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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

CAROL TAKES CENTER STAGE WITH SCITEX CEO EFI ARAZI

In our family June 6th is not D-Day, it's B-Day, and that year Carol was celebrathing her 45th birthday. Secretly I had stopped at the concierge desk to order a dozen roses (blumen) to be delivered to our room at 8:30 a.m. before we left for the exhibit. The card read, "Alles gute zum beburstag" (have a good birthday). Precisely at the prearranged time, there was a knock at the door. Carol answered the door, delighted that I had remembered. But, the day would not continue at that level. She was a trooper and knew we had to work that day. Our first stop was the Scitex pavillion, which could be entered through a special ramp through Hall 4, the prepress area. The Scitex display was especially built for this DRUPA.

As was my established ritual, we sat in the first row in front of a stage on which Efi Arazi, the Israeli company's CEO, would make his presentation. He had several terminals in front of him, with a large screen behind him showing closeups of his demonstration. Efi had an eye for good looking women and Carol was easy to look at. He spotted my wife and asked her to assist him in editing color on the terminals. At the time, she was a total illiterate when it came to computers. The screen had several images of Chris Evert, who had been the top ranked woman tennis player for seven of the past eight years. Efi directed Carol in changing her green dress into one of pink. Then he suggested that Chris, known for her powerful two hand backhand stroke, become a lefty, rather than using her natural right handed stroke, Carol pushed each key as she was instructed and the audience oohed and aahed at the equipment's spectacular capabilities. When he escorted her off the stage, she was like a love struck teenager. All she could talk about was this attractive Israeli. I lied and I told her I had arranged for her to be selected. Welcome to show business.

Efi was a brilliant guy and we set up an interview in our offices later that month. That ordeal will be covered in a future blog. We we moved to several other press briefings with Carol on my tail, and discovered that Agfa Gaevert was hosting an affair at a beer house in Old Town. We took a break from the end-to-end press conferences to get a breath of fresh air, and a bratwurst and beer at one of the hundreds of food stands scattered throughout the fairgrounds. "Covering DRUPA is hard work!," Carol shouted over the crowd noise.

Our staff all came together in late afternoon. It was extremely warm and beads of perspiration showed on our foreheads. Since Ron Andriani and Roger and Judy Ynostroza were staying in Cologne, there was no time to commute back and forth, so we invited them back to the Parkhotel to clean up. We asked each other, "Do you really think we have to change?" Remembering the formal dress at the opera, I nodded in the affirmative. But it was consensus that we were only going to a casual beer hall. What's more we were running late. We drove to the hotel and as we arrived, we spotted Bob Coppenrath and his wife exiting the hotel. He was the head honcho at Agfa. He was dressed in a light blue suit and orange shirt (the Agfa colors), and his wife, fashionably dressed, hair freshly coiffed, and looked like she had come from the pages of Vogue Magazine. We looked at each other and unanimously agreed, we had to change our clothes.

Remember it was very warm. The five of us went to our room to clean up, and opened the window. Across the alley, less that six feet away, was another open window. Preparing for the evening's opera, the cast were in various stages of undress, putting on costumes and exercising their vocal cords. Ron shouted out, "They're half naked," and the cast laughed. They could hear every word we said. We walked to the beer hall, and arrived about an hour late. The temperature in the venue was well over 100 degrees, and when we entered we saw Bob Coppenrath sweating profusely, even though he had discarded his suit jacket, tie and shirt. He was now standing in an Agfa orange tee shirt. His wife's hair, exquisitely coiffed when we saw her earlier, was now hanging limply on her shoulders. Carol looked at me with daggers in her eyes. "This is the way we're celebrating my birthday," she said sarcastically. The next day I sent her shopping with the wives of the executives of American exhibitors. And she never stepped foot on the DRUPA messe again.