Heroic Charles Ramsey Demands Bouzaglo-Kitchen-Nightmares Media Moratorium.

happy days.Until recently, it was looking like free Big Macs for life, and a fat percentage on big merchandise deals.

Last week’s Internet sensation Charles Ramsey has requested that both journalists and the general public desist from talking or writing about Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, who themselves this week became an Internet sensation following a recent television episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

“Our initial consignment of ‘Dead Giveaway’ T-shirts had just got back from the printers Tuesday, and we were looking to have our first bulk shipments in stores by the weekend”, explained the Cleveland native.

Earlier this May, he entertained millions worldwide with a short interview covering his role in the rescue of Amanda Berry and two other women who had been held captive for ten years by his next-door neighbour.

But as the Bouzaglo Kitchen Nightmares “shitstorm” continues to register non-stop commentary on Facebook, Yelp, Reddit and Twitter, many of these T-shirt orders have suddenly been placed on hold.

amy's bakery place kitchen nightmares“It’s very inconsiderate of you to be so compellingly mad that nobody in the world wants to talk about anything else.”

It’s thought that Monday’s episode is already being combed by designers for its most memorable lines, while (Charles) Ramsey’s humorous kidnap rescue paraphernalia looks in danger of being replaced on store shelves before it can even reach them.

“Our intention had been to run with Dead Giveaway on cups, clothing and school materials until June, then try ‘It’s some more girls up in that house’ for a month or so along with a few meme posters, and to ultimately use that momentum as a bargaining chip for tie-in talks with McDonalds some time late in the summer.”

“Where do we stand now? Outside a warehouse full of merchandise that as long as this Bouzaglo story keeps getting fanned, I couldn’t give away, if you’ll excuse the pun.”

“That’s where”, he continued.

“People really need to forget that Gordon in Arizona ever happened until the comedic fallout from the Cleveland Kidnap Saga gets a chance to run its natural course.”

charles ramsey kitchen nightmaresA tired, visibly chastened Ramsey accepts that the Dead Giveaway ship may have already sailed.

Several international textile wholesalers refused to comment last night when asked if casual cotton tops and canvas tote bags bearing slogans like I HAVE TO DRINK WATER, I AM GOING TO REALLY HURT SOMEBODY IF THEY SEND BACK MY CAKES, YOU DON’T NEED TO QUESTION ME KATY YOU CAN GO HOME RIGHT NOW and I AM THE GANGSTER, NOT YOU  had not already begun rolling off their conveyor belts.

It’s thought that some suppliers are even hopeful that much of their year-round, generic ‘Meeow’ stock will also be taken up by consumers as part of the “Bouzaglo-Nightmares” push.

Elsewhere, media watchdogs have been as critical as (Charles) Ramsey over the unfortunate stacking of viral Internet sensation atop viral Internet sensation, and the lost economic opportunities attaching thereto.

“Of course, while it’s almost impossible to legislate for a Social Media Shitstorm like the one we’ve seen at Amy’s Baking Company this week, I think most people will agree the timing has been unhelpful, and that experts should have seen it coming”, said Gerard Henderson of the Sydney Institute.

He continued, “With the whole Dead Giveaway Kidnap thing only a week old, surely this episode of Kitchen Nightmares could have realistically been pushed back a month?”

kitchen nightmares bouzaglo The Bouzaglos shown modelling their “ABC Shitstorm”, a new, multi-purpose harsh weather jacket available in six sizes.

“On its own, Charles Ramsey and ‘Dead Giveaway’ still theoretically has legs, but not if it has to simultaneously go mano a mano with Amy, Samy, Gordon and a Facebook page that can get 25,000 comments on a two-line post, and then literally millions of replies to those comments. You think about that.”

Ramsey and Ramsay are not related.

Given their press commitments and three sit-downs with Moulinex, Aspirin and Blue Stratos this week, the Bouzaglos are currently closed for business. Amy’s Baking Company re-opens on the 21st of May.

Bad News For Mauerpark Basketball Players.


Hoop Nightmares. Spontaneous first-to-eleven throwdowns are history. Photo from metaltraveller.com

Berlin, Germany.

Sports enthusiasts who, since the reunification of Germany in the early 90’s, have met informally at Mauerpark in the former East Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg to play basketball on its basketball court are learning today that as of next week, it will no longer simply be a matter of showing up with a ball and a “Game Face”.

The increased popularity of the park as a meeting point for locals and tourists in recent years has resulted in huge crowds gathering there, especially on Sundays, when the nearby weekly flea market takes place. It has also had the knock-on effect of more people than ever before playing basketball on the basketball court, as well as large crowds assembling nearby to watch play.

