I haven’t dared look at my traffic numbers in…? How long? A long time. I’m sure they’re in the toilet, and have been for about a year, because one thing you can’t really do when you are a servant of two masters — i.e., a journalist with a day job — is be a fun ‘n’ lively blogger. Plus, I’m absorbed once again in how much I don’t know, an experience that I always find shuts me up for a while. Nothing like being stupid to make you want to stop digging your hole of ignorance.
And there’s the other thing: I now write at the end of the day, when I’m a lot lower on energy. So consider this a blanket apology for general lameness, and maybe in the new year I’ll try some new models that give you all the conversation pit you seem to enjoy, and give the lurkers and drive-bys a little more.
And leave me time to write some other things. Not sure what, but it’s something else I’d really like to do. This isn’t a book I’d like to write, but it’s an idea I had last summer, when I was talking to Tom Nardone, the Mower Gang guy. Sooner or later, you learn that Tom’s day job, when he’s not saving Detroit parks for children, is selling sex toys on the internet. He really has a great story about how he got into it in the early-early days of the internet, how he started as a middleman for anything a person might find embarrassing to buy in person. He and his girlfriend went through every drugstore, Walmart and Target they could find and made a list of anything a person might be embarrassed to lay in front of a human clerk. It was a list that ranged from Rogaine to Fleet enemas to Preparation H. The company they launched, PriveCo, would sell you this stuff over the internet, and their value-add was that you’d never hear from them again — no mailing lists, no you-might-be-interested-in-this, none of that. And it went pretty well for a while, until Drugstore.com came online and undercut them on everything and threw in free shipping to boot.
So now they deal exclusively in sex toys, but because Tom is a total mensch, they do it their own wholesome way. Every year they put up a table at the Dirty Show, an annual erotic-art show here in Detroit, and raise money for charity. One year they offered “take a ride on the world’s largest vibrator” for $3, last year it was a claw machine called Mr. Grab Ass. (The joystick control was an actual joy stick, heh heh.)
You can imagine what his office is like. And it’s in this bland light-industrial park, which is to say, it’s in a light-industrial park, period. All light-industrial parks are bland; it’s like their designs are a competition for the most boring architects in the world. You could locate the CIA in a light-industrial park, and no one would ever find it. As he was walking me out, he pointed out the building next door, which was equally boring and beige and surrounded by boxy shrubs and nondescript trees. His neighbor, Tom said, makes some sort of custom-fabricated hot rod parts, and is considered the best in the world at it. So just in this one corner of this one industrial park, you have dildos and hot rods.
“What other secrets are lurking in this neighborhood?” I asked. And that’s the book idea: Secrets of the Light-Industrial Park: Adventures in American Capitalism.
I don’t particularly want to write it. But who knows, maybe someday I will.
In the meantime, I’m collecting some thoughts on jewelry advertising this time of year. Later in the week.
Bloggage? “The Queen of Versailles” is on my watch-one-of-these-days list, especially so after reading Dave Weigel’s take on it. The story of how two Florida sharpies set out to build the largest residence in the U.S. gets sidetracked by something bigger, i.e., trouble in their time-share paradise:
The hard-selling Siegel employees try to convince their marks to buy time shares before said marks can do the math and realize the risks. We see one couple, both tattooed and glum-looking, grow more and more interested as they’re told that they can save thousands of dollars if, instead of booking motels every time they come to Vegas, they buy a time-share condo in the tower. Eventually, the husband pushes a credit card across the table. “I can’t believe we just did it!” he says, with little evident joy. He could do it because he had credit.
The Freep does a huge, year-end (i.e., awards-bait) project on the Packard plant here in Detroit. If you don’t want to wade through a million words, I can recommend the video, which is really well-done.
The WashPost has a great report on the Kennedy Center honors this year. Start at Led Zeppelin and follow the links to the rest.
The week begins! December already. How’d that happen?