Friday, April 17, 2009

The Daily Growler on Sales Pitching

Quantitative Thinking vs. Qualitative Thinking
In a way, quantitative thinking is Backward Thinking. It's a good old Capitalist tool. More production via the cheapest means of energy, whether by human energy or mechanical energy. More consumer products produced the fastest and therefore the least expensive way possible. Quality?

Qualitative thinking is Forward Thinking. Why? Because cars used to last 10 years at least or they weren't considered very well-made automobiles. Quality, by the way, didn't mean leather seats, 4-speaker stereo systems, air-conditioning, stuff like that; nope, those "extras," you see, under Qualitative Thinking, are considered "luxuries." You want luxuries, you pay for them. The quality is in the functionality and endurance of the just-plain automobile you are building and you are buying. Now, of course, that's not to say everybody who owned a car kept them for ten years. That's not a part of the concept. What is a part of the concept is that though not everybody drove the same car for ten years, the standard cars were of the quality that they could if they had to. Nor is this concept saying all cars lasted "without problems" for ten years. No, not at all. Not every quality-made car had quality everything-about-it. If you took quality care of a car back then, you could keep running the damn thing for ten years before you needed to buy another car. You could have your whole car rebuilt at one time in this country--your motor overhauled--or you could replace it with a rebuilt motor and run it another 100,000 miles. In Quantitative Thinking, the effort is to get you to buy a new car every 6 months--and they have to do that because in Quantitative Thinking you overproduce--stockpile cars--now we buy cars from huge dealer stockpile car lots. The ultimate goal in the quantitative world, the perfection in that world, is a car (or appliances, or clothes, or shoes, or medicines, etc.) that wears out every 6 months--or gets obsolete every 6 months. In the record business they call it "the obsolescence factor."

Back in my young, youthful, Utopian-minded, very early, and dumbest days, I lucked into becoming a staff member of a division of Time-Life Inc. here in Gotham City. [While I worked at Time-Life, Life magazine folded and Time-Life became Time Inc., even though it was always Time Inc., though when I first went to work there, they had only been in their new 6th Avenue Rockefeller Center building for a few years, having moved from the Time Building that originally had been at #1 Rockefeller Plaza, the private street in Rockefeller Center--the only private street in NYC. That 6th Avenue building was called The Time & Life Building when I went to work there. Today, by the bye, I reside across the street from the original Life magazine building in NYC--this Life magazine from the late 1800s and not the Time Inc. one started in the 1930s. The building is still the "Life Magazine Building" and its original facade has been restored by its current owners, a romantic facade with gold-leafed cupids blowing trumpets and heralding out scrolls of LIFE, with upspiraling Spanish ironwork crawling up its 11-story Italian Renaissance brick-styled front. It is actually a former whore and crack house (when I moved into the neighborhood) that has since turned into a "respectable" cheap-ass ($125-per-room-per-night) tourist hotel run by moneyed Indians-from-India "hotel keepers" (they learned servant work and hotel management when they were little "woggies" (Gunga Dins) under the bootheels of the British Empire, Indians being taught how to properly wait hand and foot on the Proper, the Brit military fops and snobs, the Brit governors and vice governors, the wealthy Brit fops there to steal India's natural resources and use its untouchables as slave labor, or they're favorite Rajahs and their Rannis, or any body the British Royal Family and wigheaded government deemed worthy of asskissing respect].

