Archive for Enotes
Kevyn Orr is just like any Washington, D.C. bankruptcy attorney who is black, who has a strong resume, and who oozes confidence.
Except that he’s been plucked from the vine to save a city that some say is beyond saving.
Orr is Detroit’s new Emergency Financial Manager (EFM). He is unique in that, while he’s a bankruptcy lawyer and has been a part of many such restructurings, he actually would prefer not to lead the city into bankruptcy as a way to cure what ails it.
“Frankly, I’d like to avoid it,” Orr told the Detroit News’ Nolan Finley. “Bankruptcy can certainly have benefits to what the emergency manager would have to do, but I would like to think of that as a last resort as opposed to a first option. No, I don’t think we’re inevitably headed to bankruptcy, but people have got to be realistic, reasonable and focused on changing the architecture of the finances of the city so they can go into a sustainable model for the future.”
Orr might be the most delusional man in America. He calls the Detroit EFM job “the Olympics of restructuring,” yet he says the job could be done not within the planned 18 months, but three to six months, “if people in a collegial and good faith basis could get together.”
Ahh, more delusional thoughts. Words like “collegial” and “good faith basis” are not normally indigenous to the machinations of Detroit.
But Orr is confident, and with a connection to Michigan, professionally (“this is the state that gave me my start”), and a University of Michigan graduate, he says he felt “compelled” to take the EFM job when Governor Rick Snyder came calling.
“(This could be) something I can tell my grandkids about.”
Orr is 54. With the decisions he has to make, and the enormity of the task before him, you would think his main objective would be to make it to 55.
But at least the City Council dropped plans for a lawsuit to stop the EFM, albeit temporarily, from taking over. Orr officially starts his new job on March 28. Be thankful for small favors.
The good news, I suppose, is that Orr doesn’t seem to think that the turnaround of Detroit is an impossible task. Difficult? Yes. History making, potentially? Double yes. But not impossible.
But Kevyn Orr might not be so delusional after all.
“I’m prepared to be the most hated man for a period of time,” Orr told Finley.
That may be the most intuitive thing anyone in a leadership role in the city of Detroit has ever said.
Carl Levin never shortchanged Michigan.
In an ever-growing world of political cynicism—both from the constituents and from the lawmakers themselves—it was good for Michiganders to know that Levin, the six-term U.S. Senator who won’t seek a seventh, was on the job.
He may go down as one of the best, most effective senators ever to represent the great state of Michigan. Hell, he may be the best.
I used to think that no one would eclipse Phil Hart in that category, but Levin has changed my mind after well over 30 years on the job.
Levin won election in 1978. It was the Republican Bob Griffin whose seat Levin won. Griffin initially didn’t seek re-election but then changed his mind. But it was too late; Levin wasn’t to be denied.
It was Levin and Don Riegle in those days—two Democrats who were progressive, young and determined to make their mark in Washington. Riegle had won Hart’s old seat, in 1976.
Riegle was Michigan’s senior senator by just two years, but Levin has held that distinction since 1988. With the exception of Spencer Abraham’s one term (1994-2000), Levin has worked lockstep with another Democrat as his junior senator.
The news that Levin won’t seek a seventh term in 2014 is bittersweet.
On the one hand, the 79-year-old will enjoy much-deserved retirement. He’ll be able to watch his beloved Tigers play more often.
On the other, Levin’s absence leaves the senate seat wide open, obviously. And there’s no guarantee that another Democrat will just automatically capture the seat.
Already, though, Rep. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Township) says he’s mulling over a run at the seat in 2014.
“I’m going to seriously consider it,” he told the Free Press. “We need to hold on to that seat.”
That’s an understatement, but with Abraham’s exception, Michigan voters haven’t sent a Republican to the Senate since Griffin in 1972. They tend to do so with governors, but not with senators.
Still, the idea of no longer having Levin—longtime Chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee—working for Michigan, isn’t a warm and fuzzy one for Democrats.
