NEW YORK CITY – Have you heard this one already? While David Letterman was taping his show last Tuesday, Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey sneaked into his Ed Sullivan Theater and straight into a super-secret, private green room. If you saw Dave’s Late Show promo during the Super Bowl last night, you already know what they had in mind. If not, read Bill Carter’s recounting in The New York Times.
NEW YORK – The New York Times has an ongoing audiovisual slideshow series called One In 8 Million. Each week, a different New York character is portrayed, showing a slice of their life through beautiful black and white photography with accompanying narration. The series, which began in January of this year, is flash-based, but doesn’t over-tax your computer or your mind with unnecessary animation. Web developers please pay attention: this is how to do a flash slideshow (Interactive Development by Tom Jackson). The stories and the people behind them are interesting and compelling. The pace of the presentation is just right: we have enough time to study the photograph’s composition, drink in the atmosphere, appreciate the excellent audio in the subject’s own voice (thankfully devoid of any music). This series and others like it may just show the way to profitability for newspapers everywhere. It does something that print cannot do, and that television is too often unwilling to do. It is more akin to a radio program like NPR’s great StoryCorps series, or perhaps This American Life with Ira Glass… but with pictures. Each piece is fairly short – only a few minutes (or so) long.
The latest installment, Maggie Nesciur: The Walker, features Production and Interview by Sarah Kramer (who, along with Alexis Mainland, is credited as a Series Co-Producer), with gorgeous Photographs by Todd Heisler (who has capably photographed the entire series thus far). Ms. Nesciur talks about one vital aspect of her life: walking around the city. It is incredibly moody and atmospheric. A video wouldn’t convey the same mood as this photography does. Mood music would be an unwelcome addition to the audio. Other titles, such as Andrew Baum: The Rookie Detective, Nancy Bunche: The Mayoral Maid, Melissa Dixson: The Urban Taxidermist, and Ed Grajales: The Dictaphone Doctor are all equally compelling. Incidentally, Sarah and Alexis are aided by several other Producer/Interviewers along the way, each of whom do a quality job with their subjects.
In a time when many online newspapers just seem to have given up, it is a hopeful sign to see such high quality work continually churned out by The New York Times. I have no idea how this or any other single item will help contribute to the new monetization model of online media (whatever that may be), but it’s a step in the right direction.
Credits: Slightly modified screenshot of The New York Times feature piece.
LOS ANGELES – Ever wonder why laws take so long to go into effect? To mature… to gestate? After bills are voted on and approved (by local municipalities, state legislatures, propositions, or Congress), they can sometimes take months or even years to become laws. Could it be that these delays are somehow concessions to the defeated parties?
A THANK YOU NOTE
“Sorry, Americans For A Car Seat-Free Childhood, the Car Seat Safety Act (against which you lobbied so hard) was passed into law. But as a concession to you (and a hearty thank you for the check, btw), we will delay its effective date by 18 months, AND give it secondary offense status. There are a lot of laws in the Number Two Class around here. That’s really what we call it! Ha! Officers will not be permitted to pull you over–if they see kids prancing about, unrestrained, in your back seat–for that reason alone.”
Sincerely, Sen. Heywood Jablome
You can be driving along with overly-tinted windows*, you and/or your kids unrestrained**, talking or texting on your cell phone***, drinking a Big Gulp****… performing any and all manner of secondary offenses, and still the cops can’t pull you over just for those infractions alone (in many jurisdictions). Isn’t that a bit silly? To me, something is either illegal and dangerous, or it’s not. Texting while driving, as an example, doesn’t suddenly become a narcissistic, selfish, and hazardous act as one passes the posted speed limit. There is no sane reason for a secondary offense level to begin with, except as a political gesture to the “aggrieved lobby”. Aggrieved? You have got to be kidding me.
Michael Moore was one of Bill Maher’s guests on Friday, and something he said stood out. Actually, he said a lot of interesting things, but as it relates to this topic, there was this: the Baucus Bill, as it sits now, would not go into effect until 2013. 2013. Was this part written by the Health Care Lobby? The poor, aggrieved, Wall Street-run, profits before people, don’t rock the boat Health Care Lobby? Why the delay, Max? It’s like adding insult to insult. The bill with your name on it shows your desire to protect the interests of your rich and powerful health care industry friends, to the ultimate detriment of thousands of your constituents. And Max: by “ultimate detriment”, I mean “death”. I am speaking code, Max. Your code.
