- MODERN WISDOM PRESENTS: THE MODERN WISDOM DYSLEXICON
DISSIDENT: Protester of established political system (Archaic); any
DODGE RAM. Which? Make up your mind.
DOGMA. A bitch.
DOLLAR. A paper penny.
EASTER. Where are the chocolate crucifixion scenes, where you get to chop off Simon’s ear and see it magically grow back again?
EATING. Eat to be a garbage can, because there are a lot of garbage cans that go hungry at night.
EGGS. Embryonic hens.
EGYPT: Typhus-infested heap of sand and cinders (Archaic); fount of all wisdom.
ELECTIONS. Like erections, they feel good at the time but afterwards there’s an enormous letdown.
ERIE PENNSYLVANIA. Where people from Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo go to die.
ESPIONAGE: Secrets kept from women.
- NOIR MISFORTUNE COOKIES
- The dentist will not see you without an appointment.
202. Even a quick and painless death will be denied you.
203. No one considers you anybody special.
204. Those fiendish voices in your head are actually real.
206. You will never be forgiven for the pain you caused.
207. You are no real man–you are only a weakling.
208. You will be mutilated by a vengeful doctor.
209. They will laugh as they refuse to hear your case.
210. Great misfortune is far too good for one like you.
211. A drunken spiteful nurse will handle you too roughly.
212. Your quavering superstitions are self-fulfilling prophecies.
213. Those you seek to impress despise your fawning attitude.
214. You are easy prey for those who would wrong you.
215. You have been prescribed the wrong dose of medication.
216. Once on the white horse you will never get off.
217. Every day you live the pain will only get worse.
218. Your eyes reveal that you were born to lose.
219. Your crimes do not allow you restful sleep.
220. Innocent you may be, but they’ll hang you anyway.
221. In time your black despair will only worsen.
222. You have already been judged, and been found wanting.
223. Your personal Bounty Hunter is the world’s best.
224. You will flunk night school and go back to jail.
225. By day you condemn sins and by night commit them.
226. You cannot dodge the landlady forever.
227. The lousy fuzz will never believe you, an ex-con.
228. The fat man in the white suit will betray you.
229. The landlady has reported your activities to the police.
230. That woman you wronged is a widowed mobster’s daughter.
231. What is your shoe size? Cement overshoes await.
232. Men with banjos will make your life a living hell.
233. Shoot yourself now, to spare yourself a fate far worse.
234. The world is nothing but great suffering and hungry worms.
235. You will not escape to fight another day.
236. That Feeb you’ll try to rob has an iron grip.
237. The slimy, drunken drummer is the secret mastermind.
238. The hostile circus clown blames you for his broken heart.
239. The Detective assigned to your case is named “Bulldog”.
240. They will never stop until they have completely broken you.
241. Your worst foe holds all the cards, and knows it.
242. Drug lords believe you are a government informant.
243. They are already gloating about your inevitable downfall.
244. Your mother never forgave that you were born a boy.
245. Nothing you can say will ever change their minds.
246. The jury has been bribed, so you are certainly doomed.
247. Your in-laws are desperately eager to rat you out.
248. All the Boys still remember that Sinatra called you a Fink.
249. Your abject begging will only further incite sadistic atrocities.
250. The townfolk eagerly await your come-uppance.
251. That dame you bedded is a psycho Cop’s ex-wife.
252. Both the Mob and the Fuzz are gunning for you.
253. Broken Tail-light, Corpse in Trunk–Next Stop, Gas Chamber.
254. Your psychiatrist is not deceived by your feigned insanity.
255. One final score? It was a set-up from the start.
256. For you, April Showers bring Funeral Flowers.
257. Soon, even the stool-pigeons will shun you.
258. You will murder a Hobo over a can of sardines.
259. You should have thrown the hatchet into a deeper pond.
260. Police choppers will notice your 360 at the roadblock.
261. You were born an Outlaw, but now it’s official.
262. Personal revenge is sweet–until you are the victim.
263. Crying and screaming–your first moments, and your last.
264. You should have cleaned your pistol before the bank job.
265. You say you’ve kicked, but the Pusher Man knows better.
266. A future undertow will drag your carcass completely down.
267. You think you’re smart, but a doublecrossing dame is smarter.
268. The girl you molested is a childless Mafioso’s niece.
269. They are determined to stop you before you kill again.
270. The train has left the station–you’re not on it.
271. You were a Chump, loaning Shylock money to a Dame.
272. They’ll only be happy when they see your rotting corpse.
273. You shouldn’t have poisoned that policeman’s Beagle.
274. They blacked your mother’s eye–you must kill them all.
275. Seven years you kept your nose clean–not long enough.
276. Angry beggars will steal the clothing from off your back.
277. Drunken Joyride; Hit & Run; Three-Time Loser; 20 Years.
278. Even your dog considers you despicable.
