The Invisibles

The Invisibles
Originally uploaded by drewbo.
Where are the Invisibles?

Take a stroll down the supermarket aisle in one of America’s overloved destination areas … and the view is as spectacular as the vista from the parking lot.

Perfect teeth. Tanned and health skin. Bright eyes and 10 percent body fat. And no kids.

With the exception of a handful of companies, this is the current snapsot of the outdoor industry’s primary target: idle careers & physical perfection at age 18-22.

Families, minoirites, and – heaven forbid – the overweight and infirm (otherwise known as the physically and mentally challenged), are not a part of this big picture. The reasons are either too painfully corporate or too offensively personal to bring up.

But if the true, core outdoor industry wants to grow without merely upping the number of SKUS they produce every season, it’s time to embrace the invisibles – not bar them from the front door.

Kudos to the OIA for their recent study of Hispanic population. Three cheers to Horny Toad for a decade long-commitment to partnering with adults with developmental disabilities. A sincere thank you to Kelty for leading the way into the outdoors for families for just as long. And, with a new line of helmets that fully embraces the youth market, Smith Optics is doing their part as well.

Sure, these are small steps, but these social progressions are as important as environmental ones in the larger path to sustainability. Thank you to all the companies that are seeing the writing on the wall … and acting on it.


The Forrest Jump of Arch Bagging?

Dean Potter
Originally uploaded by drewbo.
The first "unofficial arch bagging" climbing manual I ever saw was circling through JH, about 10 years ago. I'm sure it wasn't the first one, nor the last, to be written on the topic.

The handwritten, xeroxed tome was salted with underground flavor ... instructions on how to approach certain arches without Parkies noticing, how to climb others at night, and how to continue a surreptitious climbing practice without getting busted and losing your weed.

So ... Dean Potter climbed the Delicate Arch this month. Was he the first? Very unlikely. Will he be the last? Once again, very unlikely.

Even Patagonia hints at as much in their official "statement," noting that no harm had been done to the "route or the rock." Thank goodness the route is safe.

I guess the bummer to me is that this wasn't a run in with the long arm of the law. It wasn't somebody fighting the good fight so that others might enjoy a taste of adventure and clean air.

Instead, it was an anti-PR stunt. Potter wasn't trying to open access for others to follow after him ... he's practically guaranteed that things will be locked down for good, even on the more remote and oft-climbed arches of those faded and fabled arch-bagging manuals that were laying around the Simpson House.


Three out of four ain't bad

Dean Potter
Originally uploaded by drewbo.
Every brand has their own definition of "ambassador" and what their duties and responsibilities are ... but, with little argument, it's clear that the primary role of a brand ambassador is to reflect the brand.

Did Dean Potter reflect Patagonia's brand in a high-profile PR stunt on Utah's Delicate Arch? Perhaps he did.

Patagonia's taglines are "uncommon culture," "the soul of the sport," innovative design" and "enviro action."

Judging by Patagonia's passive PR response, it sounds like they agree that three out of four ain't bad.

Protect my damn gardens, and keep the roads safe for my SUV

Take one part sprawl, one part massive deer populations in suburban DC, and one part hunter-phobia by animal-rights locals, and whaddaya get?

After-dark deer snipers, hired by the government to use silencers, night-vision goggles, and plunk Bambi off the edge of your backyard for $100 to $250 a shot.

With no natural predators other than neighboring Americans who only touch meat that's been wrapped in a sesame seed bun, and lots and lots of micro-mansions in previous habitat areas ... what do you expect?

Deer Control Has Bambi in Crosshairs


Dorn brings 'em to their feet ... then has a Colbert moment

Here's a highlight from the 2006 National Magazine Awards, held this week in wonderful NYC

LINK: "Jon Dorn of Backpacker, which received the biggest ovation of the evening, used his speech time to reflect on, among other things, fellow Rodaler David Zinczenko's ass. No, really. Dorn, who said he observed Zinczenko in the company gym: 'He has the best ass at Rodale."


Top Ten Lies told at Outdoor Retailer

Lie Detector
Originally uploaded by drewbo.
10. I’ve got a reservation for 10 at Mikado. (= It’s a tea room for six, but I’d cut my arm off with a pocket knife to have your name on my expense account.)

9. I’ve got reservation for 4 at Mikado (= Have you tried the Mexican place at the Shilo? Maybe you should.)

8. It's always great to see other companies in the industry doing well. (Who died and left those guys a marketing budget?)

7. We’re totally covered in the PR department ( = I have no idea what PR means.)

6. I’m totally booked today (= I’m going to be napping from 2 to 4 pm)

5. The marketing director? She was just here a few minutes ago. (= I’m the marketing director).

4. Can you leave your card? I’ll pass it on. (= Your name will never be mentioned again.)

3. I slept fantastic last night. (= The last thing I remember was being in a room with CD and Metcalf at 3 am).

2. It’s a prototype. (=It worked yesterday.)

1. I love this show. (=God my feet hurt).


Another one bites the dust

Originally uploaded by drewbo.
According to the grapevine, Hooked on the Outdoors will close their doors this week, and they'll be missed.

Why did they fold? That's an answer only they can answer. But the legacy they left ... and, yes, it's a legacy ... was significant.

