John Nese is to soda pop what Gary Vaynerchuk is to wine

John Nese is the proprietor of Galcos Soda Pop Stop in LA. His father ran it as a grocery store, and when the time came for John to take charge, he decided to convert it into the ultimate soda-lovers destination. About 500 pops line the shelves, sourced lovingly by John from around the world.

John has made it his mission to keep small soda-makers afloat and help them find their consumers. Galcos also acts as a distributor for restaurants and bars along the West Coast, spreading the gospel of soda made with cane sugar (no high-fructose corn syrup if John can avoid it). His store is here on the Internet.

For comparison, Gary is at http://www.winelibrary.tv. John is older and has a calmer presentation style, but his passion erupts as he speaks. He is what Gary will be with age.

Rupert Murdoch gets the Internet… really, he does

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My BFF Rupert Murdoch* has been taking some hits lately about him wanting to block Google from indexing his sites and putting up pay walls. I understand his reasoning and don’t think he is too far off the mark. In order to explain my thinking, I have an analogy.

Say you own a small grocery store. It is in an urban setting and there are lots of other stores in the neighborhood that is similar to yours. You seek more foot traffic because some fancy college grad with a marketing degree convinces you that the more traffic you can pump through your stores, the more likely these people will stop and buy some impulse item you strategically place near the exit.

In order to produce more traffic, you encourage people to stop by and use the restroom. (the other guys down the street make you buy something first!) As word gets around, the locals and tourists stop into your store and use your restroom, flush the toilet, wipe their hands and stop and buy something cause they kinda feel guilty using your restroom for free. You’re not making enough in additional sales to cover the cost of the water bill, the additional cleaning staff, the paper towel, the soap and various other things that go with making a restroom public. In addition, the city health department caught on that you were making your restroom available to the public and cited you for not being handicap accessible. You pay the fine and some contractors to put up grab rails, new toilets and a ramp. But, the marketing dude you hired kept swearing that with patience and persistence, the free restroom policy will pay off.

“Give it time. That is investment. It’s all about giving back,” he says.

As time wears on, more people are using your restrooms because they heard from a friend who heard from another who tweeted that your restroom was free. And, these folks didn’t even bother to buy anything anymore. They just wanted to use the restroom. Moreover, lots of them stopped by the magazine rack and leafed through the latest issues without buying, especially on rainy days. If you didn’t want them in your store, why did you let them use the restroom? Meanwhile, the cost of water, soap and cleaning kept going up.

Then a recession hit and you had to fire some people, including the smart marketing degree guy who seemed to want to text and tweet more than he wanted to stock shelves and help paying customers. You took down your “Restroom open to the public” sign and immediately, the freeloaders started blogging and tweeting that you do not understand customer service in the Internet age. Your customers who came in and bought something could still use the restroom and they started to remark that is was much cleaner than it had been when the public at large was there. In fact, the experience for paying customers became so nice, they didn’t even notice you raised your prices $.10 here and $.20 there.

And your bottom line got better, even when your foot traffic dropped significantly. Your water, cleaning and supplies bills went way down. Almost none of the folks who used your restrooms for free ever came around anymore and when they did, it was to insult you and your stupid, miserly ways.

That is what I think Rupert was going for. Maybe.

Feel free to snark below. Comments are free, but if you would like to buy something on the way out, you are welcome to.

*I don’t really know Rupert Murdoch and we’re not really BFF. He’s probably a pretty dangerous person with his nutty politics and such. But, he is not stupid and he really does understand people. He understands they fear more than they think and worry and dream more than they act. Video here. Gawker.com didn’t want me embedding the video for free. Ironic.

Let’s try 9/11 terrorists in the heartland of “Pro-America”

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Eric Holder and President Obama are taking a lot of flack on their decision to try the 9/11 terrorists in New York, just a few blocks away from the former World Trade Center. A lot of the angst and anxiety is centered around making the country less safe, endangering New York unnecessarily and making New Yorkers re-live the tragedy of 9/11. And that whole Constitutional rights argument, but that is probably a comparatively minor thing.

Since it seems inevitable that we will have the terrorists trials in the United States, I say move the venue to Dayton, Ohio! Here is my short list of reasons why:

Nobody outside the United States knows where Dayton is
Every time I travel to Europe, people think I’m from Daytona Beach, Florida. Imagine the frustration of any would-be terrorist making plans to disrupt the trials going on in Daytona Beach only to find out months later, he was on the wrong side of the country. While Dayton, Ohio is entirely obscure outside of the United States, only 2 in 10 school children in America know where Ohio is and only .0001% of them can accurately identify Dayton on a map. Thanks to our public education system, the only point of distinction Ohio has with school children is our funny shaped flag.

A large jury pool
We have a ton of unemployed people just milling around all day with nowhere to go and nothing to do. I say, put them to work on a jury! Moreover, most people who live in Dayton have never been to New York so there is little jury bias to worry about. We’re also so desperate for jobs that we ignored all the morality of gambling in the latest election and we’re building casinos. Well, not in Dayton, but close by.

