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Dear Coca-Cola

Dear Coca-Cola:

Please take a minute to review your situation. I realize that it must seem important to keep up with the Joneses (and I mean that figuratively; I don’t seriously believe the Jones Soda company is any significant threat to you), but REALLY. There are now so many different Coca-Cola products on the market (the latest being Coca-Cola Blak, which by the way tastes like a badly mixed Kahlua and Coke) that it is getting nearly impossible to walk into a convenience store and exit carrying a Coke and a pack of cigarettes. Not that it’s your business about the cigarettes, but …

I should think that your experience with “New” Coke (and admit it, you blew it there and in some tizzy over celebrity endorsements for Pepsi you listened to somebody who probably should have been committed and “changed” the Coke formula) would have taught you something. Keeping up with the Joneses did not help you there — and in fact, probably started Michael Jackson’s downward spiral thanks to his endorsement of your competitor’s product. Stick to what you’re good at. Stick to what works. Plain Coke works. Real Coke drinkers (who are your audience anyway) drink it. And isn’t that what you want, anyway? A devoted power base for whom if asked “Is Pepsi OK?” will say “Hell, no.” and drink tap water before substituting anything for a Coke. Those real Coke drinkers don’t need lime, cherry or vanilla varieties. Most of ’em don’t need Diet, Caffeine Free, Caffeine Free Diet, etc. either. Haven’t you noticed? Like the substance that used to be an ingredient in your formula, what you have is STILL pretty damned addictive. So don’t mess with it; don’t gussy it up, don’t change the packaging, the formula or the varieties. They’re simply not necessary. And here’s why:

Coca-Cola, not any other brand of carbonate beverage, is asked for nationwide. When someone requests a soda, soft drink, soda pop, a cold drink or a pop, chances are they mean Coca-Cola. Hell, sometimes ANY kind of soft drink is referred to as a “Coke”. Perhaps that’s because with the exception of Big Shot Rootbeer (which is only available in and around the New Orleans area anyway), and perhaps Verner’s Ginger Ale (likewise geographically limited, albeit to the Midwest rather than Midsouth) Coca-Cola is the most consistently satisfying carbonated beverage ever created. It also, with the aforementioned Big Shot Rootbeer again excepted, is the most logical, statistically preferable additive to any number of alcohol based cocktails. Who asks for an “Rum and RC” or “Jack and Pepsi”? A Bacardi and Tab? Get real.

So think about it, Coca-Cola. Focus on what you’re good at, and forget the short-term, fancy-pants fads and those “Coke drinkers” who think Coke isn’t good enough as is. They are NOT Coke drinkers.

Sincerely,
A Lifelong Coca-Cola Drinker (except for that short stretch of years, when due to the proximity of the Pepsi bottling plant to my grandmother’s house in rural Ohio, I was forced to swill things like Teem).

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A Witch’s Daughter

I watch my daughter grow. She finds the patriarchy’s walls,
once comforting and so secure, now quickly closing in;
and the consumer culture, bred in bright and shiny malls,
begins to question her reluctance to wallow in sin.

The icons, once so well preserved, expose their peeling paint,
and what chivalry she sought and took for granted
has now begun its slow campaign to try her as a saint;
rock solid faith by doubt has been supplanted.

She still retains naivete: that goodness will be found
behind even a callous smile, despite a hurtful word;
and yet behind her youth’s bravado, a glimpse of profound
and growing disillusion a keen eye may now observe.

So soon she plans to leave this place of shelter,
not knowing much, if anything, about the world outside.
Like Icarus, despite a father’s warning it will melt her
wings, she thinks it bravery, instead of suicide.

How much the world remains a swirl of danger,
her magazines don’t dare to publicize.
Instead, they speak inanities and fashion,
and only growing old they criticize.

My daughter. What this world of men empowered
will teach her, if she has the strength to learn,
is sadly, you are valued ’til deflowered,
and then, if you’re not careful, you get burned.

But still, to claim your self is worth the struggle;
to know, to dare, and keep a silent tongue.
It must be so, for in this world of Muggles,
what secrets are worth keeping, keep you young.

14 FEB 2005

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Brando

The last of the icons remaining to us
whose methods have become the norm,
whose portrait of rebellion created the fuss
that pushed us from the eye to the storm

and in just a few lines, or gestures, inspired
a lost generation to gather, and name
its enemies. He watched, and grew tired
of pale imitations, but never blamed

the audience, who were not born to follow,
but rather the great machine churning out trash;
recognized his own failing, too — that hollow
morality that could not refuse the cash.

The greatness of men is found in their flaws;
there is no perfection that can so inspire,
if only because how we deal with the raw
and festering wounds in our lives, and aim higher

than mere entertainment, or paychecks, or fame
and are willing to risk all of that, for some cause
(which although perhaps shallow or just some wild game,
is the crucible in which our apathetic ice thaws).

So ramble on, mumble on, show warts and all;
The goal is not merely to light up the screen,
but more than that, to illustrate that a fall
is a clear testament of an effort, unseen

to claim an authentic soul, one not for sale
at any price, and through the feral and wild lands
of our dreams, to be willing although sometimes frail
to grasp at a greatness with your own hands.

02 JUL 2004

One of the ways you could describe James Dean is as a figure standing with both arms outstretched, one side Marlon Brando saying, “Up yours,” and the other side, Montgomery Clift saying, “Help me.” — paraphrased from The Mutant King: A Biography of James Dean, by David Dalton

Kowalski was always right, and never afraid. He never wondered, he never doubted. His ego was very secure. And he had the kind of brutal aggressiveness that I hate. I’m afraid of it. I detest the character. — Marlon Brando on Stanley Kowalski

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