But Levin was no partisan fool. He wasn’t so liberal that he couldn’t see the forest for the trees. But he didn’t suffer the fools on the other side easily, either.
The significance of Levin’s service wasn’t lost on President Barack Obama, a former colleague in the chamber.
“If you’ve ever worn the uniform, worked a shift on an assembly line or sacrificed to make ends meet, then you’ve had a voice and a vote in Sen. Carl Levin,” the president said in a statement.
It doesn’t take much to give us Spring Fever in Michigan.
It’s cold and flu season, but some of us will be coming down with an incurable case of Spring Fever as the temps are expected to hit and surpass 50 degrees on Friday and Saturday. That’s all it takes, you know—a day or two of 40+ degree weather to make us think of baseball, Easter and flowers.
Get ready to see folks in shorts and flip flops this weekend. I only partially exaggerate. Flip flops, maybe not, but certainly shorts. I have joked with out-of-towners who live in warm weather climates that while they may think of temps in the low-60s as being “cool” this time of year, people in Michigan would be walking around naked if the mercury touched that mark in the dead of winter.
Just a day or two, that’s all we need, of unseasonable warmth and you can get a new lease on life. Your countenance changes. You become more optimistic. You wonder whether Punxsutawney Phil will need shades and a glass of iced tea when he pops his head out on February 2.
Even though we know the balminess won’t last long—maybe 48 hours, tops—it doesn’t matter. All things are possible. You wonder if the tulips will be popping out before MLK Day.
We starve for anything above 40 degrees right about now. The holidays are over, there’s a hangover about that, and a whole winter is still ahead of us. Bone-chilling cold is certain to get us, sooner or later. So a forecast like this weekend’s, when 50 degrees looks like 80, is a great elixir. The snow will melt before our eyes but we won’t see it actually happening, much like how a clock or watch’s minute hands move as if by magic. All of a sudden the grass will reappear.
We see these temps coming a mile away, once they appear on the 5-day forecast. There’s a buzz created.
“It’s going to be 50 on Friday!” we say on Monday.
“50 degrees on Friday,” we say again on Wednesday, to which someone says, “55 on Saturday,” as the 5-day is updated.
We say it with excitement. We say it with amazement.
It’s bound to be fleeting but that’s OK; we would be happy with just an hour of it, truth be told.
Yes, it’s just the second week of January and no matter how warm it gets this weekend, the whole winter, just about, is staring us in the face.
We’ll worry about that come Monday.
How long before video stores go the way of travel agencies?
Remember the local travel agent? They’d advertise on local TV and they had tiny offices with globes on the signs and maps on the walls. You’d ring them up if you wanted a surrogate to get you the best deal on a hotel in Chicago or a rental car in Boston.
Then the Internet struck, with its multitude of websites, and the American traveler became his or her own travel agent. The middle man, as so often has happened after the Internet, was cut out, like a tumor.
Why pay someone to do something that we could do for free, and still get discounts to boot?
So I wonder about the fate of the corner video store.
Actually, you may have to drive past quite a few corners before you find a video store these days.
NetFlix, the Red Box kiosks, the Internet (of course) and more people owning BluRay discs than DVDs, are all contributing to the slow death of the local video store, I’m afraid.
But some of it is the video store’s own doing.
Take late fees. Please.
One of the allures to the above alternatives to renting movies is that none of them will charge you a late fee. And late fees, if we’re just talking between us, is surely a big revenue gainer in the video rental business.
One of the reasons why late fees are so common is that the due dates for the movies are all over the map.
This one’s due in two days. That one’s due in three days. You have a full week on that other one. Oops, better get THIS one back TOMORROW. Or else.
We used to run a late fee balance at one of the local stores like a drunk would a bar tab.
Even asking for a printout of the due dates, which the store gladly provided, didn’t always prevent Video A, B or C frome being brought back tardy.
