Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Thing One and Thing Two — An analytical epitaph for a man forced to give in to the one thing in life he couldn’t browbeat in to doing his will

October 6, 2011

Thing One: I don’t understand the uproarious, showy displays of grief such like, “Oh, the surprise of this unexpected thing, how stunning,” going around over Steve Jobs’ unfortunately succumbing to his illiness. Like, you knew he was dying, people, first of all. How is this shocking? Totally sad for his loved ones and his company, yes. Shocking, no. Good lord, no.

But what galls me most is what might piss you off really badly when I say it. I think this messianic technological heroism they’re touting is nearly imaginary. Visionary for sure but not exactly Edison on the invention side, here, dudes — he had a whole lot of help. The giant-ness of the attention is deserved, but the track is wrong for me. I’ll explain.

Besides being a notorious, egomaniacal hellbeast of an overseer, Jobs did not “invent” iPods and the like. He was just the admittedly sadly ailing, ever-thinning public face of those products. He was good at making geniuses work for him, and signing off on ultimate marketing decisions that were really the culmination of the work of thousands of other people, which he had a big hand in directing but not generating the content of.

He was a trench-educated, old school techie and a hell of a businessman — but he does not deserve all this solo credit he’s getting left and right for products made by the entire staff of the huge company he ran. Okay, so I’d like to see less credit for inventions in pieces on his passing, and more credit for innovations.

Thing Two: For me, his real magic power, good or bad, the truly remarkable about him for which his merit should be forever remembered is again not technical invention, but business innovation — when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he did not just turn profits.

He ate the competition for breakfast and shit them back out as money.

He took Apple away from its image of a quirky, hip-cognescenti alternative to the big, straightforward Goliaths of PC corporations, and put the company on its present path, whereby its highly-publicized and ultra-high-conceptual-design products are virutally unupdatable, and this is accepted completely by consumers. Built-in obscelence has become not only expected but anticipated.

That is the kind of skilled marketing genius that makes IBM and HP look like retired guys with their belts up under their bitch tits taking a big ol’ handicap at the golf course.

People camping out in lines for the slightly newer version of a product they already own, knowing full-well that within a few years there will be another slightly newer version of that thing? And then arguing with me about why it was super-necessary and how I just don’t understand (I don’t, so they have me there)? That is Jobs’ legacy.

This path was so successful that every company now follows it in its production of handheld devices and, increasingly, notebook PCs. Since notebook PCs are likely to cause the phase-out of desktops, moving understandably and beneficially to cloud computing but cleverly plotting the ever-evolving releases of mobile devices with which to access the cloud, Jobs’ model is the plain old Future. Even the most diehard home-cobblers will eventually have to cave in order to meet the technical demands of what society will expect them to be able to do if they want to work and interact with others efficently. Get mad, but Jobs started it. Yes, he did.

Its users may still include ponytailed bluegrass fans and flannel-sporting skinny-jeaned twats with ironic facial hair, but Apple is categorically not the scruffy gang of misfit scamps, all earnest and adorable, trying to beat the rich kids across the lake so Old Man Withers can keep Camp Wannahumpme anymore. They are the rich kids across the lake.*

You might be thinking, Jeezy creezy, E. What’s wrong with making money? You’re right: nothing. Good for the guy making it. For me, the guy spending the money? I say, Dang, man. Fuck those dudes making money. They suck.

It’s a petulant, childish attitude, yeah: what do you expect from a woman who writes chiefly about comics and boobs? Do I strike you like I got a plan to make money? (I don’t.) Of course my criticism is in large part sour grapes masquerading as mild Marxism: all Marxism is. Except Engels’. He was in it for the pussy.

I am sorry for Steve Jobs’ family, very much, and, marginally, for his company. Grieve the man. Yes. The loss of any human life is genuinely sad, especially the loss of complicated, particularly brilliant stars like Steve Jobs.

