You'll excuse me, but I had to giggle at the story about a woman named Betty Brown Casey offering Washington, D.C., a gift of $100 million $50 million for an official mayoral residence and $50 million to maintain or replace the city's diseased trees.
I'm not giggling at the tree part. That's unbelievably generous. This babe is dropping $50 million on wood! (The last jokers to do that ran the Gore campaign.) I'm laughing at the mansion part. The deal stipulates Washington's mayoral residence has to be called "Casey Mansion." The story said it would be modeled after New York's Gracie Mansion.
This is a joke, right? Gracie Mansion. Casey Mansion.
What are Washingtonians supposed to do next to copy New York, build a really tall building, and call it "The Vampire State Building"? Oh, I know, in honor of how smoothly the outgoing president left office, they'll build a downtown sports arena and call it, "Madison Square Pardon"? Hahaha.
You know what else is funny? The ads I hear on the sports radio station on my way home at night. All the ads are about sexual potency and how to get it. One has a woman crowing about her husband's new found "stamina." She brags to her friend, "Jim is like he was when we first got married." And I always feel like saying: "Maybe if you hadn't laid on the couch eating bon-bons until you got fat as a house this wouldn't have happened. Your husband didn't need stamina, he needed a forklift.'
My favorite ad has an announcer shouting: "Better sex! More often!" Then there's a pause so the message sinks in: "Better sex! More often!"
And in the pause I always want to ask: "With whom? I mean, do you get a choice?"
Eventually, the announcer continues in a calmer tone about some product you take to assure potency. (This reminds me of a hair-growing drug a few years ago that warned of the possible side-effect of sexual dysfunction. This was a real Catch-22: You wanted hair so you'd be able to score chicks, but the drug impeded your ability to close the deal. And the new hair would fall out when you stopped taking the drug. My concern was, "How fast would the new hair fall out?" I just wanted to get to last call.) Hmmm, now that I think about it, isn't Erectile Dysfunction a great name for a reggae band?
The reason sports stations play impotence ads is because they're aiming at an audience of males between the ages of 25-54, and such "men's issues" are targeted at them. This surprised my friend Nancy, who said, "I always thought the audience for sports was 20-year-old guys in boxer shorts, lying in their beds all day, eating cold pizza. I thought their problems could be solved by visiting a job counselor, or their parole officer not by Viagra."
Nancy finds the parade of impotence ads absurd. "There's all the high volume sports talk, with guys screaming and yelling, their testosterone levels reaching critical mass. Then they cut to a commercial asking, 'Have you got a limp noodle?"'
Speaking of which, have you seen the attack ads on Campbell's Soup by Progresso? They have one where two 30-something women are talking. One of them is making some chicken noodle soup out of that familiar red-and-white can, when the second woman starts laughing at her. Says something like: You're still eating "condensed soup?" Grow up, honey. That soup is for dopes with the I.Q. of bacon fat. Plus, it tastes like moose phlegm. Try Progresso. Or do you want to be an imbecile and live in a trailer the rest of your life?
Hey, Campbell's is the mmmm-mmmm good soup. Campbell's soup is America! It's not like anybody ever said to Andy Warhol, "Hey, weirdo, how about painting a Progresso soup can?"
I know Visa kind of dumps on American Express when it points out that some two-bit sheep ranch in West Eckveldt only takes Visa. And Burger King runs those ads that say their thing is bigger than McDonald's thing. (Maybe they should advertise on sports radio.) But companies generally refrain from blatant trash talk. For example, you don't see Neiman-Marcus take out an ad that says: "Yo, Nordstrom's! Bite me!"
I read some stories on the feud between Campbell's and Progresso that say it began when some Campbell's ad execs jumped to Pillsbury, which owns Progresso. There was a fear that Progresso "would learn trade secrets." Like what, if you arrange the letters in Alphabet Soup it spells, "WE WORSHIP SATAN"?
Apparently, Campbell's has been feeling the pinch from Progresso. One of the reports said Campbell's was looking into "more convenient packaging." Come on, how much more convenient does it get than opening a can? This is like that new gizmo, the "egg wave" a container which allows you to cook an egg in a microwave. Seriously, how long does it take to make eggs that you need a shortcut? Standing over a frying pan for 30 freakin' seconds is a deal-breaker for you? What's the rush, is the Viagra wearing off?
Tony Kornheiser is a columnist for Creators Syndicate.