February 15th, 2005

monkey pirate

An Open Letter to Hallmark re: St. Drogo's Day

Dear Hallmark Cards;

Well, your holiday has come and gone. St. Valentine's Day - once a feast venerating a legitimate saint, has become a commercial enterprise ginned up by you folks so that Americans can spend money and worship at one of our pre-eminent cults; the cult of romantic love. A combination of cheap sentiment, crass commercialism, and legitimate romantic aspirations and dreams has created one day a year when people celebrate one of the most important underpinnings of our daily lives - love. Please don't mistake me, I believe that Valentine's Day has far greater relevance to most people than many of the holidays we celebrate. Arbor Day, for instance. How many people really care about the trees? No, not like, "I care about the trees because they're pretty and sound nice when the wind blows" - I'm talking full-on Lorax "speak for the trees" kind of caring. How many? Not many, especially not here in California where I live - where the trees are all palms, which hardly count as trees, frankly. But I digress.

The point is, you've cleverly leveraged your marketing know-how and special place in America's sentimental consciousness to create a holiday to celebrate love. But what are the bitter bastards, the loners, the iconoclasts and the introverts supposed to do? There's a whole niche market (and if the people I meet around here are at all typical, there's a lot of jerks with no day to call their own...) that you can sell cards for and to, as well as tchotchkes, stuffed animals, stickers -- all the paraphernalia of one your trademark "I'm thinking of you..." days. I therefore have a suggestion, which I give to you freely and without legal constraint to use as you will. Celebrate a day for the rat bastards, the lonely-hearts, the ugly, the unloved and the solitary. I know a long list of people I'd buy cards for!

In a sense, this holiday would serve as an antipode to St. Valentine's Day. If Valentine's Day is for those who love or are loved, this day would be for those who do not love, or are not loved. I humbly suggest that you coopt St. Drogo's Feast Day, just as you did St. Valentine's Day. St. Drogo is the patron saint of mutes, ugly people, the mentally ill, and coffee shops, among others. His feast day is April 16th, which is sufficiently after Valentine's Day to be a separate occasion (thus allowing your stores to restock in anticipation of this exciting new holiday!). Further, mid April is lacking for any serious gift or card-giving occasions. Obviously from Hallmark's point of view, this must be what you would call an "opportunity derived from low market pressure". St. Drogo was a Flemish noble who lived a reclusive life as a penitent hermit. He was stricken with a physical illness that rendered him repulsive. No doubt living in a hut in the woods exacerbated his condition - but the important thing is that St. Drogo is an inspiration to the ugly, the afflicted, and the chronically alone and unloved. Imagine the cards you could gin up!

We could start a tradition of the unloved and ugly spending the day at their favorite (or perhaps least favorite, given Drogo's predilictions for extreme penance) coffee shop in quiet and antisocial repose. Beautiful (or even simply not-repulsive) people could visit them, and give them cards, expressing admiration for their courage in bearing up under the intolerable pain of isolation, the loathing of their peers who, on every other day but St. Drogo's Day, eschew their company and revile their presence.

I think we've got a real winner on our hands, here, Hallmark. While I'm most interested in giving something back to the ugly and unloved community that has born me in its bosom for so many years, I wouldn't mind "doing well while doing good", you know what I'm saying? So if you needed a marketing director to spearhead this thrilling new opportunity, I think I'm definitely your man. Or if not me, then my friend Brian Schoener, who is dearly beloved by St. Drogo (and probably no one else.) But even if you're not interested in engaging my services, I hope you'll start to throw your market weight around and make St. Drogo's Day happen. Ugly people need love, too, ok? At least one day a year - and it's clearly never going to be Valentine's Day.

I thank you for your time and attention, and look forward to working with you.

Yours etc;
David Krieger
U.S. Army (ret)
monkey pirate

Reversal of Fortune

Last night and this morning, I was feeling totally down and out. I headed out to do laundry at my Aunt and Uncle's house, and talking to them was good, it helped me get my head on straight.

What a difference 24 hours makes - I'm told the sounds I cut for "McBride" were pretty good, which I didn't think they were yesterday. Even more exciting - on Thursday, I'm meeting with the writer/producer at Disney to talk about my script. He called the studio and asked if I would be in so he could talk to me about it.

Without getting ahead of myself - if he wants to talk to me, it at least means that he read it and has some observations. That's huge. Do you know how hard it is in Hollywood to get someone to read your material? Even if his comments are just a polite rejection (and realistically that's almost certainly the case) - at least I'll get feedback. Which means my next effort will be better, and closer to the mark - until finally someday someone buys my material and I get hired. I'm very excited, but trying (and succeeding) not to have unreasonable expectations.

Lastly, and maybe best of all; last September 11th, I did a spontaneous candle-light vigil back in West Chester for the 9/11 victims. At the time I was working for John Kerry's campaign, but it was a non-partisan event, people from all walks of life stopped by, lit a candle, and stood on the corner with us to show their support and their memory. We had folks from local churches, local anti-war activists, Republicans, Democrats, students and seniors. It was a great event. And today, one of the guys who just wandered by and ended up volunteering for the rest of the campaign, who I hadn't heard from or had any reasonable expectation that I would - wrote to tell me that he met the love of his life at that vigil that night, and that he and she (who is another friend of mine) are deliriously happy together. He just wrote to say "thanks".

Man, that's good stuff. I got all misty-eyed, and I'm not kidding. I wish every scheme or idea I had ended up with happy people like that. And knowing the good feeling I am experiencing at hearing about their happiness, I am resolved to be grateful to people who do right by me in my own life.