But the rest? About what a major and important place of honor Apple holds in our culture, and what glorious tools of divine perfection Jobs delivered to our hands by the grace of God or whatever, like the Lady of the Lake giving Arthur frigging Excalibur?

Not so much for me. I flatly disagree with the openly money-seeking strategies of the mobile device business model he has wrought. I know Steve Jobs was famous for saying negative people upset him, but, if that’s so, then he and Carl Sagan will just have to sit in the turtleneck department in Heaven and shake their heads over my lack of getting it. (Carl will only be playing along to humor the new guy — he loves me.)

I admire the shit out of his business sense, even as I dislike it, and I feel bad for his family. But I do not hold him up high for putting a new iPhone in your hands every thirty minutes. Not sorry for saying it. Go jerk off in back of the Birkenstock outlet and boo-hoo about it. I’ll be out here, reflecting on the loss of a major figure in how world business works.




*Open contest for the name of the rich kids’ camp in the comments, if you’ve got one.

Bookfoolery: The Handmaid’s Tale and admirably naked fear

August 19, 2010

Having made and cleaned up after dinner, I ducked in to my computer area to try to clear out emails and stay abreast of the net world despite my busy-ness in the physical. My grandmother materialized beside me and picked up a book on my desk.

        “Are you reading this?”
        “I was doing, but I finished it a few weeks ago. I actually read it every year.”
        “The Handmaid’s Tale. Hmm. Is it good?”
        “I think so.”
        (a keen glare) “Well, obviously, you think it is, if you read it every year. I’m asking if it really is any good.”
        “Um, it’s used in a lot of literature classes, I think …”
        “That doesn’t always mean anything. (glancing at cover) Margaret Atwood? — ah, no wonder it’s good.”
        I ventured, surprised, “You know her work?”
        She leveled me with another keen, cool, blue glare and said, after clearly taking my measure and finding it ‘okay’ but slightly lacking, just as she would have always done in the old days, “Well, I ought to; didn’t you give me The Robber Bride some ten-to-fifteen years ago for my birthday? I’m not a complete nincompoop, you know.”
        I didn’t know what to say to that because I am unthinkably easily cowed. “It’s a good book,” I said finally.
        She slapped the book against her open palm and said briskly, “When I’ve finished with that silly Janet Evanovich book, I’m going to start this.”

The Janet Evanovich book to which she referred, one of Ms. Evanovich’s entries in her series about the bounty hounter Stephanie Plum, I believe she has read umpteen times since coming to stay in February. Her review of it depends on her mood: some days it is foolish and crazy, other days it is far too sexual, and many days it is hilarious and I must immediately pick it up as soon as she has finished it.

In contrast to such mixed and confused evidence as that, I find my grandmother’s moments of recollection are so sharp and so scathing that I think she is surely still the same alarmingly put-together, rough-tongued and critical woman with whom I grew up, and then she will turn around and be disarmingly, candidly lost as to where she is, confused and admittedly frightened.


nolite te bastardes, but it is a hard lesson to internalize.

I hate what is happening to her. But I love that she doesn’t front even in her illness and tells me straightforwardly when she is lost or afraid. She will come in and wake me in the middle of the night to express her fears to me, because she has never been a woman afraid of making her voice heard. Even when she thinks I am someone else, whether that someone else is a more distant relative or a stranger altogether, she is brutally honest with me (recently she told me I looked “weird” without my glasses on, and also mentioned that I wear too many boys’ shirts). If she had had less confidence all her long and brazen life, she might have concealed her advancing illness for longer, so I suppose I should be grateful for that much at least.

The Girls of Summer: China Lee, Miss August 1964

June 17, 2010

Dazzle your friends with correct pronunciation! Say “China” so it rhymes with “Tina,” not the clinical term for bajango.


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

During Spring Fever!, in the post on Gwen Wong, I mentioned Ms. Lee and promised to give her a post all her own in the future. Happy to say that the future is now.