My Time-Life division's offices were in the high 20s, one floor below the Life magazine subscription offices, along with the Life photographers and some reporters and feature writers up there, too, along with the whole Time-Life sales representative force shoved back in one dingy corner of that huge officespace. One of my division's sales reps was a guy named Zack, a little menacing-looking Jewish guy, one of those constantly "concerned" Jewish guys, who was irritatingly and repeatedly darting back and forth between that floor and our floor, twiddling his thumbs and whining in his high-pitched bitch-voice about this and that and this other shit and that, too, and all of that, too. I was the chief copyeditor of this division. All the ads our copywriters and artists created came through me as dummies and then proofs and stuff--my division had the US rights to all British (BBC) television shows--we dealt mostly with PBS stations and got most of our monies from Time Inc. and Mobil Oil, the corporate "sponsor" of the BBC's very popular Masterpiece Theatre--at first under the pompous introduction of transplated Brit, now-American, Alastair Cooke (remember Alastair Cookie Monster on Sesame Street's version of Masterpiece Theatre?), and those shows were our mainstay product. My job involved going over these ads with my fine-toothed editorial/creative comb. I checked the wording, what facts were available, any figures mentioned, the allure, the continuity, trying to keep a smidgen of truth and reference in them to keep them in line with our legal department's flimsy rules and regulations while electrifying the many lies that made the ads successful or not. Our ads ran daily, weekly, monthly, in local newspapers, in TV Guide, in Time Magazine, in Fortune, in the NY Times, et al. My job had to do with the way these ads were "pitching" our teevee shows and big-screen documentaries. Our directors liked action verbs in their ads--and I gave them action verbs galore. "RUN, don't walk, to your teevee and suddenly become aware of one of the greatest, most shocking, thrilling, running-away-with-your-nerves gothic dramas ever adapted for your television screens from one of the runaway all-time classic literary masterpieces ever written by a Brit snob!"

Like I said, our big hit in those days was Masterpiece Theatre. Mobil Oil was MT's corporate sponsor--they paid the bills for the ads (all the ads for Masterpiece Theatre prominently mentioned Mobil and displayed the Mobil logo) and for the show's expenses in exchange for huge tax breaks and, like I said, prominent mention on the show and on the ads. So we had access to big bucks, millions of dollars--and it was up to us to get stations to contract them for broadcast but we also had to market the show--sell it, pitch it (and, yes, I was an Anglophobe in those days same as I am today! and, yes, I met Alastair Cooke and thought him a fop first-class--who William F. Buckley learned his nose-up snobbery from, I swear--though he was very nice to me the couple of times we met, especially one time when he found out I was from West Texas, a part of the world he claimed he knew very well and had visited many times and loved, especially the sunsets). And this guy Zack, the salesman, would constantly call me and tell me he thought I should query blah, blah this or blah, blah, "Wolfie, Wolfie, my boy, my boy, it's hard enough to sell this high-brow shit using my salesman skills, but then Rah-jah (the art director) comes up with this! What the hell's a hot-air balloon got to do with Henry the Eighth? And what's that crap on this Elizabeth R layout about 'the wiles of hell in a heavenly body'--what the hell does that mean in terms of what?--I mean, we're selling adult entertainment here...these are like movies--I need star promotion--like make me some celebrities out of these actors to promote!" "But, Zack, these are episodic dramas on a higher plane than 'I Love Lucy' or 'Gunsmoke'...." "Oh God, I wish I worked for CBS and had Lucy and Gunsmoke instead of this BBC shit...." "Zackie, baby, it's called 'Masterpiece Theatre' because it's premise is the dramatization of great classic novels--and that's the crowd we're aiming for--not the Mertzes or Ricky Ricardo and Lucille McGillicuddy. Like people who like Gilbert and Sullivan like this shit." "Is that Gilbert that now works at Fortune?" "Yeah, Zack, and Sullivan, you know, he has the coffee wagon on the 13th floor."

Later word came back to us that Zack in a performance meeting with the directors of my division and the systems analysts boys from the "in the clouds" floor (the Executive Suite) at the top of the building was demanding more say in how we promoted our shows.