I am reminded of a scene from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. “There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ‘em says, ‘Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.’ The other one says, ‘Yeah, I know; and such small portions.’” [IT'S ME AGAIN, NOW FREESTYLE-PARAPHRASING]: “Well, that’s essentially how I feel about the cellphone driving law – full of holes, and flouters, and ignorance, and confusion… and it took forever to get here.” All I know is, I don’t want to feel the same way about health care reform legislation.
When the ban against hand-held cellphone use was passed here in Kaulifoorn-yah, I knew it would take effect on July 1. My fellow cyclists and I were happy that at least a watered-down law was finally going on the books here. Yes, the law was woefully inadequate as written, as everyone knows the real problem with cellphone use while driving is the mental distraction, not the physical juggling of the device itself. That’s what differentiates it from, say, grabbing a Big Gulp or an Egg McMuffin. The McMuffin doesn’t scream out: “Your BFF is on the line and she wants to talk about toenail colors! Pick me up! NOW!”, or some other seemingly irresistible enticement to morons.
July 1 approached. The only problem was that it was still 2007. The law was not to go into effect until a year later: July 1, 2008 (wah, wah). It is now 2009. I have seen so many infractions, so many flouting the law, so little change in public behavior that the new law may as well have been one prohibiting Hobbits from driving big rigs. This law does not apply to me seems to be a modus operandus of the driving-while-texting or chatting public.
* If people can’t see inside your vehicle, it presents a hazard to them (and you). Subtle negotiations in traffic requiring eye contact such as four-way stop signs, crosswalks with pedestrians, and… oh, ANYTHING IN A CAR… are impaired by heavily tinted windows. Of course, it also reduces your own ability to see safely outside your vehicle, especially at night. Heavy window tinting presents a special problem to law enforcement, for obvious reasons. If the sight of your ugly mug makes babies weep and old people faint, then perhaps a special variance should be granted to you and only you. A special license plate color would come along with the deal, of course. Whatever your least favorite color is, based on results of a scientifically-administered test of visual stimuli. It would be called the Sheriff Joe Arpaio law, after the controversial, headline-grabbing sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. What? That doesn’t sound right? Then go light on the tinting and grab a pair of Groucho glasses and a wig, elephant man, and suck it up. This is AMERICA, and that means that 95% of us are in the proletariat. No special treatment, unless you work for Goldman Sachs. You know the rules. After all, Groucho was a Marx.
** In 19 out of the 50 states, the seat belt law is considered a secondary offense, which means that a police officer cannot stop and ticket a driver for the sole offense of not wearing a seat belt.
*** Talking and texting on cellphones has been shown to be at least as dangerous as drunk driving. Some states are still not on board with this notion.
**** Some jurisdictions have in fact outlawed drinking anything and eating while driving.
We owe it to ourselves to have the courage of our convictions. No more concessions to powerful lobbies. When a law is passed, make it effective within 30 days. Lay the groundwork beforehand if necessary, alert the media. Grow a pair. Give it teeth. A pair of teeth. I’m dangerously mixing metaphors as usual, but you get the idea.
People long to do the right thing. 80% of drivers want some form of cell phone usage restriction. 80% want a ban on text messaging while driving. 67% are supportive of restricting phone calls while driving. We must follow-up on the enforcement end and take the muzzles off of the police. Go get ‘em. Revenues up, bad behavior down. Primary offense status, please. And a rabbit-sized gestation period, not an elephant’s.
The same goes for health care. Most people (a whopping 77% in at least one poll) and even doctors want at least a public option. We shouldn’t settle for some watered-down bill, full of half-measures toward reform. And 2013 is way too far out.
Watch this PSA on the dangers of texting while driving, produced by the Tredegar Comprehensive School and Gwent Police (Gwent is located in southeast Wales, UK). It is graphic and effective. Click on the picture/link to open a new YouTube window.