Ms. Lee is a real trailblazer and true intellect. She was the first Asian-American Playmate of the Month. Not lovely Gwen Wong, and not PR (name removed at model’s request).

Extremely athletic, bright, witty, and outspoken, China (née Margaret) was totally busting up stereotypes well before it was chic to do so. Get it, girl!

Like past-spotlighted comic genius Laura Misch Owens, China Lee began as a Bunny in New Orleans before winding up at the original Chicago Playboy Club. Due to her winning combination of unique looks, well-above-average intelligence, and friendly, talkative nature, she quickly worked her way up to Training Bunny.


As the Playboy empire expanded and Hef opened Clubs in other cities across America, China got to travel and show new Bunnies — and club managers — the ropes all around the country.

Her teaching duties take her to a different location with every new Playboy Club opening — a job which suits her peripatetic nature to a T.

“If I had to describe myself in one word, it would be ‘active,'” China says. “I love to roam, and I love to keep busy!”

(“China Doll.” Payboy, August 1964.)


“Despite the fact that I’m always on the go, success has come to me without my seeking it. I didn’t even apply for my Bunny job — I was discovered in a New Orleans hairdresser’s shop.”

(Ibid.)

Ms. Lee was quite the jock at this time, enthusiastically describing the various sports she participated in:

High on her sports agenda is softball: Last season she pitched and won 12 games (“My windmill pitch is unhittable”), leading the New York Bunny softball team to the Broadway Show League championship.

(Ibid.)

Screeeee. What?! The NYC Club Bunnies had a softball team in a league?! And they were champions? Anyone with more info and especially pictures needs to be my hero and send it along, stat! That sounds wonderful and fun beyond anything the imagination can conjure.

Like icy-eyed Finnish novelist Kata Kärkkäinen, Miss December 1988, China Lee cheerfully reported in her interview that she traversed traditional gender/sports lines not only with that killer windmill pitch but also by handily mopping the floor with the competition at bowling.

“Miss August is also a pin-toppling bowler (she ran up a 217 at the age of 13), prize-winning equestrienne and jumper, expert swimmer and ping-pong player, as well as champion twister of all Bunnydom.

(Ibid.)

Twister like the party game or twister like “Shake it up, baby, now, etc,” with lots of cheerful shimmying around a dance floor? I’m guessing the latter. Seems more her speed!

Very little is made in the “China Doll” article of the fact that Ms. Lee was not exactly your garden variety gatefold WASP model. There is no deliberate, faux-innocent oversight of her heritage in some effort to prove super-open-mindedness, either, which I also consider a point in the magazine’s favor. A good balance is struck.


A native of New Orleans and the only member of her family of 11 not now in the Oriental restaurant line, China says: “Though I was born in America, my folks still follow Oriental ways: They speak the old language, read the old books, and follow the old customs. In this sort of environment, the men dominate and females are forced into the background. I rebelled, and I’m glad I did.”

(Ibid.)

Ms. Lee does not denigrate “Oriental”* tradition, merely comments on the aspect of that traditional environment that displeased her and from which she walked away. It’s done in a respectful and confident way. Very cool.

*When people use this word now it kind of makes my eyes itch for a second. I feel like it’s so high-handed and colonial. It’s like when people say “colored.” The original word meant no offense and is way better than a racial epithet, but we have even better ways of expressing that now, you know? It is a long-running joke with me, Paolo, and Miss D because we all lived in the Bay Area in the ’80’s when “Oriental” and “Hispanic” were leaving the vogue vocab in favor of more specific, group-elected terms. So when we see “Oriental” restaurant or “Hispanic” lawyer on a sign, we all eagerly point it out to each other the way hillbillies’ kids laugh at their grandparents for saying “Worsh.” (I can say that because I am one.)

