Monday, April 13, 2015

The Week I Wrote The Phone Book

This is going to require a lot of coffee.

If you have ever watched one of those annoying talent shows on TV -- I live with my wife and two daughters and despite closed doors, double insulated walls and noise-canceling headphones it is impossible to escape them -- you've no doubt heard one of these exuberant judges claim, with complete seriousness,

"You have such a beautiful voice I could listen to you sing the phone book."

In the spirit of mixing things up at R17, I've decided to challenge myself to a similar endeavor.

All this week, and maybe next week, and maybe for a considerable time after that, (I mean who knows where this is going, this could be my milieu), I will write the phone book. Well not exactly "write" it, but whatever the equivalent of singing it would be.

You might be wondering what inspired this exercise in irrelevancy.

Last week the new West LA phone book arrived. It came wrapped in plastic, to protect it from our ferocious drizzle.  It sat on the Adirondack chair on the front porch.

Naturally, because we lead busy lives, it remained untouched there for considerable time. Also naturally, when I went to retrieve it this morning to begin this journey, it was gone. My wife had chucked it in the recycle bin.

And so the more astute of you will recognize this phone book from 2009. If I'm not mistaken that's Troy Aikman running the quarterback sweep for the UCLA Bruins.

I could probably do a few hundred words and some well-spaced paragraphs about the futility of the phone book. Because we have the web now and there's no need for this wanton waste of trees. But other pundits, other more talented pundits, and stand up comics working at places named Guffaws or Chortle Hut, have amply covered that ground.

So let's get started, where one would naturally start when "writing the phone book."

If you haven't looked, the first page is nothing but listings of companies trying to cut in front of the line for your precious dollar.

A-AAA Heating and Air Conditioning

Aardvark Cab Company

AA Acme Satellite Television

These businesses operate under the misguided assumption that Mr. or Mrs. My-Dishwasher-is-Leaking will run to the phone book and immediately turn to the white pages and opt for the first name they see because they're at the front of the book and they must be good.

Of course, that's a faulty business assumption.

Much like the notion if you work in advertising and you keep your nose to the grindstone and do a good job, the boss and the holding company will reward you at the end of the year with a bonus and a bump in your salary.

It's Bullshit. And to prove it, I started smiling and dialing.

I called A Classy Act Entertainment to find out what kind of classy acts they were pimping and it turned out they were no longer in business. Apparently their placement at the front of the book didn't make the phone ring.

I also let my fingers do the walking and tried to reach A Cow Jumped Over the Moon in Beverly Hills and found their cows were no longer jumping.

Finally, I noticed A Century City Dental Group.

Then it occurred to me that if you're seeking a professional dentist by scanning the first listings in the West LA phone book, the cavity in your mouth is dwarfed by the cavity in your skull.

Coming up tomorrow, Dr. Kenneth Jones, the Hippie Dippie Weimaraner Man. 

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