Story #1: The Fall and Rise of ‘The Worst Commercial Ever Made’
Upon its release, it was immediately damned by critics as “The Worst Commercial Ever Made.” It was broadcast only once—all three minutes and thirty-five seconds of it—on October 7, 1979 during an episode of “Vega$.” It bankrupted the carpet outlet store that paid to have it made. People, property, and kittens were injured during its production. Careers were ruined; lunches were uneaten .
In its aftermath, it was seen as the final nail in the coffin of the era known as “The Golden Age of the Local Commercial Auteur”—a time when directors were given complete freedom by small businesses to pursue their visions, no matter the funds allocated in the advertising budget. Its disaster was so complete—so thorough and unmitigated—that the ripples from its failure are still being felt to this day–from its Chicagoland origins to the entire North American continent.
The name of this notoriously notorious and epically epic commercial was “Lincoln Carpeting Factory Outlet Superstore: Where We Roll Out the Red Carpet of Nonstop Savings!” While the scope of the financial disaster and the excoriating reviews from the critics have been well documented, in recent years, growing legions of critics and commercial-philes are now championing the work; once ridiculed as “The most pretentious, portentious, ostentatious dogturd to ever hit the streets,” “Lincoln Carpeting…” is now considered by many 21st Century critics to be “The 20th Century’s Most Underrated Masterpiece.”
The story of “Lincoln Carpeting Factory Outlet Superstore: Where We Roll Out the Red Carpet of Nonstop Savings!”—the insane perfectionism during its production, its dead-on-arrival status upon its release, its resurrection in recent years as younger eyes and ears have experienced the commercial untainted by its notoriety–has never been fully chronicled.
In 1978, commercial director Adlai Prescott “A.P.” Parsonson was on top of the Chicagoland commercial world.
He was coming off an enormously successful 1978 during which his commercial for the Algonquin Roundtable Superstore (in Algonquin, Illinois) won numerous awards—including the highly-coveted “Commercial of the Year” Lech (the Oscar equivalent in the Chicagoland Commercial business, named after Lech Lianardowicz, the prolific 1950’s commercial filmmaker perhaps best known for directing the groundbreaking 1958 opus “Villa Park Appliances”) was as ubiquitous as ads for Harlem Furniture and Danley’s Garages during breaks in Cubs games on WGN. The commercial quintupled the profits for the company who paid to have him write and direct their commercial, and as the summer of 1978 turned into the Fall and Holiday season, it seemed no home was complete without an Algonquin Round Table—from middle-class families in Oak Lawn, to disco queens in Lincoln Park.
Its financial success was matched only by its artistic achievement.
“I’ve always loved Parsonson’s work with ‘Algonquin,’” says contemporary Chicagoland commercial filmmaker/enfant terrible Teddy San Giacomo. “The colors, the costumes, the jingle. It’s one of those commercials where you can look at it to this day, and say, ‘My God. That is how you make a [bleepin] commercial for tables. And it only won one Lech. Astounding!”
Indeed, “Algonquin Roundtable Superstore” is unquestionably a masterpiece—a dizzyingly mesmerizing tour de force in which a commercial beginning with the spinning shimmers of a disco ball concludes with astronauts on the moon playing backgammon on a round table, with the vast scope of Western Civilization seamlessly woven in between—from the Last Supper to the Continental Congress, from King Arthur to Douglas MacArthur, the Parthenon to Machu Picchu. Round tables feature prominently throughout these historical mini-tours of the epochs. Lavish costuming and vibrant color leave the consumer on the brink of ecstatic reverie, and when these stunning visuals are paired with the disco-throbbing jingle sung by Mandy Ripperton (the cousin of Minnie Ripperton, best known for performing the 70’s classic “Loving You”), the thirty second experience leaves one seized with longing to be a part of our world’s past, present and future by simply finding the nearest round table and sitting near it.
