned expansion. I was among the public intended

to be educated.

I never understood those mailers, but one day three English

language-challenged workers showed up to soundproof my house. A messy

week later, any potential for noise pollution was squelched permanently.

Alas, the new airtight doors and windows practically create a vacuum.

Air carries noise, sure, but it also carries oxygen, which comes in

handy for breathing.

"But what happens if I open the window to enjoy the weather?" I naively

queried the apparent supervisor.

"Then the noise abatement system (it's a "system") doesn't work."

Neither, apparently, did some of the subcontractors that the PR agency

retained for the actual "PR" part of the airport project. One fellow

even told the LA Times that he felt "truly guilty" about the scant

amount of work conducted. Not guilty enough to return any money or

resign the account, mind you.

And here's the real kicker: Because of a change in mayoral

administrations and the aftermath of September 11, the airport expansion

plan was virtually shelved months ago. Yet Winner & Associates was still

collecting fees - and was poised to receive $1.5 million


For what, I don't know - perhaps un-educating the public with an "oh,

never mind" campaign. Which in my case could have meant sending those

workers back to my house to remove the soundproof doors and windows.

Anyway, bad publicity has forced the firm to withdraw from the contract.

But if they really want to make amends, I have the perfect solution.

Grab a wand and help out with passenger security screenings. At the rate

of $7 an hour, it will only take the staff a few decades to work

off the $9 million.

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