Sunday, January 31, 2016

I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax

I got on the train yesterday, much like I do every morning. My morning train has been fairly crowded this week, ever since Mother Nature dumped nearly two feet of snow on Philadelphia (and its surrounding area) last weekend.  SEPTA, the entity behind public mass transit in Southeastern Pennsylvania, regularly struggles with equipment problems regardless of the weather, but the aftermath of the brutal storm wreaked extra havoc on their regional rail machinery and service. Most trains were short their standard amount of cars. Trains that typically run with four or five cars were now reduced to two or three. If you are the math wizards that I think you are, you understand that this situation greatly cuts down on the amount of available seats. With less seats available, obviously more passengers will be standing for their morning commute. (Not happily, I might add.)

My train eventually pulled up into the station (late, as usual - no matter what kind of weather we are having) and I boarded along with fifty or so of my fellow passengers I see nearly every morning. I walked the narrow aisle as the few available seats were filled in by those who boarded ahead of me. Proceeding to the last train car, I spotted an empty seat near the end close to the rear door. As I got closer, I saw the seat was occupied, on one side, by a gentleman in his forties. He looked like the kind of guy who reclines at the table in a corporate conference room with his index finger poised above the screen of his external-keyboard-equipped iPad, ready to make his presence at the meeting known by interjecting terms like "organic," "synergy," "thought leader" and "let's not reinvent the wheel" and then commencing with an attempt to reinvent the wheel. The other half of the seat, while expected to be unoccupied, was covered by a multitude of items belonging to Corporate Guy. These items — a folded train schedule, a yellow legal pad and various groupings of business cards — were strewn across the empty seat while he busily pored over the assemblage, arranging and rearranging the mess.

I stood alongside the seat, looking down. I was trying to glare his collection of paper products off the seat. When my telepathic powers failed, I cleared my throat and said, "Excuse me, please.," in the most polite voice I could muster at five minutes to eight in the morning. Corporate Guy looked up, loudly, almost theatrically, exhaled and   s   l   o   w   l   y   gathered up his paper belongings. I sat down and, as per my usual ritual, situated myself within the confines of the space allotted for one passenger on a seat on a train. I removed my current book from my bag and fumbled in my pocket for the small vinyl case that houses and secures my monthly train pass. I began to read, holding my pass out for the arrival of and inspection by the conductor. Corporate Guy, however, had transferred his activity to the workspace created by his right leg crossed over his left and laying flat, the knee creeping obnoxiously into my personal space. In my peripheral vision, I could see him furiously shuffling the cards, stacking and re-stacking them into assorted sized piles. He did this through two full station stops. Once he was satisfied with the classification into which he had determined for each card, he wrapped them securely with one of a handful of rubber bands he produced from a supply concealed within his heavy coat. Each bound pile was then flexed for a considerable amount of time between his fingers, as though he was about to use them to deal a hand of poker. He finally dispensed the cards into a backpack he had placed at his feet (but not before testing each and every one for its full flexing ability). He fidgeted more. He crossed and uncrossed his legs. He reached and groped inside his coat. The first few times his hand came out empty. The fifth or sixth time he did it, he removed a large greeting card and envelope. From the opposite side of his coat, he extracted a pen. Again, he crossed his legs to create a flat surface, presumably on which to inscribe the card. (And, again, that fucking knee was encroaching into my territory.)

As he fiercely scribbled ink across the blank surface of the card, his whole body rocked and jiggled, not just the executing arm and hand. I casually looked around at the other passengers in my general area. Each was sitting quietly. Each was still. Some fiddled with a cellphone. Others silently, almost motionlessly, pored over Kindles. Others read physical books or newspapers. All were barely moving, save for the occasional, nearly undetectable, page turn or finger flick. Lucky me, I found the seat next to the proverbial "whirling dervish*." I was tempted to turn to him and shout, "Sit still, for Christ's sake! What are you — four years old?" But, alas, I did not. I remained quiet and I continued to read, finding that I read the same sentence six times while I soundlessly berated this guy in my head.

Finally, the train rambled into my station. I stuffed my book back into my bag and I stood to exit. Behind me, I could sense that Corporate Guy was also readying himself to leave the train. The door opened and I stepped onto the platform, making my way thorough the crowd and towards the stairs.

I saw Corporate Guy heading in the opposite direction. Off to fidget and squirm next to someone else today.

