Surrealist Doodle

Surrealist Doodle
This was used as the cover of Karawane in 2006 and I have included it in on a number of bags and postcards over the years. Someone on the subway asked me if it was a Miro. I was very flattered!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Qwest Bundling: for misfits and psychopaths

Every time I watch a Qwest commercial, I find myself spontaneously rewriting/re-enacting the commercial, usually from the perspective of CSI or that show that has Mr. Big from Sex & the City on it. Remember the one with the obnoxious father running down his son? Always number 2. Couldn’t win the spelling bee, the track meet, number two in his class. In what universe is being number 2 in your graduating class a failure? I think of Bill Cosby who once did a comedy routine in which he said that no one celebrates number two, even though it’s equally an accomplishment. Would you rather go to the world series or not, even if you don’t win. Be in the Superbowl? How about Vice President?


But no, this horrible, dysfunctional dad not only runs down his son, but takes pleasure in doing so in front of his fiancĂ©e. It ends with the guy holding up a foam hand with two fingers that says we’re number two. Am I the only one who sees where this is going?


“The victim was found bludgeoned to death with this small trophy and this foam finger stuck up his . . . well . . . you know.”


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The most recent one has a fellow who’s telling his paper boy about his new Qwest bundle, as he’s already told the whole neighborhood about it. At the end the kids says “so I guess with all the money you’re saving you can start tipping me.” The guy (who used to play Lois’s co-worker on Malcolm in the Middle) says “A tip? I’ll give you a tip . . ..”


I once stiffed a paper boy. I was working a summer internship and my money was really bad and I had overdrafts all over town – kind of like now – and the paperboy wrote me a letter asking me to pay him and there were little tear stains all over the letter which is why I still remember it 25 years later.


So that’s why I always imagine the paperboy saying “Yeah, you cheap jerk. I got a tip for you too. Watch your *&$! windows for bricks crashing through. ”

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Then there’s the one with the guy who just got Qwest and is suddenly holing himself up in the house. Extreme paranoia rules the day. What’s that van doing outside the house. How long does it take to deliver flowers?


There are several answers to this. Maybe it’s “Flowers By Irene” like on the Simpsons. Maybe the flower guy is doing the neighbor lady, since we later learn that Charlie or Fred or whomever usually comes home late on Wednesday. It’s odd that this fellow would know that, and I often speculate that maybe he’s been doing the neighbor lady. So maybe it’s fortuitous that this guy was getting Qwest installed the one time that the neighbor comes home early. Count your lucky stars, Sparky.


But most disturbing is when he picks up his cat Mr. Pickles to see if he’s wearing a wire. Am I the only one who sees the end to this? Cutting open his cat to see for sure. Eventually standing on top of the house with a sniper rifle. Can anyone say Unabomber?

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What exactly is the message of these commercials? That Qwest bundling is the choice for people with no social skills, who are paranoid schizophrenics or have dysfunctional families? If the closest relationship you’ll ever have is through your cable tv and wireless connection, if you increasingly can’t relate to other people, then boy, have we got a deal for you! Once we leave, you can close up all the blinds and windows and never have to leave your home again. Forget boinking the lady next door. Forget having a friendly relationship with your paperboy. And your dad? What a slave-driving jerk. It’s all about you now, baby. Forget ‘em all.


The thing is, American advertising is making us stingier and stingier. “Nobody
better lay a finger on my Butterfinger.” Doritos? “Get your own bag.” It’s the logical endgame to these kinds of ads. It’s not about sharing the love, teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony. This is the new millennium. We’re all paranoid, selfish, greedy, self-indulgent onanists who can’t share and don’t have to, so there. The Qwest commercials are just the latest and most egregious at the moment. They seem comically absurd on the surface and are ripe for parody, but they are also just one of many things gradually chipping away at our civility and our sense of community.

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