279. Anything you tell them will only make it worse.
280. Your Higher Power has determined you will die a drunk.
281. You are hooked on pain pills; the doctors don’t care.
282. Soon, even your sycophants will mock you.
283. You will be arrested for eating sausages on a bus.
284. The circus clowns are actually zombies.
285. You will arrested for inciting a riot at a carnival.
286. Watch out, Mister! If she can’t have you, nobody can.
287. You will drunkenly mishandle forty-five sticks of dynamite.
288. Get a grip on yourself; you look like a Bum.
289. You are listed in the Encyclopedia of Crime.
290. Do not tell them where the “sweetbreads” come from.
291. That lush you tried to roll is an undercover cop.
292. Why don’t you get wise to yourself and blow town?
293. They will call you a ball of fire–literally.
294. YOU enjoy your work–but the Police do NOT.
295. No one is fooled by your happy smile.
296. Nobody loved you but Dolly, and they made you kill her.
297. There is breaking news, but it is all bad.
298. You are too old to run and too fat to hide.
299. Your blackmail victim will arrange to have you killed.
300. You should’ve kept it on the q.t.–too late now.
Back in the drug-suffused sixties I was but a lad of tender years,
and the kaleidoscopic array of substances on offer were of little
interest to me, although I was quite taken with a frantic if not, in
fact, frighteningly manic little broadcast ditty which went thus:
Get a little lift, take Vivarin
Get a little lift, take Vivarin!
Not since reading Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” in which Jurgis
Rudkis serenaded his Lithuanian family with his maddeningly repetitive
rendition of “In the Good Old Summertime,” had I been so entranced by
the stupefying potential of cheap music.
But the ghouls at the Vivarin ad agency weren’t quite through with me
yet. Witness the following, highly sentimental 1985 scenario, which I
have taken the liberty of dubbing, “If You Don’t Graduate, We’re
For those of you without the benefit of advanced computer technology
such as youtube, I will summarize this poignant playlet.
A young woman has, judging from her sweater and
highprole-cum-bargain basement bourgeoise feathered hairdo,
haphazardly hunkered down at the local institution of higher
education. Let’s assume she lives in the Jan Miner Dormitory at
Palmolive Dish Liquid Community College. This busty but slightly drab
midinette is apparently hellbent on landing a spoiled and rather
dimwitted young scion of the middling to lower-upper mercantile
class. (I am assuming that the stolid hunk’s
pappy made his bundle with some dumbass minor-league scam, such as
selling slightly used popsicle sticks to second graders, or hawking
off-brand auto parts to purblind septuagenarians, or palming diluted
Penicillin off onto impoverished bohunks, or some such.)
Unfortunately for the young lady, her big plans for matrimony and a
life filled with screaming brats and her future husband’s alcoholic
shenanigans threaten to be derailed by the Big Stupe’s inability to
pass his final exams.
This, so far, is the backstory.
Into his den she strides, happy as a daft moggy with a catnip collar,
when she espies Lunko fast asleep with his head on his desk, with
presumably only hours to go until the big test.
She then delivers the following deathless line of monologue with all
the ferociousness of the powercrazed Barbara Stanwyck in “The Violent
Men”: “Wake UP! If you don’t graduate, we’re THROUGH!”
Thoroughly duped and cowed by this display of feminine animus, he
lethargically croaks, “I’m bushed!”
It is here that the sweater girl lashes into her dozey Romeo with the
forceful avidity of a god-intoxicated Maenad preparing to give suck to
a wolf cub. “Heah,” she crows, “Revive with Vivarin…helps wake yew
UP.” And then the shameless hussy literally wraps her sinister pink
coils around the halfwakened dumbbell’s hapless neck while proffering
what might as well be labeled, in boldface letters, “THE FORBIDDEN
At which point the hearty voice of Zeus from out of the clouds booms
out the information that “Government appointed experts” have approved
the stuff as safe. (Presumably this omnipotent voice is referring to
the omniscient Food and Drug Administration, which has, in fact,
grudgingly allowed that the principal stimulating ingredient in
coffee, tea, cocoa, aspirin, soda pop, and even ice cream is, in fact,
generally recognized as safe.)
Goaded by the shrieking caffeine Harpy, the young fellow, still in the
throes, it seems, of having been wakened from a badly needed
restorative dream, rather groggily endorses the rather sinister pills
with the dubious encomium, “Revive…with Vivarin!”
Alas, the master playwrights writing circa long-ago October 1985 have
tragically left us with only a fifteen second fragment. Here’s the
suspenseful part. What happens next? Some of the greatest literary
minds have grappled with this conundrum, but nobody yet has emerged
with a definitive answer. The dramatic question needing to be resolved
is as follows: Does Diploma Boy actually marry the Vivarin whore–or
do they break up three days before he gets the sheepskin?
