The best things in life are free. But you can keep ‘em for the birds and bees. I want money.
— Barrett Strong
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that, as I sit here in a post-Thanksgiving daze, I’m having a difficult time recovering enough to think seriously about work.
No, I’m not still in the throes of a tryptophan overdose, nor am I overstuffed with stuffing, on a sugar high from pecan pie or crammed full of cram ... er, cranberries.
My malaise leans more toward “Back in Black” fever, as I try to figure out just when it was this country did away with Thanksgiving and instead ushered in Black Friday as its newest — and most celebrated — holiday. It may have been the result of my “Black-out,” but I’m pretty sure I heard someone say New York officials had ushered in the new holiday by renaming one of its oldest traditions the Macy’s Black Friday Parade.
My memory’s a little fuzzy on that one, but if I’m not mistaken, Big Apple Mayor Michael Bloomberg made the announcement to the accompaniment of the now all-too-familiar “BOMP, BA-DONK, BA-DONK” guitar intro of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” that has run incessantly in TV ads for the last 24 hours.
(A side note here: I’d like to thank Walmart for ruining one of rock music’s truly classic songs for me. I went from loving “BIB” — from waiting for Brian Johnson to scream, “Back in black, I hit the sack, I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back,” after hearing Angus Young’s unforgettable intro — to turning the volume down on my TV during football games so that I don’t hear that intro one too many times, snap and toss a turkey leg or a full can of polar bear Coke at the TV screen. In protest, I have officially removed “Back in Black” from my list of Top 500 songs ever and will not consider its reinstatement for a period of at least two years.)
Look, I’m not one of those “we’re commercializing what should be a solemn holiday” or “I will not shop at a place where people say ‘happy holidays’ instead of ‘merry Christmas’ to me” — and I still haven’t figured out how that’s such a bad thing; it sure beats the heck out of “thanks for blowing your paycheck with us, sucker” — fanatics who seem to become even more demonstrative each year. And I also understand that with an economy that’s as lousy as it’s been in my lifetime, retailers need to squeeze every buck they can out of a public that hears the word “SALE” and starts salivating like one of Pavlov’s pooches.
But can’t we find some kind of happy medium? (I’d settle for a happy small at this point.) Can’t we find a way to inform consumers without pounding them over the head with a sledgehammer guitar riff and a series of inane quips meant to make us aware that if we don’t get up in the wee hours of the morning, stand out in the cold for a couple of hours and wait for the local retail outlets to open their doors, we’ll be among the losers who will spend too much money on inferior gifts that are sure to disappoint everyone on our holiday (“Oooooo, he said ‘holiday,’ I’m not going to buy anything at his yard sale!”) gift list?
I know the temptation to get into a gullible population’s pocketbook is too great for businesses to resist. And, besides, Black Friday is as entrenched now as the two-week hype that precedes the Super Bowl (another one of our holiest days). But in the spirit of compromise, couldn’t we have Congress enact a law that makes Black Friday ads illegal during football games at least? I mean, it’s not like the guys who watch football are the ones who are going to be on line at 11 a.m. Thanksgiving night looking for bargains.
Oh, I forgot. Congress has shut down until after the election. You couldn’t get Republicans and Democrats to pass a law saying that night follows day, lest they “help the other side” ... meanwhile the country slides just a little closer to the fires of hell.
I guess we’ll just have to wait for Jesse Jackson to wise up and file a class-action suit against companies that use the word “black” without paying him residuals.
Email Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.