"Change back from your dollar!" :: The MacCoin and other mixed signals

In April of 2018, the ACSI's Restaurant Report shared the results of a poll conducted amongst 22,500 people to determine that Chick-Fil-A was America's favorite major fast food chain.

Who cares, right?
But the real punchline is that, while all the other places you know & love followed behind, obviously one poor bastard had to come in last -- McDead last...

There you have it: billions served and none of them happy.

I'm not sure what to do with this information - as much as I'm sure that neither does McDonald's.
In any scenario, I'd say I'm pleased: anyone who endured my mental breakdown re. its grotesque ongoing mutation from kid-friendly wonderland to ice coffee dialysis clinic probably isn't surprised that I retain some level of of bitter excitement over this recent failure.
And the cautiously optimistic part of me is just as excited to wonder if - just maybe - this steady decline in cultural relevance is exactly the wakeup call the company needs to start thinking about back peddling into reheated childhood nostalgia -- the same way every other corporation and entertainment enterprise already have.
It's a stretch, but for better or worse (lately, worse) the restaurant has always found ways to keep me on my toes - up to and including the current madness they've unleashed upon us.

I've had a crush on coin collecting my whole life - with plenty of on-and-off physical engagement. In addition to foreign currency, circulating older coins, and proof sets, the entire concept of novelty money, commemorative coins, and even arcade tokens have always been the closest I could get to the rarity and shininess of pirate treasure.
In a blink-and-you-missed-it ad campaign (I'm not even sure there was one), as of August 2, McD's is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Big Mac by handing out gold 'MacCoins' with purchase of the burger as legal tender to be redeemed for another Big Mac anytime in 2018 -- and you'd better believe I was there day-of.

The coins are heavy-duty, wrapped in plastic, with a little square of literature. Of course, I proudly left mine in the package, which prevented me from reading the condom-sized pamphlet and discovering the wonderfully horrible/horribly wonderful truth: there is not but one coin, but 5 coins to collect!

All this means is that my life has a pain-in-the-ass purpose for some duration of time, for the first time, in a long time: Big Macs will be consumed, coins will be obtained.
I gotta hand it to them: it's one of the cooler things they've done in well over a decade (even if the advertising was incredibly soft). And it also illustrates the startling powers of hypnosis they still possess - without even really trying all that hard.

Somewhat coincidentally (in a way that it's probably not), this month is also the 30th anniversary of Mac and Me (as previously pointed out) and of course Shout! Factory has released a special ed. blu ray to commemorate it.

Could this all be a major turnaround for the least popular burger joint in the country? Or, are they having a good month and that's the end of it...?
I know we all know the answer to this rhetorical question, but this is just another reminder that we've still got our eye on what's left of the McWorld, and while we won't let them get away with anything, we should also applaud them when they do good. Positive reinforcement: you catch more flies with milkshakes than you do with salad. 'Cause you don't win friends with salad.

- Paul


MY POSTER PAST :: part 2

A healthy obsession can sometimes lead to a practical outcome; someone with a strong interest in drawing, sports, or cars may go on to become successful artists, athletes, or auto mechanics, respectively. Me, I had a waking/sleeping/eating preoccupation with The Beatles between '95 and '98, and it resulted in an extravagant solution to one of my very-adolescent problems.
My sister moved out in 1990, and I inherited her slightly larger bedroom - complete with the moldy, late 60s/early 70s fuchsia/gold wallpaper pattern that came with the house. For years I tried to divert my attention away from this noisy distraction while my lousy, good-for-nothing parents wouldn't put in for a total renovation. Meanwhile, all my wall art was offset by this drab parade of pink puke, and no amount of 24x36s could geometrically cover every angle and corner.

Cut to 1995 when The Beatles Anthology premiers on ABC and provokes a lifelong love affair with The Fab Four - as well as sparking a new wave of merchandise (t-shirts, books, magazines, posters) to be very readily available.
And so, a robust induction into Beatlemania started as this:

...and within a year, mutated into this:

...as well as this, this, this, and this:

Of course, whenever my interests predictably deviated, I was already obsessively compulsively locked into this singular pop culture niche; I'd painted myself into a corner until I moved out several years later. Still, though: commitment accomplished, wallpaper concealed.

There's not much to say about most of the posters floating around in this chaos - rarely were the parts as great as the sum. But here are three of varying shades of importance.

- Paul

BEATLES' 45rpm

Notable not because of the poster art (which is ugly) but because it was my first official Beatles poster - found under the tree on Xmas '95.
Depicting each sleeve for the Italian 45s, it continually got pushed to the back of the line until I finally cut it up - extracting all the little squares and using them to fill in the rest of the holes in Albert Hall.

