“Buy your gold at Eldstroms and tell them that Gordon Liddy sent you”. Thus ended another weird American TV commercial. If you can’t remember, Gordon Liddy was a Watergate burglar. Stunning, what ever next? “Buy your meat at Steako’s and tell them that Jeffery Darmer sent you”. Why should I respect a convicted felon’s investment advice but that leads me neatly into my story.
I was on a week long trip to the US zig-zagging my way from California to Washington via Ohio and Virginia. Along the way I rediscovered another America, not the raw urban chic of New York but a gentler, kinder and slightly stupider America. Now don’t get me wrong I love the US but when you get out of the main cities life becomes a bit hokier.
I was watching the local news in Santa Ana and the ads had me howling with laughter. They were almost exclusively for prescription medicines and they were a brilliant mix of over-promised life style claims and horrifying health warnings.
“If you’ve had a quadruple bi-pass your doctor will tell you to take it easy. No need;with ViagraLax you get rid of excess gas and gain the sexual powers of a 17 year old quarter back. Just ask your doctor”. Then the Voice Over speeds up to that of a cattle auctioneer on methamphetamine.
Can cause side effects including fainting, strokes, nausea, ulcers, blindness, Ebola, headaches, loss of motor functions, death, anal warts and projectile vomiting.”
But these ads were only equalled by the explosion in post credit crunch, culinary train wrecks called casserole meals. We’re not talking slow-cooked nutritional masterpieces like Irish stew but foul,glutenous slop that comes in cans. Your family will love Cambells tuna,broccoli and sweetcorn pasta bake. No they won’t. They will kill you and then barbecue your still warm carcass as revenge for serving them tinned phlegm.
But it isn’t just the ads that are strange. The politics is weirder. I won’t dwell on the candidates who are universally dull and who give disingenuous a new meaning. The oddest is Palin the middle-aged,fantasy crumpet. I mean who wouldn’t dream of a woman in an Armani suit who can field dress a 400 pound bear.
What was truely wierd was that a bar owner has just painted a nude portrait of her which hangs proudly over the till at his trailer park drinking den. Now portraits of naked candidates are odd but he used his daughter as the life model. That’s creepily odd.
Another strange moment was dinner at a steak house called Mortons in Cincinnati. The waitress said that at Mortons they like to describe the menu rather than giving it to you to read (until after her performance). Maybe Mid-Westerners can’t read but she launched into a breathless, unpunctuated stream of verbal drivel that left me with my head in my hands.
The final slice of life that I found hard to grasp was a dry cocktail party at Proctor and Gamble. We were exiting their HQ at about 5.45pm and there were about 200 hundred people having a party all of whom were drinking Cokes and Sprite. You just would never see that in Europe.
And what about the towns we visited: Santa Ana, Cincinnati, Richmond? Safest to say – don’t bother.