*Although I have heard the term for many years, I'm not quite sure what a "dervish" is but, apparently, they whirl — and this guy was a-whirling.

Monday, January 25, 2016

and they call it puppy love

Remember a couple of years ago when I went to Virginia Beach for a family wedding? Well, after countless threats invitations, I finally went back for a visit. My wife visits regularly and I stay home in Philadelphia, so I suppose it was a surprise for my wife's Virginia Beach family to hear that I would be coming for the long Martin Luther King Day weekend. I was warned, however, that Mrs. P's cousin Juniper (with whom we would be staying) owns a dog. As previously mentioned on this blog many, many, many times — I don't particularly care for dogs.

Mrs. P and I gathered up our belongings — suitcases, jackets and a bag of road-trip snacks — and carried them across the parking lot of Juniper's condominium development. The door of one of the units opened up and we were greeted by a smiling, excited Juniper. However, Doggie was less than pleased to have me as a multi-day visitor. After saying "Hello" to Juniper and dropping our luggage on the floor, I was met with a cautious, low, throaty growl from Doggie. He eyed me up and down with contempt. I had not spoken a word nor made a gesture towards him. He just knew.

Juniper lightly reprimanded him. He whimpered and retreated behind her legs. We tossed our coats over the backs of the dining room chairs and plopped ourselves down on the sofas  — me and the missus on one, Juniper and Doggie on the other one perpendicular to our's. A coffee table served as a buffer between us. As we talked, Doggie kept a dead stare in my direction. A few times, he bravely approached Mrs. P,  offering a curious snout for her to pet. But, if I opened my mouth or moved my hand, Doggie made a hasty withdrawal to the protection of Juniper. He jumped up a few times to play with a ball or a toy, only to freeze in his tracks when he realized he was dangerously close to me.

We all went out for the evening and when we returned, Doggie met us at the door. When I filed in, he exhibited a "you're still here?" look on his face and delivered another series of low grumbles. At too late an hour, we all retired to our respective bedrooms  — the Pincuses in the first-floor corner with the door shut and Doggie taking his regular spot in Juniper's second-floor boudoir.

I'm watching you, Pincus.
The next morning, my cereal and coffee were served with a side of growls. With each spoonful of Honey Nut Cheerios I shoveled into my mouth, Doggie bared his teeth and chewed on a hunk of rawhide upon which his canine imagination superimposed my face. In the afternoon, we drove over to Juniper's mother's house to drop Doggie off for a little puppy playtime with some of his own species. Unfortunately, Doggie had to ride in the back seat of Juniper's car with me. I shoved myself into one corner of the back seat and Doggie did the same in the opposite corner. We took the fifteen minute trip in silence, never letting our gaze stray from each other. When we arrived at our destination, Doggie bounded out of the car, anxious to play and equally as anxious to leave my company.

Finally, the long weekend drew to a close. I loaded up our car with our bags and stuff. We thanked Juniper for her gracious hospitality and we said our goodbyes. As we crossed the parking lot one last time, I'm pretty sure I heard Doggie utter a sigh of relief.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

it's half past four and I'm shifting gears

Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson explored the idea of good and evil personalities existing simultaneously within the same person in his 1886 novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This was an interesting concept for the time. Interesting because it was the same year Karl Benz was awarded a patent for his motorwagen, the first four-wheeled vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. All Mr. Stevenson had to do was observe well-mannered citizens get behind the steering wheel of Mr. Benz's invention and he would have witnessed the good-to-evil transition take place right before his eyes. Especially if he was driving a vehicle as well.

There is something about operating a car that changes people. Those with happy, generous, carefree personalities are suddenly transformed into viscous, seething, judgmental demons once they position their asses on that leather upholstery and grip that wheel at ten and two.

What is it about driving a car that makes people edgy, aggressive and downright angry? I remember when I was a kid, my mother — a lovely and sweet woman — would tool down the highway, point an accusing finger and yell, "Look at this son of a bitch!" at anyone who looked as though they may have a tiny, fleeting notion of possibly creeping into her lane. My dad would curl his lip with contempt and would often point out "assholes" on the road, as he drove one-handed, casually flicking cigarette ashes inadvertently into the back seat.