But here’s the deal: video stores must be feeling the heat from their competitors. So why not back off on the late fees? And I have just the idea to make that happen, and make the video store more attractive.
If I ran a video store, I’d advertise that every movie in the joint, from A to Z, was a one-week rental. Every single one.
Doesn’t matter if it’s a “new release.” Doesn’t matter if it came out on Tuesday, or 12 years ago. Every one of my films, you can have for a week.
Simple. Easy to remember.
Will people still be tardy, even under that arrangement? Sure. But that’s on them.
I’d even call my place One Week Video. Seriously.
Think of it. You come in, browse, grab a bunch of movies, pay me and know that everything is due one week from today. Simple. No muss, no fuss.
I’d even have seven different types of bags, each with a day of the week on it. You come in on a Monday, you get a Monday Bag. And so on.
“Honey, when are these movies due back?”
“What does the bag say?”
Of course, you go beyond the seven-day limit, and we have a problem. But I won’t tag you for very much. Promise.
It’s an idea that makes far too much sense, which is why it won’t be adopted.
Which is part of why the video store will join the travel agent, the drive-in movie and mini-golf in the Dungeon of the Forgotten.
Sooner, rather than later.
Well, that didn’t take long.
The year 2013, the year of the next Detroit mayoral election, was hours old when the first salvo was fired by a candidate at another, and—surprise—it had the tinges of race baiting to it.
Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, by all indications a pretty smart guy, said something un-smart that was clearly aimed at presumed candidate Mike Duggan.
Napoleon told a reporter that Palmer Woods, one of the city’s jewels when it comes to neighborhoods, wasn’t really a part of Detroit.
Palmer Woods is where Duggan has recently taken up residence as he presumably prepares for a run at Dave Bing’s job—whether Bing runs for re-election or not. Duggan, as we all know, is white.
The day after saying flat out that Palmer Woods is not Detroit, Napoleon backpedaled.
“Palmer Woods is not Detroit? Nothing is further from the truth,” Napoleon wrote on Facebook. “It is one of our prized neighborhoods. However, the Palmer Woods experience is far different from that of the average Detroiter’s neighborhood experience. Most Detroiters, including those in Palmer Woods, understand that without clarification. But to set the record straight, I believe Palmer Woods is not only Detroit, it is what we want Detroit neighborhoods to aspire to be. And our city won’t be transformed until the Palmer Woods experience is one that is shared by all Detroiters.”
Nicely played. For now.
It didn’t figure to take long before Duggan, aiming to become Detroit’s first white mayor since Roman Gribbs left office on December 31, 1973, was taken a shot at by the (so far) rather small field of fellow candidates. And it wasn’t surprising that the shot taken focused on Duggan’s choice of residence.
Duggan lived for years in Livonia, which is as white as salt, for the most part. He moved to Palmer Woods last year.
Wayne County Sheriff and Detroit mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon
Napoleon recovered nicely, for the most part, from his gaffe. But it still displayed, within him, the old refrain.
You’re not a Detroiter unless your trash doesn’t get picked up. You’re not a Detroiter unless your street lights are out for months. You’re not a Detroiter unless you live among abandoned homes and crack houses. You’re not a Detroiter unless you are out of work and are bereft of hope.
Is that how we want the next mayor to look at things?
We’d rather have him (or her) look at the city the way Napoleon did in his backpedaling statement on Facebook.
To wit: “But to set the record straight, I believe Palmer Woods is not only Detroit, it is what we want Detroit neighborhoods to aspire to be. And our city won’t be transformed until the Palmer Woods experience is one that is shared by all Detroiters.”
Too bad that’s not what Benny Napoleon said the first time around. Then again, political candidates often need two tries to get it right. At least.
His name really was Mudd.
Today is the 179th birthday of the most vilified doctor this side of Mike Myers’ Dr. Evil.
