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Saturday, August 8, 2009


What the hell is going on?

Seriously-- don't you sometimes watch yourself some TV and that exclamation/rhetorical question just slips effortlessly from your lips? My wife and I just saw an advertisement for something called "Nat Geo."

"What the fuck is 'Nat Geo?'" I asked Goodwife Apron.

"I dunno," she replied.

And then, at the commercial's conclusion, the emblem of a small, yellow rectangle with a globe inside of it appeared on the screen, and the words "National Geographic" fanned out across the screen and the deep, resounding bass voice of the announcer commanded you to tune into "Nat Geo."

Nat Geo.

What the hell is going on?

Who is the marketing genius who was hired to flip up National Geographic's pink Izod polo shirt collar? Come on. You can't just slip a pair of Ray Bans on a motherfucker and call it "cool." Or "Nat Geo" for that matter. The thing is, National Geographic wasn't cool when it was a magazine, and it isn't cool now that it's a cable channel. And it never will be. Period. I don't care what you call it-- "When Gazelles Attack," "So You Think You Can Hibernate?," or "The Bestial Rape Channel," sorry-- it's just National Geographic. Now, granted, National Geographic magazines are probably the publication where I saw my first pair of unadorned breasts, and I give obligatory props for that. Yes, they were a pair of floppy pancake-lookin' things, tenuously attached to the chests of several women from the Yanomamo tribe, but full nip is full nip. And these nips were full, no doubt. Like the hubcaps on a Hupmobile.

Still, why does a storied, venerable institution like National Geographic feel the need to coolify itself? What does it stand to gain?

It's happening in my city, too, and I'll bet it's happening in your city, too. Yes, even yours, Morgantown, West Virginia. The coolification of stodgy, stolid institutions to attract a younger, hipper crowd. I never thought, for instance, that hospitals would have much trouble attracting young people. I mean, young people flock to hospitals every day for a colorful variety of maladies-- from sexually transmitted diseases to closed head injuries from dumbass motorcycle-without-a-helmet stunts to multiple gunshot wounds (this is Philadelphia, after all). But hospitals are definitely marketing themselves on television to the youngins.

Take a look at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

They're working a couple angles in the name department. They sometimes go by "TJU" but they're not satisfied with mere abbreviations-- oh, no-- their television ad campaign, which must be costing them millions and millions of dollars an on-air minute, usually ends with "Call us by our first name. Jeff."

Now, that's kind of funny, because it's Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, right? Shouldn't we be calling them "Thomas" or, at least, "Tom?" I mean, how fucking stupid can you get. I'm sure Thomas Jefferson took a big, bloody shit in his coffin when that commercial first rolled out on the airwaves.

Then there's the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Now, I admit that this is a fucking mouthful, no doubt. Since my wife had surgery there, I've had to say that name a lot, and I've used several of its abbreviations in casual conversation, but it always landed me and the folks with whom I was conversing in confusion-- because there are too many coolisms/abbreviations. There's UPenn. People think you're talking about the school. There's Penn Medicine. Well, there's like, five Penn Medicine satellite campuses all across the suburbs, so people in the burbs can pretend like they're getting Penn care. They're not. Then there's U of P. Well, that just sounds nasty. There's also "HUP." People think you're a drill sergeant. Nobody knows what the fuck you're talking about. It's awesome.

We've also got this cute little museum downtown. It's called "The Benjamin Franklin Institute." Well, it was called that, but now it's commercially known as "The Franklin."


They also call it "TFI" on their website. No doubt this is to honor those in South Philly who, when friends ask if they're going to see the new Star Trek exhibit and where is it showing, they, adorned in their traditional wife-beaters, gold chains and smoothing back their shellaqued hair respond,

"Yea! I'm goin' to The Fuckin' Institute! You's wanna come?"


  1. That you called out Morgantown WV creeped me out. It was like you were speaking directly to me. Are you sad b/c I haven't been commenting? I know that you know that i visit, since you've mentioned before that you check you blog stats obsessively. I just haven't had anything to say.
    I don't know if there's a 'coolification' going on around here. I probably wouldn't notice if there was b/c I'm not cool nor have I ever been cool- I stopped even trying to be cool about 8 years ago. Morgantown is a university town so there is a lot directed at kids. What I have noticed is that the university book store is now on twitter and facebook- as announced by their giant sign in their strip mall's parking lot; also there's an student apartment complex called Augusta on the Square with the logo Au (superscript) 2. It makes me angry every time I see it b/c all I can think of is that Au is the atomic symbol for gold. It's like they thought they were being incredibly clever but had never taken high school chemistry.

  2. Also- I want to point out that there are no helmet laws in PA- yet another failing of your state.

  3. A lot of my friends basically speak in acronyms. When does it stop...? Pretty soon we'll just be uttering grunts.

  4. for further proof of america going down the tubes, see The Shack (formerly Radio Shack) and The Hut ( was Pizza Hut)

    was this really necessary?

  5. I heard about changing "The Franklin Institute" to "The Franklin" on NPR (you'll excuse my use of this acronym, I hope).

    Apparently, it completely bombed. It's back to being known as "The Franklin Institute."

    Score 1 for not being a lazy F*ck and speaking three extra syllables.


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