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May 14, 2014

Our Problem Is Distribution

In a speech to the young [people] graduating from Stanford into a world, a country, a system which has nothing real to offer, you exhort them to “produce a plenty” on the basis of “individual freedom” (rugged individualism)

Of course, we all know that production is not our problem, but distribution is.

These young people want to know how they are going to attain economic security.  Who is there who can tell them?  We have achieved greatness along many lines, but the most important question of all, economic security, we have not touched at all.

The “pure air of orderly liberty” is our liberty to starve or to [use food stamps]!  What sort of system is that for us to wave the flag about?  In such a system, building up resentment and hatred, no man is secure.

Why can’t men in high places realize that something must be done about it pretty soon…you had a chance at it and now [have] failed , surrounded by the opposition of so many —statesmen!

Competition is not the way — the dog-eat-dog way.  Not until men learn to cooperate for the common good in a Christian world, eliminate economic wars and the mowing down of young [people] for private profit, should we ever use the word civilized.

…No man should be forced to walk the streets begging for a job, so that he may eat!  Who are we, to have bread while our brother starves?  Yes, with this college education, find a way to feed our people.

 

This was written by my Great Grandmother to President Hoover on June 17, 1935., after his speech to the graduating class at Stanford.  The [edits] are mine.

May 8, 2014

Cheerios and Immigration

Earlier this month I bought a box of Cheerios that had a bilingual book inside it.  It’s been a long time since I got a prize in cereal, so I was anxious to get it out and read it.  The name of the book, in English, is “Chicks Run Wild.”  In Spanish it is “los Pollitos Hacen De Las Suyas”.   I’m thankful for the translation because my boarding school Spanish is not up to it.  Inside the cover there is a bookplate which says “Este libro es propiedad de: ____________”   I did not fill in my name.  It also says “Cortesia de Cheerios” and, at the bottom, “Spoonful of Stories.”

Since adult me had never received a book of any kind in my Cheerios box, let alone a bilingual book,” I googled it.  It turns out that Cheerios has been doing this for 11 years, and has distributed more than 70 million free books over that time.  Surprised me!  Soon they will be putting 3 million chapter books for older kids in boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios.   They do this in cooperation with Simon and Schuster and an organization called “First Book,”  whose slogan is “The power of children’s books to change the world.”

This is an honorable thing for General Mills to do, but they are not dumb.  As of the 2010 Census, the Hispanic population in the United States had grown (from 14 different countries of origin) to 53,027,708.   By 2043, whites will have  lost their majority status in our country.

And yet the Republicans say there will be no immigration bill this year. Although the Senate already passed a bill, Speaker Boehner says House Republicans are not prepared to move forward in partnership with a Democratic administration that they believe will not fairly and impartially carry out the laws they pass.  This is just another dodge not to take up something unpopular with  a vocal minority in the Republican Party.

The Florida House on Friday gave final approval to a bill granting in-state tuition to the children of some immigrants in the country illegally, prompting  former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush  to criticize Washington lawmakers — including members of his own party — for the lack of action on immigration reform.  “Florida succeeded in doing what the federal government has failed to do — take real steps to address our nation’s serious immigration challenges,” Bush said.

Poll after poll shows that most Americans want to see immigration reform.  Companies and leaders like Cheerios, Gates, Bloomberg, Motorola, Coco Cola, Caterpillar and Marriott — even the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce  – support it.  It would be bad if immigration reform got left to the States (Florida) and we ended up with some kind of crazy quilt of laws.  Americans are not divided on immigration.  Companies like Cheerios will continue to speak to the growing Hispanic audience.  They should send boxes of Cheerios with bilingual books to the members of the House, specifically John Boehner.And remind him that immigrant populations are biggest in states with lots of people and lots of electoral votes:  California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois.  There are none bigger.