I’m guessing the former. I’m hoping the latter.
- THE WORK OF DOGFISH GINGERY: AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
Professor Gingery has spent nearly the whole of his career on his monumental and controversial work titled “Adacalypsis: An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Modern Household Gods; or An Inquiry Into the Origin of Ad Figures of all Languages and Nations, but Principally Restricted to the United States.”
To quote one critc, “Professor Gingery [is] convinced that a high civilization will someday be reconstructed out of the classic tropes of what modern civilization has utilized to replace the “household gods” of the ancients; namely, the ad figures which flourished at the height of the “commodity culture” of the United States, particularly between at the high tide of its empire, ca. 1914-1973.”
Gingery believed that these figures flourished during that era because they all expressed some compelling need of the American people for a fleeting sense of security in “a world gone seemingly mad with its proxy wars between leviathans” who, for the most part “merely fought in defense of the perpetuation of their own ‘national brand’.” (In this he was probably influenced by the work of English Formalists.) He controversially identifies some of these as “The fasces; the eagle, the rising sun; John Bull, mother Russia; Marianne, and that ancient symbol, the swastika (inverted).”
His research has lasted some 40 years. Another commentator has noted, “Influenced by the thinking of the Russian formalists, [Gingery] attempted to (1) establish the existence of a universal thematic “deep structure” of this peculiar, commodity-based quasi-religion, (2) to trace its development, and (3) sought to definitively limn its significance to the development of contemporary mores.” Gingery further believed “the evolution of these ad figures [gave] the scholar piercing insights into the knowledge of archetypal phenomena, which wholly held neither media nor commerce as intermediary in man’s perpetuation of the institution of the nuclear family.” (For instance, during any given era, characters such as the “Ajax Pixies” [ca. 1948-59] could, owing the changing circunstances, be entiresly superceded by the powerful and omnicompetetnt “Ajax Knight” .
Gingery significantly noted that such ad figures (or “devices”)–often taking form as a “fabulous half-man and half beast,” or as “powerful demigods,” or even as “golemesque animated commodities,”–all had in common the perpetuation of a form of “linguistic dislocation” which was “more characteristic of poetry than of myth, per se, although mythic elements provided a superstructure for the meaning embeded within [both the form and the “device”.]”
This highly sought after book is extremely rare. Three volumes (to date). Partial Contents:
ORIGINS: TOWARD A GENERAL THEORY
Probable Origins of Commodity Branding in the Rome, France, the United Kingdom and later, the United States.
The First Rules of the Ancient Copywriters.
Symbols and Ideograms.
Palindromes, Puns, and Assonance, and their use.
Phallic and Yonic Simulacra.
The Use of The Cosmic (Sun, Moon, and Stars).
The Great God “Buy”.
Origin of the Adoration of the Brand.
The Word, the Press, and the Printer’s Devil.
Character of the Type-heavy Testament
Orthography and the Use of Space
The Onset of the Age of Advertising.
Meta-commerce–The Conversion of Commodities to Cash and Cash to Commodities
MULTIPLICITY: TOWARD A FLUID TYPOLOGY
The Great Ur-ad Symbols (Michelin Man; Laughing Cow; Gold Dust Twins; Quaker Oats Man; The Dutch Boy, et al.)
Duality, Tension and Complexity (Buster Brown and His Dog Tige, Sailor Jack and his dog, Bingo; The Coppertone Girl)
The Satanic Influence (Underwood Deviled Ham Devil; Proctor & Gamble; Arm & Hammer; The Green Giant)
The Pagan Sprite (Speedy Alka-Selter; Snap Crackle & Pop; The Keebler Elves, The Ajax Pixies; The Campbell Twins)
The “Hero’s Quest” (Captain Tootsie; Man From Glad; the Ajax White Knight, Choo-Choo Charlie; Mr. Clean)
The Wise Counselor (Madge the Manicurist; Josephine the Plumber; Rosie the Waitress; The Man With The Texaco Star)
The Bountiful Mother (Chicken of the Sea Tuna; Land O’Lakes Indian Maiden; Mrs. Butterworth; Betty Crocker)
The Animal Friend (Laughing Cow; The Budweiser Clydesdales; Elsie the Cow)
Mythic Protectors (The Esso Tiger; the Eveready 9 Lives Cat; The Energizer Bunny)
The Omniscient Loki (Bozo; Ronald McDonald; Burger King; Mickey Mouse; Chuck E. Cheese)
The Mad Fool (Sonny the Cuckoo Bird; Trix Rabbit; Toucan Sam; The Quik Bunny)
The Self-Extinguishing Device (Ol’ Lonely, The Maytag Repair Man; I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter; Volkswagen)
The “Product Martyrs” (Mr. Whipple; Charlie the Tuna; Lucky Charms Leprechaun; Fred the Baker)
The Self-Abnegating Servant (Rastus the Cook; Aunt Jemima; Uncle Ben)
The Wandering Savant (Popeye; The Old Spice Sailor; Sugar Bear; Mr ZIP; The Marlboro Man)
The Maiden Harlot (Erin Esurance; The Swedish Bikini Team; The Starbucks Melusine; The Sun-Maid Raisin Girl)
The Sirens (Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy; The Snuggles Family Softener Bear; The Pine Sol Lady)
The Agon (The Hamburglar; the Cookie Crisp Crook; Frito Bandito; Punchy and Oaf)
Disease and Disgust (Dirty Sludge, Sticky Valve, Gummy Ring, Blackie Carbon; The Raid Insects)
GENERALITIES: PARADOXES, CONUNDRUMS, INCONSISTENCIES
“Cover Their Faces With Shame, That They May Seek Your Name” (Psalms 83:16).
