Except for “Sleepy Hollow” and my newest oh-so-guilty pleasure, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” *, I don’t watch much TV.
Look, I’m a backyard farmer. Between chores and a child, I don’t get a lot of downtime and, to be honest, I’d rather curl up with some magazines and the cats than sit in front of a screen, HD or otherwise. Cats purr; televisions don’t. (Google may be working on that.)
And since I don’t watch many shows, I don’t get to watch many commercials either. Which means that when I do see them, I’m often appalled fascinated by the sheer audacity of Madison Avenue’s pitches, not to mention the stunning array of dubiously useful products propped up with pricey marketing firepower.
OK, maybe it’s just me. (Probably!) But after so many years in the media arts, I can actually feel the audio-visual puppet strings yanking on us right through the pixels. (Ouch!)
Which brings me to the subject of lawn care ads. You know, the ones sprouting between episodes like so many interstitial weeds. With their suite of post-production fireworks and matter-of-fact voice-overs, we the couch-surfing public are supposed to believe that Green Perfection (based on the visuals, defined as “professional golf course-level”) is just a pound or two of space age chemicals away.
But, my fellow lawn-owners, have you read the fine print on those product labels? Have you smelled those home & garden aisles at the box store? Is there not a reason they have those little yellow warning signs on people’s lawns after they apply that stuff?
I mean, what the freaking ducks are we doing here, folks?!! And how much time are we spending on those lawns anyway? Is it all just for show? (Possibly.) Are we paying all that money, disseminating all those polysyllabic compounds into the water supply (or the wildlife? or us?!) just so we can Instagram our modern moats rather than actually walk on them?
Where was I?
Oh, right. Lawn chemicals. So, peeps, now you know three things: 1) why I avoid watching TV, especially at this time of year; 2) why I generally remove my shoes in the house and definitely after walking around a pesticide-treated neighborhood and 3) even we gentle souls here at What the Ducks! get hot under the collar every now and then.
As long as there’s no ring around that collar we’re good, right?
*Rad update of a 30-year-old comix classic, BTW!
**She shrieked in her best Amy Adams as a piping mad princess kinda voice.
“The Toxic Brew in Our Yards”, Diane Lewis, New York Times
“Dogs Absorb Lawn Chemicals”, Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
Reduce All Pesticides but Eliminate Those Used on Lawns, National Audubon Society
Copyright 2014, Lori Fontanes
I love this, great read 🙂
Obsessive lawn care is a need to keep up pretense, I believe.
Possibly the pretense that we can control the lawn! 😉
Well, living in Ontario, we don’t have the option of polluting the environment with lawn chemicals, though there are some moments when I wish we did. And then I think of all the beneficial insects and birds that we’re saving by not using herbicides and the moment passes.
Our lawn is now mostly clover, which may be why the wild rabbits haven’t attacked our vegetable or flower garden lately…..
Clover! That’s my strategy, too!!! PS, doesn’t keep them off the cabbages but, if I say so myself, they are some mighty fine looking cabbages! 😉
I couldn’t agree with you more. I threw my TV away the last time I moved, since I hadn’t had it connected to any source of programming for years.
When you haven’t seen ads for a while, they look down right dumb when you do, who falls for such crap anyway? Like a perfect lawn, as determined by people trying to sell us stuff we don’t really need, and would be better off without.
The worst part may be that we think we’re not affected by advertising but it’s really insidious. They wouldn’t spend all that money making ads, placing them, running them and repeating unless it was having some kind of effect. Thanks for adding your thoughts to this important discussion! 🙂
Oh snorts – I love your rant. I really do! Now you know why I don’t like to go outside and walk in that grass – snorts. It’s bad on my hooves. I mean, my yard and the sanctuary of my magical backyard is safe – no chemicals there. But you never know what my unicorn and Bigfoot my bring into MY yard – you know since the wonder the hood into other peoples yards when everyone is sleeping. 🙂 I feel you. Stay funny my friend. XOXO – Bacon
All I can do is (try) to stay funny! Better than crying…but not better than chocolate!!! 🙂
Encore!!!! Encore!!!! Do it again:-) Love this post, and lets all scream it from our roof tops,, but do the neighbors hear us-noooo….I was outside a month ago tending my yard and there were two of my neighbors with their spray bottles ( chemical bombers) in hand chatting over the fence-geez…what does it take for these people to see how stupid all this stuff is..keeping up with the jones…I am so happy this year, I am finally seeing a variety of bees I have never seen before + despite my neighbors chemical bombs!
Great post, keep up the good work!!! is that enough exclamation marks-lol:-)
I think we need signs in our yards that unite us…maybe we talked about this before…I want to put up a sign and say” chemical fee lawn” how about you? lol
Thanks so much, Robbie, for your kind words & encouragement!!! Signage…something to think about–there are companies who provide chem-free lawn services that usually have a sign. Let me browse around and see what I can find. I agree that we need to find a way to exercise our right to stand up & speak out. 🙂 PS, in terms of what people think, I have to say that I didn’t figure it out for a long time myself. As a kid of the Space Age, I grew up believing that progress came in a shiny box. It wasn’t until I planned to have a child myself that I came to read the name on that box as “Pandora”. (PPS, don’t forget, there’s hope at the bottom, tho. 😀 )
OK, here’s what I found on the chem-free lawn sign thang.
From an Beyond Pesticides, an organization in Washington, DC:
And Cafe Press has a slew of stuff including this sign:
oh my gosh-that is too neat!!!! I am going to check that out + I”ll keep you posted(no pun inteneded-lol) as to how it goes..I need one for my yard!
Puns r cool, no worries! 🙂
Grow food, not lawns. That’s as simply as I can state it. Great work, Lori!
Thanks, Steve!!! 🙂
Don’t get me started about lawns. Have you read Thorstein Veblen’s “The Theory of the Leisure Class” (written around 1890 or so)? He coined the term “conspicuous consumption.” That book includes a long tirade on the stupidity of the western lawn. He says we should have cows grazing in our parks to keep them trimmed, not lawn mowers (or whatever people used back then–it’s been a while since I read it). I can just imagine what he would think of Round Up.
I don’t have a TV either and when I’m at the gym, if I catch a glimpse of the garbage playing on the TVs, I’m reminded of why I don’t own one.
I sound old and grumpy, but there you have it…
:)!!! Say not “old & grumpy”– I call it “fresh & original” thinking! I have not read Veblen but it sounds like something I should do. It’s always interesting to look up the primary source of a term that we’ve heard forever and see the context. I’ll bet there’s a bunch of relevant writing from the those days that could inform our challenges today.
The last time we had this type of income inequality was during that period of the robber barons. I should also reread it! I once had to go to a BMW dealership when I had the book in my hand, but no one there noticed :p I thought it was pretty funny though…