With elections just around the corner, I have been thinking about the little man in my glove compartment. He has been riding around there, in his vending machine ball, since he was given to me by my ingenious friend Nancy Aleck.
For an art project, Nancy fashioned several (dozen?) little clay people to represent politicians and put them in vending machine balls with “Vendo Vote” on the bottom. She couldn’t afford the size of vending machine that would allow the Vendo Vote toys to come out, so she used a regular gum ball machine — making it even funnier, because you could put in your 25 cents again and again and nothing would come out. Her piece was a little bit of performance art and a lot of political commentary.
In my mind, the idea of buying politicians has never been expressed so simply or humorously. The little clay figures are all faceless, making it even more ridiculously appropriate.
P.S. Possibly not coincidentally, this dollar bill showed up at the grocery store the other day:
The following is a poem by my adored friend Mary MacMillan who is a super talented person, an artist and a poet. It really hits the nail…
PET Scan of the World
The massive machine dwarfs the orb
stilled by the pill to relax, rolled onto
the sheet-swathed slab.
The buzz, hum begins as the bruised
sphere yields to pixilation, and hot spots
scream on the imaging screen.
I see the open wounds wrought by Palestine,
Israel, the cremated remains
of the plane shot down
in Ukraine as Russia encroaches, a blood-stained
grab, while Sunnis, Shiites, radical sects
tear at the febrile, ill-built Iraq, tribes
torture Afghanistan, babies
bleed out in hunger-scorched Africa,
pure white bears cling to frail bergs
as the ocean opens its plastic-choked maws
to inhale the pristine shores, dunes,
and dirt-germed, thirsty children
trudge through our borderless lines
of demarcation to protestations of who
belongs in this once sacred
nation, and the prisons are engorged
with men of color, and guns blast
through the hearts of innocence.
I study the magnetic, scattered splotches,
hear only the words; chaos, metastatic,
see the scabby, oozing globe emerge,
wobble onto its scarred axis, hobble
through the hall, trip, fall,
gasp for breath.
Macro wasting into micro.
Just like us.
It’s been difficult to watch tv this summer without seeing commercials for Bud Light’s “real town,” Whatever, U.S.A. I have periodically gone on the site “Upforwhatever.com,” signed in with my age (to prove I am over 21, which anyone can do.) I have to confess that I am not the target audience, and I am basically too old to decipher what is happening here. There is a renamed town called Whatever U.S.A. where people can party on. Whatever. That town is Crested Butte, Colorado, to which Bud Light paid $500,000 for the privilege of bringing 1000 Bud Light-drinking-fans for three days of partying and entertainment. One Denver Post article said that Honey Boo Boo and Jay Z were spotted among the crowds. In keeping with Bud Light’s blue bottle, main street was painted blue, and blue buses were carrying around Bud Light imbibing passengers. Whatever USA officially opened for business just this week. Whatever.
The run up to Whatever U.S.A. was pop up Bud Light Whatever experiences, running throughout the summer. I was able to follow one video which featured two random guys who told the Bud Light Rep they were “Up for Whatever” and an experience ensued, among other things, meeting Alonzo Mourning in a hotel room, and having Karl Malone arrive as a mailman and hooking them up with the full whatever treatment. This included being driven around town by a bull, riding on a bus with cheerleaders, playing H.O.R.S.E. with some NBA players, and getting tricked out at a men’s store in real N.B.A. goin’ out on the town style. Now, that’s hardly whatever. But there you go.
I got interested in the rankings of beer by sales and found some figures for the top 20 in 2013. Brook and I used to use Budweiser as an example in our branding presentation, with its “This Bud’s for You” (i.e. anyone) line which was part of making them the King of Beers for a very, very long time. Turns out that in 2013 Bud Light was the King of Beers, topping the top 20 with $5,945,776,000 in sales. Among the top 20 are 11 beers distributed by Anheuser Busch, including #20 Bud Light Straw Ber Rita which had $246,550,800 in sales. Budweiser, it’s audience growing older, clocked in with $2,1110,352,000 in sales. Not bad, but not close to Bud Light. Whatever.
Bud Light’s UpforWhatever campaign is what marketers calls “experiential.” In addition to Whatever, U.S.A., Bud Light has surprised people all summer (who are up for whatever) with experiences like the NBA one described above.