Until now, it has not been necessary to pre-book time on the court, with basketball playable by anyone who spontaneously showed up. Nor was any cover charge demanded of spectators. But city authorities have announced that as and from next Sunday, basketball may henceforth only be played by players who have applied for, and received, a special permit (Sondergenehmigung) from the local district’s environmental offices.


The Halftime Show is always popular with Mauerpark basketball fans. Photo by Simon Pokorny

This will take the form of a combined permit and rental contract between the city of Berlin and those who wish to play basketball on the park’s court. Precisely how much the permit should cost is unclear, but will be based on the size of the area in use, i.e. the basketball court’s surface area and the surrounding parkland from where spectators watch games.

Applicants will be required to enclose a list of desired dates and approximate playing times in advance, and will agree to engage a private security service for the duration of their games, as well as ensuring that a medical response unit is on hand in the event of crowd violence, or sports injuries incurred by players.

The details of the special permit also mean that, among other things, players will now be obliged to provide reasonable sanitation services in the public park, which itself has no permanent toilets, for basketball spectators. Added to the costs of the permit itself, these new conditions could mean an outlay on the players’ part of approximately €2500-€4000 per game.


Interior of Dixi Klo‘s high-end portable toilet, “The Festival-Goer Imperial Mk.2″

“It simply was no longer feasible to allow the basketball games in Mauerpark to continue happening in their current form”, said one city official.

“When the court was built, it was never intended that people would play basketball on it all day long. Thousands of people watch games there now over the course of a Sunday afternoon. This constitutes an unacceptable risk to public safety for which the city of Berlin cannot be held responsible.

He continued, “If basketball players insist on playing so impressively on a public court that they cause bystanders to stop and watch them, they need to realize the financial opportunities available both to themselves and to the city. Selling drinks would be one way of covering their costs, for example. Assuming the city issued permits to sell drinks in a park on a Sunday. Which, of course, it doesn’t. Or they could try an admission fee to the general area? Or get money off anybody who stands in the same place for more than two minutes. Something should be possible.”


Mavericks Kingpin Dirk Nowitsky is rumoured to have already block booked July Sundays for himself and his friends.

One regular user of the Mauerpark basketball court who declined to give her name stated that the new system would be unlikely to find much favour with casual players.

“I suppose if I had to pre-schedule my games weeks in advance, then hire a bunch of portable toilets for the afternoon and pay First Aid staff and bouncers to hang around and wait for something to happen, it would probably make me think twice about playing basketball in Mauerpark.

“Imagine it rained unexpectedly and I didn’t want to play basketball! The portable toilet company would still want its money, right? And I bet the bouncers would be grumpy too if I cancelled them half an hour before they were meant to start work.

“Anyway”, she continued, “I don’t see how I can be expected to chase people for thousands of Euros for watching basketball, and play basketball at the same time. Shooting hoops at the weekend isn’t meant to be a hassle”

Nobody else was available for comment.

Why I Am Leaving Dollar Shave Club Dot Com.


Goldman Sachs isn’t the only Big Player losing one of its, um, big players this week.

TODAY is my last day at Dollar Shave Club. After almost half a month at the firm — first as the bear costume guy for our promo clip, then in the warehouse until last weekend, and since Tuesdsay doing a bit of phone and email stuff — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Dollar Shave Club is one of the world’s largest and most important shippers of disposable razors and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.


                                                                   Imitation being a sincere form of Plagiarism.

 

It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Dollar Shave Club’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always sending the right disposable razors to our clients. The culture was the “aftershave balm” that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for nearly two weeks. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love packing disposable razors for so many days. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.

But this was not always the case. For almost a whole afternoon I recruited and mentored candidates through our grueling interview process. I was selected out of a firm of more than 3 to appear on our promo video, which is currently playing in every wifi-equipped hipster coffee shop around the world. In the parking lot last Tuesday I managed the summer intern program in Envelope-Stuffing and Breaking Open The Big Boxes for eight winos who made the cut out of the many more who had applied.

Image
We sent this guy a free bike and told him cyclists like to shave their legs.

I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look winos in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.

When the history books are written about Dollar Shave Club, they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, Alejandra, and the president, Mike, lost hold of the firm’s culture on their watch. I truly believe that this decline in the firm’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival.

My clients have a total asset base of more than a dollar a month. I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm. Five blades? Who needs them? We said it ourselves! This view is becoming increasingly unpopular at Dollar Shave Club. Another sign that it was time to leave.

How did we get here? The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about a Five O’Clock Shadow, not needing a stubble-free face 24/7. Today, if you close enough 5 blade subscriptions for the firm (and are not currently on the rebound from Goldman Sachs) you will be promoted into a position of influence.

