The California-coast-protecting Blue Water Networkruns full-page advertisements in national newspapers on Feb. 4 blasting Bill Ford Jr.Depicting the Ford Motors chairman/ CEO with a growing nose, the ad states, "Bill Ford Jr. or Pinocchio? Don't Buy His Environmental Rhetoric. Don't Buy His Cars." It's a startling change from four years ago, when we attended Santa Monica-based nonprofit Heal the Bay's 10th annual Beach Report Card media event sponsored by Ford (see my "Heal the SUV," June 2, 2000). Asked at the time about the apparent incongruity of inviting a company that produces polluting vehicles to sponsor the yearly assessment of our increasingly polluted beaches, Heal the Bay director Mark Goldsaid he and his directors met with Junior and came away convinced "he's a hardcore environmentalist who is seeing to the slow transformation of a company that historically has not had the best environmental record." A month later, Billy promised to improve the fuel economy of SUVs by 25 percent in five years. But last year, he declared that goal unreachable due to the business climate and technological challenges. That was the last straw for Blue Water Network director Russell Long, who says, "There's a consequence in the real world to breaking one's commitments."
THIS IS RADIO CLASH Clear Channel Communicationsalready had us with its role in bringing Indy FM 103.1 to Orange County's air waves. But the otherwise evil radio and concert conglom really wins us over on Feb. 10 when broadcasting dinosaur Rick Deesannounces they've forced him out after 22 years as the KIIS-FM morning man. As everyone in Southern California is painfully aware, Dees has not been funny since . . . let's see, it was 12, 13, 14—EVER! However, as we recover from our cheap-champagne hangover, Clear Channel unveils the new KIIS morning man: it's equally talent-free Ryan Seacrest. And it turns out Indy 103.1 is now utilizing the same beat-the-same-playlist-to-death format that berlame KROQ is known and loathed for. Like we said, Clear Channel: The Debil! FUN WITH FACTS Tim Russert's question to DubyaonMeet the Press:
"Mr. President, this campaign is fully engaged. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terence McAuliffe, said this last week: 'I look forward to that debate when John Kerry, a war hero with a chest full of medals, is standing next to George Bush, a man who was AWOL in the Alabama National Guard. He didn't show up when he should have showed up . . .'"
Dubya's "answer," in which he doesn't address his missing days of service but does defend the National Guard:
"Political season is here. I was—I served in the National Guard. I flew F-102 aircraft. I got an honorable discharge. I've heard this—I've heard this ever since I started running for office. I—I put in my time, proudly so. I would be careful not to denigrate the Guard. It's fine to go after me, which I expect the other side will do. I wouldn't denigrate service to the Guard, though, and the reason I wouldn't is because there are a lot of really fine people who have served in the National Guard and who are serving in the National Guard today in Iraq."
Totally out-of-context epilogue to Dubya's non-answer, courtesy ofFox News:
"FORT LEWIS, Wash.—A National Guardsman who stands accused of attempting to provide military data to Osama bin Laden's terror network was arrested on Feb. 12, the Army said."
REAL VIRTUALITY Orange Countyenjoyed its fleeting Andy Warholmoments of fame a few years ago when it was declared the "new Seattle," an honor that has surely moved on to Duluth. But now the Hiperatti Stamp of Approval is being applied to the fictional Orange County depicted on The O.C.every week. Fox's teen soaper is supplanting MTV and mainstream radio as the outlet from which to break new music, Entertainment Weeklyreports on Feb. 13. Even after the atrocious Rooneyappeared on the Jan. 7 episode, sales of its self-titled debut CD tripled, moving it onto the Billboard album charts. The series also boosted such indie acts as Bright Eyesand Death Cab for Cutie, and creator Josh Schwartzis now—natch—putting together The O.C.soundtrack album. The same day the EW story's published, Guardian of London columnist Hadley Freemanpredicts The O.C., which just hit those shores, will have the same impact on fashion there that Sex & the Citydid. "Admittedly, The O.C.'s decidedly West Coast approach to fashion (cropped tops, micro-minis, beaded flip-flops) might be problematic, temperature-wise, for British fans to copy, but, heck, we are the country that tricked out Topshopversions of Oscar de la Rentacouture and Dior saddlebags," Freeman writes. She concludes by casting the "teenage-obsessed" show as further evidence that older, single babes are pass and we're all now hung up on characters—and viewers—under 25 of both sexes.
We've got news for our Brit friend: if they're in cropped tops, micro-minis and beaded flip-flops, they've always been in!
THE KING IS DEAD. LONG LIVE GRAHAM CHAPMAN We sadly note that our namesake motion picture, the late Stanley Kubrick's stupendous A Clockwork Orange, has been dethroned as the favorite British film of all time. Taking its place at No. 1 on the list compiled by Amazon and the Internet Movie Database for the Feb. 15 Bafta awards is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Now, we love the knights who say "ni," characters galloping sans steeds and the limbless chap suffering only "a flesh wound" as much as anyone. But come now: what other film totally changed the meaning of an innocuous song like "Singin' in the Rain"? Okay, besides Reservoir Dogsand "Stuck in the Middle With You"? It just goes to show that in this crazy mixed-up world, ultra-violence, soul-sapping revenge and rehabilitative lobotomies are no longer shocking, unfathomable or futuristic. NEW COLUMN!
Solutions for the Bush Economy Homeless Problem
Date: Feb. 14, 2004
Time: 4:22 p.m.
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Place: northwest corner of Bristol Street and MacArthur Boulevard, Santa Ana.
Scenario: A man holds a sign announcing the impending closure of the nearby Kids 'R Us store. "Everything Must Go!" and "Up to 60 percent savings," the sign declares. No more than 10 feet away is a middle-aged couple. The man, who is confined to a wheelchair, holds a Chihuahua wrapped in a blanket. The woman stands, holding a square sign that reads, "Help! Terminally ill homeless . . ."—followed by about 250 progressively smaller words that are impossible to read, at least at the speed I'm passing them. This demonstrates an important rule in advertising: fewer words, larger print better convey your message. Just look over at the Kids 'R Us sign: clear, simple, everything I need to know is right there. It reminds me of those advertisers who buy an eighth-page ad in the Weekly and then want to run something like Aquinas' Summa Theologicain it, so the type has to be microscopic, and no one notices it, and then the advertiser wonders why he's not getting better reader response. Duh! "I'm Dying. I'm Homeless. HELP!" would work just fine. Okay, back to the homeless solution:
Solution: Places like Kids 'R Us should hire homeless people to hold their going-out-of-business signs, assuming, of course, the minimum wage they pay for such tasks is equal to or more than the amount we guilty drivers dish out to the homeless.
Next week: Solutions for the Bush Economy Jobless Problem, Especially for Kids 'R Us Employees Like the Sign Guy Who Last Week Lost His Job to a Terminally Ill Homeless Man Holding a Chihuahua.