I was waiting at the train station last week and I watched as my friend Randi's husband swung his Toyota into the parking lot, giving his wife a lift to her morning commute. As he backed out of a parking space to face his car in the other direction, another car sneaked in behind him. Now, from my vantage point, he was nowhere near in danger of hitting this car, but the driver seem to feel perfectly within her rights to lean on her vehicle's horn long and hard, as though it were an air raid siren during the London Blitz. Randi's husband was trapped and had no choice but to endure this sonic overreaction. When he finally was able to maneuver his car and leave the lot, the irate operator of the offended car parked, shaking her head all the while. However, when she exited her car, a wave of calm washed over her. She was smiling serenely, walking with a peppy stride and a glint in her eye.

Imagine if people walking behaved like they do when they are in the protective confines of a car. If you accidentally bump someone's shoulder as you pass them on the sidewalk, the expected reaction is a quick "I'm sorry," maybe accompanied by a half-hearted smile. If your shopping bag inadvertently touches the pedestrian in front of you on a busy aisle at the mall, a modest apology would be offered or perhaps no acknowledgement at all. But imagine the same scenario in a car  — lightly bumping the car ahead, causing no visible damage, just a faint momentary jostling. All hell would break loose. There would be screaming and cursing and accusations and insults. Threats of lawsuits and restitution and bodily pain.

I have not driven regularly for nearly nine years. Because I take the train to work, my car sits quietly in front of my house six days a week. I only take it for a five minute excursion to the dry cleaner every other Saturday. Otherwise, it is a giant paperweight. A placeholder. Boy, can you imagine me behind the wheel with my lack of patience... ?

Remember Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, taking the furry weather forecaster out for a spin and allowing him to steer with the admonition: "Don't drive angry! Don't drive angry!" Even Bill knew the effects a car can have.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

farm livin' is the life for me

I grew up and currently live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, situated in the southeastern corner of the state, is the fifth largest city in the country. On the other side of Pennsylvania is the industrial city of Pittsburgh. Known for its steel industry and its rabid allegiance to football, Pittsburgh is the sixty-second largest city in the country. The 305 miles that separates these two metropolises is comprised of, what we big-city dwellers affectionately, though disparagingly, refer to as "Pennsyltucky."

This past weekend Mrs. P and I, once again, ventured out to see how the other half lives. We hopped on the mighty Pennsylvania Turnpike and, a mere 90 minutes later, found ourselves in Harrisburg, the state capital, and the perennial site of the Pennsylvania Farm Show, The show is a sprawling exhibition covering 24 acres across eleven individual (though connected) buildings. It is the largest indoor agricultural event held in the United States... and it's right here in Pennsylvania! Not Alabama. Not Kansas. It's here in a state that fought on the winning side of the Civil War.

We entered the aptly named Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center and were immediately greeted by a huge display of hay and the unmistakable smell of cow shit. I began to snap pictures like a tourist at the Eiffel Tower. I moved in for a closer look and I began to ponder the subtle differences between First Place hay and Honorable Mention hay. I decided that I am not qualified nor would  I never understand the nuances having never actually grazed.

Mrs P and I moved through the massive complex, marveling at the amount of people that this show draws. And how many of those people are clad in camouflage. (Most.) We saw enormous displays of apples, potatoes, honey, pumpkins and many more farm-related commodities. While Mr.s Pincus perused the various arrangements of prize-winning baked goods and handicrafts, I consulted a schedule of events for the day. I didn't want to come all this way and not see at least one animal. I noted that the celebrated Draft Horse Hitched Competition was coming up in a few minutes. Having no idea what that was, but excited just the same, I hustled my spouse through a maze of buildings towards the area. We passed dozens of pens of rabbits, stalls of immense cows and some other animals which, upon first glance, I could not identify. We planned to investigate and give them more attention on our way back, but, for now, we didn't want to be late for the 10:30 showing of whatever it is that draft horses do... or are.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course.
We found seats in the arena. We sat and watched as a tractor raked and primped the dirt for the morning's presentation. The air was filled with the sounds of piped-in twangy guitar and the smells of some undetermined animal excrement. As the place filled to minimal capacity, we noticed that we were the only ones not appropriately dressed for a day of deer hunting. Suddenly, the PA crackled to life and, before a single hoof trampled the dirt, we were instructed to stand for a recitation of the Star Spangled Banner. Many eyes grew misty by the time the "bombs were bursting in air," and when the "home of the brave" was proclaimed, we were ready to begin. A rumble began below us and a team of six oversize equines burst into the arena, rousing clouds of dirt with their hulking hooves. The team pulled a shiny, lacquered wagon with the driver snapping the reins in a swaying, but authoritative, fashion. A second team soon appeared, followed by another, until six nearly identical assemblages were encircling the arena floor. Judges observed with cocked heads, making mental notations, as the teams altered their gaits from full gallop to lazy trot. After a time, a winner was announced to thunderous applause. I had no idea what I had just witnessed.