Samuel Mudd was born on December 20, 1833. Before his 32nd birthday, he was a convicted felon.
With the rebirth of Abraham Lincoln in our social consciousness (they even made a movie where Abe isn’t a vampire hunter), now is a good time to remember Dr. Mudd, who was convicted along with several others for conspiring to kill the president in 1865.
Justice moved a lot quicker in those days, for good and for bad. The president was assassinated on April 14, 1865 (he died in the wee hours of the 15th). Less than a month later, Mudd and his co-defendants were on trial. By the end of June, Mudd was convicted along with the others.
It was Mudd’s prior acquaintance with assassin John Wilkes Booth that planted the seeds of conspiracy.
Mudd first met Booth, history says, in November 1864 in a church in Bryantown, MD. Booth used a guise of a real estate hunt as an excuse to visit the town, but his real intent was to scout out an escape route in his plot to kidnap Lincoln and ransom him for the release of Confederate prisoners of war. During this first Bryantown visit, Booth allegedly met Dr. Mudd and even stayed overnight at the doctor’s farm.
Historians pretty much agree that it’s unlikely that the doctor would have knowingly participated in Booth’s kidnap plot, though a second Booth-Mudd meeting occurred in December, which included drinks at a tavern and at Mudd’s farm. The nature of the meeting is unknown.
Mudd’s farm was only five miles from Bryantown.
Co-conspirator defendant George Atzerodt claimed that Mudd knew of Booth’s plot ahead of time, which turned into one of the murder variety.
You know the rest. Booth shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theater, and sought medical assistance at Dr. Mudd’s farm later that night. The doctor treated Booth’s broken leg (suffered while leaping from the balcony onto the stage after the shooting) and let Booth spend the night. It’s unclear—and this is a biggie—whether Dr. Mudd knew, at that time, that Booth had murdered Lincoln.
The doctor didn’t help his own cause. Mudd failed to contact authorities until several days after Booth left his farm, fueling speculation that Mudd was part of some sort of plot.
Mudd was also less than forthcoming about whether he had met Booth previously, once authorities were able to question the doctor. Mudd at first denied ever having met Booth, then retracted and confessed to the first meeting in Bryantown in November 1864. It wasn’t until he was in prison that Mudd confessed to the December 1864 meeting. Both denials were, obviously, big mistakes.
Mudd served less than four years in prison. It always helps to have friends in high places; Mudd’s defense attorney, Thomas Ewing Jr., was influential in then-President Andrew Johnson’s administration. This connection was a big factor in Johnson’s pardon of Mudd in February 1869. Mudd returned home in late March.
Dr. Samuel Mudd, as he appeared while in prison
Thanks to the pardon, Mudd resumed practicing medicine and in 1877 he even ran for the Maryland House of Delegates as a Democrat. He lost.
Mudd died of pneumonia on January 10, 1883. There is irony in his burial, which was in the cemetery of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Bryantown.
That’s the church where Dr. Mudd first met John Wilkes Booth.
It’s another of the talking points pushed by the gun camp, symbolically accompanied by the throwing up of hands in the air.
“If you ban guns, only criminals will have guns.”
First, I am not in favor of banning guns. I fully believe in the Second Amendment to the degree that folks should have the right to protect their castles—even if deadly force is required.
I do, however, believe that reasonable, responsible gun owners can darn well protect themselves—and their homes and their families—with weapons that aren’t designed to mow dozens of people down in minutes.
But here’s the thing. These mass shootings that are being committed nowadays aren’t being committed by criminals. In fact, many times the perpetrator has no previous criminal record. Not even a parking ticket.
Like Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old monster who shot up Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.
Lanza had no criminal record.
Neither did the shooter in the recent mall incident in Oregon. Same with the Aurora, CO theater shooter last summer.
The kids who committed the atrocities at Columbine weren’t criminals, either. Nor was the perp in the Virginia Tech massacre.
