Archive for August, 2008

When you care enough (about what’s going on in others’ bedrooms) to (not) send the very best

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Hey, guys, it’s Meg again. Got plans for Labor Day? Gearing up to go out of town, I heard some news about the industrial holiday complex that got me thinking…

I have to admit: I didn’t see it coming. How could I have known the day would come where I would have something in common with the ultra-conservative American Family Association?

For at least a decade now, I have been boycotting Hallmark greeting cards. I was frustrated by the idea of “Hallmark Holidays,” such as Administrative Professionals’ Day, Grandparents Day, and yes, even Valentine’s Day, created by the Kansas City company to sell more cards. Even if they didn’t technically create the holidays, Hallmark is the main contributor to the commercialization of celebration in this country.

After the announcement of my boycott, I found it quite easy to maintain.  At first, I began making homemade cards, even going so far as to create my own rip-off branding (”hallmeg,” of course). Later, I found a couple of small, independent stationery stores that sold cards made by local artists that were often truer, funnier, and more beautiful than anything Hallmark would make anyway.

After Hallmark announced that it would begin a line of same-sex marriage and commitment ceremony cards, the boycott-happy American Family Association (AFA) implored its adherents to eschew products from the largest greeting card company in the world. Now, this is nothing new. Everything from Heinz ketchup to Ford vehicles to The Discovery Channel has come under attack by the AFA.

I’m a believer in the exhortation to “vote with your checkbook” (although that might be because the lobbyists and the Electoral College have robbed my governmental votes of most of their power) as much as the next guy. But there’s something insidious about extending that powerful act of putting your money where your mouth is to discriminating with your checkbook.

But whatever the motivation, I found out that I have a lot in common with your average AFA member. I haven’t eaten at a McDonald’s in several years. I often go a full month without watching television programming. I’ve also never been to a casino or bought a lottery ticket.

It just goes to show that the self-satisfying feeling of moral superiority comes in all shapes and sizes. I’m just glad mine doesn’t come with side servings of fear and hatred.

Hey, I was right for once — actually twice!

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Hi, it’s Steve here. I won’t be back at the café to stay for at least another week, but I couldn’t resist dropping by long enough to remind you that when it comes to the Biden selection, “you heard it here first.”

January 6, 2008:

Question of the day: If Obama wins, who should be his VP?

For my money, the obvious candidate is Joe Biden.  True, he doesn’t balance the ticket in traditional ideological and geographical ways, but more importantly his 30 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee do balance well Obama’s relative foreign policy inexperience.  He’s also proven an able debater during the campaign.

And I was right about McCain too.

Having now patted myself on the back for being right twice, the sporting thing, I suppose, would be to do another post recounting the times I’ve been wrong: but I think I’ll pass on that one since it wouldn’t be nearly as succinct as this one.

Okay, back to my undisclosed location for another week. See you soon.

Heir Show

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Hey, guys, it’s Meg again. Sorry it’s been so long. Steve’s still gone, and things have been just crazy at the office. Take today for example…

Usually, I am quite thankful for the view here at BuzzFlash HQ. Metra trains chug by regularly and we can see greenery as well as a partially obscured view of downtown Chicago from our sunny office windows. Even watching the expressway can be entertaining, especially when traffic slows to an unenviable crawl.

Today, however, I’d give it all back for a quiet bunker in an undisclosed location. Our expansive windows are playing host to a near constant parade of aircraft streaming into the city for the Chicago Air and Water Show this weekend.

Most people would love this air-conditioned preview of North Beach’s weekend festivities on a Thursday afternoon during work. But the sound of metal ripping though air sounds much too much like fighter pilots and incoming explosives to a paranoiac like me.

I know I am the minority in this, at least in the United States. If faced with the situation I was confronted with at work today, the majority of Americans would first wonder, “Hmm… is there an air show going on this weekend?” and not, “Is my fair city about to be reduced to smoldering rubble?”

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an overreaction. But I remember watching the faces of Guatamaltecos turn white as sheets whenever they heard a helicopter in the distance. Sure, they lived through a 30-year civil war (one encouraged and perpetuated by our own government, incidentally), which involved armed men jumping from helicopters and kidnapping innocent citizens. That’s probably enough to make anyone a little cagey.

Unfortunately, you can see that look on the faces of millions all around the world. It made me realize what a truly privileged citizenry we are. Not for the wealth and convenience we have as citizens of the United States, but for the war wounds that we don’t have.

Air raids, invasions, and bombings are absolutely foreign to most of us. Especially my generation. I mean, we didn’t even have to crouch under our desks, armed only with the lie that the fetal position and wooden planks would protect us from a nuclear attack. We can’t imagine aircraft carriers charging into San Francisco Bay. The notion of an occupying force patrolling our street (yes, that one that we live on) is entirely alien to us. The deliberate toppling of the Washington Monument by a foreign government is inconceivable heresy.

So I can’t help but wonder what’s making me so jumpy. And am I the only one?