Brain Freeze!

After his party took a “shellacking” in the mid-term election, a chastened President Obama jokingly offered to host a “Slurpee Summit” with some of his antagonists. Earlier on, Obama had criticized the GOP for sitting back and “drinking Slurpees” while the Dems banged out policy. Humbled, he now resurrected the term to break the ice -so to speak.

Needless to say, 7-11 was ecstatic. With convenience store speed, the ubiquitous retailer seized the moment to create frenzy around their 45-year old brand. They promptly offered to cater Obama’s summit, offering red and blue Slurpees as well as purple ones, which would be the result of mixing the two together. On fire, the marketing department –presumably in conjunction with their ad agency- is launching a campaign emphasizing Slurpees ability to “bring people together.”

There’s no telling how fast and far 7-11 can go with this scheme. Clearly, the concept of a Slurpee Summit has legs, especially with regard to social media. Who wouldn’t “join,” “like” or be a “fan” of a Slurpee Summit? In terms of mass media, USA Today reported that 7-11 is taking out newspaper ads trumpeting the possibility of a summit. Probably in USA Today!

And to all of this buffoonery I say: why not? Of course it’s silly. And I suppose it makes light of the President. But hey, he started it. And whether we drink them or not, who in America doesn’t have a soft spot for this soft served delight? Slurpees are like the 4th of July and firecrackers. Brain freeze is a right of passage. Slurpees are awesome.

In my opinion, these are the things that make our industry a hoot. I can just imagine the light bulb going off over the copywriter’s head (or whomever) when he heard Obama’s crack. And then: “Wouldn’t it be great if…” Those words define what being a creative person is all about. Ah-ha moments, even silly ones like the Slurpee Summit, can happen to anyone at any time. We should embrace them.

Besides, wouldn’t it be something if Obama and his nemesis really did come together over Slurpees? Fallout from the election suggests there’s a lot of anger in our country. The political ads were downright nasty. This is the opposite of that. Good clean fun during challenging times. Make mine a Cherry Coke.

I’m sorry, folks but I need to go on a rant. Worse, it’s a vaguely political rant. Worse yet, it’s right winged! So bear with me and please DO let me know what you think.

Without going into specifics, I attend a meeting after work that has one primary purpose: helping afflicted people find a solution to a vexing and dangerous problem in their lives. It’s a good thing and I’m proud and privileged to be a member. So much so, I volunteered to be a part of the group’s governance; it’s secretary to be exact. This job requires I take meeting notes, update the phone list and other housekeeping tasks. Fine. I’m happy to do it. Service work is good for the soul. For me it’s necessary.

But then it got weird. At last week’s business meeting we bogged down in our own bureaucracy. One member wanted detailed records from previous meetings. Why? I don’t know. Not much had happened but he said it was “important that we maintain good governance.” Another member wanted one of us to call every single name on the meeting list to codify it. That’s a big homework assignment. I’m thinking why not just pass a pen and paper next meeting and get a short list of current members? “Not acceptable,” replied a meeting journeyman. “We have a process.” Yes we do. Unfortunately.

Needless to say, as secretary for this meeting I began to feel guilty for not doing my job. And something else: I got pissed off. It’s a neighborhood meeting for Christ’s sake. What the hell do we need all this government for? We collect a few bucks. We pay rent. We show up. In my view having precise and meticulous records has nothing to do with helping the sick people who come in. Frankly, it gets in the way. It makes helping feel like a tax instead of a blessing.

And thus I realized the part of me that is and always will be (gasp!) a Republican. In general, I don’t like big government because it consumes time and resources. Specifically, I don’t like big government because it hides its unctuous righteousness behind a screen of altruism: We “care” therefore we’re right. But not once during our 45-minute business meeting did anyone talk about how we were going to improve care to those in need. Instead it was all about finding busywork for an overabundance of dubious jobs.

After all that, I come home to a letter from the IRS requesting documentation on some aspect of my 2008 tax return. Argh! I wonder what bureaucrat was fulfilling his or her quota by sending me this intimidating letter. I pay my considerable taxes promptly and with precious few deductions. Now some drone in sector G wants more…

A lot of people might generalize that creative folks are democratic because they’re more soulful and artsy. Lord knows Democrats are friendlier to the arts than their Republican counterparts. Maybe so, but the creative process itself favors a more solitary existence. Less is more. One artist creates novels and paintings not several. Likewise ads made by committee are bound to mediocrity.

I don’t know where this is going. It’s a rant, right? Yet, with a number of big elections in November, I just might be annoyed enough to vote against type…against candidates who mistake process for progress.

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