Again, sorry for the day off. I was out until after 9 — clear until after 9 — at a journalism awards banquet. Yes, like all but the top j-awards banquets, it was too long. Not as long as the Hoosier State Press Association, thank God, which had something like six or seven circulation categories and enough award classifications that the actual plaque-passing was like my high-school graduation, with its 750-strong senior class. I recall “Pomp & Circumstance” playing and playing and playing.
But Bridge did OK. And the boss bought the drinks.
And I got home too late to blog. There are nights when I think I have flat run out of everything there is to say about everything in the world, and think I should just pull the plug on the whole thing. Usually it’s on nights when I’m tired. So let’s get going, then.
I was not much of a Walmart fan from the very first time I set foot in one, before I knew much about the company at all. They always struck me as overcrowded and aggressively ugly, the sort of place where there’s not even a polite nod toward the idea of seduction in sales, the attractive arrangement of a $6 T-shirt on a mannequin or something. No, it has all the charm of GUM, the Soviet Macy’s: Here is shirt. You buy shirt. Is cheap shirt.
So it’s obvious what the target market is for Walmart’s latest brand extension: Wiring money. Could there be anything more depressing than this?
Lower-income consumers have been a core demographic for Walmart, but in recent quarters those shoppers have turned increasingly to dollar stores.
“Walmart-2-Walmart leverages our existing footprint and the large-scale systems that our company can bring to bear to enable a low-cost service such as this,” said Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of services for Walmart United States.
More than 29 percent of households in the United States did not have a savings account in 2011, and about 10 percent of households did not have a checking account, according to a study sponsored by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. And while alternative financial products give consumers access to services they might otherwise be denied, people who are shut out of the traditional banking system sometimes find themselves paying high fees for transactions as basic as cashing a check.
What a country this has become, when this one demographic bloc can support a chain as enormous as Walmart. Meanwhile, those aforementioned dollar stores are everywhere in Detroit.
Let’s skip to the bloggage:
First, one of mine, a profile of a rising gay public intellectual who actually engages his opponents with respect and moderation. Friend of a friend.
With the start of “Mad Men” comes Tom & Lorenzo’s Mad Style posts. I admit I hadn’t thought of the blue dress/black “Zou Bisou” dress connection. I’m surprised they haven’t pointed out how much Lou Avery, the temporary creative director, resembles Duck Philips, the headhunter who hired him.
It’s Detroit week at Grantland. Personally, I think nostalgia like this is not a healthy thing, but it’s a good story: Saving Tiger Stadium.
Watch some Real Housewives cry: “I never said you were a stripper!”
Have a good weekend, all. I hope the well refills.
Doug Loveland said on April 18, 2014 at 6:05 am
I have been to play with my kids at the old field, it is special. An hour in the afternoon there makes a great complement to a Tigers night game. Anybody up for a pickup game sometime this summer?
Basset said on April 18, 2014 at 7:13 am
Dollar General, by far the largest of the dollar chains, is headquartered here in The Nashville metro and, unlike Walmart, they seem to have some kind of social conscience, running literacy and GED programs in low-income areas both urban and rural. Going right by their compound today on the way to shoot wildflowers for the outdoor show.
alex said on April 18, 2014 at 7:30 am
Dan Savage was also once a candidate for the priesthood, but his delivery isn’t rated PG. And I’ll confess to taking great delight in shock value and bawdiness and the notion that people like Rick Santorum deserve to be assaulted with it. Santorum, who’s an offensive jerk of the highest order, would be incapable of engaging in a civil debate with someone like John Corvino.
“Tears of a Clown” is the perfect soundtrack for a montage of sobbing plastic surgery victims. If I looked like that I’d be crying too.
Pam (the sister) said on April 18, 2014 at 7:30 am
Yep, WalMart and the poor are tightly linked. NPR reported about this after WalMart released less than expected financial results for the 4th Q of 2013. The reason for their earnings drop (according to WM’s CFO) was the cut in Federal Food Stamps. Apparently, WM gets the lion’s share of food stamp spending, although no chain will release exactly how much is spent in their stores, but enough to affect their quarterly earnings. NPR reported that at midnight of the day the food stamp cards are “loaded”, WM is fully staffed as people come in to buy food. I thought that was very sad. Even sadder is cutting food stamps and other programs for the poor, it’s despicable.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 18, 2014 at 7:39 am
Actually, the entire grocery sector is built around SNAP these days. Even here in Brigadoon. But that’s why the Big Boxes shifted over to add grocery halves; Meijer showed how it’s done, but couldn’t really compete when Target & WalMart jumped in.