The critics were unanimous in their praise. “If a better commercial exists, I haven’t seen it,” commercial critic Alexander Fairchild proclaimed in the pages of the LaGrange Heights Picayune.
“In a year of ‘Pop pop fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is,’ and so many other mainstream abortions,” ranted beloved curmudgeon J. Stevenson Pepperdine of the Downer’s Grove Standard Bearer, “’Algonquin’ stands as a testament to the vast possibilities heretofore uncharted in the televised commercial realm.”
“An exuberant tapestry,” announced Henderson Bailey of the Lincoln Square Cracker Barrel, “woven from threads made from the very fabric of life—birth to death, epoch to epoch. If Genius and Mr. Parsonson were in the same cocktail party, there would be no need for introductions, for they are—without a doubt—on quite familiar terms.”
The accolades, as well as the heavy rotation of the “Algonquin Roundtable” commercial on UHF stations throughout the Chicagoland market, caught the eyes and ears of Franklin L. Chuckberry, President and CEO of Lincoln Carpeting Factory Outlet Superstore, a 10,000 square foot showroom located on the outskirts of Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
Franklin L. Chuckberry passed away in 1999, but his son Bruce recalls his father’s reaction to the Algonquin Round Table commercial.
“Everytime it’s on, he turns to me and says, ‘Now that’s a commercial!,’ and I thought the whole thing was kinda nuts the way the colors spun in circles like it was a disco or a psychedelic acid rock band, and besides that—what did the Last Supper have to do with round tables, or Algonquin? If you’ve ever been there, it’s not exactly a spiritual retreat. But I’m just a kid in Garanimals back then, so what did I know?
“But Dad loved that commercial. And he loved it so much, it got to the point where we were eating dinner in front of the television and it comes on again, and Ma stabs the Salisbury steak in her Swanson’s tray with her knife, slides away the TV tray, gets up out of her La-Z-Boy, waddles over to Pop, grabs him by the butterfly lapels of his orange polyester jacket and says, “You like it so much, get him to make your own commercial. Everyone has an Algonquin Round Table now because of this commercial. We get this guy to make us a commercial, they’ll all have Lincoln Carpets underneath those tables.”
“And that was the biggest mistake I ever made,” Mrs. Eunice Chuckberry recalls, years later, laughing at the memory before her lungs give way to an avalanche of cigarette-induced coughing.
In October of 1978, Franklin L. Chuckberry, ten-year old son Bruce in tow, meets A.P. Parsonson for the very first time, at a Sambo’s Restaurant in Palatine. While unable to recall the specifics of their discussion, Bruce has clear memories of the general tenor and demeanor of his father and Parsonson.
“I’m sippin’ on my shake while they’re talkin’ turkey about the commercial, and I’m too young to follow along what they’re sayin’, but I do remember Parsonson showin’ up forty-five minutes late, and as we’re about to go up to pay our check, in he walks in, and the moment he walks in, you know it can’t be anybody but A.P. Parsonson, because he’s short and a little squat, but he’s got this all-white suit on like he’s a Bee Gee or somethin’, one of those brown nicely manicured beards like a Kenny Loggins kinda look about him, but what gets me is that he’s also wearing a beret that’s in cheetah print, and the first thing he says to my Dad—this I do remember—is that the cheetah is his spirit animal and he wore this specifically for this occasion.
“I mean, we’re livin’ in a split-level in Des Plaines. Neither me or my Pop are like accustomed to seeing guys walking around dressed like this, acting like this.”
Bruce Chuckberry says Parsonson did most of the talking and, in hindsight, he has a theory as to why the meal at Sambo’s transpired like it did.
“Oh yeah—[Parsonson] was acting real nervous, real twitchy, with the sweats, and he couldn’t keep his hands still. Always snifflin’. Readjusting that goofy cheetah-print beret. The man could not stop talkin’. I didn’t know it then, and my Dad wasn’t quite hip enough to catch on to Parsonson’s deal, but looking back, it’s obvious to me that he was doing quite a bit of that nose cocaine. And my Pops is listening politely because he’s so in awe of that commercial and so respectful of this man’s art, he doesn’t want to tell him how to do his job.”