Loners? Yes. Troubled? Definitely. But not criminals.
Criminals aren’t committing mass shootings. Armed criminals typically rob or steal. Or trade on the black market. If they stockpile artillery, it’s to sell. They don’t acquire automatic weapons so they can shoot up a mall, a school or a movie theater.
Those are facts.
The folks who are arming themselves to the hilt, throwing on military-style vests and camouflage gear, aren’t criminals. They’re suffering from mental illness.
Until we start treating root causes rather than symptoms, we’re going nowhere in the effort to try to make what happened in Connecticut on Friday a once-in-a-lifetime tragedy.
It’s time to start educating about mental illness, which is still, in the 21st century no less, terribly misunderstood.
Look no further than the reports that Lanza may have been autistic, or afflicted with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Neither has ever been directly connected to violent behavior of any serious degree. Yet you just know that there is a segment of the population that will take the autism and Asperger’s thing and run with it. And you know that those afflicted with said disorders will now be looked at sideways.
There is so much we don’t know about mental illness. I’d say we’d better start getting a handle on it, because it ain’t going away.
If there is any common ground I can find with those on even the most extreme side of pro-guns, it’s that people are ultimately responsible for their actions. The gun provides them with the means of destruction, but not every gun owner commits mass shootings, so that should be a clue right there.
Lanza’s mother, Nancy, who was gunned down first last Friday, has been taking some posthumous heat for her decision to have guns of the magnitude that was used by her son, in the first place.
But even his own mother clearly didn’t understand the scope of Adam Lanza’s troubled state.
This is a time for experts in many arenas to sit down, together, and start hashing some stuff out. To do whatever we can to prevent another atrocity like Newtown from happening again is going to require serious, honest discussion from everyone across the gun, mental illness and law enforcement spectrum.
You’re afraid that only criminals will have access to guns?
It’s not working too well when the non-criminals get a hold of them, either.
For eight years, every Saturday, I have pumped out 1,000+ words about pastimes—kids games played by grown-up millionaires. I have mused about the merits of the Lions’ latest draft, the Tigers’ latest free agent signing, the Pistons’ latest implosion, the Red Wings’ latest Stanley Cup.
Not this Saturday.
This Saturday, there won’t be any hand-wringing over the NHL’s (latest) lockout. There won’t be any fussing about another Lions season gone wrong. No analysis about whether the Tigers should have committed $80 million to a pitcher. No unsolicited solutions to all that ails the Pistons.
What does any of that matter, when 20 precious children woke up, went to school, and ended up being carried out of their classrooms in body bags?
For many, sports is a diversion—a way to unplug, for 2-3 hours, the cord that connects us to our troubled lives. We shove our money problems, our marriage troubles, and our job worries to the back burner, so we can yell and scream at the TV and bring our sports teams’ troubles to the fore. Sometimes the logic seems ill, actually.
But it’s not real life, in the strictest definition. The drama is played out on the field, or on the ice, or on the hardwood. At the end there is a winner and there is a loser but none of it really matters.
Even Reggie Jackson, who didn’t meet a spotlight he didn’t like, once tried to put sports in perspective.
“I was reminded that when we lose and I strike out, a billion people in China don’t care,” Reggie said.
Sports is a diversion, but even that is kind of disingenuous to say. The line between sports and real life is being blurred, almost daily. The off-the-court, off-the-field, off-the ice news is capturing a larger slice of the information pie. Sports isn’t, any longer, just about hitting a curve or sacking the quarterback. It’s not just about how to defend the pick-and-roll or getting the puck out of your own zone.
They used to do a lot of killing in sports, but it was all figurative.
Kill the umpire! Kill a penalty. Kill the clock.
Lately, as we’ve seen with recent incidents involving players of the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys, they’re killing people for real.
But on this day we don’t look to sports to divert us. The games go on, but today we are glued to our TV sets, tied to the Internet, frantically searching for answers that may never come, to a one-word question.
