Random drops of insanity

John Hult

John Hult

This week, as I’m sure you know, is the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The way we look at the world was forever altered on Sept. 11, 2001.

Patriotism’s bell chimed at a fever pitch in the months following the attacks, with flags and fond words for the enterprise of freedom pulling tears from the eyes of the hardest hearts and giving a proud posture to backs nearly broken from years of careless slumping.

Pundits, poets, wise men and fools can all provide a clearer glimpse into the broad headlights of freedom’s meaning than I can, however. The beaming heart of a proud countryman is something beyond my ability to explain or understand. I’m only an entertainment critic.

And while I could attempt to wax philisophical on music’s place on the table of our privilage, Mr. Todd VanDerWerf has his own analysis in this section of your Collegian to provide that sort of serious insight. And he did research. So if you need something like that, turn the page.

My job, I’ve decided, is to define freedom from the armchair. There are reasons to be proud of this country that go beyond those items easily recognizable as “common good.” The underlying spirit of the American Dream manifests itself in forms that most of us never appreciate.

Freedom is the Flobee. Freedom is Matthew Lesko. Freedom is the Perfect Pancake.

Now before you rush to the computer or the notepad to fire off an angry reprimand for those seemingly inappropriate statements, take a moment to hear me out.

For those uninitiated, the Flobee is a miraculous invention born of wit and/or boredom that appeared on the infomercial scene around six years ago. The gadget hooks up where your vaccuum cleaner’s hose attachments would usually go.

You turn on the vaccuum cleaner. The Flobee is then applied to the head to allow it to suck hair into the attachment. If the hair flies far enough into the FloBee, it is chopped off and sucked safely and cleanly into the vaccuum’s dust bag.

Watching infomercials featuring this spectacular piece of innovation is almost a guaranteed laugh riot for me. The idea that someone is raking in loads of watermarked bills by marketing an item that looks like a Carrot Top set piece is amazing to me. The more reasonable candidate for the fat paycheck, at least in my eyes, is the talent that has to hock the product. Their authentic, smiling enthusiasm must have taken quite a while to perfect.

Why does a phenomenon like the FloBee make my little heart swell with American pride? Because where else can such an obvious example of the American will to succeed be observed?

And America is the one of the only places where, even if it takes the form of a hair vaccuum, these things are available for anyone with the guts and will to undertake such endeavors.

Consider Ron Popeil, founder of Ronco Inventions. This is a man whose drive to succeed was so intense that he was able to cut the end off of a fishing pole and sell it. The Pocket Fisherman let you bring your fishing pole anywhere, even if you’re driving a Geo Metro.

Ideas like the Pocket Fisherman are not welcome everywhere. And that’s not to say, of course, that they are always welcome here. But in general, if you can give us a good reason, we’ll buy your junk.

That’s why people still to dream these improbable American Dreams.

As cringe-inducing as it may be at times, infomercials provide proof that America is the place where anyone with the tenacity and determination can make it.

Long live the Flobee.