Oh, Granite! Oh, Steel!

Adulations on an especially mesmerizing marketing campaign

Discomfort Zone on Gay street

by Jack Mauro

In what I think of as a simple and stunning bit of promo, the Gallery Lofts has a blown-up floor plan of its condos hanging on Gay Street. It's been there for some time too, as enticing little â“soldâ” markers have been diagonally slapped on all but a few of the spaces over the past few months. You walk by and notice yet another dwelling taken. It means nothing, a condo purchase was the last thing you had reason to contemplate. Maybe you even just bought a spiffy new house somewhere. Unimportant. You see this thing and you bite your nails. Every cell in your body screams: Time is running out, fool.

My hat is tipped in admiration to whoever thought this marketing schtick up. They wisely made the thing not only pretty damn big, they made it colorful. They added furniture too, foreseeing that the popular mind will somehow assume those modular goodies are all part of the package. And they clearly succeeded because I often must skirt the folks on the street transfixed by this mural of salesmanship. I should stopwatch it to be sure, but I don't think Picasso's Guernica draws this kind of extensive, hypnotized gawking.

From me, too, I confess. I stop, I turn, I stare. I look at what's available and wonder if I could live with granite countertops when marble is just so much more elegant. Then I think that I ought to get a job before I ask them about making that kind of upgrade. Then I think that I don't need a job; all I have to do is maybe get some folding chairs and card tables, and hawk light snacks right there on the sidewalk. Lunch and a show.

I was doing just this woolgathering the other morning, a General Store bag with milk, Hershey bars, sausage biscuits, and V8 dangerously swinging from my hand. I looked at the illustration again. Three units left? Well, how the hell am I supposed to fill that remaining monster space on the fourth floor? If I wanted thousands of square feet, I'd buy a farm.

A couple then came out of Mast General Store and made their way over. Both middle-aged, both portly, and evidently married, based on the vibe I was picking up (something like the love/hate duality intrinsic to conjoined twins). As they neared me and the floor plan, she said, â“I ain't taking them out.â”

He said, â“I ain't askin' you to.â” This, I deduced, was no reference to dogs or dinner guests, but to what had to be a pair of trousers in the Mast bag he carried. Quite possibly chosen more for vanity than for a practical approach to girth. Then they stood behind me, taking in the high-tech Dreams of Happiness still available and hanging on that Gay Street tarp.

â“How much they asking for that big one?â” she wondered aloud. â“I don't see no prices.â”

â“A lot.â”

I felt, rather than saw, her head whip around. â“Where you see that?â”

â“I don't,â” he said. â“But I heard. Shit, they want a lot .â” He is correct, I thought. Shit, I've seen the pricing. â“A lotâ” is indeed the exact figure.

My new friends continued to take in this one-dimensional, microcosmic Gallery. If I had stayed, a disquieting sense of kinship might've developed, so I prepared to scoot. Just before my exit, though, I heard her say: â“There's room enough for Little Mike, anyways.â” To which her presumed hubby assented, â“Al'ays got to be room for Little Mike.â”

For a block and a half I pictured Little Mike as a hulking son with an inch of forehead and a shaky history of residences, as the family Doberman, or as a plasma TV so loved it is hugged and named. Then scarier Little Mikes began swirling in my brain. I went home and ate sausage biscuits and Hershey bars in front of a small TV, relied upon, maybe even cared for, but, alas, nameless.

L'Envoi

Down Gay a bit more and from the other, KUB-ish side of the street, one sees the Sapphire bar. One then sees, just above the entry and etched in stone, the legend â“Hope Brothers,â” referring to the siblings who were evidently the building's original merchants. And I write this only to exhort Sapphire to use what Fate has so blatantly handed unto them. That is: boys, boys! Just carve a comma after that â“Hope,â” Sapphire, and you got yourselves the most platonically perfect a catchphrase any watering hole couldâ well, hope for. Let's keep that Gay Street marketing cutting-edge, if you please.

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