After her Playboy appearance, Ms. Lee kept her ebullience and poise and continued to make friends and influence people. She is the dancer in the credits of Woody Allen’s first film, What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, a part which she supposedly lobbied very hard for with Allen, who was a friend of hers. The film itself is a farcical redubbing of the Japanese movie International Secret Police: Key of Keys; in Allen’s version, the intrigue surrounds the case of an egg salad recipe. China performs a striptease at the end credits for Allen, who plays himself, several dubbed voices, and the projectioner screening the film.

Here is a link to the clip of her dance on the youtube.

Ms. Lee also appeared on television series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and alongside Tony Curtis and Sharon Tate in 1967’s beach movie Don’t Make Waves. The publicity campaign for Don’t Make Waves was of unprecedented size and ubiquity — though the film failed to live up to MGM’s box office expectations, the cultural impact was still very lasting.

As an example, the character Malibu, played by sunny and curvy Ms. Tate, is generally cited as the inspiration for Mattel’s world-famous “Malibu” Barbie, and several Coppertone tie-in ads for the film are still reproduced in text books for marketing classes. I will go deeper in to Don’t Make Waves in August, during Sharon Tate’s ACTUAL LIFE Awareness Month.

Ms. Lee dated Robert Plant for a while, but ultimately she settled with political comedian, activist, occasional Kennedy joke-penner, and all around cramazing dude, one of the Comedy Greats, Mort Sahl.

Sahl’s influence on aspects of comedy from modern stand-up to The Daily Show is basically immeasurable. You have probably seen Fred Armisen on SNL perform a political comedian character he created named Nicholas Fehn who is not a send-up of Sahl, himself, but rather a send-up of Sahl’s admirers who can never quite touch the master. It’s the guy with the pullover sweater and Armisen’s own glasses, an army surplus coat and a light brown longish wig, who shows up on the Weekend Update with a newspaper in his hand and tries to make jokes of the headlines but can never quite finish his sentences: this using the newspaper as a jumping-off point for humorous discourse was a trademark move of Sahl’s.

China and Mort Sahl married in 1967 and remained together until their divorce in 1991. They had a son, Mort Sahl, Jr., who passed away in 1996. R.I.P. to him and condolences to both of them. I’m glad I got to share about some really cool, interesting people in this post. I’m feeling more upbeat than I was. Thanks for coming along!

I suspect that cover is another Beth Hyatt/Pompeo Posar pairing. Note how the pose and her dress make the trademark, cocked-ear bunny silhouette, mirrored by the small logo sketched in the sand by her right hand. It’s similar, though not as racily sexy, to the rear shot one they did where her dress was open at the back and the straps snaking around her shoulders formed the ears. This time it’s her legs and kicked-off shoes. See it?

NSFW November: Donna Edmondson, Miss November 1986

November 27, 2009

Playboy’s Miss November 1986, the lovely and talented Donna Edmondson, was named the Playmate of the Year in 1987, fitting given that her high school yearbook predicted she was “Most Likely to Become a Bunny.” (What the hell kind of high school yearbook adviser approves that as a category?!) However, her more lasting claim to fame has been her reknown as The Virgin Playmate.


Photographed by Arny Freytag and Stephen Wayda

She had at least gotten to first base; that was her position on her softball team in high school (rimshot!). Actually, it was, in all seriousness — she played first base for her high school in Greensboro, North Carolina. But back to the more interesting issue. Quite the controversy was sparked by the 20-year-old real estate agent’s vow of virginity, which she discussed in her Playmate interview.


“Men are wonderful, but I haven’t really let one close enough to me that I can talk about sex the way some girls can. Virginity isn’t something you discuss. I’m not ashamed of still having mine, mind you. It’s just not something I really want to talk about — except, of course, with the man who takes it away from me.” (“Sold on Donna,” Playboy, November 1986)


I thought about that when I posed for my layout — imagining the kind of sex I’ll one day have. I don’t know when or where it will happen. But I do know it’ll be with somebody I know and love.”

