Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, April 22, 2021


Nothing says Earth Day quite like a giant balloon-animal sculpture on the rooftop garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It’s not really made out of oversized balloons twisted into shape, of course (if that’s even possible/feasible?). It’s one of Jeff Koons‘ signature pieces, among a niche of balloon-imitation artworks that make him stand out in the pop-art scene.

Sadly, it seems that the open-air environment is not the optimal milieu for Koons’ pooch:

The biggest problem is scale. Seen in an indoor gallery, the elephantine, shiny metallic “Balloon Dog (Yellow),” which rises to 10 feet at its highest point, would have a weirdly imposing, slightly menacing presence. On the roof it appears dwarfed by the vast sky and by the open expanses of space to the south and west of the museum.

Further context might improve the presentation. Maybe the artist can be persuaded to add a few pieces of balloon-like dog turds to the rear, to simulate activity? I’d sure go see that.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/22/2008 01:22:05 PM
Category: Creative, New Yorkin'
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Something very off-kilter is going on in Milwaukee’s public-service advertising scene. Witness:

- A billboard on I-94 that warns against the hazards of driving the highway while distracted is itself criticized as being too distracting:

“When I tried reading every word on that sign, I started leaving my lane,” says one driver, in a report from the local TV station.

- This is in the wake of February’s anti-pedophilia ads for the Family Violence Partnership of Milwaukee, made unintentionally creepy with Photoshopped depictions of little girls with D-cup breasts.

Is the professional advertising community in Wisconsin really this inept at messaging? I can’t tell who did the highway ad; if it was Serve, who did the Family Violence Partnership pieces, that would actually be reassuring, because then at least the ineptness can be isolated. Otherwise, you’d have to conclude that Milwaukee’s got a serious dearth of qualified ad shops.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/22/2008 12:46:59 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Society
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In the same spirit as last year’s self-plagiarism, I’m commemorating today’s Earth Day observance with a blog rerun.

The year is 1990, the place is a dorm lounge in my alma mater, and the source material is an old TV with over-the-air reception only (pre-cable). Throw in my general 18-year-old boredom, and you get this improbable save-the-planet vignette:

My favorite Earth Day memory is a prank I played 13 16 17 18 years ago. I was sitting in my dorm lounge with a dormmate. We were flipping through the channels (no cable TV in the dorms back then–the dark ages!!), and catching a couple of news reports telling us it was Earth Day. Then we land on Home Shopping Network, just as they start rolling out their fur collection for display and sale.

It hit me: Furs? They’re hawking freakin’ furs on Earth Day? Come on!

Now, I wasn’t then, nor am I now, a hard-core environmentalist or animal-rights advocate. I’m sympathetic with those philosophies, to a point, but I eat meat, wear leather, etc. Nevertheless, some part of my sensibilities was offended by seeing such a bizarre juxtaposition. I think I was offended by the stupidity, or more likely ignorance, on display by HSN.

So, I decided to do something. I got my phone, dialed up the HSN order line, and as soon as the customer service drone answered, I yelled, “EARTH DAY! FUR IS MURDER! BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT!!”. I did it a couple more times after that. Then I got my dormmate to call too, on his phone; he did a very low-key version of same spiel (sans yelling–that was my schtick).

We had our fun, and decided to keep watching the channel to see if our childish actions had any on-air effect. Lo and behold, about 10 minutes after the last of our calls, the show host mentioned, “By the way, folks, today is Earth Day”, and then abruptly switched from the fur display to something else. We laughed our asses off! It looked like we had stuck it to the man!

Normally I’d let this recollection stand as is. But doing so seems to confuse some people. Therefore, I feel compelled to include something in the way of context and clarification. (I doubt the offended Home Shopping drones will even read this far down, but at least I’ve got it down for the record, and won’t have to bother with further response.)

It seems to be eluding some that the episode above happened in 1990. When I was 18 years old, btw — so the “childish” insult doesn’t faze me, as I practically was still a child at that point. Also, whatever call-center procedures that are in place now most likely weren’t in effect back then. So don’t bother citing current SOP because it probably doesn’t apply.

Secondly, I never state that the operators somehow relayed those crank calls to the broadcast booth. However, you can bet those calls were being monitored from a higher source, and from there filtered to what was going on on-screen.

Lastly: Whether or not my imagined cause-and-effect really happened, the sequence is where the humor is. It still makes for a funny story, which is why I look forward to recycling it yet again next year. :)

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/22/2008 11:58:03 AM
Category: College Years, Comedy, Political
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