The Time & Life Building was 40 floors high--Teddy White, a Time writer I saw nearly every day when I worked there and who I identified with since Teddy had started as a stringer for Time magazine just like I had done when I lived in Mexico City, and Theodore White wrote a book about working at Time & Life, and it became a big bestseller: The View From the Fortieth Floor. It was a smashing success, atop the NYTimes Bestseller List for a great many moons. It was promoted for its sexual innuendoes first and its understanding of the world of magazine publishing second. In this novel, old prissy Teddy, he wore bowties, intimated that some of the perks one got from being a big shot at Time Inc. was maybe getting to bang your hot secretary (maybe a recent-college-graduate from Bryn Mawr or Smith) or any of the tons of hot secretaries and typing pool girls, even the cleaning ladies, on a desk late after work; or getting to take celebrity chicks (like a movie star you might be interviewing) out to 21 on a Time-Life credit card--or men and women reporters shacked up like Hemingway and Mary Welch and Martha Gellhorn in hotels while on foreign assignments. That's what sold the book. That's why every young English major or Fine Arts major out of Ivy League and Seven Sisters schools scrambled into Time Inc. looking for entry-level jobs--like assistant to the assistant art director or assistant picture researcher or assistant to the assistant copyeditor, which my secretary was called--and speaking of secretaries and banging them on desks, sorry, Teddy, but my View From the Fortieth Floor would make your View read like you petered out in the 20th-floor stairwell--oh the stories I could tell about working at Time-Life back in those days when Life magazine was shut-down for good and my division was losing millions of bucks a year and Zack the sales rep was revolting. Zack one day announced that if he couldn't sell what we considered great television then maybe it was time he taught us what great television was and what kind of ads he thought would help him sell the shows! The Sales Force wanted more say in the marketing of our products, plus they wanted more to do with the sponsors than our creative people--our idea people.

At about this same time, chain bookstores began popping up all over NYC and all other major cities in the US--Doubleday's, Walden Books, Marlboro--and suddenly book salesmen began revolting, too, against acquisition editors and managing editors and editor-editors, saying they knew better what books sold than did the "literary" or "nonfiction" book selectors. Like the record industry spinners came up with the obsolescence factor in making record albums, the books salesmen came up with what they called "shelf life," meaning if a book stayed on a shelf say a month and didn't sell a copy, then pull it from the shelf and put it in a discount bin, and replace it with a genre or niche or whatever that will sell multiple copies per month, keeping those books jumping off the shelves like wildfire--reorders! And there's the key to successful salesmanship, REORDERS! Books that don't stay on the shelf long have to be reordered! Keep those reorders coming! Soon, first novels and books of poetry and shit like that disappeared from the shelves of the oligarchic bookstore chains. Soon Danielle Steele and Steven King became our bestselling authors, or Judy Bloom types, or books on murder written by tough-guys writers with tattoos and who ride Harleys and all their books start out, "Detective Bob 'the Manic Mechanic' Carter, 20-year vet with the NYPD, looked at the piece of shit pervert sitting across from him at the interrogation table, a steel table bolted to the floor of a regular jail cell in the deep dark back of New York City's grungiest prison, the Tombs. Carter looked this bastard right square-dab mean in his crossed-eyes and shouted, 'You rotten scumbag. I could beat your bloody fucking ass to death with my bare hands....' Carter belted the perpetrator with a strong backhand across his sagging-drug-puffy-sweet-lipped face. 'I've got daughters the age of this sweet, innocent, apple of her mother's eye young lady you pig-fucked and then throttled, you sick piece of shit.' Carter threw a bolo punch to the accused's palpitating gut. The culprit let out a coughing upchucking sigh and began calling for his 'mommy' while crying like a fucking baby. 'Go ahead and call for your mommy, you motherfucking coward.' With that Carter produced a large wool sock filled with sand. 'Here's a lesson, punk, you ain't gonna forget for a long time.' Carter closed the steel door to the cell so the screams wouldn't be heard...too much that is. He chuckled to himself as he prepared to beat the living shit out of this child-abusing, doper, scumbag, sorry piece of human feces...POW, the first blow broke the sorry bastard perp's nose...."

The great old homey, comfy, pipe-smoke filled "literary" bookstores, like the Gotham Book Mart that was still on 47th Street while I worked in Rockefeller Center, are now things of the past. The Strand is still here, but mostly there's only these overdone, too fabby, Barnes & Noble joints now that seem more like shopping malls than bookstores.

