April 1, 2015

And you know, the kids, like all kids, loved the rock, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it.

The inventor of the Pet Rock has died. "Gary Dahl, the man behind that scheme — described variously as a marketing genius and a genial mountebank — died on March 23 at 78."

Shouldn't that be a genial genius and a marketing mountebank?
One night in the mid-’70s, he was having a drink in Los Gatos.... The bar talk turned to pets, and to the onus of feeding, walking and cleaning up after them.

His pet, Mr. Dahl announced in a flash of bibulous inspiration, caused him no such trouble. The reason?

“I have a pet rock,” he explained.

A pet rock, Mr. Dahl quickly realized, might just have legs.

“People are so damn bored, tired of all their problems,” he told People magazine in 1975. “This takes them on a fantasy trip — you might say we’ve packaged a sense of humor.”
Meade sent me that link along with a second link, which he thinks is good material for a bloggerly riff: "Scott Walker, Allergic to Dogs, May Run Against Political History."
Jeb Bush can lament how he lost a Labrador (named for his brother Marvin) to cancer. Marco Rubio has a Shih Tzu, with a name like a gift from heaven: Manna. Ted Cruz goes one better: His rescue mutt is called Snowflake. (“Dear Jesus, please, please, PLEASE bring us a puppy,” his daughters prayed, according to Mr. Cruz’s Facebook page.) And if Mr. Walker makes it to November, he could face Hillary Rodham Clinton and her toy poodle, Tally.

Mr. Walker, who gives a gloomy stump speech filled with “worry,” perhaps could use a four-legged image softener of his own. But he is allergic to dog dander, an aide confirmed.

And in that, he is running against the long sweep of United States political history. If the ritual for presidential candidates wooing American voters had a handbook, “must love dogs” would be somewhere near the front....
Meade thinks Scott Walker could get a Pet Rock and go all Nixon....

And you know, the kids, like all kids, loved the rock, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it.


rhhardin said...

Nobody thought of a pet roll, an obvious companion animal.

Laslo Spatula said...

'The bar talk turned to men, and to the onus of feeding, walking and cleaning up after them.'


No dealing with such messes: a novelty dildo for the ladies! "Pet... Pet...?"

If only I could think of an appropriate word for the dildo that rhymed with 'rock'.

I am Laslo.

Bob Boyd said...

Did you know Scott Walker once drove hundreds of miles with a rock in his tread? Heartless bastard!

Wince said...

Can't Walker get a dog with hair, not fur?

Like Obama's Portuguese Water Dog.

Bob Boyd said...

He could court the Latino vote with a Mexican Hairless.

Original Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Original Mike said...

"One night in the mid-’70s, he was having a drink in Los Gatos."

I used to frequent that bar; Carrie Nation.

Meade said...

One other thing I probably should tell you because if I don't they'll probably start another John Doe investigation, we did get something—a gift—after the recall election. A man over in Madison heard Tonette on Twitter mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a rock. And, believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign trip we got an email from the man, a Mr. Mahal, saying he had a package for us. Now did we go down to get that package? No. We sent the bomb squad.

Stephen said...

Allergic to canines AND no college degree? I'm beginning to really like this guy for sneezing at his underdog status!

mikesixes said...

Maybe he could get a poodle. They're hypoallergenic.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The inventor of the Pet Rock has died.

I wonder if they've named his headstone.

Brando said...

LBJ could tell the difference between that Checkers speech and chicken salad.

garage mahal said...

More likely: dogs are allergic to Walker.

mccullough said...

Maybe he can get a pet gator like Sonny Crockett on Miami Vice.

Mike Sylwester said...

Art Buchwald, January 8, 1976


WASHINGTON D.C. -- "We knew it would happen, but we never dreamed it would be this bad," said Tolstoy Pugh, the director of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Rocks.

"What happened?"

"Kids are starting to abandon the pet rocks they were given for Christmas, and we have to take care of them. We don't have the facilities or the money to do it."

Tolstoy explained that the pet rock was the biggest item sold this year and millions of them, all packaged in little cardboard boxes with feeding and training instructions, were sold in every department store in America for $4.95.

"When we first heard about it we went to the people who were selling the rocks and said, 'Do you know what you're doing? After the thrill of owning a rock is over, millions of kids are going to abandon them and someone is going to have to look after them.' But the rock people just laughed at us and said, 'No kid who owns a rock is going to let it go. He's going to learn to love his rock and treat it with the affection and care it deserves.'"

Tolstoy said, "Well, they were wrong. As soon as school started we got reports of abandoned rocks in the streets and in the woods. Our people started to round them up, but it's not easy to catch a rock, particularly when it's frightened, hungry and cold. We brought them to the rock shelter, but space is at a premium and pretty soon we were up to our eyeballs in pet rocks. I've never seen anything like it."

Mike Sylwester said...

Art Buchwald, continued ...

Can't you get people to come to your shelter and adopt the rocks?" I asked him.

"We've had a publicity campaign, but when the people come, all they want are the little rocks. No one wants a full-grown one as they're no fun to play with. But actually the larger rocks are better for homes as they've been house trained."

"What do you do with the rocks that no one wants?"

Tolstoy said, "What can we do? We keep them for two weeks and then if no one wants them we put them to sleep."

"Oh, no," I said.

"Well, it's either that or turning the over to a lab for geology experiments. The ASPCR has a policy not to co-operate with geologists by providing them with pet rocks for their research. But our facilities for putting rocks to sleep have reached their straining point and we may be forced to give them to the universities whether we want to or not."

"How can people be so cruel as to abandon a pet rock?" I said.