What emerged over the course of this meal at Sambo’s was that A.P. Parsonson would agree to have his next commercial—his follow-up to the incredible success of “Algonquin Round Tables”—be for Lincoln Carpet Factory Outlet Superstore. Aside from Chuckberry’s insistence in making prominent use of the slogan, “Where We Roll Out the Red Carpet of Nonstop Savings!” Parsonson demanded carte blanche to follow his vision of the commercial unfettered by any questions or concerns raised by Franklin P. Chuckberry or anyone affiliated with Lincoln Carpets. Parsonson demanded a budget of $8,000 (“Unprecedented for the time,” Bruce says, “but Pops thought, “Meh, if the guy knows what he’s doin’, this is chump change compared to the money we’ll make once it’s done.”), and made countless assurances to all concerned that the commercial would be finished and within budget before New Years, 1979, as part of Lincoln Carpets’ “Low Money Down, No Payments ‘til the Eighties!” Winter Campaign of early1979.
“Art. Fart. We were in the business of carpeting.” Mrs. Eunice Chuckberry gasps before coughing and wheezing the desperate inhalations of the emphysemic.
Parsonson has said next to nothing (and refused to be interviewed for this) about the creation, production, and filming that went into “Lincoln Carpets,” but many in the cast and crew are willing to share their insights.
“We called it ‘Camp Parsonson,’” recalls Gary “Shazam” Shasinski. “In the morning, we had rollerskating lessons. In the afternoon, we learned how to speak Polish. And at night, when the carpet store closed, we’d go into the store, and learn carpet installation. We’re talking 18 hour days before the shooting even starts.”
Shasinski, perhaps best known to Chicagoland viewers as the guy who tries getting into his beat-up car only to accidentally rip off the driver’s side door in the “Triumphant Auto Salvage” commercial, portrays the “Peasant Leader,” the man who drives the action in the commercial with a kind of quasi-Marxist rhetoric before unfurling the red carpet to the downtrodden masses. While Parsonson became a laughing stock, as news of his dictatorial direction methods, his monomaniaal obsessions with perfection, and as the budget skyrocketed out of control as the commercial was months behind schedule, Shasinski sees Parsonson’s meticulous working methods in a different light.
“You don’t tell Michelangelo, ‘Hey, Mike. We’re runnin’ out of time and budget here for your little Sistine Chapel there guy.’ He was and he is an artist, and he was clearly trying to make something for all eternity. That being said, if the man asked for eighty takes of me flailing a bullwhip at a bunch of kittens, eighty takes it is.”
“He would arrange the extras and the cast into shots like he was making a painting,” recalls cinematographer Angelo Cialini, a legend in the Chicagoland commercial business whose work on “Lincoln Carpets” was recognized—however begrudgingly by some—to be not without merit. “For hours, he would stare as they would stand as still as possible. [Parsonson] would point to an extra, say “You. Out.”, point to another, say, “You. In.”It went like that for hours: “You. Out.” “You. In.”
And then there are the stories of the missed lunches. “There were quite a few afternoons when Parsonson would be there with the crew, the camera pointed at the sky,” recalls Jean-Luc Chantille, a gaffer on the project. “It would start around 9 or 10, when he’d stare at the sky, study the sky, like he was waiting for clouds to pass, like he was waiting for the perfect color. He’d do this until 4 or 5 in the afternoon or later. Once—and we were all getting hungry—it was getting to be dusk and the whole crew’s just sitting there while A.P. is staring at the sky not saying a word, and a cameraman asked “Ya know, hey: When’s lunch?” Parsonson turned to him, and his fury was a slow burn, each word getting louder: “Lunch? Lunch?! Lunch?!! We’re trying to make something for the ages, and you’re thinking about lunch?!?!” Needless to say, no one asked about lunch ever again.