Image
He has no hair anywhere on his body, and Alejandra has him on six 2 Blades a Month till 2016

What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is DSC-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the disposable razors or other products that we are trying to get rid of quickly for cash because we got them free off our suppliers. Even though they are crap razors.  b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are going bald and considering a “Shaved-Bald” look, and some of whom aren’t — to buy razors for shaving their heads as well as their face! Call me old-fashioned, but “Shaved-Bald” sends out all sorts of mixed messages and I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to flog any plastic, shiny nonsense with a lubra-strip and a vibrating handle.

Today, many of these leaders display a Dollar Shave Club culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can deal cheaply with blade rash. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that the smoothness of a client’s shave was not part of the thought process at all.

It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last week and a half I have seen Mike and Alejandra refer to their own clients loudly as “muppets,” sometimes within earshot while I’ve been on the phone to the latest newspaper asking about our viral Youtube video. No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated 5-blade products to bum-fluffed 14 year-olds? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.

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Mike actually laughs when he gets customer complaints to his smartphone like this one from two days ago.

It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth: If 14 year olds tear their faces open with a Quintessence every time they start playing with Dad’s shaving foam, they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are.

Today, the most common question I got from Mike was, “How much money did we make off the client?” Duh! A Dollar! It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection that he rented Wall Street Part 2 last night, and now he thinks he should behave like Michael Douglas. Now project 10 days into the future: You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the new Goods-Out guy sitting quietly in the corner of the room licking stamps and hearing about “muppets,” “tearing throats open” and “getting shaved” doesn’t exactly turn into a model citizen.

When I was in the bear suit I didn’t know where the bathroom was, or how to use toilet paper to dry out a cut. I was taught to be concerned with learning the ropes, finding out what pre-shave exfoliation was, understanding why Turks need to shave more than Finns, getting to know our clients and what motivated them, learning how they defined value for money, a clean shave and what we could do to help them get there.

Image

My proudest moments in life — getting out of the bear suit, posting out my first Dollar subscription razor, winning an argument with our suppliers in Shanghai over some delayed trial size sachets of Brut by Fabergé, known as the Crown on the King’s Head Of Shaves  — have all come through hard work, with no shortcuts. Dollar Shave Club today has become too much about 30 Dollars A Month and less about 1 Dollar A Month. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore.

I hope this can be a wake-up call to Mike, Alejandra and the new bear costume guy. Make the client the focal (follicle?) point of your business again. Without clients DSC will not make money posting disposable razors out to people who get themselves tied into monthly purchase contracts over the internet, a business plan that you seem to have swung some venture capital somewhere for, even though razors are widely available in lots of different kinds of stores, and forgetting to buy a pack isn’t really a big deal, or a problem that needs an added middleman to help “solve”. In fact, you will not exist. Well, you’ll exist of course, but you won’t be getting rich off the combination of goodwill generated by a mildly charming promo clip, and an at best ropey business idea. Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how many 5-blade-with-balm-contracts they close. And get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons. People who care only about making money will not sustain Dollar Shave Club — or the trust of its suggestible, ironic clients — for very much longer.

Me and My Big Mouth.

velcome.

Just good friends? Of course not. Now read on…

When meditating for more than a moment upon Ireland’s chequered yet in the main glorious industrial past, one’s thoughts will tend naturally to drift briskly towards those twin behemoths of portable, disposable heat and light generation, Messrs. Maguire and Paterson. In Victorian times they famously gave droves of destitute Dubliners somewhere to go during the day, and by the late 1800’s their premises behind the North Quays near Smithfield was regularly rated top in the city by the local Chamber of Commerce, somewhat ironically perhaps, for its almost complete devoidness of heat and light.  Both men also won prizes at more than one Captain-of-Industry-Golf-Day-Out in tribute to their general intransigence where matters of employee remuneration and health insurance were concerned.

Of course all of this is a matter of record. But a lesser known known fact about the two is that Chauncey Paterson and Noel Maguire also happened to comprise, as a unit, the world’s first quasi-openly gay couple.

Both were affirmed agnostics. Neither was possessed of any great board-treading talent. They thus took perhaps the only avenue left to a pair of men keen on spending a lot of time with each other in 19th century Ireland, and formed a business partnership. Precisely what direction their business should take was neither important nor immediately clear to either party, but Paterson had lived in London during the mid-70’s, and professed more than once in public after his return to having found the overall picture of depressing gritty urban realism there “way ahead of here”.

A picture whose grittiness and depressiveness was assisted by the daily swelling ranks of an already flooded match girl market.

The obvious word-play around “match-making” had the effect of functioning as a sign to both, and the circle closed when they resolved one drunken night over the backgammon board in a gentleman’s club on Fitzwilliam Square to “go to work” on Maguire’s wealthy aunt, Margaret (more affectionately known to the former as “Madge”).