LOS ANGELES – We have a once-in-a-generation chance at health care reform looming before us now. Right or left, rich or poor, this has to happen. The President gave his major address to a joint session of Congress a week ago today, and he delivered… at least to a point. Fellow progressives, we must keep the heat on. President Obama must continue to hammer home the fact that not only is it not crazy to make significant changes to health care in a time of dire economic times, but the future of our economy depends on it. It means long-term fiscal responsibility. He must explain the difference between socialism and communism (and reassure the public that we are not on a slippery slope towards a communist takeover and dictatorship). He must forget entirely any back room deal he may have made or intends to make with health insurers and/or the pharmaceutical industry. This also goes for you, Nancy Pelosi. There must be a public option at the very least. A single-payer (government-run, socialized medicine, call it what you will) would be the absolute best solution, but Obama has seen fit to drop his public support for it (probably because there is so much paranoia and schizophrenia surrounding government-run programs). We must include single-payer (or at least public option) language in letters to our Congress people. We must convince our conservative friends and relatives that it is in their best interest (and that of the country) to move forward on health care reform, offer them ways to get on board, and give them a dignified way to save face (no, it’s not too late). In other words, give them a piece of the action; ownership. Think you’ve heard all this before? Well, you have. But we must say it over and over, though, and when we’re done, say it over again. We have to be as loud as the Right on this issue. First item up: let’s see who’s out there talking about it currently.
MUDDLED VOICES FROM THE RIGHT
Over the summer, Sarah Palin, in one of her first acts as a newly-minted community organizer (after quitting as Governor of Alaska), fanned the flames of the false notion of “death panels” which are supposedly being proposed by agents of “Obamacare”. “Obama lies, grandma dies” read supporters’ signs. Thankfully, this notion has been widely debunked, though Sarah apparently hasn’t gotten the message. The match was first lit, incidentally, by former Lt. Governor (R-NY), and until recently a board member of Cantel Medical Corporation, Betsy McCaughey. McCaughey took language first written by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and twisted it beyond recognition. Isakson’s idea was to provide paid counseling for a living will. You get to choose how, when, or even if to prolong your life should you fall into an unresponsive state and can’t speak for yourself. Actually it’s a very good idea. From a Republican. We should all have a living will. B’bye, Sarah. B’bye.
Congressman Joe Wilson stood up at one point during the President’s speech and shouted “You lie!”, after President Obama denied that health care legislation would provide free coverage for illegal immigrants. This was disrespectful in the extreme, and didn’t do him or his cause any good (though the influx of cash from his supporters might say otherwise, it has been exceeded by contributions to his opponent). It only made him look foolish, oafish, and even racist. As of Tuesday night, he is saying he will not apologize to Congress on the floor of the House, and that his phone call to the President is all he’ll give. So he agrees that what he did was wrong, yet is standing, arms folded like some petulant teenager. Unofficial (if not titular) head of the Republican party, Rush Limbaugh, has been up to his usual antics, regurgitating the “rationed care” scare line from the insurance lobby (there is nothing more rationed than our current system, by the way). Mr. Limbaugh has stated that he wishes failure upon the Obama presidency. He apparently doesn’t realize that Obama’s success and that of our own are inextricably linked. Mr. Limbaugh also has apparently run out of creative ideas and, apparently, words – and has resorted to verbal punching in the air. You know that we can see you behind the curtain, don’t you, Rush? Rush?
Many on the far right are adjudicating the election all over again. Some are angry that a black man is president. Whatever the case, there are some raw (and real) feelings on the right behind the “astroturf movements” (apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created, and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests, or public relations firms). Yes, the insurance industry talking points have been mimicked in some cases verbatim by Republican Congressmen. Newly-crowned King of the Stupid, Glenn Beck of Fox News, has been practically apoplectic as he cajoles his astroturfers into action (some of whom are shown in the photo above from this past Saturday). Rep. (R-MN) Michele Bachmann has been absolutely dippy in her distribution of bullshit. A sign raised at a town hall held by Rep. Rick Larson of Washington — keep the guvmint out of my medicare — is destined to become a classic of conservative propaganda. If we are to move forward, we must try our best to help mollify conservatives’ fears, and render foolish the sillier arguments of their “leadership”. And then do it all over again. As a country, we have a short attention span. That is why we must keep on it. B’bye, Joe Wilson. B’bye, Rush, Glenn, Reps. Bachmann and Larson. B’bye astroturfers. Okay. Who’s left?