We made our way back to the livestock area to get up close and personal with animals outside of the realm of cats and dogs. We saw cows. (Those we recognized.) The alpacas took a bit longer to identify, but thanks to Mrs. P's numerous viewing of the original Dr. Doolittle and her familiarity with the Pushme Pullyou, we put two and two together, The aisles — strewn with straw, feed and God knows what other organic material — were narrow and packed, as visitors gawked and pointed at what was essentially their next meal. Yessir, no farm show is complete without its homey food favorites.

Say "cheese!"
Just beyond the livestock was a football field-sized room jam-packed with Pennsylvania-specific food vendors. The offering ranged from deep-fried mushrooms to chocolate covered bacon to fresh vegetable soup. There were sandwiches filled with beef brisket, pulled pork, fried chicken, fried clams and pretty much anything that could fit into a vat of boiling hot oil. Mrs. and I opted for a thin wooden stick skewering four deep-fried cubes of cheese. Mrs. P got a highly-recommended milkshake, as well. ("Deep-fried" seemed to be the preferred method of food preparation, although the milkshake was not fried, but I'm sure it could've been.) As we wound our way through the crowded food section, seeking an open table to momentarily stand and eat our afternoon snack, we watched a woman angrily toss a full, untouched, pleasantly garnished Bloomin' Onion into a plastic trash container. I hoped that was not a commentary on the quality of all of the food. We eventually found a table. The cheese was good and we didn't throw any of it away.
Outta my way! Moo!

I checked the schedule and saw that the Angel Food Cake contest was about to begin. We rushed over to the judging area, where a dozen or so "Aunt Bee" look-a-likes fidgeted anxiously as the judges were introduced. It was announced that there were a record 83 entries in this year's contest and each judge got a personal introduction. "This here is Mary Jo Fasnacht. She represents the Egg and Dairy Council of the Eastern District of Northwestern Luzerne County.... and she can eat the fuck out of an angel food cake." The judges looked over the five tables of elaborately-decorated cakes. I convinced Mrs. P. that we should move on, not wishing to watch each of these judges eat 83 pieces of cake. That was not my idea of Sunday afternoon entertainment. (And this is coming from a guy who will watch a Gilligan's Island marathon on TV.)

We took another stroll through the livestock area, where our walk was interrupted by a line of cows being led to (I hoped) some sort of bovine competition and not just towards the kitchen facilities.

The schedule of events promised a rabbit hopping contest would take place at 5 pm. I checked the clock on my cellphone and saw it was only 2:30. I couldn't imagine waiting another two and a half hours to watch some rabbits hop. I decided to just watch a You Tube video of the event when I got home. The schedule also listed the hopping event would be immediately followed by a rabbit meat judging contest. Sometimes there are no second chances at hopping. It's a good thing that rabbits can't read.

Completely content with our brief glimpse into a heretofore uncharted culture, my wife and I headed back to the big city where milk and eggs come from a store. And butter is something you spread on bread, not an art supply.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

the man who sold the world

The secret to David Bowie's success was the fact that he didn't give a shit. He was his own person with his own ideas and his own agenda. I think that was pretty obvious over the course of his five-decade career.

As a rambunctious teenager, he defiantly informed his parents of his plans to become a pop star. He took his love of art and music and melded them together as he saw fit. He was creative and visionary beyond his years. And, whether or not his parents — or anyone else — liked it, he would become a pop star.

He became different versions of David Bowie throughout his career. They were fleshed-out, unique characters, but they were all David Bowie. Each incarnation was well thought out, with a back story and a new sound, yet they all fit perfectly within the Bowie persona. There was the alien Ziggy and his band of spiders. There was his versions of Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. There was the suave and mysterious Thin White Duke. There was the insane Aladdin Sane and the cool nuevo-swinger in the style of Sinatra. He even made himself a gritty hard rocker and affected jazz auteur. They were all introduced at the risk of losing an already large and rabid fan base. But, he took that risk and it always worked out in his favor. (Boys always work it out.)