That three-letter word starts so many of our queries.
Why did a 20-year-old young man kill his mother? Why did he then drive to the school where she reportedly worked, and gun down the principal and a school psychologist?
And, the biggest “Why?” of them all.
Why did this young man, reportedly identified as Adam Lanza, march into a classroom and start shooting grade schoolers?
Why did his mother have such powerful weapons registered in her name, to which Lanza had access? Why didn’t anyone see this coming?
After the why come the next big questions, and those all start with “How?”
How will the parents of the dead children cope? How will the parents of the surviving children ever hope to re-instill a sense of security in their kids? How will the town of Newtown, Connecticut, a small burg of about 27,000 people (not unlike the size of Madison Heights, where I live), manage to carry on after the slaughter that occurred in their town?
You want to keep sports in this discussion, in an allegorical way?
Well, here it is.
The country has hit its two-minute warning. But it needs to get the football back from the gun lobbies before it can mount a game-winning rally.
We’re out of timeouts, too.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in the wake of the news of the shootings that “today isn’t the day” to talk about gun control. Someone should remind Carney that we have no timeouts remaining.
If the day to talk about gun control isn’t the day in which 20 of our babies are shot dead, sitting at their desks in a kindergarten class, then we’ll never have that talk.
The nightmare in Connecticut has pushed us to the brink. Our backs are against the wall and all that sports rot. The gun violence keeps getting worse, backing us closer to that wall. It wasn’t bad enough after Columbine, apparently. Wasn’t bad enough after a Congresswoman was gunned down at a public appearance.
We edged closer to the wall after the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. And even closer, after the mall shooting in Oregon, just this week.
Now 20 little boys and girls are dead. If this doesn’t cause us to start kicking, clawing and scratching, trying to fight our way back from the edge of insanity, then the clock will run out and the game will be over.
For decades, the gun people have put all their chips on “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” It’s a rallying cry that lacks common sense and immediately puts blinders on those who utter it.
It’s catchy, I grant you that. It’s also true in the most literal sense. A Glock or an assault rifle won’t, of course, kill someone if no one takes hold of it, aims it, and pulls the trigger. You got me there.
But people with guns kill people. Why doesn’t the gun camp think that’s as catchy?
Get ready for the argument of, “If only someone at the school was armed, then a lot of lives might have been saved.”
The old OK Corral argument. The notion that, like in the movies, a hero will draw his weapon, and pick off the bad guy with one shot, with no possible chance of collateral damage or stray bullets striking and killing others.
You think that’s really how it would go down if everyone walked around with a pistol on their hip? Or is it more likely that more people might choose to go for their weapons to “solve” problems, in a horrific moment of indiscretion?
Is the way to put out a fire, to throw more fire at it?
We’re at the two-minute warning. We have no more timeouts remaining. We need the ball back. The situation is just that dire.
We can’t put off the rally any longer. Twenty babies are dead. If that’s not a game changer, then we’re doomed.
Susan Rice tried to take one for the team, but she put it behind the eight-ball instead.
Rice, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, today yanked herself out of the running (that she presumably was in) to be the replacement for the retiring Hillary Clinton as President Obama’s next Secretary of State.
In a letter to the president, Rice wrote, in part, “the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive, and costly — to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities. That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country.”
The road to Hell, they say, is paved with good intentions. And Rice just paved another one with her premature bailing on the president.
If you believe the conspiracy theories—and this one seems to have some merit—the GOP assault on Rice’s competence to be SOS, which was odd in of itself for its “jumping the gun” nature, is part of a scheme to bring Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to the fore as Clinton’s successor. Why? So Kerry’s ultimately vacated seat could be filled by, say, recently defeated Republican Scott Brown.
Far fetched? Hardly.
Phase One of that plan is complete, with Rice’s too-soon withdrawal from contention.
I must say, I’m disappointed in Rice, a woman in whom I thought was more fight.