RUBBING NOSES ON THE LEFT
Keith Olbermann is certainly left. Or rather, Left. If we are to make real progress on this health care issue, we must stop rubbing conservatives’ noses in the presidency of George W. Bush. As much of a mess you may feel it was, you must resist that urge. Yes, the election is over for us as well. Leftist media figures and outlets like Keith Olbermann, MoveOn.org, Daily Kos and others are like some kind of super-recharging candy. They taste so good, so we go to them for a reassuring pat on the back. Keith’s occasional Special Comment editorials have become a must-see. Sometimes, they get us so mad over the Right that we want to punch a wall. They do little, however, to win over conservatives… to move the dialogue. They’re just not listening. Sorry, Keith, but I must throw you under the bus for now. B’bye, Keith. B’bye, MoveOn.org, Daily Kos.
On TV and radio alone, Bill Moyers, Bill Maher, Ira Glass, Morning Joe (with Mika Brzezinski and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough), Stephen Colbert and John Stewart all give us better mileage with changing hearts and minds. Colbert and Stewart, for shining a very funny light on the hypocrisies of both sides, with a particular fondness, yes, for conservatives. Bill Maher for his reasoned wit, intellect, and non-ideological stances. He is among the first to call out Democrats should they need it. His post-9/11 comments calling out President Bush for using inane language in his condemnation of the terrorists got him canned from his ABC show, Politically Incorrect. He was “relegated” to HBO, and his Real Time with Bill Maher program has been appointment TV for progressives and open-minded conservatives (his panel typically includes both) for a few years now. Bill Moyers (Bill Moyers Journal) and Ira Glass (This American Life) are reluctant to self-identify as progressives, though bells of recognition go off in my head when I hear them. Their approach is less in-your-face, weaving the truth into reporting and storytelling; letting the facts speak for themselves.
CONFLATING SOCIALISM WITH COMMUNISM
The more extreme on the right have hijacked the George W. Bush as Heath Ledger’s Joker picture, and replaced Bush with Obama. Not clever, not original, and not even amusing even in the original GWB version (though the Drew Friedman illustration is a nice work). Stupid payback is a real bitch. Some of those behind the Joker/Socialism theme must know the difference between socialism and communism, yet they are playing their followers for fools. Socialism is not a political system of course, but a way of distributing goods and services. We owe the confusion in nearly equal parts to Lenin and Right-wing American politicians. Vladimir Lenin, for hijacking socialist memes of his time as a sales tool for his Bolshevik Party, whose name was later changed to the Communist Party. He promised power to the people which he had no intention of ever delivering, abandoning socialism completely in 1921 once his party was firmly entrenched. The link, however, was forged between socialism and communism forever after in many minds.
Joseph McCarthy, George Wallace, Richard Nixon and others, for equating anti-socialism with anti-communism as part of their own rabble-rousing strategies (drawing false parallels between Lenin and Marx that exist even today). Socialism exists in our society, in important ways virtually no one takes issue with. Emergency services, water and sewer services, the Interstate Highway System and other public roads, public schools, so much more. All socialism, and all great ideas. At some point, our society figured out that some aspects of our daily lives should not be subject to free-market whims and profit. Can you imagine having to give a credit card number to your 9-1-1 operator? Or negotiate a sewer contract for your individual home? How about paying a toll between the various networks and subnetworks of roads, including even within your own neighborhood? If we were honest as a country, and smart, we would realize that health care should also not be subject to free-market whims and profiteering. People are just as important as roads, water and sewer systems, and emergency services. I think we can all at least agree with that.
Obama came into office with a real ugly situation awaiting him. As interest rates bottomed out at 0% in December, the Federal Reserve lost its traditional, primary market-manipulation device. There was no more “down” down there. As John McCain said, we had been “spending money like drunken sailors”, and we now had a huge hangover. The stimulus package was put into place, bailouts continued under the Obama administration, tough decisions were made. Our country hadn’t been in such a pickle for a very long time (and never with so much riding on a recovery). Keynesian tactics were enacted and cash was injected into the economy. Lots of it. GM and Chrysler were bailed out, allowed to restructure (but now with strings attached, giving the Right another opening into the “See!? He’s a communist!” dialogue). The debate among economists raged on. We had to try something, anything. Failure to act was not an option. No one yet knows if our leadership did the right thing, but there have been ever-so-faint signs of a recovery recently. Astroturfers have seized upon our country’s woes, using the socialism/communism confusion in part to goad birthers, racists, end-timers, neo-Nazis, and others to pounce on Obama. Not very honest, but so far very effective in stirring the soup of confusion and unease. Unfortunately for our country.
