The River

Friday, September 05, 2003

The Times They Are A'Changin

The scene is the National Mall of Washington, D.C., a public parks space and gathering spot for citizens seeking to come together to communicate common interests to their government. The time is Sept. 4, 2003, the kickoff event for the new National Football League season, sponsored by Pepsi Cola, Coors, the NYSE, and others. Advertisements, banners, placards emblazooned with company logos, “Take Pride in America”, and "Operation Tribute to Freedom" are everywhere.

A crowd of 130,000 has gathered for a free concert by Britney Spears, Aerosmith, Mary J. Blige, and Aretha Franklin, the culmination of a four-day event. A giant stage, also covered with ads, has been erected. Out strides a middle aged white man in a suit.

(Deep, resonant voice of The Announcer): Ladies and gentleman, The President
…of Pepsi Cola.

PoPeC: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you very much! Great to be here! Thank you! I’m touched! I really am! This is a great day as we gather here on the National Mall. A great day for all Americans and for Pepsi Vanilla!

(crowd roar dies down)

I am here today because I had a dream! You are here at a historic moment, because Pepsi Vanilla is bringing the dream closer than it’s ever been before.

(Odd music begins to play. Jumbotrons display digital versions of the inescapable Pepsi Vanilla banners littering the Mall. The banners begin to swirl into a spiral pattern.)

Look into my banners. You cannot look away. You are getting sleepy….sleeeeeeepeeee. You….are….a…sleep.

(an eerie quiet descends on the Mall, punctuated by an occasional baby’s cry)

Yes, I had a dream that one day the concept of citizenship would be completely obliterated. I had a dream that we could one day live in a world with cola wars as your top concern. And there’s only one way to achieve that dream, and that is to demonstrate our power over you, over your public spaces, over your very consciousness.

[George Oberlander, treasurer of the coalition, said the proliferation of structures on the Mall has detracted from its historical feel. He said that with the buildup, there can no longer be an unobstructed ocean of people like the one Martin Luther King looked down and saw in 1963 when he gave his famous speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. "It was an image burned into the mind of so many," Mr. Oberlander said. "You couldn't have that anymore."]

The NFL is a national pastime, a sporting event, but most importantly, a commercial enterprise. As such, it is THE DREAM of this great nation. The domination of one commercial enterprise over another, everywhere. It is our model, it is our pardigm, it is our religion.

And we will WIN! NO ONE has a problem with this. There is NO dissent. This is the way it is. Anyone who disagrees with this is A LOSER.

[The NFL Take Pride in America kickoff event live from the National Mall is designed to create a strong bond between the military and citizens and underscore the message that the war on terrorism is constantly being fought.]

We will bomb whomever we choose. This is good. There is nothing more powerful than the power of life and death. This is the great struggle. And we will win. Drink Pepsi Vanilla, driiiiiinnnkkk it! Everyone will drink it, in every country. It will make you immortal…and as handsome and resolute as a young soldier when photographed from below.

And it will make you as sexy as pop star Britney Spears, who is here tonight, for free, thanks to Pepsi Vanilla and the other sponsors, of which I am a board member. This is going to be an exciting, inspiring show. I repeat, an exciting, inspiring show. In….support….of…..the……war….on….terrorism.

[In between acts, the crowd saw ads for the sponsors' products, as well as public service announcements urging people to volunteer on the nation's public lands on the giant screens.]

Now you may ask, can you take pride in America without supporting our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? NO! Why? Look at all this, feel it. Can YOU see any alternatives?

[Besides saluting the start of the professional football season, the concert will be part of Operation Tribute to Freedom, a military effort to "help Americans express their support for the troops who are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Col. Dan Wolfe.]

Remember to support our troops, take pride in our great country, and remember Pepsi Vanilla when you grab the handle of the cooler at the convenience store.

(snaps fingers)

Now enjoy this fabulous entertainment as we celebrate the kickoff of the 2003 season of the National Football League!

[Added Dean Bonham, a Denver-based sports marketing consultant: "This grand, spectacle type of event at the beginning of the season might be an excellent way to reach out and touch some of their younger fans, or potential fans and say, 'Look, we're a hip, exciting, cutting-edge sports league. Come look at how we kick our season off and what we're all about.'"]

"God Bless the U.S.A." singer Lee Greenwood enjoying freedom.

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