Despite a moutfhul and a half of a title (yes, they knew it was an albatross), Hooked did more with less than any magazine in the outdoor industry. Compared side-by-side with the editorial and sales staffs of other outdoor titles, Hooked was a Couloir-size operation competing with the uber-organizations of Backpacker, Outside and Men's Journal.

Their single greatest impact was helping to shift the outdoor editorial balance toward the center ... toward everyday participants, and toward close-to-home activitivies.

Some of their other notable successes include convincing some of the greatest writers of our generation to pen articles for them, not for the cash-per-word but for the editorial freedom they provided.

But perhaps their greatest accomplishment was the introduction of new blood into the the outdoor industry. While EIC Nancy Coulter-Parker was perhaps the one true veteran of the staff, the mag served to launch the careers of Doug Schnitzpahn, John Byorth, Lesley Suppes, and other editorial faces that have become expected entities at any outdoor industry gathering. On the sales side, Jeff Espy's transformation from a traditional southern salesman to a OIA board member and industry figurehead has been nothing short of amazing.

Congratulations to Hooked on a great run, and best of luck in all your new endeavours.


Quote of the day

Originally uploaded by drewbo.
Dogs are just pigs with fur .... I love dogs. I just don’t want to eat them.

Don't like your OR booth number? Consult an astrologist

San Francisco's KRON radio changes their street address based on the advice of a local astrologer.



Mere sport?

An excerpt from "the Cleanest Line" in the current Patagonia surf catalog ...

<< By the late ‘60s, surfing and climbing became subcultures of their own. Accordingly, pop culture caught on and capitalized on them, de-authenticating the products through superfluous designs and mass production. Two activities that had been pursued for individual enlightenment and expression were downgraded into mere sport. >>

I loved the catalog I received in the mail this week, but I gotta say, the Boomer-tude gets a little exhausting sometimes.

Just 'cause someone finds your play spot is no need to wag the cultural superiority finger. "Mere sport" is one of the saving graces of my life these days.

Dan & Whit's brings biodiesel to the land of the Pinheads

Dan & Whit's
Originally uploaded by drewbo.
Norwich, VT -- With the slogan "If we don't have it, you don't need it," Dan & Whit's General Store is delivering on their promise.

Beginning this month, D&W is selling biodiesel at the pump and in 5 gallon cans.

Check it out



Colbert roasts Bush at White House Correspondents Dinner

A few highlights from the Stephen Colbert's presentation, from E&P:

* ON APPROVAL RATINGS: Colbert strongly urged Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, “and reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

* ON RESTRUCTURING: Colbert attacked those in the press who claim that the shake-up at the White House was merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. “This administration is soaring, not sinking,” he said. “If anything, they are re-arranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.”

* ON RETIRED GENERALS: Colbert compared Bush to Rocky Balboa in the “Rocky” movies, always getting punched in the face — “and Apollo Creed is everything else in the world.”

* ON THE WAR: "I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq."

* ON PRINCIPLES: "When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday -- no matter what happened Tuesday."

* ON THE PRESS: Colbert said he was “surrounded by the liberal media who are destroying this country, except for Fox News. Fox believes in presenting both sides of the story — the president’s side and the vice president’s side."

According to E&P, "as Colbert walked from the podium, when it was over, the president and First Lady gave him quick nods, unsmiling. The president shook his hand and tapped his elbow, and left immediately."

"Those seated near Bush told E&P's Joe Strupp, who was elsewhere in the room, that Bush had quickly turned from an amused guest to an obviously offended target as Colbert’s comments brought up his low approval ratings and problems in Iraq."


the FLOCK rules

OK ... if we're committed, as we apparently are, to a 1982 flashback theme at the summer Outdoor Retailer show, maybe the Flock of Seagulls isn't such a bad choice.

Check out the top ten Billboard songs of August, 1982 and see if YOU disagree.

"1. 'Eye Of The Tiger,' Survivor
2. 'Hurt's So Good,' John Cougar
3. 'Abracadabra,' Steve Miller Band
4. 'Hold Me,' Fleetwood Mac
5. 'Hard To Say I'm Sorry,' Chicago
6. 'Even The Nights Are Better,' Air Supply
7. 'Keep The Fire Burnin',' REO Speedwagon
8. 'Vacation,' Go-Go's
9. 'Wasted On The Way,' Crosby, Stills & Nash
10. 'Take It Away,' Paul McCartney"

Other not-so-great songs from the year? "Heart Attack," by Olivia Newton-John; Maneater by " Daryl Hall & John Oates, and "Who Can It Be Now?," by Men At Work.



What the Flock?

Welcome to your Outdoor Retailer 25th Anniversary band selection: FLOCK OF SEAGULLS.

A band formed by hairdressers, the FLOCK was "as well-known for their bizarrely teased haircuts as their hit single 'I Ran (So Far Away),' A Flock of Seagulls were one of the infamous one-hit wonders of the new wave era. Growing out of the synth-heavy and ruthlessly stylish new romantic movement, A Flock of Seagulls were a little too robotic and arrived a little too late to be true new romantics, but their sleek dance-pop was forever indebted to the short-lived movement. The group benefitted considerably from MTV's heavy rotation of the 'I Ran' video in the summer of 1982, but they were unable to capitalize on their sudden success and disappeared nearly as quickly as they rocketed up the charts."

Where is EZHI when you need him? A special price goes to anyone who can name another Flock of Seagulls song. ...