"I blame it on their parents," Tolstoy said. "When it comes to Christmas all they think about it what will please their kids on Christmas morning. It never occurs to them how much work is involved in taking care of a rock. We've had calls from neighbors who actually found a pet rock on their law on Christmas afternoon, obviously thrown away after the kid got tired of playing with it."

Mike Sylwester said...

Art Buchwald, continued ...

"It's hard to believe," I said.

"What we're doing now is trying to get people to think twice before they buy a pet rock for their children. We're asking them to investigate the problems involved with keeping one in the house. Will there be someone home to take care of it? Do they know what it costs to feed one? And we're adving them if they want a pet, they should consider a dog or a cat before a rock, as it will give them less trouble."

"That makes sense. I imagine there is nothing you can do to the pepole who sold the pet rocks in the first place."

"Our lawyers are working on it now. I think if people had to license their pet rocks, they would not be so fast about abandoning them. Oh, dear," said Tolstoy. "there's another one over by the curb. I better pick it up before it gets hit by a car."

The rock was cold and wet and looked terribly lost. It was enough to make you cry.

LuAnn Zieman said...

So Walker is allergic to dog and Obama has eaten dog. One of those is culturally unacceptable.

lemondog said...

Allergic to dogs?


Many dander-free alternatives: baby rhino, African grey parrot, piglet, turtle, gecko......

Are donkeys dander-free?

Quaestor said...

Abraham Lincoln's dog was called...? Does anyone know this? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

If we are going to talk about marketing mountebanks, let's talk about Dasani and Aqua Fina and bottled water in general.

How is that any different from a pet rock?

In 1999, at the National Soft Drink Association a VP of Coke got up and said how they had been inspired to rip people off by Starbucks.

"ten cents worth of coffee, a nickle of chemicals, the heat sleeve and they converted a 50 cup of coffee into a $4 drink.

We can take the sugar, flavor, carbonation out of Coke and sell just the water, in the same bottle, for the same price"

Quoting from memory. I was in the audience and heard it first hand. It was one of the keynote speeches.

So now people pay for water they get free from the tap and fill the landfills with copious quantities of PET.

And the folks who came up with bottled water are NOT just as much marketing mountebanks as the pet rock guy?

John Henry

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Quaestor said...

Abraham Lincoln's dog was called...? Does anyone know this?

I don't know what his dog was called, but I know what his dog's tail was called.

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Lincoln's dog was called "Splash".

Oh, wait.

That was the dog Ted Kennedy named in honor of Mary Jo Kopechne.

John Henry

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Many dander-free alternatives: baby rhino, African grey parrot, piglet, turtle, gecko......

And all good eating. Especially baby black rhino.

And dogs too, of course.

John Henry

lemondog said...

Abraham Lincoln's dog was called...? Does anyone know this? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?


Quaestor said...
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Quaestor said...

Progressives make good pets, they’re sorta like a high-maintenance pet rocks.

Progressives in captivity have rather strict diary requirements -- no meat, gluten, or diary -- which mostly restricts your feed choices to organic rutabaga and hummus. In the wild progressives eat anything they can overpower, in fact some people in humid climates encourage progressives to live in their crawlspaces to deal with the mold problem.

I recall visiting the Lipsky family home in Pensacola, Florida, a city notorious for it humidity. I became alarmed at the whinging sounds coming from the air conditioning register.

"Oh, that's just our wild olbermann foraging for mildew," said Mrs. Lipsky, "nothing to worry about."

Pet progressives, however, are notably finicky, almost to the point of being a different species; though scientists assure us they are not. Though it will insist on being feed from an ever-shrinking menu gluten-free, free-trade, non-GM, organic free-range vegetables, the typical pet progressive will also complain about the monotony of its diet using its characteristic ear-splitting DAYE-VER-SEE-TEE call. Training your pet progressive not to call will be an interesting challenge. Some fanciers find a distracting shiny object, like a Grammy, will shut up a noisy progressive for three or four minutes.

Too many first time pet progressive owners find the noise and bother intolerably tedious, and consequently abandon their progressives in the wild where many die of neglect (see Chapter Two Why Your Pet Progressive Demands So Much Attention) or fall prey to faster, more intelligent life forms like the rag-headed jihadimouse, the brown urbanbaitor, and the rare but deadly tattooed naziskin. Therefore if you must give up your progressive please contact a progressive rescue organization, such as the Utne Reader. They can give good advice about re-homing you unwanted pet or, in extremis, euthanasia, (see Chapter Five Putting Down Your Pet Progressive, and Why Everyone Wants To) which brings up the subject of acquiring your pet progressive in the first place.

With hundreds of thousands of homeless pet progressives wandering our streets, clustering in vegan cafés, and roosting in abandoned industrial structures in Jackson Heights (known in the fancy as “lofts”) why would anyone choose to contribute to the problem by buying a progressive when there are so many free to adopt? And whatever you do, please don’t buy a pet progressive from one of those so-called “progressive mills” like Sarah Lawrence or Beloit. These unscrupulous businesses charge hundreds of thousands for a “choice” specimen, but all you really get for your money is a completely untrainable progressive with an unusually loud call, and a framed parchment “pedigree” that is mostly fake. If you do buy from a progressive mill it’s likely you won’t keep your pet very long. Progressive mills don’t breed for survival. Unless your mill progressive also comes with a “trust fund” it will probably starve to death.

One advantage pet progressives have over more traditional pets like dogs and cats is there is no problem associated with the failure of owners to spay or neuter their pets. Almost all male pet progressives are naturally neutered by female pet progressives. Female pet progressives rarely need to be spayed because the majority only come into heat in the presence of other females. (See Chapter Four Breeding and Whelping, Where the Heck Do They Come From?)