One of the first experiential campaigns was Saturn’s Homecoming Weekend, described in 1994 by the Chicago Tribune:
SPRING HILL, Tenn. — They arrived from 47 states and a handful of countries. They strapped themselves into harnesses and climbed walls made to look like mountains. Two of them took a respite between the plant tour and the Wynona Judd concert and got married.There were bands, singers, magicians and a fireworks display with “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful” as background music. Tattoo artists left their mark (briefly-they were washable) on guests while even a blacksmith demonstrated how he plies his trade. This was a happening, an event likened to Woodstock revisited.When 38,000 people braved heat, humidity and subsequent cloudbursts to attend.
Saturn was one of the first corporations to recognize that people connect with their stuff and the more you help them connect, the more they want your stuff.
One of the most bizarre experiential campaigns is the Marlboro Ranch Campaign, where winners of contests can go to Crazy Mountain Ranch and smoke with other smokers. As Crazy Mountain Ranch *Marlboro* says on its Facebook page:
The estimate of 55,000 gun deaths since Newtown is based on real CDC figures for 2010 (two years before Newtown) estimated for January 2013 – through August 2014. This is not an unrealistic figure. In 2010, the CDC said that among those killed by guns were 2,964 children and teens. In Chicago alone, there have been more than 1300 shootings this year, on track to be down between 15% and 20% since last year, but not nearly good enough. At the bottom of this blog are the number of school shootings in 2013. (chart from Salon). There were 26 or one every other week. How many did you know about?
After Newtown, I decided to write(every day) about a real person killed by a gun on a given date. I researched their death and anything I could find out about their family. One was headlined “His Mother named him Rayshine.” I don’t know if the mother meant the connection that I made to the rays of the sun. I could feel all the hope imbued in this child, only to be cut down in his youth by America’s favorite toy.
Last week, at a shooting range, a nine year old (9 year old!) girl shot and killed her instructor accidentally with an uzi. It is hard to imagine a shooting range where 9 years olds can shoot an uzi. And who, in fact, is the victim here?
More than two dozen states have weakened their gun laws since Newtown, the most heinous being Georgia’s. According to a post be Aljazeera America : Georgia’s new gun rules kicked in Tuesday, allowing residents to carry firearms into bars, nightclubs, classrooms and government buildings in a measure slammed by anti-weapon activists as a “dangerous kill bill.”
The law, which critics are calling the “guns everywhere” law, is considered one of the most extreme pro-gun bills in the country. Under its provisions, residents with a proper gun permit will be allowed to carry guns at a number of previously off-limits places.The carry laws even extend to allowing people to cross Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport checkpoints with a gun.
A few states, most notably Connecticut and Colorado, have tightened their gun laws. More anti-gun groups have been formed, most notably Gabrielle Giffords’ and Moms Demand Action. Bill Gates just gave $1,000,000 to fight the NRA. But it’s far from enough. The NRA continues to be one of the richest lobbying groups in our country. With the second anniversary of the Newtown shootings right around the Christmas corner, domestic gun violence has taken a back seat to shootings and beheadings in the Middle East. But not because it has gotten better. We can’t forget about it. We can’t let it go.
School Shootings in 2013
|Jan. 7, 2013 –||Apostolic Revival Center Christian School, Fort Myers, FL – Kristopher Smith, 27, a student’s parent, was killed.|
|Jan. 10, 2013 –||Taft Union High School, Taft, CA – one injured.|
|Jan. 11, 2013 –||Osborn High School, Detroit, MI – one injured.|
|Jan. 15, 2013 –||Stevens Institute of Business and Arts, St. Louis, MO – two injured.|
|Jan. 15, 2013 –||Hazard Community and Technical College, Hazard, KY – Taylor Jade Cornett, 12, Caitlin Cornett, 20, and Jackie Cornett, 53, were killed.|
|Jan. 16, 2013 –||Chicago State University, Chicago, IL – Tyrone Lawson, 17, was killed.|
|Jan. 22, 2013 –||Lone Star College, Houston, TX – three injured.|
|Jan. 31, 2013 –||Price Middle School, Atlanta, GA – one injured.|
|March 18, 2013 –||University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL – The gunman, James Oliver Seevakumaran, 30, killed himself.|
|March 21, 2013 –||Davidson Middle School, Southgate, MI – Tyler Nichols, 13, killed himself.|
|April 18, 2013 –||MIT, Cambridge, MA – MIT police officer Sean Collier, 27, was killed.|
|April 29, 2013 –||La Salle High School, Cincinnati, OH – one injured.|