The Manichaean Paradox of ‘Brand X’
The Chosen Brand Versus The Leading Brand
Crossovers From Other Mythologies
The Ephemeral Nature of Branded Consumables
The Infant as the Adoration of All Stations
The Descent Into and Return From Hell
The Omnicompetent Sponsor
Advertisers Acknowledge More Than One “Sponsor”
The War of All Against All
Advertising Follows the Season(s)
Advertising Effaces Time
Disingenuous Conduct of Ad Creators
Dramatic Irony in the Commercial
“The People Shouted With a Great Shout, And The Wall Fell Down Flat” (Joshua 6:20)
1,432 pages, ISBN 1-67560-382-1, $79.00
“A magazine is simply a device to induce people to read advertising.” –James Collins
“In the factory we make cosmetics; in the drugstore we sell hope.”–Charles Revson
“You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements.”–Norman Douglas
“Mass demand has been created almost entirely through the development of advertising.”–Calvin Coolidge
“Advertising is an environmental striptease for a world of abundance.” –Marshall McLuhan
“Advertising degrades the people it appeals to; it deprives them of their will to choose.”–C. P. Snow
“Advertisers in general bear a large part of the responsibility for the deep feelings of inadequacy that drive women to psychiatrists, pills, or the bottle.”–Marya Mannes
“Society drives people crazy with lust and calls it advertising.” –John Lahr
“History will see advertising as one of the real evil things of our time. It is stimulating people constantly to want things, want this, want that.” –Malcolm Muggeridge
“I can not think of any circumstances in which advertising would not be an evil.”–Arnold Toynbee
“Advertising – a judicious mixture of flattery and threats. “–Northrop Frye
“The art of publicity is a black art.”–Learned Hand
“Advertising is ‘an evil service’.” –Aneurin Bevan
“Time spent in the advertising business seems to create a permanent deformity like the Chinese habit of foot-binding.”–Dean Acheson
“Advertising has annihilated the power of the most powerful adjectives.”–Paul Valéry
“Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear the better “–George Santayana
“If we define pornography as any message from any communication medium that is intended to arouse sexual excitement, then it is clear that most advertisements are covertly pornographic.”–Philip Slater
“Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.”–George Orwell
- SITUATIONIST NURSERY RHYMES
LITTLE JACK HORNER
Little Jack Horner sat in the corner, eating his Christmas Pie. He put in his thumb and he pulled out a plum and said “My selection of this plum, which clarifies my intention to make an ideological statement, symbolizes what Sigmund Freud would call a food-dirtying motif, and represnets the expropriative greed of a state of arrested development, stemming from a childhood burdened by affective deprivation, due to the depresations of a ruthlessly exploitative mercantilist society, which rules and fragments the nuclear family by means of the iron law of wages. Nevertheless, what a good boy am I!”
OLD KING COLE
Old King Cole was ruthless in his oblivious exploitation of his objectified and thoroughly pacified salaried robots, who brought him his pipe, bowl, and fiddlers three, stupefying palliatives which made the otherwise intolerable boredom of his hegemonic regime palatable.
THIS LITTLE PIGGIE
This little piggie went to market (in spite of the massive dislocations caused by the breakdown of the spectacular commodity economy); this little piggie stayed home (thereby demonstrating, by his refusal to participate in a corrupt system, the vigor of his struggle for autonomy); this little piggie had roast beef (and was thereby culpable of depriving the Third World of badly needed grain); and this little piggie had none (finally breaking once and for all the chain of Karmic retribution)–and this little piggie cried wee wee wee all the way home (demonstrating, in so doing, an admirable spirit of communal solidarity by refusing to be passionate about his own alienation.)