Sunday, February 27, 2011

Meet market (unedited)

We all know Valentine’s Day is a marketing scam designed to sell flowers, candy, greeting cards, wine and fancy steak dinners to our consumer-driven society.

Besides the obvious beneficiaries of VD, many other businesses and organizations capitalize on the mid-winter homage to the orgasm. Valentine’s Day celebrates sex, and if you’re in the business of marketing sex, what better time to tout your goods.

When I refer to the business of marketing sex, I’m including about dating services. The altruistic purpose of a dating service, be it the nationally renowned dating scam Great Expectations or one of our locally owned and operated purveyors of sexual encounters such as Quikdatz -- one of the early purveyors of speed dating here in the metro and one of the few still in business -- is to help people find sex. Forget love, marriage and all that crap, dating services are in the sex trade. Customers may say they're looking to meet new people, or are looking to meet their sole mate, but they're being dishonest. They're looking for a hot piece of ass. If they get more than that, that's icing on the cake.

So it goes without saying that sex marketers pounce on VD as an opportunity to sell their service. It's too easy. People who aren't having sex, and aren't trapped in a miserable marriage, hate VD. They want nothing to do with VD because they're not getting sex and VD reminds them of the fact they're not having sex.

I didn't think I wasn't in the market for sex in the days leading up to VD -- turns out I was misinformed, but that's another story for another time -- yet I went to a meet market on Feb. 10.

I went to Date for Life, a well orchestrated fundraising event for the Children's Cancer Research Fund.

Why? By chance I found out a week earlier that my good friend Monica, the flight attendant, was attending with a few folks from her social circle. That's the first I heard of this fundraising gala in downtown Minneapolis.

By attending I learned that the event is in memory of a young woman who spent her high school years battling cancer and died because of cancer as a young adult. That was a few years ago, and this event is in her memory. God bless her and her family. They deserve better. I don't know them personally, but I know myself, so I know they deserve a better hand than life has dealt them. I'm proof of that, but I digress.

The event was quite high class. There was a silent auction with several nice items up for bid, a great spread of hors d'Ĺ“uvres and several beautiful people up for bid. I have no idea how the meat of the meet market wound up on the auction block, but this was definately an event for the beautiful people. The meat was composed of attractive, successful people. There weren't any McDonald's managers or factory workers up for bids. Among the men were a doctor, a chef, sales geniuses and personal trainers, including a dude who seems rather pleased to be known for being one of the sausages competing for one woman on ABC's "The Bachelor." (He should be ashamed of himself, but that's America, and why the rest of the world hates us, we objectify such morons.)

The women included at least one yoga instructor, behavior therapist, personal trainer and teacher.

The format of the auction was rather odd. They introduced every piece of meat on stage and then turned them loose for an hour. Each piece of meat had a promoter, a friend or family member who helped work the crowd for an hour or more, shilling for his or her piece of meat and recording bids received on for the meat. Those pieces of meat with the highest bids at the end of the mingling session were brought up on stage in an effort to drum up final bids.

I discussed this strategy with Monica's group. We couldn't decide what made more sense: Do you bring up those with the highest bids to try to push the price even higher since those were the most desirable pieces of meat? Or do you bring up those on the bottom of the totem poll, to give those with a budget a chance to bid on second-rate meat since the prime cuts were priced out of their league?

We decided that if you try to bring up the big losers of the night, you'll brand them with a scarlet letter, and who wants to see that at a charity event? We concluded the best idea was to pre-select a cross-section of meat so that there's something for everyone at the end of the night.

Despite the fact the upper echelon had bids of $700 or more, most garnered at least one more bid. I think the big winner of the night was the kindergarten teacher. She was 25 or so, and had a respectable $700 bid by the end of the night. She made the cut, so they brought her up on stage. She worked the crowd like Hulk Hogan in his prime as the auctioneer egged eager males into bidding for her. I think she finished with a winning bid of $1,600, and I think that was the biggest buy of the night.

Monica was turned onto the event by a member of her social circle, as one of the bachelors seemed to be a perfect match for her, at least on paper. She sensed the bidding would be higher for him than she could justify spending, and she was right. But after meeting him that night, she wasn't sold on the idea that he was her perfect match. Nonetheless she enjoyed her night, even though we all abanonded her. A local musical genius was performing after the bidding, and Monica is a fan, so she hung around to enjoy his musical stylings.

Even if I had known I was in the market to bid on one of the pieces of meat, I am neither beautiful nor affluent enough to be granted membership in that social circle. But I enjoyed my evening as an uninvited guest at the party.

And I'm grateful that I was blissfully unaware I was among those who should hate VD. I was mistakenly under the impression I could celebrate VD this year.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I'm not a Nye's guy (unedited)

Anybody who knows the Minneapolis bar scene knows about Nye's.

I get the quirky appeal of it, but I don't get why it's a destination. Nye's is an old restaurant with an old bar. It's bar is separated from the main restaurant by swinging doors, and it's your small, old school bar. There's a long bar with stools along one wall, booths along the other wall and barely enough room for a woman with a walker to pass between them if nobody is sitting at the bar. As soon as the booths and bar stools are full, it's a tough proposition to pass from the front entrance on Hennepin Avenue to the swinging doors leading into the restaurant.

On weekends, at least, the bar area is a madhouse, with people packing the place to pay premium prices for drinks and listen to the sounds of a geriatric polka band. I get the appeal of polka music when you drink, I just don't get the appeal of an expensive, tiny, cramped bar. Yet it draws the young, beautiful people and the old timers who wish they were still among the young and beautiful, or regret the fact they were never young and beautiful but want to get a whiff of the beautiful people.

The restaurant is expansive, slightly upscale and as dated as the layout of the bar. You can sit around a geriatric piano player and sing along to your favorite piano hits if you're not dining in the restaurant. Another small bar nearby provides seats for carousers who aren't fascinated by a near comatose accordian player on the other side of the wall.

I made a 60-minute cameo at Nye's earlier tonight because Monica took her mother there for a belated birthday dinner. I joined them after dinner, in part because I don't get to visit with Monica's mom very often, and I wanted to finally give Monica her belated birthday present.

Nye's is an upscale place that never kept up with the times, choosing instead to open its arms to everyone who lusts for a nostalgic nod to yesteryear at today's upscale prices.

And I don't get it.