Marketing To Consumers So You Can Get Less Product For The Same Price

Look Closely And You’ll Notice Changes In Packaging

As late, great comedian Bill Hicks once pointed out, marketing is one the banes of human existence.

Marketers are people who find a way to monetize everything and convince you that you need things that you don’t. Or worse they assume many consumers have suffered a bout of amnesia, and will believe that paying more for less product is a good thing.

The rising cost of raw materials has driven companies and their marketers to slyly pass along their increased costs.

The understanding among packaging and marketing people is that consumers do not like price increases under any circumstances. Therefore if you reduce the amount of product you are getting and keep the price the same, consumers either won’t notice or mind.

Whether it’s coffee, cleaning fluids, potato chips, chocolate, canned vegetables or paper towels; packages have been shrinking.

Where else does six equal twelve, except in the Mr. Mxyzptlk math world of Bounty paper towels?

A few years ago Tropicana reduced the packaging of their juice from 96 oz. to 89 oz. and the 64oz. container to 59 oz.

I called the 800 customer service number and foolishly asked Tropicana why they had done this.

The customer service representative replied to me with a supposedly straight face, that customers wanted new ergonomic packaging and preferred less juice! Continue reading

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Hugh Hefner Will Be Remembered – New York Times Hatchet Writers Will Be Forgotten

There Goes The New York Times Again

Attacking The Late Hugh Hefner

Hugh Hefner and playboy bunnies

Hugh Hefner is dead. Yet it took less than 48 hours for the New York Times to besmirch and defile the Playboy Magazine founder’s life.

In an article entitled “Let’s Talk About Hugh Hefner and His Political Legacy” the writers have come not to praise Hefner nor bury him but to throw dirt upon his memory.

Jennifer Schuessler along with New York Times culture writers Taffy Brodhesser-Akner, Amanda Hess and Wesley Morris wine and complain in their attempt to put a political spin on Hugh Hefner’s perceived faux pas and dismantle his social and cultural legacy.

The roundtable hatchet job on Mr. Hefner is the latest Times lunacy of spewing the paper’s vitriolic equalizing agenda into the record and rewriting history. The angry tone at this great man and his achievements are misplaced.

No one is saying Hugh Hefner was Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela or even Walt Disney. But Hugh Hefner was one of the most important progenitors of societal and political change in the 20th century. Hefner’s questioning of social mores and values made the world a better place. Hefner stood up to politicians, holy rollers and those who condemned everything sexual. Hugh Hefner was a hedonist, but he was an intellectual hedonist. If you doubt that, read the series of editorials Hefner wrote in the early 1960s entitled The Playboy Philosophy.

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Old New York In Photos #80 – The Main New York Post Office Broadway c. 1887

Main Branch Of New York Post Office Broadway, between Beekman and Ann Streets c. 1887

We return to one of the most striking and photographed structures of 19th century New York. The main branch of the New York Post Office which loomed over the southern end of City Hall Park for nearly 65 years.

We are looking north from Ann Street up towards Broadway (left) and Park Row (right).

The scene is typical of an average day in 1880s New York. We can see several trolleys at rest either having completed their runs or about to start them. Several delivery carts are scattered about nearby. A police officer stands in the middle of Broadway keeping an eye on things. A horse drawn hansom coach and driver are prominent in the foreground. Businessmen make their way about the city, many walking on the Belgian block street rather than the sidewalks. Telegraph poles and wires criss-cross Park Row and Broadway.

The hub of all this activity is the main branch of the New York Post Office, designed by Alfred B. Mullett and opened to the public on Sunday, August 29, 1875. Between 8 a.m and 8 p.m. it was estimated that between 20 – 30,000 people wandered into the new building. They passed slowly through its corridors gawking at the shiny new post office lock boxes, looking into delivery windows and buttonholing anybody who looked like an employee to ask questions.

Architecturally inspired by the French Renaissance style, the building proved to be wildly unpopular from the get go. Among the chief complaints about the Post Office was that it was ugly.

More importantly it was located in the wrong place. Continue reading

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Old New York In Postcards #17 – Riverside Drive

Postcard Views of Riverside Drive 1900-1920

Riverside Drive may not be the most famous street in Manhattan, but it is among the prettiest.

The natural beauty of the surrounding area made this parcel of Manhattan real estate an ideal setting for a park and residential development.