It’s safe here
Unlike New York, there are no tall buildings to knock down (not occupied ones), no tunnels to sabotage, no coastline to protect and only one airport with the meanest, most unhappy TSA agents on the entire planet who will make darn sure whether or not you are a terrorist, you will be treated like one. Just in case. In fact, you can close down the entire downtown Dayton for as long as the trials last and nobody would even notice except a few government employees who work in traffic court.

Moreover, Ohio also allows concealed weapons, so the chances the guy standing next to you is packing is pretty high. If any alleged terrorist were to get loose, he wouldn’t really get very far nor would he be very successful taking someone hostage. A .357 Magnum has a lot of stopping power.

We will save the Federal Government a lot of money
What does an average hamburger cost in Manhattan, $23.50? In Dayton, you can get that same hamburger of $.27. The legal teams can stay down the street at the Doubletree hotel for a fraction of what hotels cost in New York and the Montgomery County sheriff’s jail in just a few blocks away from the Federal Courthouse. There would be no cab fares to pay and no doormen to tip. Since many of our banks have merged with larger banks, there is probably also a glut of armored trucks just sitting around rusting out that could be put to good use transporting the alleged terrorists. And while we are cheaper to host than New York, we could sure use the economic shot in the arm a lengthy trial would give. Could you pay in advance, though?

The teams would also be motivated to keep the trial moving as being in Dayton is pretty darn boring. They may even want to work Saturdays and Sundays and a lot of time-wasting motions would not even be considered as it would hold up the exodus from our fair city.

This post was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but seriously, folks, we have all this infrastructure in Pro-America parts of this country that isn’t being put to its maximum use. Dayton is home to the largest pool of inventors that made possible controlled powered flight, the electric car starter, the pop-top can, the computer search engine and the cash register. Somebody in Dayton probably invented the gavel, but that is as yet unproven. There are no lemons; just lemonade waiting to be made. Squeeze here.

As we are not about to see the end of terrorists or trials, surely given enough duct tape and a few hours of engineering time, the crack inventors who live here will be able come up with a fool-proof plan to invent a terrorist-trial system that can be used anywhere else in this country in the future.

Like Kitty Hawk, NC. They’ve been stealing our Wright Brothers thunder for years. They’ll probably eventually want a piece of this as well.

Insurance companies should fear people like Dr. Dave Ores more than any health care reform bill

Villager photo by Bonnie Rosenstock
Villager photo by Bonnie Rosenstock

While the politicians in Washington argue about how many uninsured people there really are, call each other liars and debate over eleventh-hour amendments, real people with real lives are not waiting around for some edict to determine their destiny. They get fed up, roll up their sleeves and get the job done themselves. And that is exactly with Dr. Dave Ores is doing.

Dr. Dave (as he in known locally) formalized his care for workers in the restaurant industry by founding the Restaurant Workers’ Health Care Cooperative. The healthcare cooperative is “an informal handshake” between the doctor and the participating restaurants. It is a not for profit health care delivery system that enables restaurant owners to provide health care to their employees, many of whom can not afford traditional insurance.

[What I’m doing] “should not be special, it should not be great. It should be the way things work,” Ores says in his CNN interview aired yesterday morning.

We agree. Health care should be not for-profit. When the profit is removed from health care, the measurement becomes “how well did we treat someone” verses “how much money did we make per patient.”

Dr. Dave is proving you don’t need to be rich or famous to change the world. You just need to care enough to get off your butt and do something for another human being, without expectation of reward. No big change ever happened without first being one small act, followed by another and another and another by someone who refused to give up.

Here is what CNN ran yesterday.

We found this photo published on the New York Daily News and had to include it. Apparently, Dr. Dave also founded the Eastminster Kennel Club Show, a spoof on the Westminster Dog Show. We knew there was another really cool reason we liked Dr. Dave! He is a dog person. (I wonder if he has a photo of Abe Lincoln in his office. That would complete the trifecta of a cool sit-com.)

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Finally! Good BBQ in Englewood, Ohio

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Finally, we have a good BBQ place in Englewood. When JD Custard closed for the season, the Oinkadoodlemoo Smoky BBQ trailer pulled in and smoke started pouring from the chimney stack. It took a while for me to stop in, but once I got there, wonderful stuff! I had the pulled park sandwich and it was loaded with pork. Light sauce, very tender, good pork flavor.

Mark and Ralph were really cool and sat and talked for a spell. Mark says that if you are walking your dog and you get a hankering from some pork, chicken or beef, just knock on the window to order. AND I think they may even try a “just for us dogs” smoked bologna sandwich, cut out like a paw print. I can’t wait to try one, so I hope to get that tweet soon.

They are in the same building as JD Custard, but don’t worry, JD’s will be back there in the summer serving up custard along with Oinkadoodlemoo’s great food. (Be sure to stop by and order your Christmas custard. You only have up to November 19, so hurry in. Or order online.)

Support local. Get your BBQ from Oinkadoodlemoo. And them them Rufus sent you! (It gets me nothing other than making sure a good business stays in business.)

