Glenn O’Brien

  • Advertising

    IT ALWAYS AMAZES ME when I’m watching a football game and all that soaring and hurling and colliding and bleeding and limping is suddenly interrupted by an advertisement for something remarkably abstract and unpurchasable. I don’t know why, but aerospace contractors and microchip makers and high-technology companies with products priced in six or more figures are always advertising in the middle of football and basketball games. Why does ITT, for example, want to reach the fans, the plebs, the masses?

    We can easily understand and accept the beer ads that come with the game. We can easily understand

  • Advertising

    ONE OF OUR LOCAL basketball heroes, Chris Mullin, recently of Saint John’s University in Queens, now with Oakland’s Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association, has been in the newspapers quite a lot lately because he’s been receiving treatment for alcoholism. Sports fans are used to hearing about pro basketball players and other athletes undergoing rehabilitation for drug addiction, but all-American Chris Mullin seems to be the last person anyone ever expected to see in rehab, even though his uncle died of the complications of alcoholism. Mullin is devoted to his sport and he

  • Advertising

    DARYL HANNAH WAS on TV the other night, on Entertainment Tonight, and she was angry. She was angry that the Coca-Cola Company, which owns Columbia Pictures, ganged up its advertising, selling the picture she made for the studio, with Steve Martin, and the soft drink all in the same spot. Daryl doesn't do ads, even in Japan, where Sly Stallone (sausages), Sting (beer), Mickey Rourke (whiskey), Joseph Beuys (whiskey), Woody Allen (a department store), and many other big stars have appeared regularly in TV commercials that are not shown outside Asia. She thinks it would affect her integrity as an

  • Advertising

    CHRISTMAS IS THAT TIME of year when we celebrate God becoming a man (or was it the other way around?) by spending a lot of money on ourselves, our loved ones, and our clients.

    Deciding what you want for Christmas is always a tough problem, so this year I have decided on a different approach. I am taking the approach, “What I don’t want for Christmas.” I wrote Santa a Dear John letter; I said I didn’t want anything. Should there prove to be a Santa, he will probably be grateful, and generous anyway. But I did apprise him of the things I don’t want, especially because of a wave of ads that have

  • Fort Madison Avenue.

    THE YOUNG JET ACE WALKS away from his bird, carrying his helmet. His CO comes over and congratulates him on his flying. The CO asks the young pilot if he won’t reconsider and sign up for another hitch. The young pilot says no, that he and his girl have made plans. The CO then hands the pilot a letter. It’s a letter he’s been expecting. It’s from American Airlines. He’s been accepted. “I hope they know they’re getting one of the best,” says the CO.

    Meanwhile, up around 40,000 feet a bunch of even younger top guns are hot-rodding their interceptors to music by a band that sounds a lot like ZZ Top.

  • All the better to eat you with.

    RECENTLY I HAPPENED to catch an ABC News “business brief,” an indispensable service for those whose perception of Wall Street tends to dull during prime time, and what I heard made me skip a program in my channel-changing. Gold and silver were up, the Dow Jones was way up, but, the anchorwoman noted, Consumer Confidence was down considerably. Only a few weeks before, polls had showed that most Americans believed that their president was lying to them. From there it seemed only a matter of time before they would begin to suspect their laundry detergent of lying to them.

    It would be easy to blame

  • Amaretto di Ollie

    SINCE I BEGAN TO WRITE this column I have noticed that many of the people I know have an attitude toward advertising somewhere between disdain and contempt. These liberal and apparently cultured people tend to assume that if it’s an ad it must be a lie. The rest of the people I know are now appearing in ads for Amaretto or Rose’s lime juice.

    As more and more people I know are showing up in liqueur and syrup ads and as more and more people I know manifest an exaggerated disdain for advertising as the most visible aspect of supercapital, treating it as one of the lowest forms of human communication,

  • H-h-h-heads and tails.

    JUST REMEMBER, DOG IS GOD spelled backward.

    There’s a real party animal. His name is Spuds MacKenzie. He is a dog for whom the girls go. He’s not a beautiful or handsome dog by most standards. He is of that short and composed breed from Britain that looks like a carnivorous sheep. Spuds MacKenzie is Budweiser Lite beer’s cool new role model, their answer to Pepsi’s Don Johnson and Miller’s Rodney Dangerfield. Spuds might be a dog, but he doesn’t even look at dogs anymore. He is the ultimate in upward mobility. He travels by chauffeur-driven convertible, he wears Ray Bans, he orders Bud, and he


    Character is understood as a state of continual incandescence—a person being one, very intense thing.

    —Susan Sontag, “Notes on ‘Camp’”

    “Mr. Rockford, are you a connoisseur of art?”

    “I had a painted turtle when I was a kid.”

    The Rockford Files

    Camp is first of all a second childhood.

    —Philip Core, Camp: The Lie That Tells the Truth

    PEE-WEE HERMAN IS A BEACON, incandescent, illuminating. He’s a flaming star—one very, very intense thing. Pee-wee Herman casts a tall shadow for a guy named Pee-wee. He’s a movie star and a TV star. His audience is “children of all ages.” He’s the first real children’s

  • Advertising

    With the radio on to a mystery program me, and as I looked out the window and saw a sign that said USE COOPER’S PAINT and I said, “Okay, I will,” we rolled across the hoodwink night of the Louisiana plains.

    —Jack Kerouac, On the Road

    The dogs of art are howling for Andy. Who is left to like everything? Andy liked everything that was ingenious, outlandish, obvious. But he also liked the things nobody had ever bothered to like. In an age of peace and love when everybody hated the system, Andy said he didn’t believe in love and then he loved everything.

    That’s really great. That’s so great.


  • Advertising

    I HAVEN’T ACTUALLY SEEN any of the new ads yet except on the evening news, but their tactics are almost enough to make one give up condoms. We’ve been reading the copy line “sold for the prevention of disease only” for years now, but who were they kidding. In the past, for nine out of ten users, condoms (or rubbers, as they were known outside the trade) existed for the sole purpose of preventing premature reproduction. Times have changed.

    Until recently, condom advertisements were found almost exclusively in “men’s” magazines. They were not welcome elsewhere on grounds of taste. But soon they’ll

  • Advertising

    A LITTLE BOY ASKS, “Did we win the war, daddy?” A man says, “We must answer the question ‘What is Vietnam?’ for ourselves and for the next generation.” It seems that one way to answer that question is to “call toll free and start putting the Vietnam war in perspective” with the Time-Life Books series that he’s selling: “The Vietnam Experience.”

    We never see who’s doing the talking in this TV ad, but you don’t have to see his face to know that it’s Martin Sheen, the star of Apocalypse Now. His voice has distinctive features. He sounds tough and experienced. He sounds like he knows the answer to