She thinks she’s doing right by her president and her country, when she is, in fact, putting Obama in a box and feeding into a negative stereotype.
The stereotype is that women are weaker than men, emotionally, and when the heat gets turned up, they do things like Rice did.
It also shows that bullying works, another bad message to send to our young men and, especially, women.
Rice should have hung in there. She should have stood with the president, if it came to his nominating her. Obama is already taking some heat for not supporting her strongly enough, which supposedly led Rice to the decision that she made.
But what was Obama to do? Once Rice tendered the letter, it pretty much forced his hand.
Rice should have floated the notion of withdrawing past the president, first, to test the waters. I’m confident that Obama would have encouraged her to not withdraw, even if he ended up choosing Kerry (the only other likely candidate) instead.
Rice bailed far too early. Frankly, she had an obligation to stick it out. She let down her president, her country and her gender. I imagine there are “binders full” of strong, independent women out there (NOT necessarily feminists, either) who aren’t too pleased with this decision.
Perception is reality. And from where I sit, I see a bunch of angry white men who bullied a black woman out of contention for SOS. And she let them get away with it, without much of a fight.
If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, is how the saying goes. Only, Susan Rice didn’t get anywhere near the kitchen, yet she still failed her gender. How ironic, huh?
The sandwich board is making a comeback.
I’m not talking about literal sandwiches here, like the kind you eat.
I’m talking the term often used for the signs those poor folks are holding or wearing these days, hawking a variety of retail outlets, from cell phone stores to oil change places.
The sandwich board was so named because of its original incarnation, which was usually two pieces of wood, connected with rope or twine, which the wearer would sling over his shoulders, advertising on the front and back, creating a sort of human “sandwich.”
The sandwich boards started showing up in earnest in the late-1920s and early-1930s, which were, not coincidentally, the days of the Great Depression. But in those days, often the human sandwich was promoting himself, not any company.
The sandwich board is back, but in a more streamlined fashion. It used to be that the only businesses in recent years who commissioned people to stand on the curb and wave people in, holding a sign, were car washes (the fundraising kind) and, during tax season, tax preparers (with typically someone dressed as Lady Liberty or Uncle Sam).
Now, there are so many sandwich boards and signs out there, I’m surprised they’re not bumping into each other.
There’s this one dude who works for one of those companies that buys and sells gold. I see him every Friday when I’m on my way to cash my check on Rochester Road, and I have seen him for over a year now, rain, snow or shine. He wears headphones and is swiveling his sign like mad, all the time. And I just see him on Fridays. Doubtless he works the whole week as well.
The thing is—and granted, it’s hard to tell just by driving by at 40 mph once a week—he seems perfectly happy to be doing it. Not bored at all. He walks up and down, forward and back, swiveling his sign.
To be honest, I don’t even know where his employer’s store is located. I only see him, not the actual store front.
But he’s there, every week, with his gold sign with black print, walking up and down that tiny stretch of Rochester Road. He looks to be in his 20s, and physically fit.
I wonder what they pay people these days to be human sandwiches?
Back in the day, the sandwich board advertised people, not businesses
Is it worth the cost? Is such advertising really effective? Using my Friday Guy as an example, maybe not. You’ll notice I have made mention of driving by him, but not knowing the name of his company, nor exactly where the store is located. And I’ve seen him do his thing for well over a year.
Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of having him there?
I also drive by an oil change place every night on my way home from work. That dude strays from the sidewalk, however, and damn near stands on the street. Kind of dangerous, if you ask me.
But again, does his presence make me want to get my oil changed?
Does any human sandwich influence your wanting to drop some dollars at the sandwich’s business?
Regardless, there’s no question that the human sandwiches are increasing in number. I guess it’s the new wave of guerrilla marketing.
We’ve come a long way, I guess, since “Eat at Joe’s” was the sandwich board of the day.
Not sure if that’s good or bad.