Department Of Not Sure What To Call This
Ever wonder how inflatable men came to be regular fixtures at used car lots? Curious about the origin of the fortune cookie? Want to know why Sigmund Freud opted for a couch over an armchair?
99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.
MH, alert husband that he is, sent me this email on Tuesday:
I think you might enjoy this. Cameos by Grace Slick and Linda Ronstadt.
The link was to the podcast 99 percent invisible, episode #286 “A Seven Hundred Foot Mountain of Whipped Cream.” This particular episode, hosted by radio advertising producer, writer and composer Clive Desmond, features “forgotten nuggets of radio history” via “Madison Avenue’s radiophonic collision with the counterculture,” wherein (future) icons of the subversive and/or acid rock music genres performed in radio advertisements.
I listened to a lot of radio back then, and can’t remember any of the ads featured in the episode. It’s beyond bizarre (both the ads, and the guy who’s obsessed with interested in them). The era of acid rock also had Frank Zappa recording the voiceover  (with a young Linda Ronstadt contributing background vocals) for a men’s shaving commercial, and the Jefferson Airplane, whose White Rabbit was arguably the definitive psychedelic rock hit, doing a jingle for White Levi’s?
I would recommend being sober, very sober, if you listen to either of those ads.
As for those who did listen, at the time (late 1960’s), I’m trying to picture the kind of people who would have been the target audience for the Jefferson Airplane commercial, which was obviously aimed at those who…how you say…appreciated mind-altering substances. Anyone attracted to that ad would likely have been so stoned that the purpose of the ad – to sell a certain brand/style of jeans – would have been defeated. “Oh wow, like…man…that is so far out…as soon as I remember where I left my my arms I’m gonna go buy me some….what is it I want to buy? Jell-o? Lava lamps? Alka-Seltzer….”
It’s almost unimaginable to me that Zappa and other musicians, whose disdain for “straight” and/or consumer culture was legendary, agreed to do the commercials. Almo$$$$t. I’ll assume Zappa was laughing all the way to the bank; no doubt the members of Jefferson Airplane were tripping all the way to the same.
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Believe it or not, the following sign was *not* posted on my lawn  during last year’s election cycle.
I have this thing about political yard signs – and by political signs I mean those posters and such which publicize one’s support for, e.g., a particular governor  or school board candidate. In my never-you-mind-how-many years of being old enough to vote, I’ve put up yard signs maybe, twice. I’ve never missed voting in an election. Sometimes I am quite passionate about the issues and/or my choices for public office; sometimes, I’m just picking what I hope are the cream of a rather rancid crop. Either way, I figure if people want to know my opinion they can ask me. If they don’t care to hear from me personally, do they really want to hear from my yard? 
You’ve seen this sign.
Or, one of its variants.
I agree with many if not most of the signs’ sentiments or opinions. However, the signs allude to, without fully (or even partially) addressing, a myriad of complicated and important issues….
Well, of course they do – what else can they do? They’re essentially sound bites for your yard (or porch or window or….); I get it. Still, I hate to see such complicated, vital issues reduced to a collection of three to seven word declarations on a yard poster. And I wonder: other than serving as a kind of code between like-minded persons, do they foster, or stifle, anything resembling meaningful dialogue?
To moiself, the signs are a left-wing version of, “I’ll pray for you/about this issue,” and other wimpy statements — I care! I really care! signifiers. Easy to say, jackshit to be done. Ineffectual, unless backed up by action.
Of course, there are plenty of right-wing variants, such as the sign that graces one of my neighbor’s windows — a sign you’d see if you were approaching their front door with a plate of holiday cookies: big bold letters proclaiming the equivalent of
IN THIS HOME WE
Say Merry Christmas
Say God Bless America
Support Our Troops
Have A Personal, Intimate, Lubricant-Requiring Relationship With Firearms
AND IF YOU DON”T LIKE IT YOU CAN GO THE FUCK AWAY
(And you know what you can do with those cookies?)