 

Apr 24, 2014

My Purple Alarm Clock

Just before trying out for The Price is Right

My sister changed her name to Just Gail sometime in the mid-late 1990s.  She reasoned that she didn’t want to have any man’s name, and yet she was not a big enough presence to have “just” one name.  The rest of us were glad both of our parents were dead before she did this, and we weren’t really surprised because Just Gail had always been just one of a kind.  Gail and I were half sisters but the half never got in the way of sisterhood.  She was seven years older than I, and we grew up together in the same homes in Evanston, Denver, Towson, Maryland and Riverside, Connecticut.  In Denver, she drove a white 54 Mercury and had boyfriends with t-shirts with rolled up sleeves.  She and my sister Sherry hosted a gang of kids in the basement of our home, which had a separate entrance so it was easy for my parents to ignore, and my younger brother and I were not allowed to go down the stairs.  Which of course we did.  It was there that I saw my first tatoo.

In Baltimore, Gail went to Towson High School and from there she went to Endicott Junior College in Massachusetts.  Mother always said that Gail was the smartest of the four of us.  She certainly was the most out-of-the-box.  One of a kind to be sure.

When we lived in Riverside she worked for MARS broadcasting, the home of the syndication of the Dick Clark radio show.  Even though it was a radio show, she was always telling me and my teenage friends that we should practice our dancing in case they needed some extra dancers.  I can’t remember whether we believed her.

Gail left home when she married a man with nine brothers and sisters from Beverly Farms, Massachusetts.  Before they divorced, she had three wonderful children, all of whom have grown up to be wonderful people. One is a comedian, one is a photographer and natural born artist, and one is a school administrator.   They have children of their own and after a brief stint living in Vilas, North Carolina (Gail’s maiden name, not coincidentally to this, was Vilas) Just Gail returned to New Hampshire to be near her children and grandchildren. She was proud to see her comedian son on Letterman earlier this year.   She had a big heart.

She loved to go to antique stores and thrift shops and she always came up with something thoughtful and perfect for the person she sent it to.  I have an old wooden flag that says “Old Glory” on it, and our store has several pineapples we use in our merchandising and a pair of dogs that keep our Island Mango Poi Dog company.

Gail believed that she had powers that allowed her to predict the future, even to will things into being.  She went to sweat lodges, became friends with Indian chiefs and had a Tee Pee in her backyard for some period of time (post-children and pre-grandchildren).  She loved poetry and would frequently breakout into recitations, unbidden. She tried out to be on The Price is Right, her favorite TV show.  She hand wrote a book about our family and mailed a copy to Maria Flook who wrote Invisible Eden:  A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod.   Ms. Flook never got back to her.

Towards the end of her life she subsisted on Coca Cola and cigarettes  and Filet O Fish sandwiches from McDonald’s.  Though we didn’t see each other often, she and I spoke on the phone three times a week.  She would talk about her children and her grandchildren effusively.

About a month ago, Gail had a stroke, was hospitalized, and sent to rehab.  At rehab, she became enraged that she had arrived there wholly by a series of accidents.  She did not believe she’d had a stroke and demanded to go home.  On the morning they let her out of rehab she had a remarkable showdown with the staff who would not let her go outside in 4 degree weather to wait for her daughter.  I heard a lot about this during the week after she got out of rehab.  So did her children.  Her dog Fancy had been given away when she was in rehab, and she got her back.  About a week later, her daughter dropped by her house and could tell Gail was in real trouble.  Gail died the next day.

Two years ago, Gail came to visit me in Hawaii.  When she left she gave me one of her purple alarm clocks.  She had two.  I have looked at that alarm clock every day since she gave it to me, and I look even harder at it now.  That was the last time I saw her.

 

Mar 22, 2014

David Sedaris & the Lady in the Parking Lot

On March 10 Mark and I went to “An Evening with David Sedaris”  at the Hawai`i theater.   We left Kailua with enough time to park the car in the lot that borders Bethel / Beretania and Nuuanu (for those of you who live here).  It was packed solid and the parking agent told us we had to go elsewhere.  It’s a little bit difficult to negotiate, and so while we were turning around I sent a message to my grandmother — who is in charge of parking.   A woman turned up who was leaving at that very moment.