Disclaimer: No free BBQ or any other product was given or any money paid as an inducement for this review. I did it cause these folks are friendly and they make a mean pulled pork sandwich.

Things are uneasy, and leash laws are top of the heap

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Things are a bit uneasy out there with the average citizens. Anxiety is high, people feel they have little control of their own destiny and they are on edge. Know how I can tell? Is it news of the economy streaming over the 24/7 cable news? Politicians screaming from podium microphones? Former governors hawking tell-all-know-nothing-stir-up-hate books? Movies predicting the end of the world in two years?

Nope, none of that. It is even simpler.

They care about leash laws.

And local laws on how tall you’re allowed to grow your lawn. And how long you can park your car in front of your house. And if you need a permit or not to build that on your deck. And if you can legally store your boat in your back yard.

And not so much that they care about these laws, but they hike up their sleeves and don’t hesitate to tell you that you better fall in line. There.

I don’t have any data to prove my assertions, so take them with a grain of salt. But, I sense that when people feel overwhelmed and lose a sense of control over their own fate, they turn to really small things that they feel they have the right to enforce.

Like leash laws.

How tenacious is your God?

This post may lay bare some deep dark things, so you may think twice about reading it. I am probably risking excommunication by even writing this blog. I’ll risk it.

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Anyone who thinks the Stupak Amendment to the Health Care Bill HR 3962 has nothing to do with overturning Roe v. Wade fundamentally does not understand the true Pro-Life agenda waged by the Catholic Church (anyone else of a different faith is a poser.) Their agenda is to harass and disrupt any and all pro-choice options at any and all cost. There is nothing less than eternal life and damnation in the balance for any Catholic who actively or passively supports abortion rights. Some of these folks are violent, but most of them are tenacious and very, very intelligent.

I heard Chris Matthews poo-poo the suggestion made by one of his guests last night. In fact, he did not just poo-poo it, he almost violently dismissed it. Deep down, he being Catholic and raised such “at a certain time” probably knows this very ugly truth, but also knows that if he explores it, he risks his job. The topic has almost as much secrecy, tenacity and visceral fear among Catholics as does the Opus Dei in a Dan Brown novel.

This is not light stuff. This is the dogma of terror the Catholic Church uses to seek out its agenda. Just because the Church does not have the prominence and authority it had during the Middle Ages and the Spanish Inquisition does not mean it is less powerful within the faithful. The Catholic God is a very tenacious god. He is infinite and these ebbs and flows of human culture are merely a ripple in His pond.

Roe v Wade is borne of the laws of man. The sacred miracle of life is the law of God. God is more important than the laws of man. Because man is more frail and less patient than God, He will ultimately prevail. The faithful just need to steer the cause through the political waters of governments and popular cultures. And then strike when their guard is down, like an amendment to a health care bill the supporters are desperate to pass. If you lay aside the religious implications of it all, you have to admire Stupak’s deft, patience and political skill. You didn’t even see it coming. For that, he will probably be given a plenary indulgence.

But if life was sacred, why do we then have people like Scott Roeder or Paul Hill applauded as heros in the Pro-Life camp? Because in these cases, taking one life saved thousands. As in war, that is justified. While the Catholic Church publicly denounces these murders, within their ranks, there is a hushed approval of the courage and dedication to the cause. The murder of Dr. Tiller or Dr. Britton would not only prevent the abortions each would have performed directly, but make other doctors fearful for their lives and stop performing abortions as well. In that context, the act of killing is justified. It is the same argument the Church uses for soldiers at war.

And make no mistake, this is a war.

Kinda sounds like the extreme Islamic terrorism that we are purporting to fight over there, doesn’t it? Or the argument Maj. Hasan is purported to have used to justify his shooting rampage at Fort Hood. It is, in fact, the same argument. We just think it’s different because we believe our Christian God is the right God.

This is not conspiracy theory; this is the long-term agenda of a group of very dedicated, very passionate people who believe that they are on a mission from God and that even if they don’t complete the mission in their lifetime, they will have done their part in advancing the baton further so that one day, Roe v Wade will be overturned. They are prepared to think in terms of thousands of years and thousands of lives. The agenda and the people who espouse it should not be taken lightly. And they are everywhere.

HR 3962 will become an “abortion bill” whether President Obama likes it or not. In fact, it already has. The Pro-Life supporters will forego the chance to save thousands of lives by providing insurance to the uninsured in favor of saving one life lost through abortion, so focused is their cause.

The only thing that will kill off the Stupak Amendment on the health care bill is if the Pro-Life wing nuts overplay their hand and the media exposes them as crackpots. The Church is praying they won’t; the rest of us better be praying they will.

Full disclosure: I was raised Catholic and am currently in remission. My parish was perhaps one of the most militant branches of Catholicism you can possibly imagine. If the Spanish Inquisition was legal, the Monseigneur who was the pastor then would have brought it back. Masses were said in Latin and you lived in deep fear for your eternal soul every day of your life. If it wasn’t the Russians invading and torturing Catholics, it was the pro-choice heretics or the Anti-Christ who was being groomed for world domination, starting with the slaying of all the Catholics.