2003-04-28 - 4:29 p.m.
Back in the day, the internet was an endless source of freebies, with perhaps the classic being Pets.com's1 endless stream of coupons for $25 off a $25 purchase with free shipping. My feelings weren't hurt too badly by Altavista's gift of a free MP3 player (even though, at the time, I wasn't sure what an MP3 player was) or by some internet radio station's decision to email our lucky household not one but two $25 Sephora gift certificates. Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end, la la la la la.
These days, decent freebies are fairly hard to come by. Oh, the usual sample-sized skin and hair care products come wandering in, but the most frequent freebies these days are various magazine subscriptions, some from unknown sources. Just for giggles, I thought I'd jot down a few notes from various magazines that have appeared in my mailbox recently.
I nearly fell on the floor laughing when I encountered page 126-7 of the May 2003 issue of Cosmo Girl!, where author Joanne Gordon provides imaginative finance advice:
"The rich really are different from the rest of us, but you can be rich too-- yes, just like Donald Trump! Like most mega-rich people, he didn't inherit his fortune. He built it."Oh, for a minute there, I thought she was referring to the famous Donald Trump, son of millionaire slumlord Fred Trump. Of course, the teeny-bopping Cosmo Girl!2 is too young to have heard the old saying that you can't go broke operating a casino. That's because The Donald rather noisily obsoleted that claim. When one of his New Jersey operations nearly went under back in the day, he tried to get his rich daddy to buy in as an investor, but for reasons we won't speculate upon here although I'm evil enough to have my suspicions, Fred couldn't get approved for a casino license. So instead he played cards in his kid's place until he'd lost the millions The Donald needed to pull his fat out of the fryer.
But I guess the author must be referring to some other Donald Trump, some friend of hers or something who actually made it without hitting up his rich daddy for money. It's too bad that the editors at Cosmo Girl! managed to screw up her article by including a photograph of The Donald instead. I just hate it when that happens.
In the May 2003 Esquire, there's a thoughtful piece by Tom Chiarella called, "My Education," which discusses his experiences as a victim of sexual abuse by a teacher, which he kept secret for 25 years, until the teacher died:
"I'm not bent on revenge.... I'm not interested in money, or television time, or apologies. What I want to say is that I figured it out by waiting, all by myself, all those years ago. No one should feel responsible. No one should feel betrayed. I dealt with it exactly the way I would now if I had to do it all over again. I believe that in saying this I'm speaking for a separate nation now, the one that deals with pain by pressing on, by finding something new to center itself on, by mulling over that pain in the solitary moments of its life, when answers aren't crafted by therapists and counselors. Speak when you want to, speak when you're ready, or just don't speak at all."I like this statement, and I'm not sure why. But I like it that even though the abuse was ugly, unwelcome, and fairly unrelenting, he didn't decide that he as the victim was somehow broken and should spend his life hashing out the issue in therapists' offices or on the Jerry Springer show. Let the abusers run up the big therapy bills.
This one comes from the November 2002 Playboy3. Ben Mezrich, in an amusing article called "Bringing Down the House," tells the story of MIT player Kevin Lewis, who quit playing cards after his address was listed in the Griffin book:
"...Kevin whispered, `They know where we live.'I have no idea who is confabulating here, the author or "Kevin Lewis." It is impossible to tell. But I have been listed in the Griffin book, address and all, for many a year, and no one has ever broken into my house and left a $500 chip on my kitchen table. I've kept the light on ever since I read this article, but it's been over six months now, and I'm starting to lose hope.
So anyway I asked around, and no one else had a break-in where they had a $500 chip left on their table either. Besides, newsflash to Lewis and Mezrich -- the casinos always knew where you lived. Hint: That's how they were able to mail you all of those free offers for junkets in Vegas.
There are various MIT teams, which seem to go on winning money very nicely despite the loss of Mr. Lewis and any number of players in the regularly changing cast, and there is probably even a "Kevin Lewis," or so say the more gregarious counters who should know, but the rest of the story is fiction, science fiction. For example, if he had been my teammate, I would have strongly suggested that a real counter who is trying to take down the house does not party with Dennis Rodman -- who was usually playing dice anyway, from what I saw . He takes another table and, while the pit and the sky are tearing their hair with Rodman's antics, he takes the opportunity to quietly get away with murder. But it just doesn't sound as good to admit that Rodman and Brad Pitt were at the next table down, does it?
1In the year before its bankruptcy, Pets.com was voted among the top three of most beloved internet businesses by the users of planetfeedback.com. They certainly got my vote. There should be more businesses operating on the model of giving the customer lots of good stuff free and paying to ship it to your door while they're at it.
2Don't forget the exclamation point when referring to the Cosmo Girl! It's very important! And the semi-random emphasis seems to be a nostalgic throwback to the Helen Gurley Brown editorship of the old Cosmopolitan.
3Yes, some unknown party send me a free subscription to a nudie mag. I think it's weird too. But whatever.
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