You think books and magazines are going the way of newspapers in this country? The Boston Globe (because its owner the NYTimes is losing millions a year) is going under. Amazing. The Chicago Sun-Times is going under. The L.A. Times, now trimmed down to nothing but an overblown advertising flyer, is going under. Journalists are being fired right and left all over the country. This dude David Simon who wrote and produced the HBO series called Wired is a Baltimore journalist who took an early retirement and got into television with this series that is about being a journalist in Baltimore a few years back when that city was going through political corruption scandal after political corruption scandal. Simon says as more and more newspapers go under, local investigative reporting will be no more--thus, he says, crooked politicians will have a field day in which to practice their corruption skulduggeries without worry of getting caught. Corruption at the local political level will become catastrophic. Simon's a pretty smart dude. He talks as though he has read The Daily Growler, though I'm sure he'd never admit to such a thing.

Here's an interview with David Simon from

They call it "sales pitching," but I call it flim-flamming. Hustling. Huckstering. Duping. Hawking. Scheming. Scamming. Oh, let me name the many ways one can sell a product. And television is now one continuous series of sales pitches. Every show is touting some bunches of products--like game shows that give away cars, and cash, and trips, and exercise machines, and grandfather clocks and stainless steel refrigerators--mentioning sponsoring products names over and over. Or teevee is selling the latest movies constantly and trotting out the latest actors to "arrive" from the latest movies, no matter if the star of that movie is a dumb-ass little hick girl from Tennessee whose daddy was a one-hit-wonder hick-hillbilly star who was contracted as an actor, and what a horrible actor he was, who at 15 and with the breast-implant mentality of Walt Disney Productions is now a multimillionaire, much richer and more successful as her pappy, though, watching her act is like watching her father act--it hurts.

You can tell the economy's tanking by the number of sales pitches we must endure in daily life.

I come from the world of advertising. I can honestly say, all ads are lies. All ads think backwards. They attack you through your fears, mainly your fear of dying!

Fundie Christian Silent Majority Preachers these days are desperately hawking Jesus Christ as the solution to all mankind's problems but especially it's financial problems. Some fundie preachers are trying to mesmerize, with Jim Jones-like tones, their audiences into sending them a minimum "offering" of $1000. The sales pitch? Somewhere in the Christian Holy Book it says if you give unto Jesus Cristo your last cent, he'll reward you 100-fold. Old Okie-the-dokey Oral Roberts started this "seed planting" bullshit back when he was still admitting he was a member of the Assemblies of God Church--before he changed denominations and declared himself a Methodist. Oral based his "seed" bullshit on the story of the mustard seed in the Christian Book of Fables--if you have the faith of a mustard seed (a very small seed--I mean really small--therefore the parable's meaning in terms of the size of your faith) you will reap treasures in Heaven--you know, old Jesus is preparing mansions for all the true believers on the gold-paved boulevards of Christendom. Such bullshit. But the Christian babbling idiot preachers are desperate for money now--desperate.

And how corny and stupid was the "great Wall Street" news today (Friday) that CitiGroup lost less money than was expected therefore the stock market shot up 200 points back to over 8000 again for the thirtieth or fortieth time over the past year--still the silly meaningless Dow-Jones is 3000 points below what it was until G.W. Bush invaded and tried to occupy (unsuccessfully) Afghanistan and Iraq using the Neo-Con Manifesto of the New World Order as his Executive-Power-Elite Word of the True and Living White Gods who rule us--that Backward Thinking document that wants to take us back to the 19th Century and those glorious days of monopolies and oligarchies and plutocracies!

