Double The Irony


I love that the venerable Palms Cycle advertises itself in such a unique way. But the cheap irony of a bike shop being located on Motor Avenue is readily surpassed by the seeming waste of this classic cruiser and its message, located on the no man’s land of a Venice Boulevard median where it’s seen pretty much by drivers who probably couldn’t care less. And me.

The Power Of The Pen Keyboard

A couple posts ago I pointed a hellbent finger at a couple insurance companies with the word “Farm” in their titles who just so happened to put out near-simultaneous TV advertisements that take unnecessary pokes at bike commuters.

What I neglected to mention was that I wrote emails to State Farm and Farmers respetively taking them to task for the commercials and their underlying themes. To date I haven’t heard diddly from Farmers, but in my inbox this morning I found the following unsigned response from State Farm:

Thank you for your email regarding our advertisement that features a cyclist riding his bike to work. We have read your concerns and those of others with similar concerns. We take very seriously each letter, email and blog comment we receive.

I discussed the perception of this ad with others at State Farm, and we decided the right thing to do would be to discontinue it. We will remove this ad as quickly as possible from the current rotation schedule.

We are sorry the advertisement offended anyone. Our intention with this particular ad was to recognize and empathize with the everyday challenge of high gas prices, and suggest that State Farm could help by providing lower auto insurance rates than a person may be receiving from their current provider. But, clearly we have heard your concerns.

This change is being communicated directly to those who have corresponded with us, but I also ask that you pass this message along to others whom you know have a similar concern about this ad. Please know that State Farm is very concerned about doing what we can to improve the health, safety and environment in our communities. For example, in numerous states, employees can earn up to $1.50 a day by ridesharing, walking, or riding a bike to work. We also have more than 1,200 employees participating in van pooling throughout the country.

Have Fun Out There. Bike

click to triplify

These campaign bills were pasted up along Manzanita between Sunset and Santa Monica and while on my way to the library (and Scoops) this afternoon I had to stop and juxtapose my own favorite form of transport among the kind Jeep would rather have you drive.

Random Takes On TV Truck Commercials

Being as I’ve mostly been watching football mostly on the broadcast box this past couple weeks, I’ve been abnormally subjected to the flow of repetitive crapaganda from truck makers who want me to buy their stuff. A meaningless sampling of the most offensive marketing schemes:

1) Chevy’s fauxtriotic “This is your truck” TV campaign backed by John Mellencamp squeezing his blandly genericana’d “This is our country” with all the energy of a tired old constipated man makes both the vehicle manufacturer and the musican more loathsome to me with each subsequent airing I see.

2) Ditto the loathing for Dodge’s idiotic Rock ’em-Sock ’em Robots spot. The match-winning blue robot leaving the ring can bash open a steel door, crash his head through a brick wall, scare a pair of hipsters into running off down the street, but can’t so much as pummel even a scratch onto the grill of the parked half-ton pickup he squares off on. “Ram Tough?” More like “Damn Enough!”

3) And then there’s the Nissan Titan spots that drag open with the first couple of dark and descending guitar notesfrom Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.” While there’s no doubt it’s a classic headbangin’ song, the first thing it makes me do is remind myself I’ve gotta put Mercury on my list.

I Need To Get Dumber

So I lost 50 pounds this year simply by monitoring my caloric intake, exercising and eating healthier. But how does one shed IQ points? Of course that’s operating perhaps under a rash and arrogant assumption that I have a high enough number of them that I can afford to lose some. But for the sake of argument let’s say I’m comfortably ensconced in the triple-digit range. Nothing top-floor genius for goodness sake. Just something about three-fifths to two-thirds up from the lobby, wherein a move a couple stories downward wouldn’t do anything but take the edge off whatever it is intellectually that makes me call bullshit over useless minutae.

What is all this prefacing? My reaction to a car commercial on TV last night — which actually may indicate less of how smart I might be and more of how stupid I am for getting worked up over something so trivial. But I do and I did and I submit it here for my venting pleasure.

The ad’s subject: Ford Focus

The ad’s theme: Bold Moves

The ad’s premise: A young man arrives for a job interview at a swank place only to be halted by a chilly receptionist who pseudo-laments the fact that the person (let’s call him Mr. Honcho) the young man was scheduled to meet is alas not in the office due to his return flight’s delayed arrival.

When the receptionist queries the applicant when he’d like to reschedule the interview with Mr. Honcho he responds by running out of the building at full throttle. What she doesn’t know is that he’d spied the incoming flight information displayed on her computer moniter and is not beating a curious retreat at all. Rather, he’s “making a bold move” by hopping into his spiff and nimble Ford Focus for a race to LAX (the Tom Bradley International Terminal to be uselessly exact because I know this shit) where he parks in the white zone, rushes inside, and with a piece of cardboard upon which is handwritten his prospective employer’s name, enthusiastically awaits his sure-to-be-impressed future boss.

Now here’s where those extra several IQ points of mine kick into overanalyze-this mode and deconstrapolate why the commercial fails miseraby, which is because there’s no way an idiot like this kid is going to get the job.

