Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cub Foods - Bin Ladin connection?

I just got my haircut at Supercuts and the hairdresser lady and I got to talking about grocery stores. She claims that Cub Foods closed down soon after 9/11 because "Osama Bin Ladin was a major stockholder." He issued a general threat about wrecking the economy and devaluing U.S. currency, and within the week, Cub Foods employees showed up to work to find the stores shuttered with no notice.

Anyone know anything more?

A quick look at the Cub Foods wiki only reveals a string of dull-sounding mergers and acquisitions reports involving parent companies SuperValu, Albertsons, and Cerberus Capital Management, revealing only, for example, that some Cub stores were "divested ... to avoid market concentration issues."

Folks miss Cub Foods for their noticeably cheaper prices, especially for major purchases common to large families or folks who get paid once a month.

For me personally, Cub was okay for some things, but I of course much prefer the old-style small groceries. Some of the Cub stores were so damn big that you could get exhausted. You'd get a workout when you realized you forgot a produce item but you were already all the way over in the beer aisle, in another zip code. I wonder if they used re-tread tires on their shopping carts?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Detroit ugly, Detroit beauty

My sister and I share a fascination with Detroit. The city's woes have exposed the rundown and the wrong, laying bare a failure of the industrial organization of life. On the other hand, holes and problems necessitate solutions. Necessity is the mother of invention. Many real people still live in Detroit, persevering in spite of citywide setbacks.

Two interesting articles last week:

The WSJ printed "Retailers Head for Exits in Detroit" - another doom and gloom story, reporting among other facts that Detroit hosts not even one big-chain grocery store. But wait! It's ALDI to the rescue. ALDI continues to open stores in Detroit and a spokeswoman for the chain says ALDI is "very bullish" on Detroit. The last ALDI I went into stocked only canned, frozen, and boxed goods, i.e. Dry Goods, and no fresh produce. This article claims Detroit residents will go to farmers markets for fruits and vegetables.

Make sure to look at the companion photo slideshow, titled Detroit's Retail Exodus, featuring some great photos, some of which are reminiscent of the work of Detroit Blog, more on which below. See photo 7 for a glimpse of the indie grocer Family Fair Food Center. I imagine this store carries three different brands of three-ounce tins of Potted Meat. For a hilarious product review of a can of Potted Meat Food Product, see Steve Don't Eat It Vol. 1 at The Sneeze.

CNN printed "Got $100? Welcome to your new Detroit home" - This is an exciting piece about poor artists who get houses almost for free and then renovate them according to greener standards. The photo at the top of this post is a house some artists got for a hundred dollars, before they began renovations.

My sister and I became fascinated with Detroit a few years ago while discussing play-money houses. We had a little "contest" to see who could go on and find the cheapest house. Detroit was the winner. You could get a house for a dollar there. What house do you get for a dollar, or a hundred dollars? Probably a house with back taxes or liens owed; a house whose entire plumbing and electrical utilities have been stripped by looters for recycling money; a house likely infested with generations of insects, mold and mammals; and likely a house in a neighborhood that doesn't exactly feel safe, even for those used to being urban pioneers in other cities.

But just think. If enough reasonable people renovated these abandoned houses, the city could flourish in a GM and Ford-free future. In a parallel universe, my sister is living in a renovated solar-paneled bungalow in Detroit. (But it would have to be a distant parallel: for one thing, I don't think she could live any place where the temperature regularly hovers around 10 degrees F. at night for several months out of the winter.)

And finally, a note about the continued vitality of Detroit Blog. In its current state, the blog is a champion of grassroots community and dogged determination, showcasing the barely-noticeable-from-the-street little businesses that continue to serve their neighborhoods. These people do what they do for real good reasons, day in and day out, regardless of what interlopers and jackasses like me write on the internets.

I kind of miss the old, grumpier, alcoholic, abandoned-skyscraper-exploring Detroit Blog. Once the (anonymous) guy began writing his articles for the Detroit Metro Times, he reined things in a bit, and toned down the bitterness. The change in perspective was good, though, as he became a more involved community reporter. The focus is now outward and optimistic, instead of inward and suspicious, and I can only imagine the struggling city is a little bit better for his work. Righteous!

Detroit Blog once did a great run of articles on one of my favorite topics: what happens to the greatest works of mankind when they are abandoned and left to nature. How long does it take for nature to reclaim "civilization"? Of course this question is now answered in a CGI wank-fest on the History channel's Life After Humans series. But Detroit Blog was there first, reporting on trees growing in and on skyscrapers, "urban prairies" where tony neighborhoods once stood, and wild animals living in and around downtown.