He made music his way, introducing elements of soul and funk and even disco — before it had a name. He pioneered electronica. He pioneered glam rock. He was an innovator, a groundbreaker and he defied genre. He was one of the first white artists to appear on Soul Train. He performed on Saturday Night Live in 1979 in a skirt. Not an outrageous, attention-grabbing skirt, but a sensible-looking ensemble that your Mom might wear to church. And if that wasn't enough, he invited Klaus Nomi to the show to supply backing vocals. And he did it without explanation, pretense or chest-thumping. (I'm talking to you, Gene Simmons!) He just did it.

During the recording of his dark, minimal, so-called "Berlin Triptych," he performed an uncharacteristic duet with crooner Bing Crosby for a Christmas special.

He stopped by a recording session with Queen and offered up a duet with Freddie Mercury. The pairing allegedly prompted guitarist Brian May to leave the studio, angered by Bowie's vision and "take control" attitude. Bowie lent backing vocals to the Queen track "Cool Cat," only to request that his vocal be removed from subsequent pressings of the Hot Space album. He said he didn't like how he sounded. He would go on to delete a track from re-releases of his own Never Let Me Down album because he didn't like it.

In 1980, eleven years after its initial release, Bowie shattered his sympathetic "Major Tom" character by proclaiming him a junkie in the pseudo-sequel "Ashes to Ashes." He could do that because he answered to only himself. He presented each new version of David Bowie in a "take it or leave it" manner. And fans took it.

He brought the same attitude to his movie roles playing everything from a lost alien to king of the goblins to the quietly menacing Nikola Tesla... all in that inimitable Bowie style. (My personal favorite was his "Colin Morris," the smiling hitman in the inside-joke filled free-for-all Into the Night.)

Bowie's most fitting role was his portrayal of Andy Warhol in the 1996 biopic Basquiat. Bowie was a true marketing huckster, cut from the same cloth as Warhol. Bowie's product was "Bowie." He sold Bowie to the public and the public bought every single version of Bowie that was offered. He played us like a left-handed fiddle and his customers ate it up. He was the only one of his contemporaries that remained relevant and viable. He didn't get nostalgic, refused to let himself get stale and never rested on his laurels. He released Blackstar, his 25th studio album on his 69th birthday and two days later he died of cancer, a disease that he fought for a year and a half. It was a battle he kept from the public and his fans. Just the way he wanted.

And he always did what he wanted.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

tell me what you want, what you really really want

Nearly ten years ago, I became a vegetarian. Not because I have any great love for animals (I don't), or any commitment to healthy eating (I don't). I actually have one of the dumbest reasons for becoming a vegetarian: my favorite meat-serving restaurant closed. I pride myself on being true to my word and keeping promises — even promises to myself. I once said if that restaurant ever closed, I would become a vegetarian. Of course, I never expected them to close. When I made that proclamation, they were a thriving operation and had been in business for over fifty years. But, they did indeed close. (You can read the entire stupid account here.) In the meantime, I haven't eaten meat since 2006 and I seem to be doing just fine.

It's everyone else that seems to have a problem.

Sometimes in restaurants, if I ask a waitresses if certain menu items contain meat, I have received replies like: "Well, it's cooked with meat, but we strain it out before it's served." or "It's got a little bit of meat in it" — as though "a little bit" is okay. If you eat a little bit of strychnine, it's still gonna kill you.

I have had people apologize to me for talking about meat meals they have eaten. "We ate at that Brazilian steakhouse last night. Oh, I'm sorry. I know you don't eat meat." I'm not offended by meat. I acknowledge the existence of meat. For goodness sake, my father was a butcher! I don't have a dog, but you can talk about dog food, if you like. I don't eat that either. Hell, you can talk about cauliflower, too. As a vegetarian, I know I'm probably required to eat cauliflower, but I don't like it. But I'm not offended by it.

I'm not militant or angry or demanding about being a vegetarian. I don't require that my eating habits be accommodated. I realize it is my choice to be a vegetarian and I don't want to make it your problem. I can usually find something to eat at a restaurant or at a party. Potato chips, salad, pickles, bread. And if I can't find anything, I'll refrain and I'll eat something when I get home. I don't want to inconvenience anyone or have anyone put themselves out on my account. If a host does make special preparations on my behalf, I will express my gratitude and appreciation for the extra — albeit unnecessary — effort.