“But in a way, it was kinda neat,” Chantille says, smiling at the memories, three decades later. “A lot of commercials just feel so…commercial. Over and done. That’s it, getcher paycheck and go home. But for once, it felt like we were really trying for something special.“
When asked if she ever thought Parsonson was doing something potentially groundbreaking with “Lincoln Carpets,” Eunice Chuckberry fell into an angry convulsive coughing and wheezing fit from what would be her death bed, culminating in a hocked-up earth-toned phlegm stone the size of an egg yolk landing on this reporter’s tape recorder.
While he was kept out of the locations where they filmed, rumors were making their way back to Franklin L. Chuckberry. “And what he heard ain’t pretty,” his son says.
Initially, Parsonson wanted to film in the Gladstone Park neighborhood of Chicago’s Northwest Side and use that stretch of Milwaukee Avenue to unfurl the red carpet of savings.
“The problem was that there were no hills,” recalls Shasinski.
But Parsonson loved the storefronts and yellow-bricked buildings along Milwaukee Avenue, so he came up with the idea to find unused, relatively undulating, land outside of Bloomington-Normal (roughly two hours south of Chicago) and construct a set to look exactly like Gladstone Park, only with a hill large enough to roll a large red carpet.
Shooting away from Chicago like this presented another advantage for Parsonson: “Dad couldn’t make it down there because he had a carpet business to run up here,” says Bruce Chuckberry.
The set was painstakingly constructed through the Fall and early winter. Facades that didn’t match exactly what Parsonson had seen in Gladstone Park were torn down and rebuilt, torn down and rebuilt. When the street was too wide, one side of the street was completely demolished and rebuilt again. When the street was too narrow, same thing.
And as the crew built and rebuilt outside of Bloomington-Normal, the cast learned to rollerskate, learned Polish, learned carpet installation on the outskirts of Rolling Meadows. Costume designers in Rhinelander, Wisconsin did their best to meet the high standards set by Parsonson to match the clothing of Eastern European peasantry circa 1917. Kittens were “rescued” from shelters. And still, six months into production, there had been no filming.
To make matters worse, by the time the set was ready to go, the notorious blizzard of 1979 struck. The set was demolished, not by Parsonson’s scrupulousness, but by Mother Nature’s wrath.
They rebuilt once more, and as the snow thawed, Parsonson was ready to merge cast and crew on a hillside outside of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, as the bills for Parsonson’s work started coming into the offices of Franklin L. Chuckberry.
The plot of the commercial is actually quite simple: Peasants bedrabbled in peasant garb lug, push, and pull drab, old, and stained carpeting as wealthy industrialists laugh at them while smoking cigars and stroking hissing fat cats seated in their laps. In Polish, peasant women lament to the heavens, “You call this freedom! Land of the free?” and then they spit as they shake their heads at the threadbare carpeting they are burdened with.
And then, at the top of a hill, a man all alone standing in front of a Lincoln Carpeting delivery truck, with the sun’s rays behind him, shouts—in Polish with English subtitles—“Downtrodden masses! Revolt! Free installation and true freedom is yours! But you must fight!” And with the word “fight,” the man slides open the back door of the truck and unfurls red carpeting, and in slow-motion, the carpeting bounces and unrolls down the hill.
The masses immediately drop their carts and peasanty accoutrments. They dance for joy. They begin to rollerskate as the red carpet rolls past. They rollerskate in synchronized figure-eights, circles, hammers, sickles. The wealthy industrialists are crushed under the weight of the red carpet covering the street. Rollerskates and pushcarts roll over the red carpeting, and yet, the carpet does not stain. It stays a red that is so red, some would even call it scarlet. Fat cats and kittens are crushed under the carpeting. Nightstick-swinging riot police try to stop this revolution in the making, but are struck down by the endless unfurling of this incredible red carpet. The Leader of the Revolution (Shasinski) bullwhips the land, the rich, the cops, the kittens.
