The Pay-O-Matic Logo Meeting


Scene: The guy who owns Pay-O-Matic Check Cashing is seated with Chip, a freelance graphic designer and metrosexual with thick-framed glasses who recently graduated from the School of Visual Arts.
Boss: As you know, Pay-O-Matic is a check-cashing operation. As such, we provide a valuable service to individuals who don’t have a bank account.
Chip: Who the hell doesn’t have a bank account?
Boss: Mainly illegal immigrants, fugitives, felons just out of Rikers, terrorists, deadbeat dads, conspiracy theorists, drug addicts, tax evaders and people who really hate banks.
Chip: Okay.
Boss: We’d like a logo that helps us to connect with our customers, who I’d imagine are mostly unhappy.
Chip: So you want your logo to reach out to those people and say “We know you’re unhappy, we’re the check-cashing place for you.”
Boss: Exactly.
Chip: What if I cram your company’s acronym into a circle, and created a kind of anti-“have a nice day” logo; the “P” will look like an eye crying, and the “M” will look like a grimace – as if the logo itself is in pain.
Boss: Brilliant!


Neckface Franchise Available


Dear Potential Franchisee:
I got me a question.
When you’re walking around the neighborhood, and whatnot, and you want to tag something, what’s the number one motherfucking thing you think of, motherfucker?
That right. Neckface.
Now, what if I were to tell you that you have the opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to be a Neckface distributor? Bitch, there’s no doubt you’re thinking what a prime motherfucking opportunity you have right there.
Neckface is the number one distributor of Neckface-related graffiti throughout the entire city of New York. We’re expanding rapidly. And as we grow, we’re adding new members to the Neckface team. That’s where you come in, motherfucker.
A Neckface franchise offers you unlimited motherfucking growth potential. There’s a lot of surface to cover in this city. Shit. You could tag all day and not even make a dent in this market. Supply, demand, whatever. It’s all good.
With Neckface, you’re your own boss. You work your own hours. You set the rules. There ain’t no punk manager telling you how it is. This is your thing.
We guarantee market exclusivity in your franchise area. You see some motherfucker tagging Neckface in your area, that ain’t cool. Just tell us. We’ll present his ass with the Neckface Franchise Agreement – and bet your ass he’s gonna get the fuck up outa there. Or she. Neckface is an equal opportunity employer.
And for money? Shit. This shit’s priceless.
The start-up costs for a Neckface franchise are minimal. And franchisee training is even minimaler. In fact, if you’re looking for a ground-floor opportunity and whatnot, Neckface is some serious shit. Don’t fuck this up. I’m serious.
If you’re serious about this shit too, and want the motherfucking opportunity of a lifetime, I’ll be at the construction site of the new Union Square Whole Foods. They’ve got some plywood up there, and I sense an opportunity.
I’m in the yellow jacket. Bring $5.

Poland Dispatch: Car For Sale

1996 Polonez Caro
4-door, hatchback
Color: Darkish something
Engine: 4 cylinder, 65 Catpower
Transmission: 5 Speed Standard
106000 Kilometers
0-100Kph: Yes
In-floor ventilation holes
Automatically opening windows
Window Froster
Random door-locking (3 doors)
Keyless entry fourth door
Gaping AM/FM Radio Hole
Passenger-side seat belt
Ass-penetrating seat spring
Windshield & rear Windshield Streakers
Extremely loud analog clock
Security system (guaranteed not to be stolen)
Magically opening glove box
Automatic Skidding System
Detachable fender and wheel well trim
Occasional Ka-tang noise
Spare parts under driver’s seat
Disposable lighter
Asking price: 12 minute backrub, or best offer.

