Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I wasn't going to write anything today. I scanned the headlines and was gripped by a profound sense of ennui. I was not in the mood to kvetch, despite the fact that there is plenty to gripe about. And voila, I just found a little item that provoked the urge to rant once again. There will never be a shortage, I'm afraid.
Used to be, in the days before the world was disposable, not that long ago, that if you wanted to be a writer, you sat on your ass and wrote. Now apparently, all it takes is going to Wal-Mart for 41 hours.
What revolts me is not the guy who had the idea to write about his quick sojourn in hell, but the fact that the media came knocking as if the guy was the next Phillip Roth.

Then, The Des Moines Register, which had been contacted by Spaulding-Kruse, called to ask him about the experience. Once the story ran, ABC and other networks began calling.

He started his day Tuesday talking with Diane Sawyer on ABC's "Good Morning America" and told The Associated Press he had decided the stunt wasn't such a failure after all.

He's talked with a book agent after a Penguin books author saw the story on the Internet. He also has been contacted by New Line Cinema about a movie concept.

Tuesday afternoon he did a radio interview with National Public Radio, and CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" was arranging a flight to New York for an appearance later in the week.

Of course the guy is both revolted and amused at the circus he unwittingly created. However, he's not revolted enough not to use his 15 minutes of fame accordingly. And who can blame him?
Bartels said he's surprised by the attention, but it's like a dream for anyone with hopes of ever becoming a writer.

"Whereas, I think the project itself is a failure, I could use this media stuff as a third leg of a book if I wrote it, about how America eats this stuff up," he said. "I'm incredibly happy with the press coverage. It would be kind of silly not to accept it with open arms."

Wal Mart immediately tried to spin the incident in their favor, willfully oblivious to the fact that if someone chooses to spend 41 hours of his time at Wal Mart, he is either clinically insane or fishing for a book contract.

...Spokesman Kevin Thornton... said the story has taken off because of Wal-Mart's stature.

"We have 3,800 locations in the U.S. One-hundred million people go through our stores every week," he said. "Wal-Mart is part of the fabric of life and this kind of reiterates that."

Yeah, right.

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