Panic is the current lingua franca of anyone still respirating in the current economy. The economic difficulties of the country have created a world of radio-based vulgarities summed up in catchwords and phrases that are pounded into us in more times per hour than anyone can count.
1. Powerful Free Tape. Tell me: what is a powerful tape? Does it lift your car so you can change the tire? Is the tape empowering? I’m sure it purports to be, but only if you send in the required funds to purchase the entire program. Powerful free tape is big at the Midwest Center For Stress and Anxiety, whose founder and president, Lucinda Bassett, is a total hottie. Before someone accuses me of sexism…first, they’d be absolutely correct. Lucinda looks like a MILF, and her pose (at least one hand pointed directly at her crotch) and clothing do little to heighten her credibility as a person of high seriousness. But she’s on the radio offering me, you, anyone a Powerful Free Tape that will get me to invest an uncertain amount of money in a set of modules that will relieve me of stress, depression, anxiety, panic attacks…in other words, everything I’ve lived with for most of my life. So why am I cynical about a cure contained on a few CDs? I’m sure Ms. Bassett is absolutely sincere and that whatever she learned about herself back in the 1980s will work for others. It’s just that it seems a bit too formulaic and pain-free. You don’t grow unless you run into a few walls.
The same three magic words (Powerful Free Tape) turn up in ads for a program called Transforming Debt Into Wealth. Its founder, John Cummuta, claims you can become debt free on the money you already make. No credit cards, no car, no house. That’s payments, not the actual things. How does that work? Do I stop eating?
2. Repetitive phone numbers. The magic number is three. Give that 800 number three times. If you realize what the formula is, you will wait for the numbers, then either dash your brains against a wall or pick up the phone. Sometimes they even say it four times. Waiting for the numbers is a bit like watching Hawaii 5-0 years back and waiting for Jack Lord to say the ever-popular closing line: “Book him, Dano, Murder One!”
3. Settle/Remove Your Debts. Every second ad on the radio is built around (1) getting the IRS out of your ass and (2) stopping the collection calls without going bankrupt. This is related to the Cummuta program above but has some of its own oddities, like offering to represent you in front of the IRS if you owe at least $15,000 in back taxes or haven’t filed in years. In which case the first question to be asked is “What kind of schmuck are you anyway?” [Answer, c. 12/31/09: you could just be plain old desperate)
I note that these have really taken off since the economy tanked. Even WQXR-FM, the “Classical Station of the New Yor Times” (soon to be owned by WNYC and Univision), runs credit card and IRS debt ads, along with the staples of economic terrorism like Accenture, preventing foreclosure and countries without extradition treaties if you’ve been involved in money laundering and insider trading.
The Newark Star-Ledger this morning ran a story about how more and more people are being stressed out by the economy and job losses, real or impending, and how this is leading to temperamental explosions that are taking a toll on marriages, sleep, and other signs of a normal life.
I love newspapers. They’re so With It. On the Health page there’s a story entitled “Great Sickness said to wipe out half of European population by 1350.” The story was just filed.