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.
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.