The earlybird special.

Picked up a Free Press yesterday, which is, I remind you, the winner of Detroit’s newspaper war. Within a decade, they’ll stand astraddle the pile of bloody corpses alone and bellow their terrible thanks to the heavens. (And won’t that be something to see, eh?) The paper seemed thin, and was. Ah, but it was a Tuesday, and my last dim memory of the business side is that Monday and Tuesday are not wide spots in the revenue stream.

Good thing. I started paying attention to the ads. In the A section — varicose vein treatment, the Michigan lottery, air duct cleaning and, oddly, two for different piano stores. (Is June when you buy a piano? I had no idea.) In Metro — more air ducts, cell phones, some odds and ends, the obits. Business? Cars and computers. Sports? Cell phones, a get-rich-quick seminar. Features actually had the most individual ads, mainly for more varicose vein surgery, dentures, calls for volunteers for medical research, something called “virtual colonoscopy.”

Ah, here’s a quarter-page ad for an all-natural colon-cleansing product. A woman is leaping into a man’s arms; both are open-mouthed with delight, and who wouldn’t be, given this headline: “No more constipation, hemorrhoids, or gas!”

Are any themes emerging? Yes. You have varicose veins and dentures and a colonoscopy in your future. You’re in the market for a nice upright piano, now that you have time on your hands to finally learn to play. Hello, grandpa.

Editorial images are shaped in conference rooms, but advertisers know. The little display ads in the classifieds are as clear an indication of a publication’s id as you’ll find. I once wrote a column about this, after noticing that in conservative political rags, you’ll find enticements to build your word power and learn how to stop moving your lips when you read. In liberal ones, many 1-by-2s offering to introduce you to girls who share your beliefs and values. If you want a flattering look in the demographic mirror, try Wired or Vanity Fair. (Although I often wonder, whenever I see ads for Gucci, all of which seem to feature models with limbs that stretch the length of a furlong, and all of whom seem really, really angry. People only smile in the ads for cosmetic dentistry, and even then, in the bigger national books, it’s a knowing, ironic smile. The models — they’ve seen too much to ever beam happily again.)

Ooooh-kay, then. Stop me before I buy a cell phone with Bluetooth ever again. Did you know you can upload MP3s from your laptop and make them ringtones? Why didn’t anyone tell me this? Is it safe to say I’ll be the only person in Metro Detroit — perhaps anywhere — using “Itchycoo Park” as a ringtone? That’s for all callers except those from my home number, which got “Pennies From Heaven,” mainly because it has a nice meandering tinkly piano intro, which is all you’ll hear, anyway. Billie Holiday’s version, if you’re taking notes.


I’m going to be reading this book, if I can stand it. Josh Marshall has a succinct summation of why: I said he was important. You’re not going to let me lose face on this, are you? God help us all.

Ashley has another cri de coeur from New Orleans. I hope he never shuts up.

In Detroit, teenage girls from the suburbs hang out in drug houses. Sometimes they die there.

Jon Carroll was a boy in southern California when Disneyland was being built, which gives his take on it a certain authority: When Disneyland opened, the world was so naive that injectable substances suggested nothing more than a penicillin shot. Later on, a new generation of citizens began visiting Disneyland. The Disneyland brass did not like that development — as the brochures displayed at the museum made clear, Disneyland was a park designed by white people for white people, and employees were forbidden to wear beards, mustaches and a long list of other offensive things that might suggest deviation from the norm. Which was ironic, because people soon discovered that getting loaded and going to Disneyland meant a day of big fun. It was an endless playground for people who said “oh wow” a lot. You could, you know, shake hands with Goofy. (“Shaking hands with Goofy” would be a pretty good code phrase for any number of proscribed experiences.)

And now, a glance at the weather map shows giant red blobs headed our way. Best get this uploaded before the power goes out.

Posted at 9:16 am in Media, Popculch |

10 responses to “The earlybird special.”

  1. Connie said on June 21, 2006 at 12:15 pm

    Well, I am off to New Orleans this week myself, to the big library convention. We are the first big conference there since Katrina, I am still surprised the decision was made to go ahead as planned. We are assured that the Convention Center area, Warehouse District, Central Business District and the French Quarter are open, clean, safe. NOLA has always been one of my fave cities, so wish me luck. After all, they did just call out the National Guard.

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  2. Dorothy said on June 21, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    My supervisor just left in the last hour or so for New Orleans. Her youngest is going to college there in the fall and he has orientation this weekend. Someone else here in the office asked her if she had joined the National Guard – he didn’t know she was going for orientation. Good luck Connie!

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  3. ashley said on June 21, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    The tourist areas are fine. Get in touch with me or somebody, and we’ll take you on a disaster tour. Then you’ll see why we’re still upset.

    The national guard was called mainly because we don’t have enough cops any more. A bunch left after K never to return, and we can’t afford to hire new ones.

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  4. Dave said on June 21, 2006 at 2:40 pm

    Itchykoo Park, it’s funny, this song just came up in a discussion board I participate in regularly, when I decided to see who actually were the members of the Small Faces, I was greatly surprised to learn that Steve Marriot died in a house fire in 1991.

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  5. Dorothy said on June 21, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    Speaking of being surprised, I was reading a magazine recently (TIME or EW) and they were doing an article about AIDS, and they showed photos of some famous folks who had died from it. Of course I recognized the faces of Rock Hudson, Liberace, etc. But Isaac Asimov surprised the hell out of me! As did Amanda Blake (Miss Kitty, Gunsmoke). How did I miss Isaac Asimov?

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  6. Danny said on June 21, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    How did I miss Isaac Asimov?

    Probably because it was kept a secret until after he died and, according to wikipedia, it was the death of Arthur Ashe that convinced the family to go public. Both were infected by transfusions with tainted blood.

    As was my cousin, who is a hemophiliac and has been HIV positive since the age of 4. He is now about 25. I remember growing up, he would see news stories about AIDS and look at my aunt and ask if he was going to die. Heartbreaking.

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  7. Dorothy said on June 21, 2006 at 3:48 pm

    Goodness Danny, how sad! Amazing that he has lived so long, though. Kind of like Magic Johnson.

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  8. mary said on June 21, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    I know many people around my age and a bit younger who have gone to Disneyland to shake hands with Goofy in that special way. Here at the hospital, we have commissary priveleges at the Disney/ABC studios across the street. Imagine watching Goofy eat. Or Tinkerbell.

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  9. Danny said on June 21, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    It is amazing Dorothy. He has a special place in my heart and prayers.

    On D-land, my wife grew up in Garden Grove and probably shook Goofy’s hand in that special way too. But nowadays, we still love Disneyland and try to get there at least once a year. As stupid as this may sound, I still very much enjoy the character breakfasts just as an adult. And it is even funner if we have children with us.

    A few years ago, we were in Goofy’s Diner and Alice (in Wonderland) sat down to chat with us. It was hilarious. She had a little trouble staying in character when she found out that my wife’s hair was the real deal compared to her “Alice” wig. I really can’t blame the character though. Everyone seems to comment on Robin’s hair.

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  10. mary said on June 22, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    The suburban girl dying in the drug house story is unspeakably sad. Nothing new about it or unusual, but I think of my son that age, with so much life in him and ahead of him, and my heart aches for the ones we lose for such stupid reasons.

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