This capitalism thing has gone way too far. These friggin’ companies that need to slather their "corporate feces" (thanks George Carlin) all over the landscape. There are so many signs, banners, and stickers all over the place bearing corporate logos that I almost have to swim through retail establishments to find the simple freaking can of Metamucil I went there to buy.
I have no problem with companies feeling they need to put their logo on someone’s shoes. I mean, when people wear shoes, they want a constant reminder of that Nike quality staring right back up at them. "Thanks for the $140, pal."
I don’t complain about all the billboards in Florida. This is due to my lack of enthusiasm for birdwatching in part, but mostly to my lack of hope that something might be done about it if I did complain.
And what can I say? Too many problems, not enough time. And not nearly enough money to make people listen. So I’ll go along with this thing and slowly let Pepsi paint their logo on my apartment building. (No, they’re not really doing that. Yet.)
Yes, most of you know I whine about this subject quite a bit. But recently I read something that just made me snap. A headline in the May 15th Orlando Sentinel reads, "Shuttle Columbia could take advertising to new heights." I did a quadruple-take.
Let’s pause for a moment of silence while we all reclaim our wits. Because I’m going to destroy them again with the following quote.
"Once we get down the road to commercialization all bets are off," said Jim Adamson, chief operating officer of the United Space Alliance. "You might have McDonald’s arches on the SRBs [solid rocket boosters] . . . I joke about that, but I think it’s possible."
Advertising? On the GOD DAMNED SPACE SHUTTLE?
Apparently not. The aging Columbia could soon begin marketing exterior space for advertising, and interior space for cargo. This strikes everything I hold dear to pieces. Well, not everything, but a whopping big one! The space program is one of my last hopes for humanity, and has been since I saw the first Columbia launch in 1981. I hoped that the space program could find the answers to so many problems in space and hopefully alleviate the burden on this planet’s resources. And that it would do all of this completely independent of any special interests other than the cooperation and hard work of the human race. The complete abandonment of identity, the whole world working together to explore the void. (Cue 2001’s Also Sprach Zarathustra. Yeah, you know, the monkeys... with that black square... thing... you know...go rent it.)
But somehow I knew, deep down, that eventually corporate sludge would work its way out of the atmosphere. The space program is irretrievably poor, because it works for a government that wants to be able to destroy the world sixteen times instead of just four. The cost of a B-2 Stealth Bomber is roughly $2 billion, and an average space shuttle launch costs $442 million at present. So because of all the B-2s in our fleet, we’ve missed out on four launches per plane with change left over for a Wendy’s hamburger on the moon. But nooooooo... we’re still obsessed with this manly war shit.
So the space program needs cash. And in these days of wheelin’ and dealin’, it looks as if the only way to gain funding for anything that monumental is to bend over and take the big corporate willy in the old gluteal orifice. We’ll soon expect to see Valvolinetm Manned Maneuvering Units and Kellogg’stm two scoops in orbit, while they wear Jumpsuits covered with every possible corporate-logo-bearing patch imaginable. Why don’t we just get one huge patch! Yeah... sew all the patches together into one big one like the AIDS quilt, and that can be the jumpsuit! I may have a future in marketing yet.
Astronauts will be doing commercial endorsements like Shaq. "Official taco of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration." Everyone will be getting in on this thing.
The Administration is also toying with the idea of booking private passengers on Columbia. Just what we need. You’re an astronaut trying to deploy a satellite for NBC and there’s a rich fuck sitting next to you, looking out the window, eating freeze-dried filet mignon.
Marketing people, I despise what you do most of the time. Nevertheless, I try to stay out of your affairs and try not to piss in your cornflakes too much. But if you have any respect for yourselves, get out of this space program thing. We don’t need one of our last remaining dignified institutions bastardized because your company needs to make an additional $20 million profit this quarter. Heed my warning, or be excommunicated from the kingdom of decency.
Back to June/July '97 Issue