Prison Paisley

March 29, 2004
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Sometimes pitches for publicity come across the Journal news desk that just don’t have any place in a newspaper.

Except in Street Talk.

Here’s the latest on MarthaStewart, which came in under the headline “Jailbird Blue No. 1 in ‘Martha Prison Collection.’”

According to Screensavers.com, in a side-by-side comparison of computer wallpaper backgrounds featuring Martha’s “Prison Collection” and “Pardon Collection,” 79 percent of downloaders favored Martha’s “Prison Collection.” The collection debuts palettes such as Jailbird Blue, Penitentiary Pistachio, Lockdown Lemon, and Tattoo Teal, with Jailbird Blue leading the download list at No. 1.

While not scientific, the 79 percent statistic suggests most Americans are now resigned to see Martha in the big house, and we don’t mean U of M’s football stadium. Earlier this month a CNN/USA TODAY poll cited 53 percent of Americans thought Martha should go to prison. The Screensavers Web site offers a fair and balanced option for people to download her “Pardon Collection,” featuring colors from Pardon Peach to Waste of Taxes Turquoise. But according to the download count, only 21 percent favor pardon.

As of last Monday, the top five Screensaver downloads of Martha’s prison/pardon collection were Jailbird Blue, Penitentiary Pistachio, Pardon Peach (Pardon Collection), Lockdown Lemon and Not Guilty Green (Pardon Collection).

“We couldn’t resist,” said AdamSolomon, general manager of Screensavers.com “We admit these aren’t exactly Gallup stats, but these are real people and real numbers taking a pulse on what people want. If you look closely at the detailed descriptions, they’re actually quite Martha-like. Penitentiary Pistachio reads: ‘She takes her licks, but does it in style. Inside the razor wire, Penitentiary Pistachio is the new black.’ But my real question is … will we see Penitentiary Pistachio in Kmart with a 300 thread count?”

  • While we’re on the subject of pop culture, it’s worth noting that a West Michigan company’s products are in the national spotlight.

Holland-based Trendway Corp.’s “In” chair is the seating of choice for the judges on TV’s popular “American Idol.” The show captured more than 18 million viewers during its opening weeks.

“The exposure of Trendway Seating on a show with such high visibility is a wonderful opportunity for us,” said BradFritz, general manager of Trendway Seating. “What makes this opportunity even more significant is that the ‘American Idol’ producers have allowed us to use these chairs to raise money for charity.”

Last year’s AI chairs, which were Xantos models, were signed by judges RandyJackson, PaulaAbdul and SimonCowell and auctioned off to benefit cancer-related charities.

  • The best place to build a hotdog stand is next to another hotdog stand. Right! So The Amway Hotel Corp. is going to build a new hotel right across Pearl Street from its Amway Grand and less than a block from its hotel on Monroe Avenue. It’s starting the marketing study from which the design will emerge (see story on page B1).

OK, fine! But here’s a suggestion for JoeTomaselli and the gang: When you start the design work, can you please at least put the entrance to the Alticor Grand on Campau Avenue and not Pearl?

The last thing ordinary drivers here need — let alone the police — is complications to those traffic jams at Pearl and Campau featuring tour buses and stretch limos discharging or picking up hotel patrons while members of the Economic Club or Rotary are arriving for a luncheon meeting and city buses are picking up and dropping off the help, while commuters are trying to get into or away from downtown.

And what we really don’t want is confused out-of-towners driving into the Amway entrance thinking they are at the Alticor, or vice versa, and then trying to dash across traffic to the other hotel.

  • This item fits in the IRS Instant Headache Department.

One of the Business Journal’s Money Matters columnists, David DiMuzio, a tax specialist with BDO Seidman LLP, took on the daunting challenge of explaining how the IRS defines “qualifying” dividends, meaning dividends that qualify for new, lower tax rates.

DiMuzio did a fine job, but the tortured language that Congress provided is unbelievable. Basically, the new law says that to qualify for the lower tax, a taxpayer must have possessed the stock in question “…more than 60 days during the 120-day period beginning 60 days before the ex-dividend date.” And just to clarify things, the ex-dividend date is the first date after the declaration of a dividend on which the purchaser of stock is not entitled to receive the next dividend payment.

OK, got it? Anybody for a national sales tax?

Call your Congressman.

  • But if you do happen to call your Congressman, make sure he can communicate with you. And e-mail may not be the preferred method.

Last week the Business Journal received an e-mail from JonBrandt with Congressman Vern Ehlers’ office in Washington. Or, at least almost received an e-mail.

It seems all the SPAM cops out there are trying to one-up each other. The message from Ehlers, which was headlined “Ehlers bill to stimulate manufacturing innovation and job creation approved by subcommittee,” was blocked for “security reasons.” The SPAM cops took exception with the word “approved” in the line “and job creation approved by subcommittee.” This does not bode well for a business publication.

Somehow, we suspect JohnAshcroft is involved in this.

  • Need further proof of Ashcroft’s long reach? Staff writer DavidCzurak says he paid a bill by U.S. mail last week that was sent to an office in Detroit. The return address was pre-printed on the bill’s envelope, and listed the company to which the bill was being paid. So Czurak’s home address did not appear anywhere on the envelope. Imagine his surprise when the envelope came back to his home address, unopened, with the postage mark on it.

Ashcroft’s satellite spying system really does work!           

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