For a succinct description of the phenomenon, with some great photos, see Detroit Blog's "Wild Kingdom".

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Awesome can of peas

This Argo label is formidable. Elegant and stark, it hearkens back to sturdier decades, or even simpler centuries.

I can't quite put my finger on why, but when I look at this can I get the feeling that I'm also getting a steak, and a steak knife with it.

70 cents at the IGA store. I'll have to do a contents review later.

Argo Peas

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Night Lover

What in the Wide Wide World Of Sports was that sound?

My friend Matt thinks it sounds like a harmonica, but I think it's pedal steel thru a talkbox, ala Pete Drake.

Now we're in some out-of-the-way country. A man's tale of an easy lady whose "love will never stand the light of day." Really, there's a good chance it's just sour grapes or self-flagellation on his part.

But look at that label. Nice hand-drawn melons!

Night Lover

Buying A Car Ukranian Style

The best album cover I've seen all year. Re-posted from Hawthorne Wingo over at waxidermy.

Chicago Radio Preachers 1998

In 1998 I taped some AM radio scan sessions on cassettes. I stayed an extra minute at particularly engrossing sounds.

This is a miracle save. I was looking for something else and found this!

This couple is tight. Listen to their style. I have no idea who they are, only that they were broadcast in Chicago in the winter of 1998/99. And that she calls him both "Teacher" and "Prophet".

If you had any doubt that water puts out fire, listen to this flow:

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Under Control

The more you know, the more you know you don't know, you know?

For my inaugural music post, here's an ode to self-deprecating self-confidence.

I think Howard Perkins had it "Under Control".

Under Control


So I told you in my First Blog Post about how I was going to name the blog Striped Light, and then I changed my mind and called it Double Coupon Day.

Well, my friend Quinn told - reminded - me that when he posts on the International Hits Blog, his screen-name is Doubl Q-Pon Deigh.

International Hits is a solid little record label in Atlanta. You can read Doubl Q-Pon Deigh's updates on such singers as Harvey Milk and Cordero. Look at the second post, just below Total Ronnie Obvious's post.

Hold on a second, they're plaing Stone Temple Pilots "Plush" on the radio right now and all the sudden I want to go to the pool. Okay, it passed.

So I've read "Doubl Q-Pon Deigh" before, but I always read it as "Double Q ... Pon Dee." Seriously. As in "Deigh" rhymes with the girl name "Leigh" or the city "Raleigh." Quinn points out that "Deigh" sounds "Day" as in "sleigh" and "weigh."

So now, there are two dudes running around on the internet with the same name, only spelled like one of the dudes is Cajun or something. I swear I didn't try to steal Quinn's handle. I swear, it's great minds that think alike.

Note also, that both of us have, like junior gang members, taken some of the shine from our friend Double B. When Pardner plays, now there's Double B, Double Coupon Day, Doubl Q-Pon Deigh, Hoo-Law and Faceless Drifter.

Incidentally, today is Quinn's birthday. Sa-lut!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

A trip to ALDI

I went to the super-discount grocery store ALDI this evening. It's kind of like part grocery, part welfare office. There are giant propaganda signs, printed in pleasant colors and put up all around, explaining how you are saving money by bagging your own groceries, and how they have such low overhead. Note, however, that printing giant colored signs and purchasing hanging hardware and hiring labor is all part of the overhead. You see what I mean? That's like when a radio announcer says his station is "LESS TALK." Yeah, well you just talked when you said that. You could've talked even less.

In case you've never been, if you want to get a grocery cart, you need to bring a quarter. The carts are equipped with a locking system, and they're all neatly chained together outside the store. To unlock one, you use your quarter as a key. Stick it in the slot, and it grabs your quarter but you can still see the edge of the quarter poking out of the device. This is important, because it's a reminder: you get your quarter back. When you're done shopping, you lock the cart back up neatly and your quarter pops out, and you go along your merry way. There is a big sign, orange with white lettering and a giant photo of a quarter, explaining that you get your quarter back, and that this system helps keep the carts organized and the parking lot clean.