Up until the late 19th century there was not a whole lot of home building along this western portion of the city with the exception of a few mansions perched high along the river.

As transportation options continued to improve, Riverside Avenue began attracting wealthy New Yorkers and real estate developers to the west side. The opening of the Ninth Avenue Elevated in 1879 and the subway in 1904 made it possible to commute from the upper west side to New York’s business center downtown. In 1908 Riverside Avenue’s name was officially changed to Riverside Drive.

If Riverside Drive had been built as originally proposed by Park Commissioner William Martin in 1865, it would have been a 100 foot wide straight boulevard.

Fortunately that turned out to be impractical due to the natural topography of the area.

Riverside Drive looking north towards Grant’s Tomb 1912

In 1873 Frederick Law Olmsted the designer of Central and Prospect Park received the job of laying out Riverside Park and Drive. Olmsted realized that incorporating the existing landscape surrounding Riverside Avenue into a park was a better plan than grading and straightening the hills along the drive.

By the time work started on the park in 1875 Olmsted had left New York City. Over the next 25 years  a succession of designers, engineers and architects executed Olmsted’s proposal but not exactly sticking to his plan. Calvert Vaux, Samuel Parsons and Julius Munckwitz all had their turn in building up Riverside Drive and its park.

By the turn of the 20th century Riverside Drive was lined with expensive single family townhouses and row houses overlooking the Hudson River. Land speculation led to a spate of luxury apartment buildings in the upper parts of the boulevard.

A touring bus along Riverside Drive

The first portion of  Riverside Drive from 72nd to 85th Street was opened in 1879. Riverside Park terminated at 129th Street. The Riverside Viaduct completed in 1900, bridged the schism between 125th and 135th Streets. Riverside Drive then continued north to 181st Street.

Here are some of the views from 100 years ago.

postcard view Riverside Drive north from 72nd Street 1918

Riverside Drive north from 72nd Street 1918

This World War I era view shows Riverside Drive at 72nd Street looking north. The entire block between 73rd and 74th Streets and Riverside Drive and West End Avenue belonged to one man and his extravagant home. The french style chateau with the large front lawn is the 75-room Charles M. Schwab mansion.  Designed by Maurice Ebert and completed at a cost of $6 million in 1905, the home contained a gym, a bowling alley, a pool, and three elevators. Schwab had made his millions working with Andrew Carnegie. Schwab went on to head United States Steel. Continue reading

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The Night The Audio System Failed At Yankee Stadium

30  Minutes Of Baseball Bliss As The Audio System At Yankee Stadium Fails – September 14, 2017

9 14 17 Yankee Stadium audio difficulties signThey say if you go to a baseball game there’s always a chance you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.

But it’s not only what I had never seen before, but what I didn’t hear. What happened Thursday, September 14, 2017 during a Yankees – Orioles game was unusual.

For the first time in my life, I attended a major league baseball game and the national anthem was not played before the start of the game. No, it wasn’t the second game of a real doubleheader (remember those?)

Not only was the national anthem not played, no sound was heard in the ballpark except the cheers of the crowd, calls of the vendors and crack of the bat. Continue reading

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I Guess You Could Call It A Bikini

Circa 1910 Model Wearing A Unique Version Of A “Bikini?”

Honestly our headline is misleading. Our circa 1910 model is technically not wearing a bikini as her top looks more like coconut shells. While we can’t fully see the bottom of her costume, it is definitely not a bikini. It looks to be more like a Hawaiian hula outfit.

Even so, a photograph in 1910 of a woman in a two piece of any kind is unusual.

If you know your garment history, you know that the bathing suit called a “bikini” was coined in 1946 by French designer Louis Reard.  The bathing attire was named after the Bikini Atoll, where the testing of the Atomic bomb was taking place at the time.

A bikini is defined as a two piece swimsuit usually in the shape of triangles. The material on the top covers the breasts much like a brassiere. The bottom is similar to panties.

Denise Milani and her…bikini

When it was introduced Continue reading

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Classic Hollywood #63 – Abbott & Costello With Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy

Abbott & Costello With Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy

When I was growing up there were only seven television channels to choose from in New York City. Many weekend mornings I found myself laughing at the antics of Abbott and Costello on WPIX, channel eleven. A lot of other kids at that time shared that love for the fast-talking comedy duo.