|June 7, 2013 –||Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, CA – several were injured and six people were killed: Marcela Dia Franco, 26, Carlos Navarro Franco, 68, Margarita Gomez, 68, John Zawahri (the shooter), 23, Samir Zawahri (the shooter’s father), 55, and Christopher Zawahri (the shooter’s brother), 24.|
|June 20, 2013 –||Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, West Palm Beach, FL – Christopher Marhsall, 48, and Ted Orama, 56, both custodians, were killed.|
|Aug. 20, 2013 –||Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, Decatur, GA – a gunman fired shots and barricaded himself in an elementary school; no one was injured.|
|Aug. 23, 2013 –||North Panola High School, Sardis, MS – two were injured and Roderick Bobo, 15, was killed.|
|Aug. 30, 2013 –||Carver High School, Winston-Salem, NC – one injured.|
|Sept. 28, 2013 –||Gray-New Gloucester High School, Gray, ME – Gaige McGue killed himself.|
|Oct. 4, 2013 –||Agape Christian Academy, Pine Hills, FL – two injured.|
|Oct. 15, 2013 –||Lanier High School, Austin, TX – Adrian Alvaresz, 16, killed himself.|
|Oct. 21, 2013 –||Sparks Middle School, Sparks, NV – two were injured and Mike Landsberry, a teacher and Afghanistan veteran, was killed. The shooter, 12-year-old Jose Reyes, killed himself.|
|Nov. 2, 2013 –||North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC – one injured.|
|Nov. 3, 2013 –||Stephenson High School, Lithonia, GA – one injured.|
|Nov. 13, 2013 –||Brashear High School, Pittsburgh, PA – three injured.|
|Nov. 21, 2013 –||South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Rapid City, SD – a professor, Alberto Lemut, 37, killed himself.|
|Dec. 4, 2013 –||West Orange High School, Winter Garden, FL – one injured.|
Update: Ray Rice has just been let go by the Baltimore Ravens and banned from the NFL indefinitely. On the positive side, domestic violence is getting lots of attention. On the negative side, the NFL is getting more.
Recently,the Domestic Violence Action Center put up a post (on their blog changingculture.org) about the hand slap which the Ravens’ Ray Rice received for battering his then-girlfriend Jayna Palmer. He beat her up in an elevator and then was caught on camera literally kicking her out of the door while she lay face down on the ground. He got off lightly all around, with a probation and community service from the courts, and a two game suspension from the NFL. The Ray Rice incident was widely publicized and there was huge blowback from the public (football fans and the general public alike) regarding the light “sentence” Rice received from Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Yesterday, Goodell released a new policy on domestic violence and sexual assault. Either offense will result in a minimum six game suspension, and a second offense will result in an indefinite suspension from the game. In announcing the new ruling, Goodell acknowledged that he had gotten it wrong with Ray Rice. Boy, did he ever. He had suspended players for four games for smoking marijuana. The entire text of Goodell’s letter to the owners can be found here:
Among other things, Goodell wrote: The public response reinforced my belief that the NFL is held to a higher standard, and properly so. Much of the criticism stemmed from a fundamental recognition that the NFL is a leader, that we do stand for important values, and that we can project those values in ways that have a positive impact beyond professional football. We embrace this role and the responsibility that comes with it. We will listen openly, engage our critics constructively, and seek continuous improvement in everything we do. We will use this opportunity to create a positive outcome by promoting policies of respect for women both within and outside of the workplace. We will work with nationally recognized experts to ensure that the NFL has a model policy on domestic violence and sexual assault. We will invest time and resources in training, programs and services that will become part of our culture. And we will increase the sanctions imposed on NFL personnel who violate our policies.
I hope he is serious about working with nationally recognized experts on developing and new policy promoting respect for women both within and outside of the workplace. Seems a small gesture to me. After what Ray Rice did, in my opinion, he should have gone to jail and been kicked out of football. And his girlfriend Janay Palmer should have her head examined for marrying him after what he did to her. As for holding the NFL to a higher standard, this is just plain bunk. No one, no how should get away with domestic violence and/or sexual assault without severe consequences. Criticizing the walk-in-the-park two game suspension for Ray Rice has nothing to do with “holding the NFL to a higher standard.”
Read League of Denial. The NFL’s values as regards it’s players are definitely questionable, and despite the new policy, the NFL’s values don’t do much for their victims either.
Gloria. Circa 1955.
Gloria. Circa 2012.
Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.