Venture capital duly flowed, and by 1891 they had established themselves as the second largest employer of semi- and unskilled Labour on the Northside, with Official Ireland content to leave the minutiae of the pair’s private lives broadly unpublicized.

redheads
Maguire’s aunt Margaret insisted on a match named for her as condition of providing the start-up funds.

This seemingly tactful reticence on the National Media’s part was largely on account of the ubiquity of Maguire and Paterson advertising in Dublin at the time. No newspaper could be randomly opened, barely a single public wall could be stared at without the beholder landing upon some pithy phrase alluding to the superiority of Cara matches. By way of example, it was postulated as early as 1894, that without M&P advertising revenue, the cover prices of The Irish Times, The Independent and Irish Press would necessarily rise an unrealistic twenty-two-fold.

Of course, “Cara” is the Irish word for “friend”, and most commentators have correctly interpreted the choice of trade name as an oblique reference to the love shared by the two. Moreover, the portrait of both men cheek by jowl must surely be worth a proverbial thousand words. But this really only scratches the surface.

Their seemingly prosaic matchbox copy can be exposed under closer scrutiny as a veritable Da Vinci Code of double meaning and bawdy insinuation, and trove of the more profane street argot of the time.

The most obvious questions to pose when examining the packs are.

(a) What is a “safety” match?
(b) Why bother asserting an “average contents”, when no serious person would base their choice of match on such a rough estimate of cost-per-match?

Our answers are fairly straightforward. The terms “safety match” and “average contents” were simply coined by Paterson as anagrams of various racy aphorisms pertaining to his and Maguire’s sexual predelictions.

Nonce Teargas Vet (Paterson had been a victim of police brutality at a Christopher Street Day celebration in 1863), “Chafes Ma Testy” (Maguire had never forgotten the physically vigorous Scottish Shinty champion Drew McLachlan, who had introduced him as a teen to the ways of l’amour masculine) He’s steamy. Fact. (needs no elaboration), are just a few of the lines Paterson furtively insinuated onto their matchboxes.

Denizens of the city’s seamy underbelly soon caught on to this Trojan Horse of meaning, and so it was, that by the early 1900’s, thousands of visitors to public houses and moonlit parks in the capital were using Maguire and Paterson matchboxes to discreetly signify specific homosexual leanings.

M&P matches quickly became sought after humorous novelty items, and also enjoyed a huge export trade to France and Luxembourg. Competitors promptly decided to get in on the action


Come and get me! An early attempt to muscle in on the Gay Matchbox Market.


Less subtle than Maguire and Paterson’s work, but equally effective.

The practice of producing gay-friendly safety matches became so widespread that a knock-on market in heterosexuality-asserting matches evolved in its wake.


You were above suspicion (or beneath consideration) with a packet of Robots.

In matters of commerce and those of the heart, however, things rarely stay the same. And so it was over time that the two “cáirde” began to grow apart. Maguire was unwillingly relieved of his stake in the company by Paterson after a devious series of machinations involving hitherto undeclared sulphur and sandpaper purchases, which in 1904 mysteriously came to the attention of the Revenue Commissioner.

A punitive settlement was reached, albeit one absolving Paterson af any blame. He retained control of the company name and Maguire struck out on his own, setting up a “boutique” match company. Specializing in limited edition runs of matches with eccentric brand names and unusually coloured heads, he never managed to completely get over Paterson’s breach of trust, nor the change in domestic affairs between the two. Many of his new box designs eloquently reflected his state of mind in a given year.


Chauncey laughed in Noel’s face when he saw this one.

Paterson, revelling in his new-found life as rapacious homosexual singleton, regarded Maguire’s emotional matchbox bulletins as so much maudlin nonsense, and on more than one occasion returned fire in similar vein with a well-chosen and utterly unambiguous composition designed to let Maguire (and the rest of Dublin’s match buying public) know he wasn’t missed.


Maguire repaired to Wexford in shock for six months after Paterson’s “Woodmen” went into production.

Maguire saw out his Twilight Years in what today is one of the grander stately homes left in Co. Sligo, a close neighbour of the Gore-Booths, who were in turn old acquaintances of his monied aunt. Rumours of an on-off dalliance with one of the family’s daughters Constance, (a signatory of the 1916 Declaration of Independence) were never confirmed. He succumbed to injuries sustained in his capacity as spectator at a road bowling championship in Leitrim in April 1934.

Paterson was not invited to the funeral, and outlived his erstwhile cara by almost a decade. He was shot dead by two masked men at the counter of a Finglas pub in 1943.