Lunch Laddy at the Dirt Track Races
Enough with the zombie apocalypse already!

I just returned from my mailbox. Today is Saturday and it’s a light day. There were only four catalogs. On any given day, it’s not uncommon to find a half dozen catalogs, and more as we approach the holidays. I wonder to what extent this may actually be keeping the US Postal Service afloat? Consider this scene from the classic Seinfeld episode “The Junk Mail.”

Postmaster General: “Kramer, I’ve been, uh, reading some of your material here. I gotta be honest with you: you make a pretty strong case. I mean, just imagine. An army of men in wool pants running through the neighborhood handing out pottery catalogs, door to door.”

Kramer: “Yeah! Ha ha.”

Postmaster General: “Well, it’s my job. And I’m pretty damn serious about it.

(from:Seinfeld Scripts episode 5 season 9)                                                                      

I must admit, I’ve wondered how I ended up on so many catalog mailing lists. But then again, considering how much shopping I do from catalogs and from the internet in general, it should come as no surprise. Pretty much every active consumer in today’s economy ends up on multiple mailing lists. It’s almost impossible not to. All you need to do is subscribe to a magazine, fill out a warranty, register a product, enter a contest, carry a mortgage or auto loan, use a credit card, give to a charity, have a baby, use a retail store charge card, register to vote, send in for a rebate, belong to a supermarket loyalty club, or purchase anything from a catalogue or online. If you do any of these things, forget about it, you’re on someone’s direct mailing list. Unless you’re a monk or in an institution, that covers pretty much most of us in 21st century America. I’ve done all of these things so I’m on a diverse group of lists. So much for my fantasy of going underground.  Companies rent or sell these lists to other retailers who are searching for new consumers for their products. Hell, even a casual internet search puts you in the crosshairs of internet search engines. That’s how you end up with so many whacky ads showing up on your Facebook sidebar and your web browser.

Even though I like to think I’m doing my part to help bring our economy out of recession, there are times when I wonder if I’m contributing to the destruction of the rain forests with so many paper catalogs filling my recycle container on Thursday morning. Sometimes the sheer volume is a little much. People don’t write letters much anymore, and nearly all of my bill paying is done online, so most days my mailbox is filled with nothing but catalogs. It can be a little vexing. Consider this scene from that same Seinfeld episode.

Kramer: (entering Jerry’s apartment) “Will you look at this? More catalogs! ‘Omaha Steaks’, ‘Mac Warehouse’, ‘Newsweek’?! I can’t stop all these companies, so, I’m gonna attack this problem at the choke point. I’ve had it with these jackbooted thugs!”

Kramer: (throwing his catalogs in the Pottery Barn store) “Hey, you like sending out catalogs!? How do you like gettin’ ’em back!?

(from:Seinfeld Scripts episode 5 season 9)                                                                      

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. They make marvelous reading material in the bathroom where I do most of my heavy thinking and profound intellectual work.


This is not really a new phenomenon. Going as far back as the late 19th century it was possible to purchase nearly everything you needed to survive from a catalog including food, clothing, shelter and even a mail order bride. From 1908–1940, Sears, Roebuck and Co. sold more than  75,000 homes through their mail-order Modern Homes program. You could buy a kit for a complete house ranging from $425-$3,000, which is about what it might cost you to buy a garden shed today.

Now you can do it all online. All you need is an internet connection and a credit card. It is consumerism run amok on steroids, but I am an unabashed internet consumer and certainly not the only one who is attracted by the ease and convenience. However, I could do without those annoying live chat boxes. “No I don’t want to chat! That’s why I’m shopping from home on the internet in nothing but my underwear !”

In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering. By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality. If consumers are jonesin’ for that, then internet commerce certainly fills that need.

Happy Buddha

One catalog I got this week advertises “nothing you ever needed but everything you want.” That about says it all. From another catalog, it’s possible to purchase such other items of necessary esoterica as a genuine brass periscope from a World War II German U Boat, a “Faithful Freddie” Royal Navy Submarine Binnacle for $6000, Japanese Admiralty Signaling Searchlights for $3,000, Italian Air Force Long Underwear.  (I guess I never think “air force” when I think of Italy. When a country produces the quality of wine they produce, who needs an air force?) This catalog also offers dozens of Swiss Army surplus items, which are of superior quality. I can see why the swiss Army has so much surplus to offer since the country has been neutral since 1515 and their last armed conflict was a brief civil war between the Catholic and the Protestant cantons which resulted in about a hundred casualties. Instead of waging war like the rest of us idiots, they invested their time and resources inventing cool stuff like Ricola and the Swiss army knife.

Swiss Army Knife

Other catalogs in this week’s mail offer a men’s leather shearling coat for $3,000, a beaver fur felt stingy brim hat for $800,(who actually wears beaver hats anymore?) shirts for $200, an English pub sign for $1500, an Allied Victory Sidecar Motorcycle, a wireless Pavlovian canine trainer, a variety of haunting zombie statues and zombie garden gnomes. Still other catalogs offer classes like Defense Against the Paranormal for Men and Women and the Zombie Apocalypse workshop.


Enough with the zombie apocalypse already!

If you’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt and adventure travel is your thing, then why not take the 14 day Mongolian Horse Trek, or if your bucket list’s gettin’ a little low, how about  Around the World by Private Jet ~ a 24-day journey to five continents by private jet for $72,950? What’s not to love?

Yesterday, I got the ultimate catalog crammed with dozens of “must-have” items that you just can’t live without! Now you can have your own kitchen hot dog roller. Nothing handles a hangover better than a couple of gas station grade roller dogs. What about a flask that holds a gallon of your favorite libation? How can you say no to a pair of zombie flamingos for the front lawn? But wait! There’s more! You’ll be the envy of the neighborhood with your very own Zombie Apocalypse Tactical Tomahawk & Kommando Survival Tools and nothing settles an argument faster than a One Million Volt Zap Baton Stun Gun! And who can live without your own personal Backyard Tiki Bar~ on sale now for only $499?

Hold on a second ~ let me get my credit card …..