However, sometimes, telling someone "I'm a vegetarian," I get a look like I have six heads. Just this past week, my employer offered its annual office holiday lunch for its employees. A caterer is contracted and, on the designated day, a full, lunchtime spread is set out in our office in a large conference area. A menu is distributed prior to the event and it usually includes at least one vegetarian friendly entree, usually there is plenty for us non-meat eaters. So, around noon, a co-worker (a fellow vegetarian) and I set out for the 38th floor to check out this year's offerings. We grabbed a disposable plate and plastic utensil and queued up for lunch. One of the servers on the other side of the table, a young lady, grabbed a large serving spoon and removed the big silver lid from the first chafing dish. When the huge steam cloud dissipated, it revealed a trough-load of penne pasta covered in a light red sauce.

I spoke up. "Which items don't have meat?," I asked with a smile. She pointed at the pasta with her spoon and barked, "This don't." I extended my plate and she deposited a golfball-sized serving of pasta - approximately nine noodles. I kept my plate in its "please serve me some more" position and she shoved the spoon back into the pasta and replaced the lid. Then she turned to another young lady stationed further down the line, manning several more chafing dishes, and snarled "He don't want no meat.," cocking a thumb in my direction. Then she stared me down, defiantly, not attempting to offer me anything from the concealed meat dishes and certainly no more pasta. The next server dotted my plate with a small portion of mashed potatoes and four slices of grilled yellow squash. Not five. Four. 

Luckily, the salad was self-serve. I ate what I was given and didn't dare return for seconds, fearing another round of herbivore shaming.

It's not easy eating green. If only the carnivores could understand why.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

in the navy

Last year, I bought a couple of shirts and a couple of pairs of jeans at Old Navy. When the cashier bagged my purchases and handed me back my credit card, she also handed me a coupon for 20 percent off my next purchase. I am not a regular shopper for clothing, so I just folded up the coupon and stuck it in my pocket. When I got home, I tossed the coupon on my bureau and forgot about it. A month or so later, I discovered it again and noticed that it was set to expire soon, so I forced myself back to Old Navy and I used it to buy a pair of khakis. This time, the cashier offered no further discount but asked for my email address to receive offers periodically. I complied.

Months passed. Many of them, as a matter of fact. Around Thanksgiving, I bought another pair of jeans from Old Navy's online store. Soon, I began to receive daily emails from Old Navy. Sometimes more than one per day. And they were not duplicate messages or offers. I would open them and then quickly delete them. I was not looking to buy any more clothes, but, being in the field of marketing myself, I was intrigued by Old Navy's "machine gun" approach to direct marketing. I began saving Old Navy's emails, purely for my own amusement. As of today — the final day of December — I have received 49 unique emails from Old Navy. (As I typed this, I received another.) Some included special discount codes to be entered at the end of my online transaction. Others offered a wide range of across-the-board percentage discounts ranging from twenty to seventy-five percent... stealthily preceded by the words "up to" in the tiniest, thinnest font available. I perused the men's casual pants section of the website and found a pair of gray khakis that regularly sell for $29.94 now at the unbelievably discounted price of $29.00! That's a savings of.... of... well, I'm not very good at math, but I know it ain't much.

Just this week, Old Navy sparked a bit of controversy by offered this line of t-shirts emblazoned with a series of pithy sayings.
Someone in the Old Navy decision making department thought that this was a good idea. Several other must have agreed, so it got the green light and was off to the production department. In production, someone had to explain the concept to someone else in order to bring the concept to light. That second someone was an artist. That artist had to choose a font, select its size and placement, choose the color for "strike out" line, and then choose a different font for the added line of copy at the bottom — the payoff line, if you will. The artist had to make all of these choices — choices that would determine the desirability and retail appeal of a garment that is mocking and belittling the very process they are exercising to bring the piece to market. That, Ms. Morissette, is a real example of irony.

I like Old Navy as much as the next person... maybe a little less. I have purchased clothing there over the course of many years. (I'm wearing a pair of Old Navy jeans right now.) But, I am also an artist. I have been an artist since I was a little kid. I have been a professional artist for over thirty years. I maintain that my chosen profession is just as important to daily commerce as any other part of the work force. Clothing styles, wrapping paper, menus, grocery bags, product packaging — all the creation of artists. I also maintain that professional artist is the most misunderstand, unappreciated and maligned profession of all.

My friends at Old Navy have proven that. Now, stop sending me emails. You know... the ones designed by artists.

 ******* U  P  D  A  T  E *******
It looks like Old Navy has seen the error of their ways. They have issued an apology for the shirt and are in the process of removing the current inventory from the stores.