FINDING COMMON GROUND
1. Republicans are opposed to non free-market solutions to health care, from a real identity point of view. They view Wall Street-run health care as still a reasonable solution. This has endured in a large part as a result of the socialism/communism confusion (see above). The public option, which Obama spoke about in his speech, should be embraced by both sides for its economy of operation and real potential to really keep the private insurers in line. The President stated that this public option will not cost a dime of taxpayer money, but will survive and thrive on its own. The reduced operating costs (3.5% vs. 31% for private insurers) will offset the expected influx of the medically-needy. If, somehow, it does not, then the President is willing to make cuts in spending versus raising additional revenues through taxes. I, for one, am hoping the public option will come to dominate the industry. This will only happen if it is successful, which will be good for everyone (see how that works, Rush?).
2. Pre-existing conditions will no longer be a factor in receiving an insurance policy or not. It will be against the law for an insurance carrier to deny coverage or charge exorbitant rates for those people who switch jobs, carriers, or both. No longer will Americans be tied to dead end jobs, just to hold on to their insurance. The Right, judging by one of their standing ovations at the speech last week (and running counter to the insurance lobby), are on board with this idea. As Obama said, it was a good idea when John McCain campaigned on it, and it’s a good idea now. Rescission and other denial of care practices will end. Rescission, growing in frequency and intensity, is the process by which insurance companies deny care for such trivial matters as mistakes made on application forms (like misstating your weight), whether made honestly or not. It’s when they get you on a technicality. It is real life rationed care, unlike the picture of rationed care drawn by the insurance lobby (when referring to government-run health care) Also, premium discrimination based on gender and age will come to an end.
3. In the US, we spend more than twice the average for developed countries, and get less for it. We rank 37th in health care for cost and effectiveness (behind Saudi Arabia, Cypress, Costa Rica, Colombia, but just ahead of Slovenia). Our worldwide ranking for life span is 50th. Wall Street-run healthcare has clearly failed us all. These abysmal figures alone should be reason enough to change the system, for any thinking American.
4. Republicans want tort reform for medical malpractice cases. Doctors are paying through the nose for medical malpractice insurance, largely due to huge payouts issued by compassionate juries. This is a good idea in principle; the Republicans have a point here (and they should be allowed to make it). To borrow a funny line from the President’s speech, “there are still a few details to be ironed out”, but overall, this should be a legitimate part of the debate.
5. The Economy. With a big “E”. Reform on health care is tied to an economic recovery. Lack of action may be its undoing. Every day, more and more people are losing their coverage. Soaring costs for Medicare and Medicaid threaten to void any real recovery. Our population is aging. We owe this to ourselves for purely selfish (in addition to fiscally responsible) reasons. This isn’t just a program to get the uninsured covered. It is essential for our country.
To my conservative friends: read the text of President Obama’s speech, and see if you can find some common ground.
To my progressive, liberal friends: the time is now to take action. If you want this to happen, one thing you could do is put down your Double Half-Caff-No-Foam latte, pick up your iPhones or Blackberries, and call your Congress people in Washington. Be sure to let them know how you feel about a public option. Follow the links below to navigate to the home pages of your Senators and Representatives. Have a belly-busting laugh at their official photo, which will undoubtedly grace their home page. Then call them.
Credits: George W. Bush as the Joker illustration by Drew Friedman for Vanity Fair (2008), Obama as the Joker original photo from a Time magazine cover, alteration credit unknown. This is the hardest set of ideas I have ever tried to put into words. It is version… I don’t even know how many versions I’ve written – in the mid-double-digits at least (I ran out of fingers and toes counting them). It is not perfect, and not even near what I wanted to do, but on the B.L.O.G. it must go. It’s getting late. Take action today. Please.
BURBANK – NBC’s anxiously-anticipated foray into late-night-as-prime-time began last night. The show was a good beginning, offering a little of everything: a fairly short monologue, big-time stars (Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah Winfrey), controversy (lucky get with Kanye West making what must have been a most humiliating public apology for his antics at the MTV VMA Awards from the night before), a very ambitious taped comedy bit from a relative unknown, Jay’s signature Monday night Headlines, and music (Kanye again, this time performing along with Jay-Z and Rihanna). Ex-Howard Stern Show staffer and Tonight Show announcer, John Melendez, is now earning his money from the writer’s room.