First and foremost, this is L.A. and Mr. Honcho does not need a ride since his BMW 760i has been washed and detailed and is readily awaiting his delayed arrival just a short shuttle shot away at the QuikPark long-term lot next to the Crown Plaza Hotel on Century Boulevard.

But never mind that irrefutable fact of Los Angeles living if you can and instead make like a Ford and Focus with me. See, everything’s going great and moving boldly right up until the kid parks and leaves his spiff and nimble sedan in the WHITE ZONE, which everybody knows is only for the immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. Maybe in our pre-9/11 world the worst our earnest but ignorant hero would suffer would be an exorbitant parking ticket that might be a small price to pay for landing this gig he craves, but nowadays it would take about five minutes (probably less) for that abandoned Ford to become the immediate focus of law enforcement personnel, and one of two things would happen:

  1. The car would be ticketed and towed.
  2. The airport would be shut down and evacuated in its entirety with incoming flights (including Mr. Honcho’s) diverted to other area airports while the bomb squad meticulously assessed the potential threat posed by the vehicle. Only once its risk was deemed negligible would it be ticketed and towed.

Either way the kid’s screwed.

If the first simple scenario happens, jump cut to the kid meeting and greeting Mr. Honcho coming off the plane. Let’s figure the pleasantly surprised Mr. H. is damn impressed with the youngster’s getupandgo and down at the baggage claim carousel picking up his garment bag he’s thinking there just might be a place for someone like him at the firm — right up to the point when the two of them walk outside and the kid says “Sir, my car is parked right… over… uh…?”

But instead of a spiff and nimble Ford Focus, there’s nothing but empty white zone with Mr. H. incredulously wondering what kind of unemployable numbskull the kid is for parking illegally at an airport instead of in the short-term lot.

Even worse, if the nightmarish second scenario transpires, Mr. H. is going to be landing at Ontario. Or for the sake of argument let’s say his plane was on the ground before the shutdown, the two of them aren’t going anywhere and more than likely the kid’s going to get arrested when he blurts out within earshot of a Homeland Security agent : “Hey! What’s the bombsquad doing to my car?”

Of course, had the commercial’s crafters sense enough to park the kid in a perfectly legal airport parking lot space the kid would live boldly ever after with his new job and I’d be complaining about left complaining about some other worthless item that got caught in the lint trap of my intellect.

Putting the “Ad” In “Bad”

I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t occur to me that I’d been long-time lately low on stuff to rant about. Usually I can count on reading or seeing something — a high percentage of it’s tremendously trivial — that sets me off. Whatever the trigger, maybe I’ll write a letter to the editor of some publication, maybe I’ll whine about it here. More than likely I’ll do both.

Preamble ramble done, advertisements are often great source material and today’s comes from Triumph Motorcycles’ full-pager headlined “Go Your Own Way” that I found on page 37 of the new (August) issue of Esquire magazine:


As you can see from the low-resolution image of the ad I found online, forgotten in the blurry hazy background is what I can safely assume to be a Triumph product of some sort and featured are a painfully stylish and attractive young pair of Triumph whores man and woman, he obligatorily in full leathers, but she’s doing the hip-hugger demin thing and has shed her cowhide coat to reveal her sleeveless tee — which of course, is emblazoned with the Triumph logo. It’s good to see that they’re both carrying helmets, but what one can’t really tell in the image above is that his sports a Triumph logo, leading me to believe hers does too… perhaps the dealer threw the brainbuckets and shirt in to sweeten the deal? Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s hiding his own Triumph shirt beneath that jacket.

But I digress: the ad’s just stupid wrong. What are we being shown here? Sure, there’s the piece’s obvious “you’re not buying a bike, you’re buying a lifestyle” stance, but it’s lost in the literal translation of what I’m seeing: two people in a strained relationship (not holding hands and looking in different directions) walking along a roadside away from their bike that’s… what?

It’s fucking broken, that’s what! Or at best outta gas, crapping out deep up Topanga Canyon. And as girlfriend’s trying to remember where she put the number of that badass Ducati-type who hit on her last Saturday at the El Rey, nobody-walks-in-L.A. boyfriend is mucho pissed now that they gotta embarrassingly hoof it back down to PCH or at least until they get a signal on his no-doubt Triumph-branded cell phone to call his roommate over in Atwater Village and argue him into not only coming to pick them up, but also into bringing a couple half-caff soy lattes from Starbucks on the way. Ventis, dammit!

That’s some lifestyle.

See, it would be one thing if whoever had thought up this ad had given the two somewhere to go — even someone’s lame idea of what’s hip like Neptune’s Net or the Rock Store or Rae’s on Pico. It would so play better if they were walking away from the bike and toward someplace even marginally fauxthentic — hell, I’d even settle for a drug deal or a dang frusta fresca cart. But to put our unhappy hipsters out in the middle of nowhere abandoning with prejudice the very object for which Triumph is trying to garner affection…? Nuh-unh. No sale.