Obama is showing signs of sanity with his making gestures of wanting to have a little sit-down talk with Cuba's President Castro. He also buddy-buddied with old Hugo Chavez down in Port of Spain, Trinidad, today. Good for him. I mean, folks, you talk about helping the economy! He was also fairly cool in releasing the "torture justifying" documents of G.W. "Pantywaist" Bush's never-elected-honestly presidency's corrupt advisory staff, under instructions from Unka Dick "I Shot the Judge" Cheney--that old washed-up primate reject--out there now pumping up that White Aryan rumor that Obama is out to eliminate the White Race! Oh my God! And what if he actually did that? Wouldn't he wipe out half his own family? He did have a White mother, dammit! How come White mothers don't count in the race game? Naw, naw, I'm not saying Obama's not Black, he's Black alright, but I can see the Whiteness in him, too--like he's my bro, too, you dig? I'm being facetious, but in a way I'm not either. Piri Thomas, a very black Puerto Rican writer from years ago, Mean Streets was his bestseller, said when he went to Texas for the first time, he went in to this place and this White Texan looked at him and said, "Sorry, boy, I can't allow you to come in here." Piri said he told the guy he was Puerto Rican and the Texan said, "Well, why the hell didn't you say so, boy, come on in, what kin I do you for you?, hah, hah, hah...." As long as he told the White Texans he was a Puerto Rican, he was OK; but if he said he was a Black man from New York City, then it was "exit out of town before sunset or look out for a rope being slung over your head."

The White Man. Remember, the White Man believes he's perfect! He's made in the image of his handsome, Aryan, Big Daddy, muscleman god, Jehovah (or Allah for short)--therefore, he's divine. Other races, except for the Jews, who Christians do consider a race and not a religion, are heathen--especially Black men and women who were turned Black by Jehovah (Allah) getting pissed off at Noah's dark-complected son Ham (as in Ham Fat) for looking on his old drunk pappy while he was laying back naked as a jay bird and with a rampant hard on. And Big Daddy Jehovah cursed Ham, turned him Black, to be a servant of the White Man for all his natural-born days. Then he exiled Ham to Darkest Most-Heathen Africa, to Kush, which actually was a dynasty already more civilized than any of Jehovah's Holy Desert peoples were at the time.

Do you realize that Jerusalem during the time of the Roman occupation was not a Jewish city. After Christ, the Roman hierarchy ran all but a few Jewish families out of Jerusalem--out to the Judean hinterlands. After the Romans lost the city, it became an Arab city inhabited by mostly Muslims. After the Muslims lost it, the Crusaders, White Gentiles from Germany mainly following the orders of the peasant Barbaric priest Martin Luther, formed a White Man's Christian Army of over 150,000 troops and attacked Jerusalem--and the White Crusaders slaughtered every man, dick, chick, boy, girl, granny, mother, uncle and aunt Muslim in Jerusalem, a vicious bloodbath, and these Crusaders (and Christian preachers still hold "crusades" even to this day) took over Jerusalem and it became a White Man's city because the Crusaders, too, didn't let Jews back in Jerusalem. Then one day the Crusaders got homesick for Europe and gradually they abandoned Jerusalem--and Jerusalem became a burg on a goat trail in terms of importance until the Ottoman Turks took it over and it became a Muslim Holy City--it had always been a Muslim Holy City according to Mohamed.

Has Jerusalem ever been a totally Jewish city? Not really....

Do you realize if Obama would legalize all drugs how much wasted and corrupted monies would be saved; how many lives would be saved? Legalize drugs and the drug wars will be unnecessary. The phony War on Drugs that is a billions of dollars a year boondoggle to some Power Elite military fops and armament dealers and police departments and South American dictators. What a waste of human life and hard-earned money. The DEA is said to be the only government agency that makes a huge profit every year.

Cigarettes and whiskey kill tons more humans every year than any illegal drug ever! I remember back during the crack and cocaine freaking out going on among our do-gooders and ultrapious assholes Harper's magazine on that page where they give you factual information about stuff like this ran a statistic that stated "How many people OD'd on crack or cocaine (the year before)?" The answer was like 5 or 6. That same year, over 150,000 people were killed in automobile accidents.

Ah, LIES, what sweet truths they bring to bear.

for The Daily Growler

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