My friends at the show, Gary and Mac, have some interesting graphics and effects in store and will surely have a long, successful, and fun run. I’m envious, guys! Early numbers had the ratings at 17.7 million viewers. That’s the highest prime time rating since the American Idol finale in May. Expect some drop-off after the curious turn away, but the question for NBC is: can it hold on to enough of an audience to justify the huge gamble with the schedule? Will the other networks follow suit? You can bet they’ll be watching, waiting to see what happens next. So will I.
Credits: NBC photos by Justin Lubin, combined with the official show logo. I just put them together in the above composites. The bottom photo is from tonight’s show, which (as I write this) has yet to air here on the west coast. Are Tom and Cameron on the set of Vanilla Sky II? Guess I’ll have to tune in to find out.
LOS ANGELES – The new bike kit I designed for I. Martin Imports (here in Los Angeles) arrived in May, and it has been a modest hit in local cycling circles. I am working on a special online sales page, set to go up sometime very soon (probably on or linked through imartin.com). When it goes up, I’ll announce it here first.
For those of you following along at home, you’ll remember the “From Italy, With Love” teaser post I did in April. The beautifully-made Capo Custom kits really are coming over from Italy. Friend of I. Martin (FoIM) and cycling enthusiast, Angi Greene, and her photographer-cousin, sent some great shots (in case you somehow missed her, she’s in the graphic above). And who could forget the Three Amigos post from early June, featuring Josh, John, and Mike. I designed some t-shirts which match the kit in theme and color. FoIM Neil was captured sneaking some shots of Team Astana riders, wearing one of the t-shirts at the opening stage time trial at the Tour de France in Monaco.
The kit colors are close to the Belgium National Champion colors, and are especially influenced by Team Quick Step rider Stijn Devolder’s kit from last year (pictured at right on a breakaway — yes, the Flemish are hardcore cycling fans). Tom Boonen, also with Team Quick Step, took the Belgian trophy this year and had a very similar kit at the TdF this year.
Below is a sneak peak of a possible new white and black summer kit. I’ve already received some constructive feedback. I heard that FoIM, Tomás, suggested “no white” on the business end of the shorts. And I must say I agree with him, so now they’re black. Let me know your thoughts. Why the arm and knee warmers on a summer kit? Good question. Actually, the kit will also function as a snow kit, of course, and if you’re really daring, a cyclocross kit (if your detergent is good enough). That, and there are actually some cool altitudes in the mountains and on the coast during early hours around here, even in summer. Plus, if you want black, those will still be available and will coordinate fine.
NEW YORK and SAN FRANCISCO – The company formerly known as Radio Shack have, for now at least, changed their name to The Shack. Actually, it’s not an official name change but a marketing move by RS’s agency to make it “more friendly and approachable” (and will only be used in the short term), according the the agency Executive Creative Director. Now, I don’t regard The Shack as particularly un-friendly or stand-off-ish, but that doesn’t matter as I did somehow figure out a way to tie in the news with bicycle racing — and offer a sure-fire way to promote the team as well. But more on that shortly. I know… you’ve already seen the picture and I’m burying the lead. First, some very short background material.
Famed cancer survivor, bicycle racing legend and comeback hero, Lance Armstrong, announced during the final week of Le Tour de France that he would be moving to a new team starting next year. He Promo-Tweeted that the announcement would come within days. I took that opportunity to take my best shot at what that new team would be. My guess? The Nike/Apple/Amgen Professional Cycling Team, Presented by Lance Cracker Cookies (or is that cookie crackers?). No matter. I was dead wrong. Most people were guessing that Livestrong partner, Nike, would step up to the sponsorship plate and create a team around their marketing-and-manufacturing partner.
The new team, it was announced, would be Radio Shack. Radio Shack. The battery store. Or more precisely, the give your phone number in order to buy a battery store. Oookay. Who knew that Radio Shack was in such good shape as to be able to afford the estimated $15M to $25M budget of a professional cycling team sponsorship?