As for cuts: http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/snapsummary.htm
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 18, 2014 at 7:47 am
We had a county-wide series of meetings co-ordinated by the Mid-Ohio Food Bank and Matt Habash of Columbus back two years ago, and sharing stories of how hunger actually occurs, and what folks do with their SNAP cards, helped us get the local food pantries move to a “Choice Pantry” approach rather than a “We Know Best” approach of the pantry filling your bag for you. It took some pre-planning, four meetings, and some ongoing community education, but most of the pantries here now use that approach and report being very pleased with how it works, after being fairly resistant given that everyone had known pretty much one model for decades.
I highly recommend the approach, which Mid-Ohio Food Bank is happy to share informationally with anyone around the country who inquires.
coozledad said on April 18, 2014 at 8:06 am
Art Pope used the money from his Family Dollar stores to buy the governorship of NC. Now that he’s cut public assistance to the bone, and denied 500,000 people medicaid expansion, business at his stores is contracting, and investors are running to Dollar General.
We know what Republicans want, and now we’re beginning to see what it looks like. Before they’re run out into the street and shot, the aristocracy of the worst will have restricted federal authority and flooded the country with guns, eliminated family planning and impoverished the citizenry to the point where every third family will be cranking out a Clyde Barrow.
And they’ll be able to elude authorities by driving around state lines, taking advantage of jurisdictional pissing matches.
There’s a reason they created the FBI, and a reason they stopped letting folks have easy access to automatic weapons, and a reason they put a social safety net in place. I wish it was the people who are trying to shred federal power who will get blown into steaming bloody chunks, but it never is.
This economist says economic inequality has hit levels we haven’t seen since the gilded age.
The absence of jobs coupled with restricted cash flow sounds more like the early years of the Great Depression to me. My mother always said there were a lot of people who were lucky enough to have the right connections or family money that enjoyed the depression. They were Republicans.
Dave said on April 18, 2014 at 8:55 am
Continued from yesterday, I read the Jerrie Mock story and was left wondering how many stories are told that vary with the real story. Poor lady, she flew because she was bored and her husband, a real advertising man, wanted to make her something she didn’t want to be. And to think she did it in that tiny, single-engine plane, Joe K., not personally being a pilot or knowledgeable about planes, I have to ask, would you even think of doing that?
Sorry for the variance from today’s topic and may Bridge have continued success.
Deborah said on April 18, 2014 at 9:48 am
We had another skunk sighting so they’re not gone. Damn.
There’s a dollar store (not that same brand, I can’t remember the exact name) near Trader Joe’s in Santa Fe. It doesn’t sell groceries, except for candy. Whenever I’m there, which is rarely, because the checkout lines are always ridiculously long, and they don’t have much that I want, I see people who don’t look like they make much $ with their carts full of crap. Just because it only costs $1, you don’t need it. There are two Walmarts in Santa Fe, a city with only 80,000 population. One of the Walmart’s is big, the other is ginormous. I avoid them.
Bitter Scribe said on April 18, 2014 at 10:01 am
Oh, don’t go sneering at that local plaque-passing, Nancy. If it weren’t for that, some of us (ahem) wouldn’t have anything to put on our walls or our resumes.
Bitter Scribe said on April 18, 2014 at 10:02 am
I don’t mind that a lot of people on food stamps shop at Walmart. What I mind is that more than a few of those people work there too.
Joe Kobiela said on April 18, 2014 at 10:15 am
It would be a really cool thing to do, with the technology available today, gps, ect the danger factor goes down, but man I felt small and lonely flying over the gulf to key west last week in a twin, let alone going single engine over the ocean.
Basset said on April 18, 2014 at 10:37 am
Cooz, Dollar General was talking about buying Family Dollar recently, dunno how that turned out or if it’s still in play.
alex said on April 18, 2014 at 10:40 am
Huckabilly and Rancid Pubis are coming to town. I’m not looking forward to the state GOP having its convention here. My parking spot for work is in the Civic Center garage and I’m concerned that my car with liberal stickers on it will be vandalized.
coozledad said on April 18, 2014 at 10:43 am
… the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Heidi Beirich asks him (Frazier Glenn Miller) about being arrested at one point in the company of a “black transvestite.” Miller bragged that he had a “violent history of going around picking up ni**ers and beating the hell out of ‘em, particularly ni**er f**gots.” When he was arrested with the transvestite, he claimed he was planning to “whip his ass.”