Once again, I digress.
It’s just too damn easy to show support for something without actually doing anything about it. Now, I’m sure there are people who post those signs who are out there, supporting their causes. I’d like to think that people who put up signs proclaiming, Black Lives Matter, and Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, are also and actively involved in constructive ways to end systemic and personal racism and misogyny, including examining the ways they inadvertently walk with privilege in this world. But I’ve no way of knowing if their commitment begins and ends at their lawn, with the decision to purchase (or accept from another person: “Hey, Concerned Looking Citizen ®, would you like one of these for your house?” “Oh, uh, maybe, what does it say – yeah, sure, I support all that, you can tape it to my window….”) such a sign.
Also, the signs make declarations on more than one issue (and, usually, quite a few.) Which, again, reduces complex issues into one blanket statement, implying that: if you support (issue A) then you also must support (issues B through G). Few of the dedicated, reflective, trying-to-to-the-right-thing kind of people I know would accurately and comfortable fit all of their opinions under one such blanket.  Moiself included, if I may be so bold as to include moiself in the afore-mentioned category (and I just did).
For example: I think it’s insulting, or just plain degrading and mean-spirited, to refer to any human being as illegal. I also know that there are people who commit illegal acts re how they enter or/or stay in a country of which they are not citizens. And I don’t think that the way to become a good citizen of any nation is to, in your initial act of entry, knowingly and deliberately break that nation’s laws.
Perhaps this – those signs – is yet another subject about which I think too much. Most likely, no one (except fellow sign posters) even pays attention to them.
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Department Of Looking Underneath The Tinsel 
From what will be the opening to my portion of our family’s year-end letter:
Last year’s letter ended with my love ’em while you got ’em story of my mother’s 2016 Christmas eve death.
As the landmark, one-year-since her passing anniversary approaches, I’m realizing that the winter holidays will, from now on, have a bittersweet connection for me…
I am far from alone in having the above-mentioned connection. They – “the holidays” – already have that kind of association, for many people
Deaths and disasters happen year-round; it’s a little different, a little more difficult, when the anniversary for, say, the day your beloved win brother died of leukemia was on the 4th of July and what will always feel like a private day of remembrance for you is being raucously celebrated by seemingly everyone else.
I’ve known many a person who’s confided to me about how certain sincere or innocuous holiday greetings or inquiries (“Happy Valentine’s Day!” “So, what does your family do for the Labor Day Weekend?“) have felt like a punch to the gut, when the well-wishers either don’t know or have forgotten that last Valentine’s Day is when you found out your husband was leaving you for your son’s kindergarten teacher, or Labor Day weekend was when your father was killed in an automobile accident during your family’s annual trip to the lake…or that the time between Christmas and New Year’s is, for you, something to be endured rather than celebrated because it was the time when, as a lonely, confused child, you were shuttled back and forth between angry, bitterly divorced parents who used you, for years, as a tool to hurt their ex-spouse….
Time helps and heals – most of us know this, from either experience or observation. Without having been asked to do so, I’ll venture that we all need a reminder now and then to be mindful of people’s hearts, of their perceptions and experiences that may differ from ours, during any time of year.
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Department Of Before I Go Any Further….
Happy Winter Solstice, y’all.
* * *
May you give yourself permission to eschew words like gubernatorial;
May your convictions go beyond your signage;
May you never be so stoned as to purchase white Levis;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 With all the barely hidden sarcasm he can muster…wondering why/how the ad executives let him get away with it?
 Or window or car bumper or….
 I refuse to use the word, gubernatorial. Not only is it ridiculous-sounding, but I also find it somewhat…nasty. (Yes, this from a person who had had up to 37 bumper stickers on her car at one time.)
 This from a person (that would be, moiself) who had up to 37 bumper stickers on her car at one time.
 Okay; maybe it’s time for another metaphor.
 Do “young people” even know what tinsel is? Nobody uses tinsel anymore – I think it may even be banned.