Signature poster

Printed on a much heavier paper stock than other posters, and three times as expensive, I was convinced (and psyched) that it was the fanciest piece of contemporary decor I could get my hands on. Every wall it migrated to it popped as a stark centerpiece.
It depicted each of the Four's autographs in gold (which I learned to forge with great precision) and a black and white photo circa my favorite era: 1968/"The White Album."

"The White Album" poster

The Holy Grail.
Not sold in stores (technically), it was not easy to come by in a time when the vinyl industry was dead and eBay wasn't even a word.
I'd read about it in books and seen compromised portions of it, but nothing at that time had been so life-changing as when I spotted it across a crowded, cluttered outdoor flea market in Hollis, New Hampshire in June of 1997, hanging off the side of a parked van, illuminated in the summer sun.
The poster - created by Richard Hamilton and included inside the sleeve of the original release of The Beatles - has multifaceted importance to me. In addition to being a physical (and accurate) depiction of my all-time favorite album by any band, the composition itself is easily my favorite piece of collage art, which places it close to the top of my list of greatest achievements in all visual art - in any medium.
I've amassed three extra copies over the years - in case of emergency.


MY POSTER PAST :: part 1

More than action figures, baseball cards, stickers, t-shirts, magazines, video games, and my bike, my wall posters were my most prized earthly possessions - particularly between the years of 1989 and 1999. They were my trophies, my tattoos; large, colorful, honest exhibitions of who I was (and, in most cases, still am).
The lo-fi vending machine thrill of matching the alphanumeric code with the corresponding slot was a momentary scavenger hunt with clues leading to the treasure you seek (though it was always prudent to study the exposed edges of the tightly rolled tube to make sure it was, indeed, the right one).
Unfurling a glossy, crisp new poster in the smallness of your own room made it seem that much more visually stunning.
And finally, getting it on the wall right where it's supposed to go was like raising a victory flag for pop culture.

There. There's my poem about buying posters in the 90s - and also an introduction to a new series that even further catalogues the corners of the pertinent past.
There's tragically very little photographic evidence of my room from these years, and in place of that I've stolen jpegs from search engines and eBay to illustrate these lists (though I'm finding the World Wide Web doesn't include digital representations of all the images I seek - but certainly enough for an ongoing column).
For part 1, here are six random masterpieces of modern art - suitable for framing or a fistful of multicolored thumbtacks.

- Paul

Edward Scissorhands
Easily the most important one in this entire continuing series -- I still have (what's left of) it.
A surprise from my parents at the height of my fandom, left unrolled on my bed for me to find.
Even then, I was amazed that a movie like this actually had a mass-produced poster for retail distribution - something usually reserved for Janet Jackson, or Batman. And with that feeling came a childlike sense of, "they made this just for me."

Even more than the 1980s, the 1990s fetishized movies and the home video market to almost obnoxious heights - and apart from Planet Hollywood, it was most apparent in the chain store known as Suncoast Motion Picture Company. That's where I picked up this elegant little number.
A fan of the movie for sure, but this ominously shiny teaser outshines the movies it advertises.

Just In Case You Need An Excuse To Party
I can't entirely recollect what prompted me to buy this silly bit of business. Aesthetically it's one of the ugliest compositions you'll ever see (though it does have some retro Clinton-era charm), but the content certainly has some worthiness: it's exclusively a list of 366 'fun' facts that correspond with each day of the year.
For instance:

February 24 : Wayne's World opens in American theaters, 1992
April 2 : Velcro is introduced, 1978
June 23 : The day disco should have died, 1974
December 4 : Deely Bobbers become one of the holiday's hottest selling items, 1982

Reasons to party, as promised.

The Simpsons
This is going way back - when the bulk of the show's humor hung on Bart's use of the words "hell" and "man."
Part of the excitement of owning this was because of how crazy popular they immediately became, but so much more than that was because I legitimately loved the show.
The only thing that used to bother me (and I can't be alone on this) was how all the earlier Simpsons merch always had Bart in a powder blue shirt. What the hell, man?

Too Hot - Love, Sandi
Some time around '94 or '95, I made the executive decision to start integrating pinups and bikini girls into my largely cinema-centric poster assemblage. (The addition of a Spencer's Gifts in my mall may've sparked this.)
And after the tame conquests of Kathy Ireland and Cindy Crawford (both showing a bit of thigh at the most) there was this tribute to filth. The unbelievably sweaty Sandi Korn, with her boobs and feet and shamelessly provocative pose, was entirely formative to my formative years.

Batman - The Joker
I've had more Batman posters in my life than serious girlfriends... No one should find this surprising.
I had the entire assortment of the 1989 movie posters except for Vicki Vale (no one should find this surprising), but miraculously, only one featured its top-billed, highest paid 'star' - and sure enough, it was the most fun and (obviously) the most colorful one in the bunch.
Love that Joker!

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