GateHouse — Once newspapers fade away entirely, which might have happened already (if you’re reading this online, THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES), I have plans to retire into a quiet academic life filled with study, a collection of about 90 pipes and a vague air of patronizing superiority and teach a grad-level course on Advertisements For Trucks.
Because I don’t care where you are or who you came from, you can spend hours, literally PRIMALLY REWARDING HOURS, studying these magnificent little nuggets of quality American craftsmanship for all manner of sniffly English-major stuff — narrative, coherence of message, barely containable homosexual undertones — you can’t get in lame boring books by “Ernest Hemingway” or “William Faulkner” or any of those other made-up jerks.
Generally speaking, my favorite truck ads are the ones in which behemoth vehicles from Japan can be seen cavorting and/or wrestling each other in vast pits of mud, because in America mud is the only place where REAL MAN WORK CAN BE DONE, unless there is an ultimate fighting ring or, if you’re way lucky, a gun show nearby. Because you, Sally, and your gingham sweater vest cannot POSSIBLY KNOW WHAT IT IS TO BE A MAN unless you have personally transported several hundred tons of cinder through a couple of Olympic-sized swimming pools thick with stormwater runoff, with sewage, hopefully.
Many years in the future, when studying the history of the human condition, those aliens that Scientologists pray to or whatever will study the advertisements we’ve left behind and determine that humans were basically a chiseled, sweaty race of stubble models who required vehicles capable of transporting legions of men and probably elephants through brutal, jagged mountain passes and not, say, people who used those trucks exclusively to hit up the outlet mall for golf equipment and khaki things.
So anyway, there’s a series of commercials starring Howie Long, a former football player who is now primarily deployed for selling goods and services, which he does with a regularity that would blow his flipping hair back, were it carbon-based.
Howie in his post-football career has plugged the following companies: Radio Shack, Coors Light, Nike, Campbell’s Chunky Soup, Frito Lay, Hanes, both Coke and Pepsi somehow, Taco Bell, Kraft, Nabisco, and others. It is frankly difficult to determine how Howie Long has managed to carve out any time at all for basic human necessities like sleep, football-TV-show suit fittings and hair maintenance.
Anyway, Howie’s in a commercial for an auto company that got a bunch of your money very recently that is making fun of an equally massively failing auto company that put a step on one of its trucks. The step is so if you had to get into the truck, you could use a step to do it, instead of leaping directly into it, like Wolverine or George Clooney. This DRIVES HOWIE LONG INSANE, at least in commercials, which is apparently the only place Howie Long exists, so we’re counting it as real life.
So in these commercials, Howie Long scoffs and sniffs and calls the doughy step-truck guy “Buddy,” like you’d say to someone whose girlfriend just spent 30 minutes feeling your bicep, and makes little girl-flippy arms and prances around singing “Your Song” to him in the parking lot of someplace like Lowe’s (which has inexplicably been left out of the Howie Long TV Advertising Buffet) because he needs assistance getting into a truck. Probably because he’s spent a pretty decent chunk of his adult years consuming God knows the volume of materials from Coors Light, Frito Lay, Coke and Pepsi somehow, Taco Bell, Kraft and Nabisco.
“You left your little man-step down,” says Howie Real American Grrauhrauhaurhuarhugh Unfrozen Caveman Long, climbing ruggedly into his own Abrams tank-like Machine of Justice and Fierceness to do Man Things like shoot snappy Radio Shack commercials with one of the Desperate Housewives. The doughy other dude stands there, blank-faced, holding onto his teddy bear and pretty new sundress wondering if he has lost the only chance he’ll ever have to win the love and admiration of Howie Long.
Sorry, I don’t mean to single out a particular commercial, except that it runs 600 times every hour, right after the one about the pigs who eat ham or whatever. And besides, what else am I going to do? My bracket is totally shot now, not that I want to single anybody out but see if I ever trust you again, University of Stupid Jerkface Louisville.