That’s pretty much all she said, but some fits were pitched and fell back in because of where America was, pornography-wise at this time. Let me bend your ear a tick on this topic, if it is news to you. What Ms. Edmondson accidentally stepped her pretty feet in was a total quagmire of hypocrisy and legal issues which had not much to do with her but plenty to do with the Meese Commission and how entertainment dealt with and tacitly sold the lifestyle of the modern single, the aftermath of the Sexual Revolution including the devastating consequences of HIV, and general assumptions of viewer maturity made by media distribution outlets vis-a-vis sexual morals at that particular juncture. What you had was a total flood of the market with new porn and ever-developing potential technologies for its procurement. So you had morality cops panicking bigtime.

Think about it. There was an explosion of private media possibilities in the 1980’s, and they were readily affordable to Joe Vaseline, which means, no matter where the man of the house stashed them, the chance lurked that Junior, too, would have access. Suddenly you could get porn in a pack of spank-sock’s worth of new forms, an embarassment of riches: direct-to-VHS format, dedicated adult cable channels, and even at the good ol’ liquor store from the more and more competing –and niche– skin magazines all making porn less controlled and more widely sold than ever before. Oh, the heyday! But of course, religion and politics intervened.

Sitcom stars, rock musicians, magazine publishers, freaking everyone was caught by Tipper Gore and Edwin Meese with their dicks in their hands on Capitol Hill, and the religious right was burning Blondie records for moral turpitude. Like, Jesus Jumped-Up Christ-Bananas! That is some ticklish shit to accidentally have come your way! And you’d think they would have all been proud of her …

I will let Ms. Edmondson’s official Playboy biography tell the rest of this interesting story.

The text to my original pictorial announced my virginity — and that created quite a stir. Also at this time, the anti-pornography report of the Meese Commission had prompted all 7-Elevens to pull the magazine from their shelves. I was thrown right in the middle of the scandal! All the talk shows immediately wanted to book the virgin PMOY from the Bible Belt. Joan Rivers made a huge deal out of my virginity on her show, but I just explained that you don’t have to have sex to be sexy.


On Larry King’s show, one caller accused me of not being religious because I let men see my body. But I don’t think that posing in Playboy has anything to do with whether I’m a good person. I knew I wasn’t hurting anyone. I defended myself by saying that God made us nude. We were born that way!


But I don’t regret a single moment. I thought the pictures were beautiful and tasteful, and all the Playboy people treated me very well. It was a great experience that I will never forget.

So how did the story work out for Ms. Edmondson? Seems it worked out smashingly, so in the haters’ faces. Once again, her words:

I took a job as a tax accountant, and on my first day of work I met the man who would become my husband. It was his last day of work; our eyes met, and I just knew he was the one. So I asked HIM out, we had lunch together the next week and we were together from then on.


As for my former claim to fame — as the virgin PMOY — all I can say is: Not anymore! Lots of love to you!

Dig the cover: ironically, Joan Rivers, who gave Ms. Edmondson such “holy hell,” so to speak, over the next several months after this issue was published, was herself profiled in the magazine the very same month. So it’s okay to be interviewed but not to pose? Or is it just for young women, or ones who you perceive as less bright than yourself, that the you-cannot-be-a-role-model-and-be-in-Playboy’s-pages applies? Is it that if a woman wants to be sexy she must want to be sexual? Do you enjoy pointing out hypocrisy only when it is not you, yourself, who is being a hypocrite? Where are the lines in the sand for you, Joanie? Is it not merely the case that you want attention at any cost and have made a career of glomming on to hot button people and topics in order to clutch every possible shred of spotlight in your cruel, manicured claws? Booyakasha!

Sorry, I do not normally take such personal issue with anyone who has appeared on camera with a Muppet, but Joan Rivers literally makes her living by being a mean hag, so screw her. Her career could have been great, she could have been an important special woman in the history of females on television, and she pissed it away to keep the level of fame she was accustomed to, with no integrity. Fuck Joan Rivers.

Anyway, so, Virgin Playmate. Tight, huh!