Homosexual panic. Latency, thy name is homophobia.
Basset said on April 18, 2014 at 10:53 am
And… the “we’re right, you’re wrong and you deserve to be punished” approach finds yet another venue:
brian stouder said on April 18, 2014 at 11:40 am
Way back in the day, I didn’t like WalMart. I was an old supermarket guy, and viewed those guys as a big part of the reason we lost our locally owned supermarket chains. But later, I couldn’t help but admire their aggressive price competition, and the fact that they will drop their very big, well-stocked stores into places that other retailers run away from (here in Fort Wayne, an ’80’s era mall finally imploded, and it was retail tumbleweeds in an area that had all the infrastructure in place…and WalMart built a brand new superstore there, and Menards followed them in, as did several restaurants and strip-mall stores….and that is good stuff, I’ll say).
I DO wish the WalMart family gazillionaires would stop pouring money into their (painfully successful, thus far) anti-public education agenda, but oligarchs will act like oligarchs, I suppose. (“Let them eat the cake they used their EBT cards on, as long as they buy it from us”, eh?)
Deborah said on April 18, 2014 at 12:46 pm
Does anyone know what heroin looks like? We walked up to the plaza this morning and on our way found a little plastic bag filled with some whitefish beige-ish looking stuff that had the consistency of very fine sand. This was lying on the sidewalk across the street from a little park where drug deals are known to go down. I picked up the bag, with a kleenex and threw it in a trash bin nearby so no kids would find it and who knows what could have happened. Maybe I should call the cops and let them know?
Kath said on April 18, 2014 at 12:52 pm
If only Ashley Morris were here to answer that one for you Deborah.
Deborah said on April 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm
Kath, or Prospero. We were out and about again and saw a cop car so we stopped and told him about it and where the trash bin was. He said it sounded like it might be a type of finely crushed meth. He said he’d check it out.
brian stouder said on April 18, 2014 at 2:21 pm
Very scary, Deborah; and well done, ma’am!
brian stouder said on April 18, 2014 at 3:03 pm
I remember – many (many!) years ago, I came home from school and asked mom what a “benny” was – and (looking back on it) scared her very much!
She asked rapid fire questions: Why? Where did you hear about these “benny”s? Did someone offer you something? and so on.
In fact, someone used the term with relation to a good job – one that has “benny”s…but it was either the late 1960’s or early 1970’s, and mom was taking no chances
Dexter said on April 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm
Deborah, glad you got rid of that shit. About 20 years ago a friend of mine got himself in a little jam with the law and ended up doing a few years of probation. He was pumping gasoline one day and noticed a crack vial http://www.metro.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/getty-97327570.jpg
on the pavement there.
Instead of just tossing it into the trash can, he made a big production out of it and took it to the cop station, where he was compelled to fill out a long report, and when they found out he was on probation, they detained him and he had to wait half a day until they could locate the probation officer…it was quite an ordeal. The probation officer ran him through the wringer as well, but they finally let him go, about 18 hours after he had turned the vial in. He learned a lesson that day. Just throw the stuff into the trash.
alex said on April 18, 2014 at 3:36 pm
Around here they tell people that if they see plastic bottles on the side of the road to leave them alone — they might be “one-pot” meth labs and potentially explosive, if not toxic to handle. People are known to ditch them out of car windows when they’re paranoid about getting caught. Evidently people use their cars for cooking meth when doing it at home isn’t an option.
Deborah said on April 18, 2014 at 4:29 pm
One of the things the cop said that was disconcerting, when we told him where we found the bag, he said that’s a neighborhood with a big drug problem. That’s our neighborhood. It is changing though, I understand that 20 years ago it was positively dangerous. There are some really nice houses around that probably sell for a pretty penny, and then there are still a few ramshackle dumps where the bad stuff still happens. That’s New Mexico for ya.
brian stouder said on April 18, 2014 at 4:32 pm
You’re making me think that it’s ‘no country for old men’…which reminds me of a digression:
I see that one of the satellite/cable tv networks is doing a series called “Fargo” – and my instantaneous response was – PASS!