In the commercial’s final shot, under a cornflower blue afternoon in May in the Midwest, the carpet rolls down this hilly Milwaukee Avenue, and dead ends at a façade built to resemble the Lincoln Carpet Factory Outlet Super Store. The slogan: “Where We Roll Out the Red Carpet of Savings” appears on the screen as if it’s the victory banner seen in Soviet poster art of the 1920’s. Peasants, hundreds of peasants, run joyfully from all directions towards the store’s entrance, cheering, embracing, falling to the red carpet in ecstasy.
Five hundred extras were used. Over two miles of Christoesque red carpeting was unfurled. Seven kittens were killed, and one fat cat—a Tabby named Sarah Purrrrcell, had her little legs broken by the carpeting. Nine of the peasants, accidentally whipped by Shasinski or accidentally trampled by the red carpet, required hospitalization for their injuries.
When shooting was completed, there was twelve hours of footage that needed to be edited down to average commercial length, an unprecedented amount of film used for a local television commercial.
“Only Super Bowl commercials use that much footage,” claims the gaffer on the project, Jean-Luc Chantille. “And even that’s rare.”
“And the calls,” cinematographer Angelo Cialini remembers, “were shouting matches between Parsonson and Chuckberry. Franklin wanted to drive down to Bloomington-Normal and see what the hell we were doing, since the bills were astronomical by that point.”
“Finally, Dad did drive down there, once the blizzard thawed, but by then, the thing was supposed to be finished, but Parsonson wouldn’t meet with him until it was done, insisting that the commercial be shown in Rolling Meadows at the warehouse—‘So the workers can see it too,’ Parsonson had told Dad–and they’d yell back and forth on the phone, Dad yelling, “Where’s my goddamn commercial!” and Parsonson yelling back, “You’ll get your bleepin’ commercial when it’s done and not a moment sooner!”
When this reporter asked Shasinski if Bruce Chuckberry’s allegations of “nose cocaine” on the set were true. He responded, simply, “Yes.”
All told, “Lincoln Carpets” was “finished,” and broadcast one year behind schedule, and the total cost was not the $8,000 agreed upon, but ten times that much.
And then, Parsonson presented the finished product to the Chuckberrys, and all the employees of Lincoln Carpeting Factory Outlet Superstore.
“Well, there are awkward parties, and there are awkward parties,” Shasinski laughs when asked about the screening of the commercial.
The screening was held in the Lincoln Carpeting Factory Outlet Superstore warehouse. A screen, some frozen pizza, Andre champagne, Diet Squirt, and Oreos were brought in to celebrate the occasion.
“And believe me—by then, that’s all Dad could afford,” says Bruce Chuckberry.
“Silence,” is how Cialini describes the response to the director’s cut of the commercial, all four minutes and fifty-five seconds of it. “The kind of silence that’s not enraptured silence like you’re paying attention, but a bored silence borne out of annoyed anger.”
In this director’s cut, within the first minute, five peasant women, driven to the ultimate despair from the harangues of the industrialists, fall to their deaths from their Gladstone Park three-flats. Stock footage of time-lapse flowers—daisies, roses, even chrysanthemums—sprout, grow, bloom, whither, and die. Photographs of Genghis Khan and Michael Bilandic alternate between the peasants’ struggle, with stark black question marks surrounding the two leaders’ faces. The battle scene alone—with the red carpet, the revolutionary leader spurring on the peasants against the wealthy elite and the riot police—is two minutes long, four times longer than most commercials. At the end, fair peasant maidens, liberated from the drudgery of drab carpeting and the oppression of the ruling classes, remove their tops and expose ample Eastern European breasts.
When it ends and the lights to the warehouse are turned back on, Eunice Chuckberry is no longer there. She had left “to puke,” she gasps, thirty-one years later, from her deathbed. No one claps. “A few of our sales reps were asleep,” recalls Bruce Chuckberry.
