In prodigious bulk they come—the mailers. Day after day—large, sleek, colorful, pictures and text on shiny cardstock. In the beginning I marveled at their abundance, and, like most, tossed them in the recycle. But after a time I began to read them. Within a day I was addicted. I began putting them aside so I could read batches at once. It was like taping Madmen for binge viewing. You should try this. Stack them somewhere, pour yourself a drink, put your feet up, and surrender. You’re being courted, and quite gallantly. That little vote of yours has made you a catch.
The most ardent of our wooers is Dr. Pan. He comes calling every day, sometimes more than once. House calls are back. He nearly always wears his white coat and his stethoscope. He’s a pediatrician so if you have young kids Dr. Pan will high-five them. He is frequently pictured with a cute little girl who seems bizarrely happy to be going to the doctor. It makes you think back. We didn’t have a fun Dr. Pan when we were kids. We had Dr. Koch, a nice enough man, but he always shone that light right into our eyes. Once I upchucked on his shoe.
Another big Dr. Pan mailer features a giant close-up of a baby with a glop of yellow goo on his lip. “Dr. pan, I could use a little help,” the text states. I don’t think this is a successful ad because the wet, runny, yellow glop dissuaded me from opening the pamphlet. So I don’t know what Dr. Pan is going to do to dry that child’s face. But no matter, Dr. Pan comes every day. He’s on the job. You have to admit that his barrage is working because now we know his name. This is a holiday and I actually sort of miss him, and am looking forward to his next visit.
Then there’s the sandwich. I have to say, I was gob-smacked by this one. It’s a close-up of a big Philly cheese sandwich. The candidate is quoted saying his first job was making these at a mall. Now, how is that sandwich going to win votes? Someone said that the plan was to trick voters into thinking it was a coupon, then turn the sandwich over to see the candidate’s parents smiling fondly upon him. But that’s a stupid idea, because what if you found no coupon and became irate? Or what if you’re a vegan and here comes this big, meat-dripping, cheesy sandwich through your mail slot? What can those consultants have been thinking? I know a candidate whose first job was sweeping up in a hair salon. How about a picture of a floor covered with different snips of human hair—hair of all styles, colors and texture to show diversity? Not a good idea? I agree. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
A hit piece on Roger Dickenson is also kind of loony. The first thing you see is a pink memo page with Dickenson’s name in red, a red X near it. So you think the X means Vote for Dickenson. Wrong. The piece asserts that Dickenson spends too much time away from Sacramento, but you never get to the message because you’ve been led astray by the red X. Then there’s the dark PAC mailer with the BIG RED EYE. Yes, it’s a full-page eyeball spewing red. The pupil is shaped like California. In case you still don’t get it, the text shouts, “They’re eyeing California.” Who’s eyeing California? Lift the dark flap and there’s our own Dr. Pan and, gasp, head-shots of the Koch brothers. Stacks of hundred dollar bills sit beneath Dr. Pan’s perpetually grinning face. So the doctor has finally made it—he’s familiar enough to be vilified by association. Unless, of course, you like the Koch brothers. It’s all a gamble.
Teachers are in this year. Many candidates claim teaching experience, though I expect few have an actual credential and served time in the classroom. But here’s one Assembly aspirant posing before a blackboard. To help you realize it’s a blackboard the words, Reading, Math, Science and Art are chalked on it, along with an algebra problem, a molecule and a big A+. Open it and there’s John F. Kennedy’s face taking up the whole of the left interior. “Leadership and learning are indispensable,” Kennedy announces. The rest of the mailer is logical but Kennedy was a surprise. He seemed plucked from the ether and planted on the page.
A real teacher has a worse ad. He wants to be Superintendent of Public Instruction and has that golden credential and relevant qualifications. But his lead photo shows a young woman amid four kids. “You’ve Been Here…Have They?” the text asks, showing a partiality for capital letters. But who’s You? Who are They? I had to open the whole thing and consult with others before being satisfied that the You was the teacher candidate, The Here was the classroom, and the They was his opponent. But his named opponent is merely one man. How can one man be a They? There’s an A+ pictured on this document too, but I’m giving it a D for lack of clarity and subject-pronoun confusion.
There’s an interesting race between Maggie Krell and Anne Marie Schubert for District Attorney. The Bee likes Schubert, the Guv likes Krell. Both have serviceable mailers but Krell says she’ll cut her own salary, so that promises an interesting final week of pledges and counter-pledges. This last week will be nice for all of us who await the postman’s blizzard of oddities. It’s cool to be courted by mail, cool to be desirable and important before we fade back into that neglected anonymous mass they call the public.