ALDI's cans of Happy Harvest brand Mixed Vegetables (think Veg-All) are running 62 cents a can here. I was hoping for something like 45 and 59. Regular grocery store brands are running around 75 cents a can, and premium brands, like LeSeur Peas, are running $1.30 and up, just for context. Comparing the 75 cent grocery generic with ALDI's 62 cents, that's 13 cents difference. You, the wind tunnel, better be buying a lot of cans if you're going to really see any savings, especially if you have to drive or take a bus out of your way to get to ALDI. I am now building up a modest Emergency Food Supply, so I will be buying a lot of cans. Of course I don't prefer canned dinner, but there may come a spell when we can't get fresh. Example: gas shortage. Trucks won't drive tomatoes up from Florida; I've got a can of diced tomatoes.

If you want to see a great blog post about ALDI prices, check out Frugal Mom at Everything Alabama:

Tonight, I only bought about six cans because I showed up at 7:55 and they close at 8:00. I didn't even get a bag, I just threw everything in my trunk.

In spite of what you hear on the TV, times are actually really good right now. We're just into June and my tomato plants are already five feet tall and bearing fruit. Gasoline is plentiful, and we have our choice of stores at which to purchase cans to stock up for the bad times.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Food Depot commercial

This thing is awesome. Here's a low budget commercial for a regional discount grocery store. The woman singing the jingle at the end must have been an unpaid intern or somebody's relative. I imagine that longstanding favors were cashed in.

You can see from the few YouTube comments that this ad has a small cult following. In my house, my wife calls me in the TV room if I'm not there when this commercial comes on. It is a big deal.

To be clear, I am glad the lady that you hear was chosen to be the singer. I am a fan of individuality, a citizen's open access to the airwaves, and regional accents. You, the wind tunnel, may claim that she is an "amateur" or that the commercial is sloppy. Well, I would rather hear her than most professionals. She gets the job done. Singing "leave on a happy note..." and that is exactly what happens. I leave on a happy note.

From the comments:

mycuriosityshop wrote:

Start at .024 for the whacked out vocal

"Leave on a happy note, watching your savings grow"....

actually as "performed": le wone uh appie naute watching yur sabings gwow at feuuuud deepoep"

And RandomentalTV weighed in:

it sounds like shes saying

"leap on a happy nut, washing your savings crow at foodie pope"

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

First blog post

Well, I finally did it. I made the blog. I am shouting into a goddamn wind tunnel!

The liberating thing about shouting into a wind tunnel is that you can shout anything you please.

A friend recently lamented that some of our indie CD releases were like more "rain in the ocean". Meaning, difficult to attract attention to one drop, and possibly meaningless.

When I was a child I stood on the edge of a small fishing boat on Lake Oconee and was told "don't piss in the wind." Pissing in the wind is like the evil cousin of "rain in the ocean" - "rain in the ocean" is your existentialist friend who could use some cheering up, maybe a trip to the batting cages. "Pissing in the wind" not only invalidates your purpose, but actually attracts negative attention, covering your clothing with dots of boomeranging urine. Imagine you're standing there in the batting cage, and instead of a baseball, out comes a steaming yellow stream. Or, when you release a CD, and months later the distributor ships back hundreds of unsold, bent, pawed-over copies which threaten to bury you on your front doorstep. I hope this blog is not like that.

Originally I thought about calling this blog "Striped Light" - after one of my favorite Captain Beefheart lyrics. I wanted to use a word in the title that I have a hard time pronouncing, or have had to re-train myself how to pronounce. Ever since a kid, I have said "STRI-pid", using two syllables, sort of like how you say "stupid". I have now re-trained myself to say "stripe'd" in one terse syllable. It's not that I care if you think I sound like a hillbilly, it's that I don't want some minor pronunciation flaw to detract from the great stories I tell. As I regale you, the wind tunnel, with wilde tales of my exploits, keep your ears on the prize, for there is a punch line.

As I kid, for Coupon, I said "kew-pon," while the voice-overs on local TV grocer ads mostly seemed to say "coo-pon." I think my whole family said "kew-pon," as did lots of others. No one way is right, I'm convinced.

To this day when I say "double" people think I'm saying "devil," as in, rhymes with treble. The rub is, I pronounce "trouble" just fine. So - I'm serious - if I am talking to you about a Stevie Ray Vaughan album, I will say "Deble Trouble."

Which brings me to Double Coupon Day. A most exciting day. I can certainly pronounce "day." But before I get to "day" I will come at you like a feral, sideways hillbilly with the DEBLE KEWPON, approaching the automatic doors with ragged envelopes bursting at the seams with my clippings and printouts. I am ready to do this blog. I call that a Bargain. The best. I ever. Had.