Pumpkin Seeds: Anti-Corporate America Edition

1. In a bizarre turn of events in the Yummy Sandwich saga, I bumped into its President/Owner, Avi, on Tuesday afternoon as I was heading out for lunch and a walk in the park. He was standing out in front of my office building, wearing a Yummy Sandwich t-shirt, and stopped me, asking my name with a gleam in his eye. It took a second for my brain to process everything as I answered, “Guy. Why? Are you kidnapping me?” He laughed and we talked and he apologized for the infamous Powerpoint presentation, “We’re a new company and we’re making a lot of mistakes but we didn’t mean to offend anyone.” He explained the “illegal immigrants” line as trying to quell landlords’ fears of security and lamented the difficulty of trying to simultaneously appeal to CEOs, employees and landlords. Apparently, they’re still in our building but he says a combination of inconsistency and my complaint to HR about their presentation got them the boot from our offices. He was surprised when I told him no one from HR had ever addressed my complaint directly, not even so much as acknowledging receipt of the email. He says they’re updating the presentation based on the things I sent them last week and I suggested they either take it off the website or password-protect it. Jus from a business perspective, it’s crazy to have it out there for competitors to access and cherry-pick. He was a nice guy and seemed sincere. The fact that he was in uniform, actually working the cart was appealing, too. He gave me a free sandwich – which yes, was pretty yummy – and I told him I’d write something complimentary.

2. Dear Diana Taylor: If you happen to come across my journal while searching for info on Yummy Sandwich, let me assure you that I now believe that, despite their shaky start, they’re fundamentally a good group of people, Avi, in particular. Mistakes are to be learned from, not permanently marked for, and I applaud them for seeing the error of their ways.

3. “Synergy” is one of those corporate buzzwords that usually means someone is about to lose their job. In the interminable restructuring going on here at work, the domino effect has claimed another victim and found me barely dodging the axe. What was presented as a merge of two groups has become a hostile takeover and I’m the last Survivor from Tribe Fucked. Because I’m “highly-regarded,” instead of cutting me loose because my position is conveniently being upgraded to a “senior-level” slot, I’m being offered “a great opportunity” – aka a shift to two of our lesser titles and what is effectively a lateral promotion in change of title from Marketing Coordinator to Assistant Promotions Manager. In other words, the new Director wants to assemble her own team and I’ll get to handle titles she’s already put her imprint on. (There’s a pretty reliable rumor that I have that option only because the CEO stepped in on my behalf as a favor to a mutual friend! Thanks, D!) Crap is what it is as I’ve fallen victim to being really good at my job as it was defined in one structure, and not being given an opportunity to make my case as to what I’m capable of doing in the new structure. Actual details are pending, so there’s still a possibility I may be looking for a job by the end of next week.

4. Poetry Slam, Inc. has officially sold out. Welcome Clear Channel, that bastion of free speech and individuality, the official sponsor of the 2004 National Poetry Slam. Good news for the entertainers, bad news for the poets. It was fun while it lasted but it’s been time for something new for a while now. [UPDATE: Add R.J. Reynolds to the list of friendly corporate citizens sponsoring the event!]

5. It’ll be interesting to see how many supposedly socially-conscious poets back out of NPS in protest of Clear Channel’s involvement. My guess? ZERO. The lure of potential fame trumps loosely-held ideals every time.

8 thoughts on “Pumpkin Seeds: Anti-Corporate America Edition

  1. Guy, it is very big of you to say that Yummy Sandwich has made a mistake, and they are good people. If more people were like you, the world would look pretty different. As for the job thing, always keep a resume updated and posted. You never know how long it takes to find another job. I’ve updated my resume two months ago, and I haven’t gotten one response. As for the Clear Channel deal, how did that happen?

  2. Why not take over marketing for Yummy Sandwich?

    No, really. Why not?

    I mean, there’s the whole, you created a PR sh!tstorm and all, but there’s the whole “I was a hater, now I’m a lover.” angle. Okay, maybe that’s too sell out for you…

    Or, by St. Cuthbert’s beard, the only way to change the system is to become part of the system.

  3. About the PSi thing: Once upon a time artists and writers did not have to go to corporatins for subsistence, they would receive funds from “patrons of the Arts” anyone from the King to an eccentric millionaire or the church. So now they are multinational corporations looking to improve their PR, they are no more or less evil or corrupt than any of the patrons of old. I think the real trick is to get corporations to fund something willingly that they don’t fully understand. Let the corporations fund the poets, maybe it’ll mean that more poets will be able to do it full time, and not have to work odd jobs. Maybe it’ll mean we can be better organized, maybe even get healthcare like other writers or perfomers. Maybe they’ll be funding their own downfall, and if not at least they’ll fund some art some of the time. Political satirists get paid, left wing documentarians get paid, even activist administrators get paid so why not slam poets.

  4. It’s not corporate sponsorship that’s the issue, Ed — it’s RJR and ClearChannel — for me, especially the latter (enough poets smoke to at least make it an understandable sponsorship, even if I do find it personally abhorrent). But CC is a prime mover of the dumbing down of radio as a place to find new voices; they’ve censored antiwar songs; they’ve sponsored pro-war rallies and made the distinction between news and entertainment even more vague; they monopolize entire markets and put on narrow playlists. They’re bad guys for artists. It’s incredible to me that we’re in bed with them.

  5. ClearChannel National Poetry Slam 2007

    How does that sound?

    I hate CC for my own personal reasons. They tried to buy my company out and by one technical error on their part; we were left in tact. Speaking from the point of view of an employed monger of a media company; CC will be the H.I.V to slowly kill NPS.

  6. I think that it is risky to be in a deal with them if it does become “clearchannel National Poetry slam or anything where they have to much say in the programing or organization, but sometimes c corporations just want to hedge their bets and be involved in as many cutting edge things as they can, I don’t think NPS is part of their master plan to take over spoken word, its just some side thing they do in addition to a hundred other promotional things. That being said I think it is important not to relinquish control just because you are accepting sponsorship, I think the most they should be allowed to do is bleep out cursing in the broadcast and choose which poems to broadcast or not. This may sound like a lot but the fines fro cursing on the radio just got hiked to 750,000 an incident, and the choosing thing is the same thing that Def Poetry did, and no one seemed to have a problem with it then.
    I just think something needs to be done to make NPS more important than it has been in the past. Nobody outside the “scene” ever gives a shit whether it goes on at all. The freaking world series of darts gets huge crowds and coverage in Las Vegas, but no on e even knows what NPS is.

  7. I promise you there are already teams out there who have made the decision to drop out. It’ll be fun and interesting to see what happens. I’m not going so I won’t be there to see the S*^T storm, but I bet it’ll be quite entertaining.


  8. Never thought I’d see the day that PSI was afraid to sell out to a black man (Russel Simmons), so they go for the cowboy hat…..

    “Run! RUN!! little hip-hop poets! Come here in the Texas Clear Channel tent where it’s safe and warm!!!”

    Just proves that some poets do things about the wrongs of the world,


    they just try to score points.

    PS-writing a poem isn’t doing something. Neither is reading it.

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