Imagine you’re in a store talking to a clerk, standing next to a sign that says “two pairs of shorts for $24.” The shorts are under a blanket and you can’t see them. The clerk asks:

“Do you want an addition 13% off? Say ‘Yes please I am wise and thrifty’ or ‘no please I prefer to pay full price and light cigars with hundred dollar bills.’


“Okay, you can look at these pants, but before I take off this blanket and show them to you, I’m going to need you to sign up for an account.”

How do I do that?

“Here’s a clipboard with all the paperwork. Name, address, phone number.”

Why do you need that?

“Because - check this box right here, if you could, thanks - because we will call you every day with deals, and send you a postcard twice a day to tell you about some new socks."

I don’t want that. I just want to buy the shorts for $24.

“Well, when you checked this box, you agreed to it. Okay, here are the shorts!”

I examine the choices, find two I like, and put them in my shopping cart. Why I have a shopping cart in a department store I don’t know.

Clerk (very softly, under her breath, almost unnoticeable): “On the 6th of each month, you'll be charged $59.95 for your exclusive membership benefits. These benefits include a promotional Member Credit which unlocks our best savings when redeemed. Member Credits can be redeemed for any 2-piece outfit or item up to $100, online or in-store.”

I’m sorry, what did you say?

Clerk: "Nnothing! Just enter your credit card here . . . why are you tapping the air with your index finger?”

Me: I’m trying to hit the back button, but I forgot that reality lacks that feature. I swear I could find the moment where you said that.

Clerk: “Perhaps if you go upstairs to the office and ask, they’ll show you the full legal agreement you signed, and if you’ve the time to read 47 pages of small type, you will find what you’re looking for. Enter your credit card here -“

Me: No. I am not going to commit to a monthly charge just for the privilege of getting two pairs of shorts for $24. When your postcards arrive, they will go to junk. When your first text sullies my screen, I will reply STOP. I will never enter this store again

That was my experience with an online store that’s been popping up in my Twitter feed. In order to buy the shorts I had to agree to a $60.00 a month charge. Of course the texts started coming right away, and I hit STOP and cancelled the emails.

Shopping in person is more difficult, in the sense that you have to stand up and go somewhere, but my GOD I’m starting to hate online shopping.

It’s odd. Except for this place and us of course, and a few other places, I’m starting to dislike online in general. My mind goes back to malls in the 80s and 90s, neighborhoods with lots of stores, movie theaters on a summer evening, getting a magazine out of my backpack and reading it start to finish, getting a letter. It’s all easier now. I wouldn’t go back.

But little did we know how much would go away.








I’ve been picking away slowly at all the shows I have queued up, and little to say about any of them beyond what I’ve said. I did spend some time scrubbing through 1980s commercials, for reasons. A Chicago station’s late-night offerings. These flanked the commercials.

One of the ads in the collection is copyrighted 1985, and that looks about right.

This is the latest design. Geometric shapes, these particular colors, and the Font of The Times, Mistral.

If things looked like this, and you liked it, and it summed up the new moment, then you were with the times.

The technology of the time enabled all sorts of new commercial styles, and while they were not particularly good, they sum up the VCR era perfectly.

First commercial: A confident sense of SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY + COOL! Had settled into the culture.


And then the next commercial: whoa! Rachel McLish.

She is LIFTING IN A SERIOUS PLACE that has dust and shafts of light and, as we all expected when we joined a gym, the occasional bird.

She’s lifting about 40 pounds. Full ad here, if you wish. This was the 80s:

And then: gauzy romantic white chocolate ad that makes an obvious reference to a 20s commercial artist:

They'll ignore and forget most of the the TV shows. The ads will tell them what we wanted, and who we wanted to be.






It’s 1956.

“Made by Dairymen.”

Well, at some point in the process, probably.

That thing looks like it falls apart the moment a fork attempts to carve out a piece. Just devolves into a messy jumble.


A fun ad, with a different sense of style - not common, not entirely rare, and certainly eye-catching.

“Out of the barrel goodness.” Oooh, it was from a barrel? That’s the best kind.



“Buried Treasure.”

SALAD DRESSING by the ladle-full, too. What is salad dressing? We use the term for a wide variety of liquids poured on greens, but it was a bit more narrow back then. Basically, mayo, with more flavorings.

I defy anyone to tell the difference in the flavor between Black Cherry and Black Raspberry.

Or between Raspberry and Black Raspberry. Looks great, though: a classy dessert.

Safe for baby, unlike the other toilet paper that just scrapes ‘em raw.

Mad about color! And hence not wearing any of the ones now associated with this product.

Why - why, I never thought of that

Looks good. In fact, I wonder how many people would choose mustard if they had to choose only one burger condiment. Ketchup would be the first favorite, I suppose, but then when you really thought about it . . . there’s something about mustard.

Part of a campaign that added frankfurter smiles to drawings of kids in various cliched play identities.

“We blend good beef.”

We’re being honest here. It’s not great beef. But it’s good beef.

Looks good. I want one. I want a burger with mustard and then I want one of these.

FOUR FLAVORS! Which we will put in tiny type, making you think we hadn’t named them at all, and then you see them, and think, oh, okay, there they are.

Buried Treasure aside, 1956 looks like a good place to be. At least if you’re hungry and have all-American mid-century tastes. Which I do. I’m even in the mood for Black Raspberry now.

Now two ways to chip in!


That'll do! See you around.



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