Poland Dispatch: Catching Up With Capitalism

Yesterday was an exciting day. We left the village and drove to the ‘big city’ of Pila (pee-wa) which isn’t really a big city – it just has some taller buildings in it. It’s big only if you’re normally used to dealing with small buildings and windmills.
Sadly, most of the buildings in Pila were built during the years of Soviet occupation, so they look like crap. A reminder to all of you college kids and professors who think communism rocks: It doesn’t! Communism sucks! They made ugly gray buildings that don’t hold up. Marx is a big loser!
I got a lecture on the days when folks were assigned ration cards. Since the folks out here fell under the ‘agricultural’ category they were not rationed any meat. Even people who were only growing fruit or vegetables. If you had a kid, you got four pounds of meat per month. Four whole pounds. Rock on, commies! No wonder why it caught on like wildfire.
Everyone I know here looks back on those days with a mix of anger and amusement at how awful it was. That’s because they actually experienced it, unlike some enlightened, Che-loving, 20-year old from Berkeley who has all the answers.
But their nightmare ended a little more than a decade ago and now they’re getting the hang of it. In the village they still have what the average spoiled American might consider unacceptable business practices. Like not heating the store. Hi, I’m completely freezing and looking for an ottoman. May I see what you have in stock?
My wife explains it as the aftereffect of growing up under the Soviet system and the level of poverty that came with it. It’s no different than the economic environment that left my Depression-era grandmother forever hoarding mayonnaise and reusing tea bags. It’s simply habit, and a hard one to break – even if breaking it might make better business sense. Now I know why the restaurant we had lunch in didn’t have any lights on.
The Green Party folks would love the conservation aspect. I can imagine the thrill they’d feel as they walked into a dark (saving electricity) restaurant that was barely heated (saving gas) and ordered some food handled with bare (reduced plastic glove waste) hands and a non-refrigerated (lower freon emissions) beer. Nirvana they would exclaim as they shivered in the shadows and washed down their e.coli with tepid lager. The only thing that might possibly bother them is that everything is meat, next to meat, stuffed with meat or in a meat sauce. As long as they weren’t vegetarians they’d have found their slice of luddite paradise. Come to think of it – the Unabomber was Ted Kaczynski. Interesting.
Not that the conservation mentality is bad, mind you. It’s actually refreshing to see a culture that’s not inherently wasteful. It’s nice that instead of stuffing your single loaf of bread into a plastic bag they look at you, wondering why you haven’t just taken the bread from the counter. I can imagine the shock if they ever ordered coffee in a New York deli. They’d get coffee, a plastic stirrer, sugars they didn’t ask for, creamer they didn’t ask for, an extra cup with a thermal barrier to protect their hands – and it would be stuffed with napkins into a paper bag.
I’m sure there’s a middle ground somewhere that would let them cater to their post-Soviet scars and the customer at the same time. I’m all for saving electricity, paper, yadda, yadda, but it’s a little creepy when you walk into a dark restaurant. And I’m assuming the wax paper napkins are designed to keep you from using them, thereby saving a dollar a month. Personally, I’d like to be able to leave the bedroom and go to the bathroom without someone turning the lights off. Give me that, and I promise I won’t buy an SUV. Though on these roads and with this weather an SUV makes a hell of a lot more sense than it does for some suburban American soccer mom. Has Jody from Boise ever tried to sip hot tea while her brother-in-law navigated a half-cobblestone/half-dirt road in a dilapidated 4 cylinder Polish rust-bomb? I think nie.
Prices here are dirt cheap. The downside is that there’s not a lot to buy. Or rather, if you think the prices are dirt cheap then you wouldn’t be interested in buying anything because it means you can afford nicer things. For example I saw a sweater. It was called ‘Kaptan – Lambswool.’ At only $40 I’m thinking I’ve found a bargain! Turns out ‘Kaptan – Lambswool’ is 70% Cotton and 30% Acrylic. I know what you’re thinking: Where’s the frickin’ lambswool? Apparently it’s in the name of the product.
A few products caught my eye. There’s a total Diesel rip-off brand called ‘House’ for a sixth the price and a third the quality. House was nothing compared to ‘Red Indian’ Shoes. Can you imagine the anti-you rallies you’d suffer if you tried to sell ‘Red Indian’ shoes in Michigan? I can. And it would be hilarious. The tagline for Red Indian is ‘The symbol of braves [sic]’ which makes about as much sense as the name Red Indian.
Other labels that I noticed were ‘Poolman’ and ‘Blend of America.’ Bad news for the Poolman folks: cleaning a pool, though potentially lucrative, isn’t necessarily something you’d brag about. Who knows, they may have found a niche market for any pool cleaning professionals who make it to rural Poland. They can buy a Poolman sweater and advertise their trade while at the same time letting folks laugh at the inexplicably large, utterly pointless flap that spans the chest.
At the awkwardly named women’s store ‘Troll’ I saw a shirt that said ‘Hot women in the middle of the road is just how I like it’ with a silhouette that looked like a cross between Morrissey and Grace Jones. This is exactly why I never wear shirts with Japanese symbols on them: I don’t know what they might be saying. I don’t want to parade around with Meat Demon Ninja: Love Clause Active. I’ve noticed a lot of absurd English phrases, but the hot women one took the cake. The ‘In life we belive [sic]’ shirt wins for spelling, I believe.
The elite U.S. Army force has their own hygiene product line apparently. ‘Delta Force’ deodorant was on sale, and not too far down the shelf was ‘Bond’ shaving cream. The shaving cream tried everything it could to say ‘James Bond’ without the legal troubles of actually doing so. There was a man’s silhouette, a picture of a Ferrari, and for some reason it said ‘Speedmaster.’ All that was lacking was an ‘Albert R. Broccoli Presents Shaving Foam’ on the cap.
A store full of zany chemicals for weightlifting freaks was called ‘Arnold Shop.’ I asked if it was named after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and they answered in the affirmative – and as if I were a lunatic for asking. Come on! The answer seemed too obvious which is why I asked in the first place.
Groceries for about 6 folks ran us about $50. Stuff is so cheap I’m tempted to get on the PA system and announce Skittles for everyone. On me! Please love America! Yet when a kid came up to me in the parkingowy lot asking for money, I played the dumb tourist card and pretended not to understand.
Bad news for Home Depot shareholders: There’s already a Home Depot here. It’s called ‘Nomi’ and it looks just like Home Depot except for the name being ‘Nomi’ instead of ‘Home Depot.’ Same colors. Same layout. Orange aprons on somewhat cheerful staff. Everything. I had already decided to purchase the $10 drill bit kit because it was such an amazing bargain but I was overruled by the wife because I don’t even have a drill here. Yet. The best part is your shopping experience at Nomi is not hindered by darkness or cold. The lights and the heat are on.
What finally convinced me that they’ve got a knack for capitalism is that they understand one of the fundamentals: identify what people want and make it available to them. This point was driven home when I passed the Bicycles/Fireworks store. They’re learning quickly folks. It’s no wonder the Germans and French are getting all cranky and trying to change the European Union rules on them.