She pointed out her car and we followed her towards it.  Then, she did a really Hawai`i kine thing.  She got the parking ticket off her dash, brought it to us and told us to use up the time on it.   It was good until 12:19 a.m. the next morning.   This kind of surprising small gesture is typical of what you find here in Hawai`i and it gave us a great start to our evening.  We tipped the parking agent and off we went to Hawai`i Theater.

Beth-Ann Kozlovich from Hawai`i Public Radio introduced Sedaris, telling the story about the last time he was in Hawai`i.  Evidently a very not Hawai`i thing happened to him:  he was robbed at the house he was staying at, losing lots of important personal stuff including his laptop which he had not backed up.  For a real writer that has to be a miserable, horrible thing.

This year, so far so good.  He and his partner Hugh had been on Maui and he came to the stage (un-robbed) to read some recent stories, a New Yorker story about his sister committing suicide and several diary entries he had written.

I love his books, and the stories were great fun.  He even brought humor (if a bit dark) to the story about his sister’s death.  Then came the diary entries.  I assume these had not been published and that we were hearing the unedited David Sedaris.

And here’s what I found out.  He is outrageous to be sure.  But he is also mean.  David Sedaris and Hawai`i = cognitive dissonance.  Because Hawai`i itself is such a small town, where you are likely to run into anyone at any time, you don’t get close and personal with many people like David Sedaris.  Don’t get me wrong:  I had a great “Evening with David Sedaris.  ” His dark, sardonic, sarcastic wit even tickled my East Coast fancy.

But I had to compare him to the lady in the parking lot.  With her simple gesture, she lifted our spirits and started our evening off just right.   Some of his diary entries made me wonder if a harder me hadn’t been like that in earlier times.   And grateful that Hawai`i has softened me up.

Mar 18, 2014

A Woman’s Place

When Brook and I started our Brand Strategy Group business twenty four years ago, we sent an announcement postcard that was headlined “A Woman’s Place is in the Market.”  It was crafted by our friend Brian Gallagher and made the case for our big advertising agency expertise.  Not surprisingly many of our male friends added the word “meat” before “market,” and you wouldn’t believe how many people asked us (over and over again) “When are you going to get a real job” or “When are you going back to the agency side of the business?”

We persisted, and built a solid reputation for being the branding experts in Hawai`i.  At one point, we printed tongue-in-check  t-shirts which said “Garvey + Gramann  The Smartest People in Hawai`i.”   We had a great time and were lucky (and good) enough to work with businesses large and small, including: Pictures Plus, Island Insurance, Hawaiian Host, Maui Divers, Kahuku Brand, the Hawai`i Seal of Quality and many,many more.  At some point people stopped asking when we were going to get a real job.

All that being said, it is still a man’s world out there, and despite progress, we all know that women are still being paid less than men and few have really broken the glass ceiling.

Last week, New York’s Cardinal Dolan spoke with CBS about women’s role in the church, saying that although women could not be priests it is ” important for the church to listen to them more seriously because their advice is really valuable.”  Pointing to his collar, he noted that “you don’t have to have one of these to do God’s work.”   A typical exclusive-male’s-club answer.  Was he saying that up until now, the male power base in the church has not been listening to women?   It’s not like nuns have not already been bearing the burdens of the church  since time immemorial.  And I don’t believe Catholic nuns are looking for pat’s on the head for their godliness.  I don’t recall seeing “Priests on A Bus.”

Just this morning there was a story about how Getty images asking its “24,000 photographers around the world” to send them pictures of women that show competence and accurately reflect exactly what is happening with women today.  That they have to scour the world for these pictures says a lot in itself.

Worse than all of this is the trend across Republican legislatures around the country to roll back Rove v Wade and to have the government get control over women’s bodies.  According to polls, a majority of women in evangelical churches are happy with what these legislatures are doing.  I grew up during the sixties and over the past decades this backwards fall did not seem possible.    This does not bode well for the future of women in the United States.   A woman’s place, and a woman’s body, should be under her control.

 

 

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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.

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