Products to Services

 

SunLeo rules the Sun, which rules the MC (Midheaven) of my astrological chart. The MC is the cusp of the tenth house, the zenith of a horoscope. The MC symbolizes a person’s career and purpose and illuminates the relationship between father and child. Wherever Leo is in your astrology chart, you need to shine like the Sun. Saturn and Pluto are planets that closely straddle my MC in the sign of Leo. Ancient astrology books define that combo as a recipe for disaster. When I was 29 and Saturn returned to its natal position by transit, my father suddenly and unexpectedly died at age 54. At the times in my life when Saturn or Pluto was transiting my natal Saturn Pluto conjunction; a devastating fire destroyed my candle factory; partners with alcohol, drug, and gambling addictions ruined our businesses; a cotton crisis wrecked my opportunity for success; and one more great opportunity was demolished by a hurricane. I felt like my career was a tragedy waiting to happen.  Any person with Saturn conjunct Pluto in Leo needs to be crystal clear in their intent, disciplined, structured, focused (Saturn) and willing to let go and change (Pluto). Lead is transformed into gold when Saturn and Pluto are employed in the service of the Sun. Real alchemy is metaphysical, not physical.

mark seltman rt hand smI never foresaw any catastrophic events in my hands. Even with 20/20 hindsight, I’d never have predicted misfortune. I have an overlapping break in my fate line for this period, but that could easily have been interpreted as a transition from one career to another. Hand reading is best for identifying basic character. Astrology is useful for gaining insight into a person’s motivations, behavior patterns, habits, and timing. Tarot cards are good for getting at unconscious issues. It’s nearly impossible to be fully objective about oneself.

Everyone plans. No one can truly predict their future.

solar symbolMy intention had been to become a rich and famous designer. I was grandiose, hungry for power, and positive that I’d eventually design some product that everyone wanted or needed. I began wondering if maybe I wasn’t supposed to be doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing.

 

 

After my light filtering window shade fiasco, I became anxious about money. I hadn’t a clue where the next influx would come from. The owner of a butcher block factory who I had designed kitchenware for recommended my design services to a friend who manufactured wooden paddle-ball paddles for a large sports design and marketing company. This guy was rudely awakened when he was told that if he didn’t lower his prices, the company he was supplying would go to Taiwan to purchase their paddles. Making someone else’s paddles was already not all that profitable, so he decided that he needed to create his own proprietary product line and retained me to come up with new design ideas. His company was morphing from being the hired help to becoming the competition. I designed a dozen or so graphic treatments which he felt were too outrageous to speculate on. He asked me several times to go back to the drawing board until he ended up with imitations of the original paddles he had been producing with minor decorative variations. Here are a couple of my efforts and the results. I made a few thousand dollars in the process.

Paddle Ball Paddles

Meanwhile, Avraham and I weren’t about to give up. We tried to “think and grow rich” several more times as our business schemes became even more grandiose.

Hopscotch“Twister” was a very popular floor game at the time. It was printed on a vinyl mat. We did our homework and found that a “Hop Scotch” mat had never been marketed, so we fabricated a prototype. Our challenge was to find a way to protect our investment. Anyone with a piece of chalk owns hop scotch. There was no way we could patent, copyright, or trademark the name. There was also no way we wouldn’t get knocked off by a large player in the game industry if we were to become successful. Then there was the potential insurance liability if anyone slipped and broke their neck or was injured in any way while using our product. We decided there were just too many obstacles to proceed. We also agreed that maybe it was time to put our product ideas on the back burner and try something new, so we stuck our restless toes in the tumultuous waters of the service industry.

“AMERICAN AUTOMOTIVE WARRANTIES CORP” was our attempt to provide new car owners with the maintenance insurance that the automotive industry had recently taken away. We courageously designed and marketed our new concept, initially sending out thousands of carefully crafted brochures to new car buyers. Unfortunately, we were way out of our league and unable to accumulate enough money in escrow to become an insurance company. We tried to find investors, but ultimately had to return the money to customers who had sent us checks.

Our next concept was a bona fide winner, although we ended up being losers. New York City was in a major financial crisis in the mid 1970’s. Avraham and I had an epiphany during one of our many brainstorming sessions. NYC was losing a fortune by not attempting to collect their out of state non-moving traffic violations. We formed NATIONAL TRAFFIC VIOLATION SYSTEMS, INC. and designed official looking stationary informing violators that they had been caught red-handed. We decided that NYC would be a perfect test market for the idea. Other large cities would follow.

It was a slippery slope because a summons is not a judgment and because no one had ever figured out how to quickly and easily trace out of state license plates to drivers. We did. We assumed that enough people would be scared or paranoid enough for us to make a respectable living. We contacted the department of motor vehicles in NYC. They nibbled on our bait by asking for more information on how to pull the idea off. We assumed we could trust them and revealed our entire plan to them. We waited patiently for several weeks for a response. The next thing we knew, we were reading in a Pittsburgh newspaper about how New York was preparing to collect fifty million dollars in non-moving out of state traffic violations.

Needless to say, we were pissed. With plenty of registered letters and correspondences with officials of New York City in hand, we planned to fight for our rights. It’s not how we had hoped to make our money, but it was better than nothing. We showed up in NYC and tried to find a law firm to represent us. Many of the largest law firms had conflicts of interest. NYC was or had been a client of theirs. They told us to let go – to give up. It would be extremely expensive and ridiculously difficult to squeeze a cent out of NYC during their financial crises. NYC was close to bankruptcy. Adding insult to injury, we ended up having to pay the NYC parking violations we’d accrued on our path to failure.

Avraham and I finally decided to throw in the towel. We’d continue to do our own things and be friends and sounding boards for each other. It’s been nearly forty years since our last attempt to do business together. We still speak frequently and still share grand ideas. I was recently walking in the woods with Avraham when he turned to me and said, “I used to dream that I’d be successful and own all sorts of stuff and I do. I’m glad I proved to myself that I could do it and am happy to report that I no longer need any of it to be happy”. I immediately challenged him to let go of it. I doubt that’s going to happen.

After Avraham and I parted ways, I went through a kind of dark period in my design thinking. Punk Rock was popular and there was a kind of fatalism in the air. I designed a collection of printed beach towels that looked like broken glass, rusty nails, hot coals, and a bunch of other stuff that no one would ever want to lie on. Here are a few.

Beach Towels

I’d been designing mugs for a large drinking mug manufacturer when I approached them with my punk-like designs below. I figured that there had to be a market for novelties of this type. They weren’t interested. Since I’d already done the design work, I thought I’d try placing my artwork on a different kind of product. I approached a novelty toilet paper manufacturer who was already printing money and faces of prominent people on toilet paper. I really thought they’d go for my idea. Instead, they told me to “take my socio-political statements elsewhere”.  I didn’t get it. Maybe I’d try t-shirt manufacturers next. I wasn’t sure what to do with my frustration.Mug and toilet paper designsThis is a self-portrait I created during this time. I call it the twelve phases of darkness.

round self portrait

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