Never did I fully appreciate, until now, the damage I did to society and the polar bears as a box boy (now called “courtesy clerks”) at Gil’s Community Market in suburban Los Angeles County in the 1970s.


Gil’s was your typical supermarket, run by a matriarch who reminded me of Eva Braun in both her appearance and mannerisms. You wouldn’t look at twice at Gil’s if you were driving past. Nevertheless, I am indebted to Gil’s and Frau Braun for giving me my first job…I particularly liked working Easter, earning triple time which translated into serious revenues for a young lad.

Speaking of my youth, I was probably caught more than once doing the once over of our shoppers of high ornamental value. In addition, I was sinning in ways I never imagined: I was putting groceries into paper bags (no paper and plastic choice back then…and no scanners either). Where was the government to stop me? Was the Los Angeles County Board of (Nanny) Supervisors nowhere to be found?

Since that time, Gil’s has gone the way of Eva Braun into the ash heap of history. Just like cockroaches and scorpions, the LA County Board of Supervisors is still there big time…and will always be there.

In the LA County of today, you must bring your own bags to supermarkets located in unincorporated (e.g., county jurisdiction) areas of the metro So Cal county. If you fail to bring your own bags, then you must purchase bags for 25 cents each from the grocery store.

And just when you thought that was enough, reports circled the globe about the county banning the tossing of Frisbees and footballs on beaches within its jurisdiction from Memorial Day to Labor Day…ah…that would be now. If you followed in my calloused bare feet, you would have thrown a Frisbee and a football as well on a county beach in the 20th Century. Only one difference back then: The LA County sheriffs would have been amused, if they noticed at all. Today they were in line to nail you with an up to $1,000 fine for this egregious violation. One would think the LA County sheriffs would have something better to do with their time than looking out for Frisbee criminals.

When the reports to a proposed ban came out they immediately went viral. It was way too  easy to believe that the nannies…err…supervisors had imposed this ban. Since that time the county has “clarified” the rule, meaning that menacing Frisbees can be thrown around the sand…for now.

Don’t for a nanosecond think the Left Coast has cornered the market when it comes to nannyism (the newest of scary –isms). RINO (Republican in Name Only) New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed banning sugary drinks to 16-ounce containers or less at Gotham stadiums, restaurants, cinemas and (gasp) food carts. Let’s see: You can go to Yankee Stadium to watch the Bronx Bombers and order a 24-ounce calorie and alcohol-leaded beer (and maybe one for the road) and drive home…but no way Jose to a soft drink exceeding 16 ounces.

Closer to home, the University of Oregon and other universities in the state’s higher education network are banning smoking on campus beginning September 1. As readers of Almost DailyBrett know, I view cigarettes as the most evil legal product sold to promote premature death. Even though I support the ban, I question how the enforcement will work against verboten cigarettes. If you can’t stop “Smoking in the Boy’s (or Girl’s) Room” in high school, how will that be achieved when a campus is so large and the addiction is so strong?

There has to be a better way to combat climate change, battle obesity and impede the impact of second-hand smoke without encouraging those that yearn to regulate our lives and interfere with our liberties.

How about public relations and advertising?

Ever heard of the “Don’t Mess with Texas” campaign? The issue was how to stop the widespread littering on Texas highways. How to reach out to Texas “Bubba” truckers to get them to see it was un-cool and unmanly to befoul the state. The answer was a communications campaign that featured alpha male Texans, such as Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Lance Armstrong, Warren Moon, George Strait and many others.


The amount of litter on Lone-Star State highways plummeted by 72 percent, but individual liberties were not violated by the nanny-bureaucratic types.

Couldn’t that approach be used when it comes to bringing your own bags to the grocery store?

Could we design an advertising/public relations PSA (e.g., public service announcements) campaign to do that?

How about asking Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Jonathan Quick, Albert Pujols and Charlie Sheen to urge beach goers to be cool when it comes to Frisbees and footballs? Okay, Sheen is not a good idea, but the campaign could very well work.

And why can’t Mayor Bloomberg ask the legions of Madison Avenue advertising types to design a campaign to combat obesity, and remind everyone from restaurants to patrons to watch how many calories they consume in all drinks…not just sugary sodas…but beers and 1,600-calorie chocolate-chip cookie-dough milkshakes as well?

Next Monday is graduation day at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. I worry how many of my public relations students will actually find a job in this troubled economy. Their daunting prospects could conceivably be improved, if resources were redirected to devising advertising/public relations campaigns to achieve better society results. Sure beats asking county sheriff deputies to chase after the bare foot types and fine them for having the audacity to play Frisbee in the sand.’t_Mess_with_Texas