Real Guerilla Marketing

This ad for has been appearing for some time in Backstage the newspaper for actors (and by proxy, waiters and dog walkers). I’m not sure what to make of this. A communist guerilla says that artists deserve health insurance? What’s next, Mao demanding artists get car insurance? Perhaps Stalin wants artists to have discounted dry cleaning? What would Kim Jong Il propose? Maybe subsidized theatre tickets for the people.
Che is not on the same level as Stalin, Mao, and Kim, mind you. He didn’t get a chance to kill millions before he was dispatched by Bolivians, but he did have a hand in the death of plenty of folks. He was a jungle-dwelling communist rebel and comrade of Fidel Castro, for God’s sake. He ordered the lock-up and execution of “deviants” and “anti-revolutionaries.” He’s no John F. Kennedy.
Speaking of: Che was in favor of the Cuban missile crisis escalating to nuclear war. The dashing revolutionary icon thought a better world could be created in the aftermath. Presumably he’d suggest that not only artists deserve health insurance, but all folks suffering from fallout radiation and third-degree burns.
Here’s a cute quote: “Blind hate against the enemy creates a forceful impulse that cracks the boundaries of natural human limitations, transforming the soldier in an effective, selective and cold killing machine. A people without hate cannot triumph against the adversary.”
Who said that? Bin Laden? Hamas? Hitler? Nope. The cute, cuddly, face-on-a-t-shirt guy.
Perhaps the ad agency that chose spokesmodel Che is the same one currently at work trying to convince us how great the Saudis are.