Advertising


Chiquita banana sticker

Everyone is a walking advertisement. Corporate America has managed to increase its visibility even in our most intimate settings. Now even bananas are advertising Wii. Imagine my surprise when I saw Wii advertised on a banana. Sure everyone associates bananas with healthy eating. And sure, Wii Fit is great form of exercise. But will advertising Wii on bananas sell more Wii systems?

Chiquita banana with Chiquita banana sticker

Nowadays, every advertises some product on a t-shirt or a hat. When I was a boy, corporations would give away free things with their name on them. We never bought anything that was made expressly to advertise a product. Sure some products came with a label such as Levi’s, Louisville Slugger, Converse Chuck Taylor, but no one sold a product that was principally an advertisement. If I wore someone’s trademark, I got it for free. I still remember going to the Chicago White Sox Games for those promotional games when they gave aways baseball bats, hats, or helmets. I proudly wore my White Sox helmet for years. And I didn’t even have to buy it!

Our t-shirts were white and blank (sans trademark or logo) and were designed to be worn under a dress shirt. But some time in the 1960s, people started writing messages, such as political opinions, on them and selling them. Soon after that, t-shirts became concert souvenirs. People pay big bucks today to buy clothing that advertises someone else’s product.

O, the genius of corporate America who turned the advertising tables! Instead of giving away t-shirts or other goodies with their company logo, they market them as designer clothing or must-have items while making a huge profit. People will pay outrageous prices to buy items with the company logo of their favorite products. I once even saw a woman driving a Nissan Murano with a vanity license plate that read MURANO! She paid extra money for this license plate stating the make of her car, probably to express her loyalty to this corporation, even though the make of the car was posted next to the plate in chrome letters. Go figure!

And this exploitation of consumers will continue until there is no more profit to be made.  Or consumers wise up.

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Snow dibs


The view of my car from my front porch.

I woke up early this morning to shovel my sidewalks and dig out my car so I could get to UIC on time. This was the third time I had shoveled in twenty-four hours and I actually enjoyed shoveling! Since I don’t like to run in the snow because I’m afraid to twist my weak ankles yet again, shoveling snow is my alternate form of exercise on snowy days. I like to brag that I’m cross-training. I love shoveling snow about as much as I hate mowing the lawn. But those are responsibilities of a homeowner. So, I enjoyed shoveling  out my car and then returning home after school and parking in the very same place.

In many Chicago neighborhoods, people shovel out their parking spots and then place old chairs or other unwanted furniture that is worthless (just in case it gets stolen or thrown away by the City of Chicago) to reserve their parking spots. This is a time-honored Chicago tradition that I remember from the 1960s. This causes more arguments than perhaps even the White Sox vs. Cubs debate that is so quintessential Chicago. In fact, people have been shot for freshly-shoveled parking spaces.

Chicago Sun-Times, February 20, 2010

I have always shoveled out my parking space, but I have never placed junk on the street to reserve my space. I usually shovel my car out and when I come back I park in the same space that I shoveled if I’m fortunate enough that it’s still available. If it’s not, I shovel out a new spot and park there. One year, I ended up shoveling my whole block one parking space at a time and everyone on the block seemed very happy with the arrangement. In fact, my neighbors showed their appreciation by not shooting me.

When I came home today, I parked right in front of my house in the very same parking spot that I had shoveled out. I was surprised by my good luck to be able to park in the same place, so I just had to take a picture. Behold! I took this picture from the comfort of my front porch!

Béisbol


Chicago White Sox Promotion in Spanish.

I’m watching the World Series even though neither the White Sox nor the Cubs are playing. “World Series” is a misnomer because it’s not really a world competition at all. However, there are many players from many countries such Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Japan among others.

When I read Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow years ago, he described a professional baseball game in the early 1900s. He noted that the ethnicity of the baseball players was representative of the immigration pattern of the period. Here’s the passage from Chapter 30 of Ragtime:

On the Giant side were Merkle, Doyle, Meyers, Snodgrass and Herzog, among others. The Boston team boasted a player named Rabbit Maranville, a shortstop who [sic] he noted roamed his position bent over with his hands at the end of his long arms grazing the grass in a manner that would more properly be called simian. There was a first baseman named Butch Schmidt, and others with the names Cocrehan, Moran, Hess, Rudolph, which led inevitably to the conclusion that professional baseball was played by immigrants.

If you look at the players of today’s Major League Baseball, you will see many Spanish last names. Of course, those, too, are representative of the migration patterns of Spanish speakers from Latin America to the U.S.