Not just their movies were shown, but also the Abbott and Costello TV show was broadcast regularly as well. If today’s generation knows anything about Abbott and Costello, it is almost certainly their famous “Who’s On First” baseball skit. Unfortunately Abbott and Costello and their wordplay humor are fading into history.

But if Abbott and Costello have faded, then ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his puppet Charlie McCarthy are forgotten. Continue reading

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Brooklyn or is it Booklyn? Rare & Collectible Books At The Brooklyn Expo Hall

The Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair In Greenpoint

There’s new life in the used and rare book world. That’s the way it seemed to the many dealers who were exhibiting Saturday, September 9 at the Brooklyn Expo Center 79 Franklin Street, Greenpoint. The variety of material for sale here has made this show a go-to destination for bibliophiles seeking a great find.

It has sometimes been a challenge to interest new collectors considering an entire generation has been brought up in the digital age and do all of their reading on a screen.

Yet they they were. Younger people attending a book show and displaying interest in rare and collectible books.

Looking around the crowd it was noticed that there were quite a few people who were of Generation X , Y and even Z in attendance.

Exposing the passion of book collecting to the kids at the Brooklyn Expo Center.

This is a good sign for collectible book dealers that have been trying to reach younger people and share their knowledge and passion for collecting books printed on good old fashioned paper.

Dealer Peter Austern of Brooklyn said he tried to “exhibit things that were unusual and might appeal to the collectors who are very specific in their wants.” He added that the show being in this part of Brooklyn “tends to attract a different, younger sort of crowd.”

Regarding the venue itself, the natural light and high ceilings at the Brooklyn Expo Center are a nice change to the sometimes crowded and poorly lighted places that shows are often held in. Continue reading

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Gene Michael Architect Of Late 90s Yankees Dynasty Dies at 79

Gene “Stick” Michael Was More Responsible For The Yankee Championship Teams In The Late 90s Than Anyone Else

Gene Michael awaits the throw to second base as Chicago White Sox shortstop Luis Aparicio makes his slide (1970).

Former Yankees shortstop, manager and general manager Gene Michael died today September 7, 2017 at the age of 79 of a heart attack at his home in Oldsmar, FL.

Michael was a slick fielding light hitting shortstop who played on Yankees teams from 1968 – 1974, that were a shadow of the former Yankee teams.  From 1921 -1964 the Yankees had appeared in 29 World Series, winning 20 of them.

If The New York Yankees futility of the late 1960s and early 1970s was epitomized by their second baseman Horace Clarke, then Gene Michael would unfairly be attached to that failure with his double play partner.  Horace Clarke, was a career .256 hitter and average fielder who hit a total of 27 home runs with the Yankees from 1965 – 1974. Because Clarke’s career coincided with that of Michael’s the two were paired together unfairly as the face of Yankee ineptitude.

But there was never any question that Gene Michael was a decent ballplayer and a great competitor.

The “Stick,” as the six foot two skinny shortstop was nicknamed, had baseball smarts and could execute the plays a lot better than an average player. That is what kept Michael on the team. A .229 lifetime average usually won’t ensure your spot on a major league roster unless you can hit thirty or more home runs a year. Yet Michael was valued by teammates and some fans as a hard-nosed, crafty ballplayer.

One thing that Michael did that you rarely see anymore was pull the “hidden ball trick.”Michael said he would only pull it if his pitcher was in trouble.

Michael would have the ball in his glove as the pitcher would be getting ready to pitch and Michael would sneak up on an unsuspecting runner as he began to take a lead off second base and apply the tag. It’s called a bush league play today. Completely unprofessional. I disagree. It showed smarts and initiative to pull it off and I question why it is not tried more often today. I once witnessed Michael do this in person and didn’t realize what had happened.

Michael was smart in other ways. In a May 25, 1973 game against the Texas Rangers Continue reading

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Showering In Front of Richard Nixon

Is There A Better Way To Start Your Day Than Standing Naked In Front of Richard Nixon?

You never know what you’ll come across at the Stormville (NY) Airport flea market. Every time I think I’ve seen everything I get a sober reminder that I haven’t.

Who knew that a company actually marketed and sold a Richard Nixon shower head?

Can you think of anything less appealing than getting up every day, stepping into the shower and stand naked in front of a likeness of Richard Nixon as he sprays water on you? Continue reading

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