Published on: September 15, 2015
In a piece yesterday about online retailer Jet, I wrote:Some of the early metrics for Jet may be positive, but it has a long way to go to prove it can go head-to-head with both Amazon and Walmart, each of which is willing and able to go to the mattresses against this interloper.
Which prompted MNB reader Lou Scudere to write:I have to tease for a moment ... unless one has read "The Godfather," or seen the movie, (though I don’t recall if the term was actually used in the movie) I wonder, other than contextually, how many younger readers actually know what “go to the mattresses” really means. It struck me because the other day I made a comment to someone about “doing an OJ through the airport” and was met with a blank stare. At which point I realized the person I was speaking to probably was not yet even a gleam in his father’s eye when OJ did his Hertz commercial. LOL.
Hell ... the OJ Simpson murder trial was 20 years ago ... there are a lot of young people who don;t even remember that, much less the Hertz commercial.
My feeling about these things is that I need to be aware of when I'm making cultural references that young people don't get. (This happens in my PSU classes all the time. I make the reference, they look at me like I'm old, I explain the reference and we keep moving...) But it doesn't mean I'm going to stop making the references.
In part, it's because these are the allusions with which I am most comfortable. And in part, it's because if people don't know The Godfather
, they should. (I've been known to send relevant DVDs to people who have significant holes in their cultural education.)
It isn't just movies, by the way. I quoted Raymond Chandler yesterday, fully aware that the guy who, to me, is one of the great American novelists, may not be on top of many current reading lists.
I don't care. He should be. And I don't mind doing a little evangelizing.
Responding to yesterday's piece about the competitive and often unforgiving Southern California market, MNB reader Larry Ishii wrote:I have grown up here and spent 48 years in the grocery industry in the Los Angeles market, starting as a “box boy” and eventually having my own consulting firm and I have seen plenty of proverbial “water” go under the bridge.
I can remember when Albertsons bought the independent All American Markets to enter the marketplace. I have seen the many independent and major market banners disappear: Cole’s, Hiram’s, E.F. McDonald, Smith’s, Alpha Beta, Lucky, etc.
When I became a buyer and worked for four of the major chains here, it seemed that the L.A. market was the center of the grocery marketing “universe”. Every retailer wanted to have stores here and every vendor wanted to sell something here.
But everything changes and L.A. is no longer that center of buying activity but what has not changed is the allure L.A. has to retailers outside the marketplace. Throughout history, whether you were an explorer, a fur trader, or merchant, Los Angeles has been a place to be and probably always will.
In so many ways, despite its challenges, Southern California remains the promised land for many. I spent three years in college there, and continue to love it ... though I also bear in mind the words of novelist Ross Macdonald, who know the place better than almost anyone, and who once wrote, "There was nothing wrong with Southern California that a rise in the ocean level wouldn't cure."
I want to follow up on an exchange from yesterday's MNB...
I noted that when commenting last week about a McDonald's story, I cracked wise on one particular subject:"The company said in its statement that animal welfare is a top priority for the company. I'd prefer that McDonald's think more about human welfare and make a better hamburger..."
Which led one MNB user to write:Seriously? I can't believe you just wrote that. Humans have a choice in whether to consume McDonald's products. Animals don't have any choice regarding their living conditions. If we're going to eat them the least we could do is treat them humanely while they are alive and sacrifice them as humanely as possible when their time comes. Do you have pets? Probably not. That would explain this careless comment. $10 says you get a lot of heat on this one.
I pointed out that this actually was the only comment I got ... maybe because most folks realized that I was kidding, that it was part of my ongoing and probably wearying anti-McDonald's schtick.
We have two dogs. Love them both. The oldest, a yellow lab called Buffett, has her large and aging body wrapped around my feet even as I write this, just as she does pretty much every morning. (The other lab, Parker, probably is in the other room scavenging for a cookie.)
Second ... regarding McDonald's. yesterday, our car broke down on the Bruckner Expressway while we were driving home from New York City. Pulled into a parking lot and called for assistance. There happened to be a McDonald's there ... and so, while we waited, we indulged.
I have to tell you, the new Buttermilk Chicken sandwich doesn't suck. It probably is awful from a nutrition perspective, but I ate it, along with some fries, and I liked it. (And I don't even hate myself for it.)
One MNB user responded yesterday:Okay, maybe that was a bit harsh. You weren’t exactly joking about the poor animals’ suffering… more like being unnecessarily dismissive of it in favor of your schtick.
Sad, but true.
And another MNB user wasn't amused:I didn’t write in immediately (wish I had), but I certainly disliked your comment immediately. Comparing the suffering of a human being made to endure the horror of eating a substandard burger to the horror that animals go through is not cool. Okay, it was a joke, but it was a tasteless, unfunny and offensive joke.
And “I was kidding” is never a defense! If it were, then every racist, sexist, etc. would be granted an automatic pass because,“Hey, it was a joke!”
In your response you didn’t address the reader’s point that animals deserve better from us. You talked about how much you love your pets, and how tasty the chicken sandwich was… with no apparently realization that loving one and giving them cookies but eating the other and joking about their suffering is a pretty arbitrary way to regard helpless animals.
To be clear, I wasn't coming out in favor of animal cruelty. I wasn't even joking about animal cruelty. I was joking about McDonald's priorities ... and how decent food isn't as high on the list as it should be.
I only mentioned my dogs because the original accusation was that I probably didn't have pets.
Finally, this comment about Walmart's new willingness to mimic other retailers and take promotional fees and slotting allowances, from MNB reader Herb Sorensen:On of the more rapacious grabs for promotional fees was the old Walmart TV. That program was utterly worthless to the suppliers, but brought a lot of cash to Walmart and their company that managed the program in the stores. And yet, industry meeting after industry meeting heard glowing reports from paid endorsers. Walmart, like A&P before them (1st billion $$$ business) is now generating close to 1/2 trillion $$$ of business - with MASSIVE "parked capital." Meanwhile, Amazon, super efficient with their own capital, has passed them in market capitalization.
It will be a lot easier for the super efficient Amazon to build needed small, efficient neighborhood stores, than for Walmart to learn and meld super efficient online with small efficient neighborhood stores. Walmart is toast, and it is just a matter of time. Fundamentals always win, in time.