Deborah said on April 18, 2014 at 5:20 pm
By the way, my comment #18 should read white-ish not whitefish. Curses autocorrect.
coozledad said on April 18, 2014 at 5:27 pm
Deborah said on April 18, 2014 at 5:54 pm
Someone took cat videos on the internet and turned them into illustrated, animated art. I’m not crazy about the sound track though https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf6uLMXbEn4
Deborah said on April 18, 2014 at 7:08 pm
Good Friday in Norhtern New Mexico http://www.npr.org/2014/04/18/304529359/in-new-mexico-a-brotherhood-of-ancient-hymns
Deborah said on April 18, 2014 at 7:08 pm
Dexter said on April 18, 2014 at 8:58 pm
brian, ‘Fargo’ is different. It’s tense, but if you can’t see ultra violence as theater, pass on it indeed. But of course, it’s a Coen brothers project, so who can miss it ? New cast, new town (set in Bemidji, Minnesota).
Sherri said on April 18, 2014 at 10:45 pm
The first episode of Fargo was pretty gruesome, but Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman were both quite good. I’m hoping the the level of over the top violence goes down in future episodes, but I’m giving it a try for now. I liked the movie Fargo, and the series isn’t trying to retell the same story, it’s just set in the same world.
brian stouder said on April 18, 2014 at 11:08 pm
I will say that the Coen brothers won me over without reservation with True Grit.
But No Country and Fargo (and there’s another that’s escaping me) just seemed so gratuitously violent that I approach anything of theirs with very great skepticism.
To be honest, this is also why the series The Wire strikes me as pretty much unwatchable. I randomly tuned into an episode one time* that featured one guy after the next getting “chalked”, until I had to simply give up on it.
Yup – this officially makes me a grumpy old man!
*we’re not an HBO family; I caught it in a hotel room, and later found that it may have been a season finale or some such. But no kiddin’, the show was approaching a double-digit body count when I finally bailed out
brian stouder said on April 18, 2014 at 11:12 pm
btw – great link about Ernie Pyle, Cooz.
Dexter said on April 18, 2014 at 11:58 pm
Ever see the commercial in which a guy sips his fountain drink twice and keeps topping it off? This is a McDonald’s (or some franchise like that) and it is made to show the friendliness of the place, and the free refills on soda for sure.
Do not try this in Charleston. $500 fine.
MichaelG said on April 19, 2014 at 12:56 am
I’ve turned into a sissy. After all the appalling death and unimaginable violence and mayhem I witnessed and, God help me, participated in during my time in Vietnam I have no stomach to watch TV and its romanticized and puny attempts to showcase violence. They simply have no idea. I simply have no tolerance. I just can’t watch it.
I have two Ernie Pyle books which are collections of his columns. He was a wonderful correspondent and writer. I also have several of A. J. Liebling’s WWII books which are equally wonderful.
Dexter said on April 19, 2014 at 1:00 am
Oh my gawd. Wu-Tang Clan affiliated rapper Andre Johnson sliced his total package off with a serrated knife, a piece at a time, and the docs could not re-attach either balls or cock. PCP. Great stuff.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 19, 2014 at 8:36 am
Deborah, Chimayo used to be the heroin center of northern New Mexico, which I thought was just terribly sad. Not that having it move across the valley to Abiquiu would be an improvement on any level. Loved the penitente link; many thanks.
Happy Easter, y’all!
brian stouder said on April 19, 2014 at 9:14 am
Dex – there was an update on your head-turning (to me! – a dedicated icy-cold Diet Pepsi guy) link –
The Feds eased up on the guy…but it looks like he still lost his job over the refill, which is complete horse shit.
coozledad said on April 19, 2014 at 10:28 am
This makes me wonder if the Republicans have succeeded in their dream of gerrymandering us into a loose coalition of inbred white separatist terrorists so they can sell the remaining public lands to their favorite Russian oligarchs, or our own Kochs.
And if so, how do we get them to turn the guns on each other? A state sponsored Jesus?
Mandatory genetic testing to filter out the pure from the impure?
McCain whipped this McVeighism up again by foisting that crank addled shitrat on the public. The lot of them need to be imprisoned and flogged.
Ann said on April 19, 2014 at 10:43 am
In my desperate attempt to believe that the pendulum must swing at some point, I dream that the Wal-Mart family will wake up one day and discover that if they’re going to be profitable, they need to become advocates for the poor.
Diane said on April 19, 2014 at 3:49 pm
@Brian The Wire is worth it-excellent TV but it takes awhile and you have to start at the beginning. I started it and gave up several time before I finally got it. The Wire is like the drugs it portrays; at first seemingly no big deal and then all of sudden majorly addicting. Go to the library, get the Season 1 DVDs and give it 4 episodes. I promise you will be hooked after that.
alex said on April 20, 2014 at 10:13 am
Sounds like Wu-Tang got hisself a pu-tang!