“Nobody’s clapping,” A.P. Parsonson said to Franklin Chuckberry. “Why isn’t anyone clapping?”
“Because,” Chuckberry said. “It stinks.”
Chuckberry demanded that the nudity and suicide be cut entirely, and that the violence be drastically reduced. In fact, Chuckberry wanted the commercial reduced to thirty seconds. Parsonson offered a compromise. He would cut it to three minutes and thirty-five seconds, and pay for half the costs of the commercial out of the royalties earned from the phenomenal success of “Algonquin Roundtables.” Parsonson even went so far as to offer to pay to have the commercial’s initial broadcast, primetime, on ABC, during the hit televison series “Vega$.”
“So now, as if all of this wasn’t unprecedented enough,” Bruce Chuckberry says, “now you got the director of a commercial offering to pay the broadcaster to have it broadcast. He’s offering to pay half of the costs to make the thing. Dad wants to sue for breach of contract, among other things, but for some reason this mollifies him. Maybe he was thinkng like you know all publicity is good publicity even if kittens are getting trampled to death by red carpets from our warehouse. And Vega$, you gotta understand, was a real big deal back in 1979. A real big deal! It was not cheap to get a prime advertising slot during a show as loved as that, believe you me. So Dad hoped—even though Mom knew, and I think deep down Dad knew too—but he still hoped that Lincoln Carpets could salvage this somehow.”
“By that point, Parsonson was out of his mind,” Cialini says. “He would meet me for drinks, constantly rubbing the top of his cheetah print beret like it was a crystal ball, grab me by the arm and insist, ‘When it’s out there, people will understand. They will. Understand.’ Yeah, he was obsessed alright. He was like the Ahab of Chicagoland commercials. “
Whatever hopes both Franklin Chuckberry and A.P. Parsonson held for the “Lincoln Carpets” commercial were crushed when the critics delivered their damning verdicts in the morning papers of October 10, 1979. Alexander Fairchild is responsible for the “dogturd” quote in the beginning of this piece.
J. Stevenson Pepperdine had this to say: “An ugly film, a pus-filled Goodyear Blimp of self-indlulgence. It makes one wonder if Parsonson made a deal with the devil to make something as wonderful as “Algonquin Round Tables,” and now Satan has come to collect.”
Henderson Bailey was not as charitable. “A perfectly engaging episode of ‘Vega$’ was ruined by this dull, drab, miserable anti-American polemic. A monumental waste of time, energy, and resources. Ewwwwwww, does this stink! Peeeeeeeee-yewwwwww! And to say anything more would be a waste of newsprint.”
Animal rights groups protested the Lincoln Carpet Factory Outlet Superstore, waving signs that read, “Kittens Are Actors Too!”
Throughout Chicagoland, “I wanted an Algonquin roundtable and instead you roll out the red carpet on my ass?” became a common expression for when reality fell far short of expectation.
“My own mother said that to me a month or two after the debacle,” Gary “Shazam” Shasinski said. “And all I could say back was, ‘Even you, Ma? Even you?’”
All of this led to a perfect storm for the Lincoln Carpet Factory Outlet Superstore. In the spring of 1980, the protests, the negative publicity over the commercial, and the expenses in the getting the commercial made, all conspired to close its doors.
“Dad was never the same after that,” says Bruce Chuckberry. “Desperate, he found work selling vinyl flooring. He had always thought that was beneath him. But he did it, to put food on the table, and the benders grew longer, angrier. Any discussion of the role of the artist in an age of commercialism sent him ballistic. You know how it is.”
Less than a week after our interview, Eunice Chuckberry passed away. According to Bruce, her last words were, “Never. Trust. An artist.”
It was broadcast on television only once, laughed off the airwaves, hated in print, cast off to an island of eternal infamy.