The tour ended, and Lance got an impressive third place finish. So how would Radio Shack keep the energy flowing? What would they do to keep their name in the limelight? The answer? A “hip”, new (if temporary) name change to The Shack, together with a viral interweb marketing event to be held in public plazas in New York and San Francisco. The Shack Summer “Netogether”. I really hope that our language doesn’t adopt “netogether” as a real word. Huge screens, setup to look like giant laptops, were placed in both cities and participants were encouraged to interact with each other, most of whom were otherwise complete strangers. Actually better than real life, come to think of it. Alas, I arrived at the party a bit too late, as evidenced by the blank twin screens on my screenshot of the event. The party was still going on in the form of flash-driven IMs to the world. Hello? Is there anybody out there?
I think The Shack, or Radio Shack (or whatever the company becomes after this promotion) should tap an NBA legend, a certain Shaquille O’Neal, to help broaden the appeal of bicycle racing in this country. Shaq could use the off-season busy work. The whole enterprise should only double the annual budget of the team. Shaq is a rider, having at least one custom frame by Cannondale for his 7’1″, 305-pound frame. Both Shaq and Lance know and love the Twitter (not a euphamism). As a matter of fact, in May Shaq challenged Lance to a bike race, via a short Twitter exchange (this is not made up… I swear):
@lancearmstrong this is shaq, I challenge u to a race anytime any place, its time someone challenged u, call perry rogers for details its on
10:06 AM May 25th from TweetGenius in reply to lancearmstrong
Armstrong Tweeted back, using a Talladega Nights reference (which even most white people wouldn’t understand), accepting Shaq’s challenge at least in the abstract. That was the end of May. Then there was training, The Tour, The (other) Shack commotion, and then came another shot across the bow from Shaq:
@lancearmstrong ok, yer done wit da tour. i wanna challenge u. last wk aug, 1st wk sept? dm me, good buddy
12:23 PM Aug 3rd from web
time 2 rally da twittereans. help me convince @lancearmstrong 2 take on my challenge. RT RT RT #ShaqVsLance
10:02 AM Aug 5th from web
That could be the next “Netogether” (hmm… I guess I will use it, but only in this post). Keep it going for Radio Shack. Get Shaq on his bike. Raise awareness for Livestrong. Win-win-win. A bicycle and slam-dunk multi-sport race, featuring Shaq and Lance. Like a triathlon, only not. RS could bring back those free battery punch cards, even do a whole temporary brand make-over, using retro graphics… shhh… during which time they could quietly take the new logo (if a 1995 logo can still be new) out back somewhere and SHOOT IT.
LOS ANGELES – I have a brand new job! Can’t get into details right now, but they gave my Man from B.L.O.G. avatar-cybernaut a sweet pair of shades when I left the interview. Or is that “when he left the interview”? I’m confused. No matter. There are lots of celebrations going on. My buddy, Todd, just left I. Martin bikes for a new job. Here he is (below) on his last day at the shop, celebrating, but not before being put to work on one final customer’s Motebecane Mixte. Matt, Ned, Paul, and Cameron made sure to give their soon-to-be-ex-boss some going-away grief.
Click on the strip photo above to get a better look at their hijinks.
My friend, Anne, is back on the west coast and is looking for work, with some promising leads. Joe G. is on his way back to India for work as I write this post. If he ever gets his blog together, I’ll be sure to link to it. The economy is still very shaky here in LaLaLand (not that the rest of the country is in the clear!), so it’s good to see that people can find or keep work in such a time as this. I have a lot of new posts in the works, and will be posting some new ones very soon.
ON THE SLOPES OF MONT VENTOUX, PROVENCE, FRANCE – My Man from B.L.O.G. (avatar/cybernaut) caught a quick ride up Mont Ventoux in the new Team Radio Shack team support car prototype (mentioned in the last post) with Johan Bruyneel behind the virtual wheel. Late at night and the party is on! 500,000 people are expected on the slopes of The Giant of Provence for the most difficult penultimate stage in Tour de France history. Later today, July 25, 2009.
I can see that some of my new friends from recent posts are here: Arlen Spector-Specter, Ahmadinejad, Vino, The Three Amigos, the Odd Little Man from the Picky Part, The Usual Suspects, Kim Jung-Il, Farrah Fawcett, and– oh! There’s the Psycho House from the Conan bumper pitch I did. And the Tour Devil is making his first appearance here, taunting me. There’s one more character from the recent past, hidden like Waldo. Can you find the character? Hint: it may not be a person.
No matter the outcome of today’s race, it will be a memorable one! Gale force winds on the slopes, according to Phil Liggett’s Twitter this morning.