Friday, March 23, 2012

A Far Cry from Campbell's

When I first read this soup ad on the F train yesterday, I thought what I saw was  a) a result of poor eyesight & sleep deprivation or b) a satirical art piece. Mannish Water? Was there ever a more evocative name for a soup? A name that was pleasing in its stout macho vigor (despite the qualifying "-ish"), yet also conjured the troubling whiff of urinals. This soup, a Ram Goat Flavor Mix, certainly sounded potent.
I'd never seen an ad for Grace Foods before. This Jamaican company has been in business since 1922, & if you check out the company site you can read a pedantic yet curiously romantic account of its history, that goes on for pages & pages & pages. Take this extract, for example:

In March of the same year, Donald Myrie, a member of the Grace News editorial
committee, had asked 'Why no Grace, Kennedy Sports Club?' Were they all to wait for
'our Good Samaritan' Carlton Alexander to do it for them, or 'do we do something for
ourselves?' There had been such a Club formed in 1959 by founder and first President
'Junior' Foote. It was bases at the old Wembley Club on Dunoon Road. The opening
activity had been a cricket match -Jamaica Rums vs. Merchandise Division. It was
described as a 'very liquid' affair. Much liquor flowed, much food was downed, and the
famous 'Sugar Belly' and his Combo provided music. Neither Captain Bradie Hale
(Rums) nor Carlton Alexander (Merchandise) was able to give a clear account of scores
or result of the game, or indeed whether there had been any result.

I was happy to see Grace Foods staking a claim up there on the train.  The ads these days are generally so bland & uniform: a whole carriage-worth of one gaudy corporate message repeated again & again, or a tirade of self-congratulory MTA-talk.  It's soulless fare. There's little in the way of ad-poetry, of smaller appeals to our sometimes grubby needs & desires.  Even Dr. Zizmor & his peeled ladies are getting harder to find.
I wanted to take a photograph of this ad all the way from Brooklyn through Manhattan, but the surly guy who sat under it scowled at me so viciously I didn't dare.  He stayed on in Queens, and was distracted for several stops by by a cute black girl in a laced goth bustier, who wore tiny shorts & knee socks & carried a tennis racquet.  Not distracted enough though.  He glowered right past my subway stop, and I had to go to the end of the line & wait for him to leave before I took my shot.  I think it was worth it.


Marty Wombacher said...

Glad you waited and took the shot! And you're right about old Dr. Z, I haven't seen one of his ads in a while!

Laura Goggin Photography said...

I've never heard of Mannish Water...but I'd like you to try it and report back. :)