And yet, something funny happened on the way to Oblivion. The years were kind to “Lincoln Carpets…”Art houses screened it; audiences gave standing ovations at its conclusion. Contemporary critics, untainted by scores to settle with A.P. Parsonson’s ego and the bloated production of the thing, are as passionate in their praise as the critics of 1979 were in their spite.
“It was the late 1970’s, and in a post-Vietnam society, Chicagoland was simply not ready for the message “Lincoln Carpets” so beautifully conveys,” says Jay Trilby, creator, editor, and writer of the popular blog “The Northeast Illinois Commercial Review.” “To use a popular phrase around here, too much at the time was made of how the sausage was made rather than the sausage itself. And what an exquisitely tenderly nuanced sausage.”
In his essay “The 20th Century’s Most Underrated Masterpiece,” art historian Kristof Purescu places “Lincoln Carpets…” as the “…inheritor of the Melvillian epic writ large for the final quarter of 1900’s…and far, far beyond.
“To use the local commercial as a call to arms, to revolution, to liberation, to express class struggle without sentimentality (because even kittens die in war), and to express the struggle’s essence for what it is—a struggle of man versus himself, nature, and society, fervently expresses Parsonson’s frustrations with the world as he saw it, where wealth, privilege and red carpeting was the exclusive province of the wealthy, as the impoverished struggled desperately to survive; it is a capstone, a summit by which mere mortals like ourselves gaze and desire not only free installation of the latest styles in carpeting at ultra-low financing, but the right to be free to follow our dreams—economics be damned!—and that is what A.P. Parsonson so painfully achieved with his masterwork. “
Parsonson himself has said next to nothing about it. In a 1989 AM radio interview on the program “Morning Cockadoodles with Willie and Dick,” Parsonson said, “In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, Jack Kennedy took full responsibility for everything that went wrong in that debacle. In that spirit, I take full responsibility for ‘Lincoln Carpets.’ To direct commercials in Chicagoland, you’re like a boxer. You step in the ring to attain victory, but you go in with the understanding that you will be taking a lot of punches.
“I believed in total and complete authenticity,” the Director said. “To have even the smallest of details incorrect completely destroys the verisimilitude of the experience, sending the audience into total mistrust of the product and the performers representing the product. I wanted to create something transcendent, something that shattered the parameters of local commercial production.
In the years since “Lincoln Carpets,” Parsonson directed other commercials, throughout the 1980’s (“Moo and Oink,” “Menards,” “Big Murph’s Automotive.”). They were completed on time and on budget, but none attained the success he had with Algonquin Round Tables.
In the wake of “Lincoln Carpets…,” no commercial director has had the same level of freedom Parsonson had. Budgets are strictly adhered to; the accountants run things, not the directors.
And compared to the ambitions of “Lincoln Carpets….,” there is a certain blandness to Chicagoland commercials ever since.
“You think of what the A.P. Parsonson of the late-70’s, or if we had the Auteur Model of commercialmaking that we had back then operating, but you think of what an artist like that could be doing for your mattress supply stores, your jewelry exchanges, your sliding glass window emporiums, your garden tool purveyors, and on and on,” says bad boy commercial director Teddy San Giacomo. “And it kinda makes you sick, because commercials these days are so boring, so uninspired, compared to what Parsonson did back then. I mean, back then you had suicides and tits in a commercial, and now? You get a bunch of jewelry clerks waving to the camera.”
And so, despite the disasters and its initial flop, perhaps “Lincoln Carpets…” is a testament to perserverence, to the idea that, in these ephemeral times, maybe some works take longer to sink in than others. Gary “Shazam” Shasinski echoes this sentiment.
“Love it or hate it, and—believe me—there’s no in between,” Shasinski says, “it’s the work I’ve done that I’m the most proud of. Sure, it’s nice when people recognize me as the guy who rips the car door off his piece of junk vehicle, but it’s even better when people recognize me—as they do more and more—as the guy who unfurled a red carpet and whipped a bunch of kittens to death.”