Tuesday, November 18, 2003


If I had the extra time and inclination, I would spend half an hour a week trawling through amazon.com, searching for bizarre adjacencies, consumer suggestions and their seemingly unending supply of ridiculous hunks of shit for sale.

I have written at least a half-dozen times about Amazon and I’m willing to bet a monthly column in a print newspaper or magazine would make an interesting read. (I’m not volunteering my services, I’m just saying, the website has enough breadth and depth of strangeness to fuel musings at that frequency.)

Anyway, as best as I can gather, I was presented with SkyBox, a "personal beverage vendor" from Maytag because I searched for Maxx Barry, author of Syrup, a less than effervescent look at the cola industry. I can think of no other reason that the algorithm would calculate that I, a literate, mentally engaged individual would wish to customize a mini-vending machine full of soda pop or "adult beverages." Feast on this, from the ad copy:

Want to hear that satisfying vending-machine "ka-thunk" when grabbing a cold beverage at game time? Now you can--while you and your buddies are crowded around the big-screen TV. The SkyBox by Maytag brings the concession stand right to the living room, so you can savor the excitement of punching a soda machine without having to feed it coins or dollar bills.

Blow me, Jeff Bozo (nee Bezos).

As I sit here and mentally hamster wheel, I seem to remember a somewhat recent book about the weirdest stuff ever sold on eBay. So, why not also, in the hypothetical publication featuring the Amazon.com column (for now let us call it Ryan: the magazine for Ryan), have a police blotter-style report on the unusual items bought and sold on eBay from the preceding month. Yes, it doubles as a plug for the site, but listing wacko auction dealings in a clinical, cold, plain manner, as if it were any other batch of statistics, would probably have some neat resonance.

A website or blog entry once a month detailing eBay and Amazon wouldn’t have the same impact. Report on one medium in another medium and it immediately has greater import. Trust me on this.