General Motors Commercial Hits New Low

One of the most popular TV commercials right now is disgusting, absolutely stomach-turning. You know the one: A little boy is being taught to salute by his older brother. Then, just as Grandma and Grandpa (Gramps is wearing a Vietnam vet hat) step out onto the Norman Rockwell porch, a Chevy Equinox pulls up with Mommy at the wheel. Daddy steps out of the SUV in full camouflage. The little tot runs to him and salutes. Anthem-like music swells. A baritone voiceover says, “Bringing heroes home for generations. Just another reason Chevy runs deep.” Pardon me while I puke.

Look, I have no problems teaching little boys and girls how to salute. And I’m all for people buying American automobiles, but I find it appalling that in order to sell a gas-guzzling SUV we use war and soldiering and parental separation. Chevrolet has a long history of this, by the way. When I was about the age of the little boy in the commercial, Dinah Shore was singing “See the USA in your Chevrolet, America’s the greatest land of all.” In the 1970s they gave us a foot-tapping jingle about “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.” But their first step into murky waters was not long after 9/11 when they had John Mellencamp sing “This Is Our Country” as we watched a montage of kitchen-sink Americana—from Rosa Parks to first responders, small-town homecoming parades to Dale Earnhardt, county fairs to the twin tower memorial skylights. The message being, “if you’re a real American you’ll buy a Chevy.”

This recent spot hits a new low. It tells us that if we teach a little boy to emulate our servicemen and servicewomen, and if he honors them with a salute, then one day, if he’s lucky, if he can survive boot camp, ruthless enemies, land mines, and a diet of ready-to-eat tins of beef stew, he can, if he has decent credit, buy a goddamn car. Just another reason Chevy runs deep? Just another reason General Motors should be ashamed.

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Who Reads the Daily News on Saturday?

I have found quite possibly the worst way to spend a dollar in Philadelphia. Buy the Daily News. On Saturday. This past Saturday, it was a whopping 40 pages, including the front and back cover and headline pages. And with very few exceptions, there was absolutely nothing in it that wasn’t in the same day’s Inquirer. The most accessible English translation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace has 1,281 pages, and Amazon is selling it for $14, including shipping. When you do the math, you realize the Saturday DN is twice as expensive as the Greatest Novel Ever Written. Of course the other thing that the Saturday edition of the DN has in common with War and Peace is that hardly anyone really reads it. I’m figuring the new owners of the two papers must have the same problems that the old owners had: how to phase out the Saturday edition. The DN is a read-while-riding SEPTA paper. An on-the-hopper-at-work paper. An over-my-burger-at-a-lunch-counter paper. And all of these activities take place, for the most part, Monday through Friday. I loved the Daily News once. Great and funny writers like Conlin, Stan Hochman, Larry Fields, Pete Dexter. And the headlines! When Marina had Lee exhumed: “Oswald Still Dead!” Or more recently, when Jeff signed Michael: “Hide Your Dogs!” But now? I hate to say it. A combined Philadelphia Daily Inquirer would serve this town just as well. And they should start with Saturday.

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Dude, Where’s My Wheelchair?

“Can I please have a wheelchair?” I asked the x-ray technician. He seemed a little surprised, but said, “Yeah, sure. Let me find one.”

“Find one?” I thought. It was an emergency room. Shouldn’t wheelchairs be pretty accessible? Read more »

Remind Me: Why Can’t SEPTA Run On Time?

As I stood on the train platform yesterday morning, not-so-patiently waiting in the rain for the R3 as its scheduled 7:35 a.m. arrival time came and went, it occurred to me—not for the first time—that this train debacle makes no sense. Why is it that we can launch people to the moon, perform surgery on tiny fetuses in the womb, reattach severed limbs, but we can’t figure out how to make trains run on time? Read more »

I Don’t Care About Your Facebook Relationship Status

My college boyfriend and I, who make the most un-mushy couple on Facebook, both have friends and young family members who litter our news feeds with the most eye roll-inducing, lovey-dovey statuses. We like to “call” when they will break up or get dumped. Ten out of 10 times, I see a change in relationship status pop up before the year’s end. Read more »

Planned Parenthood Needs Federal Funding

This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to ban federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Last Saturday, I cried in the lobby of the Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center, one of the Greater Philadelphia area’s 20 Planned Parenthood locations. Read more »

Remind Me Again Why Philly Cabs Suck

At 7 a.m. two Sundays ago, I was on my way to Mexico to get married. (Before I left the office that previous Friday, we were wrapping up our February feature on the state of the Philadelphia taxi system by Nick DiUlio, “Hell Called. It Wants Its Cabs Back.”) At a time when I should have been all giddy with excitement, I had a bitter Philly aftertaste in my mouth. Just a few hours earlier, I had called for a cab to the airport and was immediately funneled into the hold queue where I held. And I held. EIGHT minutes later, still no dispatcher. It was 5 a.m.; they couldn’t have been overwhelmed. I gave up. I dialed another taxi company, and a dispatcher said a driver was on the way. In a blurry-eyed, and now anxious state, we got all the suitcases on the front stoop, ready for the driver. When our cab pulled up, we threw everything in the trunk and jumped in the backseat. As the driver pulled away, I told him “Terminal C.” He paused and asked, “Where?” I repeated, “Terminal C,” then added for clarification, “The airport.” He said, “They told me 20th and Arch.” That’s when we realized this cab was not our cab and was intended for someone else. Yet the driver had said nothing but “Good morning” as we loaded our four pieces of baggage (where else would we be going?) into the car. We were several blocks away by then, and that’s when the dispatcher called to tell me that our actual cab was outside our house. I answered to apologize and explain our innocent mistake. (Too bad I couldn’t also make amends with the poor sap in our ‘hood trying to get to 20th and Arch that morning.) The dispatcher spewed at me: “Never call here AGAIN,” and slammed down the phone. Wow. What a lovely send-off. Initially, I was bummed about someone yelling at me. Then, suddenly, I was relieved. Relieved that we had decided to get married away from Philadelphia. I’m going to invite 50 out-of-town guests to fly from around the country and experience this sort of Philadelphia hospitality? No thanks.

Advertising Circulars = Litter

I don’t know how it works in your neighborhood, but Spring Gardenians get an extra helping of litter on ad circular day. In the wee hours, a delivery guys drops off bundles of circulars on street corners—yes, in rain and snow—where they then sit exposed—in rain and snow (see picture)—for hours until another person arrives to distribute those that aren’t ruined to rowhouse stoops where they become “stoop” litter as renters step around them and over them until they eventually blow away and become neighborhood litter. Yes, I’m certain some people do want/need these coupons. So the city should force the companies to find out who those people are so they can deliver them to those people directly instead of contributing to our city’s trashy-street problem.

Icy Feelings About Cold-Weather Warnings

Winter in Philadelphia. After the record snow fall last year I was convinced that, thanks to the law of averages, this would be a mild winter. It is not. I am cold.

As I was hustling back from lunch, I came upon this sign.
Read more »

America the Stupid

There’s been a lot of hand wringing lately about how dumb America is getting. If you haven’t heard about it, students in the United States of America now rank anywhere from 15th to 31st in the world when tested in math, science and reading. What an outrage! Most of the reaction I heard was as American as baseball in July: We looked for someone or something to blame. Read more »

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