Thursday, October 06, 2005

Les Singes De La Merde*

Unlike an earlier cashmere reference, my friend is in fact the inspiration here.

Got to thinking about Sea Monkeys, which I believe are brine shrimp in another life. They were in fact advertised in the back of most comic books in the sixties and early seventies when youth was still something to be financially exploited for it's relative stupidity.

Soon as we got past '74, the ads became more ominous in their shuffling of adult responsibility onto us. "Save your dad gas while you pedal your bike! Amazing battery recharger costs pennies per day!"

In the '80's there were probably recruiting ads for third world guerilla bands, the nineties were looking for a few good hackers and domain-raiders.

Today I think we're back to the gas-saving battery recharger.

Brine shrimp are crab like things that live in cocoon form in Junior Microscope Sets. Soak them in water overnight, slap 'em on a slide and watch them sort of flail about under your developing scientific eye. That's good for about an hour, then you start to wonder what a booger really looks like up close. Time to find little brother.

It's a testatment to the power of advertising that something you'd sooner describe as cooties can be pawned off as a pet.

Now, look at Sausage up there. Pet. Right? Says so right on the label. Google brine shrimp and tell me you're not looking at the cast of the new Broadway hit "Lice!"


There were other comic ads, if you care to remember.

One hundred and one soldiers for only $1.99

You get:

50 infantry
10 machine gunners
5 bazooka launchers
8 deserters
2 guys who pee their pants when something explodes
19 men who are trying to stay alive until they finish their tour and can safely go to college
1 satisfied mail order marketer

Later these ads showed up in Soldier of Fortune. You got the same amount of soldiers for a little more. The difference was you now had to feed them.

Then there were the sales gimmicks. Greeting cards, I think some were. Sell 18 dozen hundred count boxes, get enough points to trade in on a card game. Oh and let's not forget Grit. America's Hometown Paper until USA Today rolled into the game. Can somebody tell me if grit is still published? And who read it to begin with?

The real rag when and where I was growing up was something called "Allo Police." A scandal sheet of who had done outrageous bad things to whom in the remote corner of the universe we lived in. The paper sounded like the soundtrack to one of the Cousteau specials where the zodiacs go charging after some school or another and the men basically keep trying to get the ship to shore going by shouting "Allo, Allo?" into the non-functioning radios.

Maybe they shouldn't have bought them from the back of a comic book.

*for you non-Francophones working in the corporate world this translates to "Monkeys of the Shit". You may not have known the phrase but I'm sure there's one of them in one of the offices around you.


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