When I was in Mexico last July, I watched the All-Star Game with my cousin and her family. We laughed every time the announcer mispronounced a Spanish last name. Both announcers consistently mispronounced Evan Longoria. Well, tonight, I had to laugh when Jason Bartlett stole second base and the announcer let everyone know that Taco Bell had a promotion: Steal a Base, Steal a Taco for every stolen base. So next Tuesday, we can go to Taco Bell for a free taco. They even interviewed Taco Bell president Greg Creed who personally invited everyone to go to Taco Bell to get their free taco!

White Sox


Bridgeport, Chicago, Illinois

Unfortunately, the White Sox season ended yesterday. But no one ever gave them a chance to even finish better than third or fourth place in their division. So everyone–except the White Sox and their fans–was surprised that the Sox made it to the post-season. They were in the first place for most of the season before slipping in the standings, but they battled their way back into first place by playing an extra playoff game against the Minnesota Twins. They gave the Tampa Bay Rays a good fight and they lost the series to a team with 97 regular-season wins (not the Cubs!).

The Cubs were given a celebration rally downtown for their first-place finish in the National League Central Division. And the White Sox. Nada! Not even a pat on the back!!! But alas, the White Sox and their fans hail from the much-maligned South Side. Those scrappy White Sox of 2008 are representative of the working-class, no-nonsense fans who support them. Yes, they’re a little rough around the edges, as witnessed by Sox fans who gloated when the Sox beat the Rays in game 3. Yes, they berated the Cubs and their fans for being swept from the playoffs in a mere three games. But the big, bad White Sox lost in four games! The Cubs had their dream team and were supposed to go all the way to  the World Series. The Sox, on the other hand, fought to win every single game. And even though they lost, their fans cheered them on until the very end.

C.U.B.S.*


South side, Chicago, Illinois

Well, the Cubs are out of the playoffs after losing three games to the L.A. Dodgers. Even though I am a lifelong White Sox fan, I was rooting for the Cubs to go all the way to the World Series. But I did imagine them losing them to the White Sox in four games. So I am disappointed in their poor showing in the post-season after how well they played all season.This was supposed to be the year for the Cubs! And they played so well all year. The Cubs had a National League best 97 wins, 636 walks, 855 runs scored, and a Major League best of 1264 pitching strikeouts. How could they lose? This has been the most disappointing Cubs season since 1969.

Who buys these shirts?

*Cubs’ Useless Baseball Season

Moher


Cubs or Sox fan?

Last night, I went to Moher Public House, 5310 W. Devon Avenue, Chicago, IL 60646, 773.4671954. This is an Irish bar whose name refers to the Cliffs of Moher in County Claire, Ireland. I’ve been there a few times already, always with my friend Mike who is half-Irish, half-Polish. I’ve known him for more than twenty years. I like all the pictures on the wall of Irish writers such as James Joyce and W.B. Yeats. If you like watching sports, there are plenty of TVs. The last time I went, we watched the White Sox and the Cubs play on side-by-side TVs! All the pub patrons seem to know at least one person because this is a neighborhood pub where everyone hangs out. Our waitress even spoke with an Irish Brogue. The sign on the woman’s room read, “Mne” and the one on the men’s room, “Fir.” I received a receipt for the beers I bought when it was my turn to buy a round. When I got home, I finally noticed that it had a message in Gaelic, “Go raibh mile maith agat / agus Slan abhaile,” which translates to “Thank you very much / and / Safe home.” The food is supposed to be very good there, but each time I went, I had already eaten before I went there.

Rudy


South Side, Chicago, Illinois

Rudy was the consummate pitchman. The last time I met him, was at his mother’s funeral when we were both adults. He was telling about his job as a brake pad salesman and I was thoroughly impressed by his knowledge of brake pads.

However, I shall always remember how he tried out as pitcher for the Chicago White Sox every spring. He was a south sider, after all. The coaches always told him to keep working out. In the traditional Chicago fashion, Rudy always reassured us with the words, “Wait till next year!” One of the main reasons he never made the team was because he focused more on spending time with his drinking buddies.

He was a great storyteller who always attracted the attention of everyone within hearing range. He was a very likeable guy who was fun to have around. We spent much more time in bars than on the baseball field. Although he lost interest in his workout plan for much of the year, he never lost the hope of making the team. Come springtime, he would get all worked up again for the open tryouts. After a few years we lost touch, but I always kept watching baseball with the hope that I would see him on the mound someday.

When I saw him again at his mother’s funeral. He still had not lost the hope of playing in the pros even though he was well past the age of the rookie pitcher. He had planned to try out with one of the Texas teams where he was now living. He was a great brake shoe salesman due to his outgoing personality and doing quite well working on commission. After explaining the virtues of his brake shoes in comparison to the competition, I was sold on his. Then I recalled why I always believed he would one day become a Major League Baseball pitcher. He could make you believe in whatever he was pitching.