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Monday, June 28, 2010

i am considering writing a blog where i act as the voice of pretentious british man who is not remotely self aware but relishes in quippy negative commentary about others. it would be a pun on "my view from teh Coffee Bean." would be the URL...this is what I want to write.

"It was Tuesday. I took my seat. I opted for a medium Iced Americano. It was that type of day. To go of course. The tax savings were too much to turn down in spite of my philanthropic decency. I opened my book...the unpublished works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez as it were. A rather portly woman arrived. Her bosoms unmolested by a bra, sagging deeply below her xyphoid process. She ordered a non-fat chai, bluberry tea. I looked on in disgust. I was waiting for Tad Allagash."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Commodities, Cocaine and Online Ads

I hear some talk in the market from Publishers and Pub aggregators about "pricing technology" and pricing rules they will use to combat a predicted downward pull in prices that results from automation and RTB.

I am not really sure what these pricing rules will be or how exactly this could possibly work. It seems that marketing and economics might have taken divergent paths on this one. Lets examine the concept of price floors and why they probably cannot be an effective tool to increase revenue for publishers in this case.

A price floor is an artificial price set above the equilibrium clearing price in a market environment. This means that the quantity of a good demanded will decrease by some amount while the quantity supplied will increase. The amount of the change in quantity supplied and demanded will depend on the elasticity of both curves, respectively. In this particular case, this type of mechanism would likely have an adverse rather than benefical effect on revenue for publishers:

1) Elastic Supply- Despite the fact that online ads as a whole are not commodities and as such do not represent a pure example of perfect competition, there is such an enormous surplus of supply in each of the various "value tranches" of inventory that the benefits of differentiation kind of becomes void since collusion at this scale isnt really possible (fragmented across too many pubs). A supply aggregator might argue that unifying the fragmented market is a great reason to choose one platform and create universal and enforeable floors; this brings us to a textbook example of a prisoners dilemma...however in this case, there are too many players in the game to reasonably expect adequate levels of cooperation (and not cheating) to properly execute this scheme. Thus, the publishers become price takers within their niche (if we construct a view of the traffic in 3 dimensions; price, quantity, niche/value tranche and then slice it up by niche/value tranche, we will see a bunch of cross sections where market supply is virtually unlimited at an equilibrium price level).

2) Elastic Demand- Advertisers don't want specific placements as much as addicts wan't cocaine. There are a lot of different supply sources with similar desirability and value in terms of performance levels and/or audience attributes. If a particular publishers is artificially charging too much for a placement, no sweat...a buyer can just go somewhere else to find it at its intrinsic price.

Does the fact that price floors and pricing mechanisms are not the solution to increased revenue mean that publishers are doomed? No, it just means they should embrace the free flow of market dyamics and allow for more transparent information so advertisers are able to target more effectively. The whole point of advertising is to drive a person to buy a particular product or service. If an advertiser is able to cut through the noise and find their targets more effectively, that means they will be willing to pay more for that acquisition and the externality of significant spend going to uninterested users will be reduced (Ie. Publishers with valuable audiences and placements will get the money they deserve and publishers who are lacking in either department will also get what they deserve...good for some, bad for others). In general, the acceptance of a free market in the age of automation will enhance the overall value of the industry rather than act as a zero sum game reallocating the rents. Outcomes are not permanant either, so a pub who is an initial loser can certainly make changes to enrich the value of their audience or placements.

This market is not ideal for price mechanisms.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Desert

So my friend sent me this email which I thought was pretty funny after he came back from a Phish concert in Indio.

I had a pretty weird weekend so I thought I would tell you guys what happened. I guess it is funny in hindsight. Actually it is hilarious in hindsight.

So a couple months ago when I was neck deep in powering up with Sam. He mentioned to me that he was going to a 3 day Phish concert over Halloween in Indio...which is 3 hours east of LA in the middle of the desert. Literally, it is in a mountain basin. He asked if I wanted to come and given that I was in a frame of mind prone to "new experiences", it sounded like a great idea so I gave him $200 and got a ticket.

Tick tock...a couple months elapse and it is 2 pm on Friday...time to leave work early to get natural in the desert and camp with 50,000 hippies. I left the office and we cruised down route 10 to Indio. We got there at 5 with all of our stuff in our car and had to be searched to make sure we didnt have any "glass". I am still not sure why they were only looking for glass...but whatever, I was far more concerned with the 14 canadian research drugs in the glove compartment. In any case, this loser ass 28ish year old white chick who clearly never had a friend in her life and had chunky thighs with nurse pants on and lived in the town in an apartment that definitely featured an old UHF Zenith fake wood tv and a cloth laz-e-boy who probably masterbated with a plastic crayon that a baby would play with because the narrowing tip had the appropriate ergonomic design to massage her beefy clit and was a volunteer and was the one to search our car. She found my friend's bottle of Kahlua and said she was confiscating it. He begged her like a thirsty fetus and she said "once it was hidden and we find it you cant have it back"...somehow implying that if we had just shown it to her in spite of the fact that it was the exact thing they were searching for that somehow it would have all worked out. Sam continued to moan like a demoralized rodent, so she called her superior over...who was a little chocolate fella who looked a lot like a rural lil bow wow. He told Sam, "yo, put twenty in the glove box and i didnt see nothing" we escaped the security tent intact and were directed to one of six camp sites. In our case, we were placed in "Electric Ladyland" and I asked our neighbor what the schedule was for the weekend. "2 sets on Friday night, 3 on saturday and 2 on sunday." I then started peeing on my car (because no one told me it was an unspoken rule to not pee in the camp ground) and the guy said "hey bud, can you please not pee here. it makes the site smell." Apparently, it is also an unspoken rule not to tell someone to pee because he felt really bad and kept offering me weed. I told him no and then took a canadian research drug and we started walking over the the venue. It was about a mile. When we got there, people were just wolfing down nitrous like fools and rolling around in the grass. The venue was packed but was pretty cool cuz the backdrop was desert mountains. Phish started playing and i was trying to convince myself that i liked their music even though I have never listened to them before. About 20 min into the show, the drug kicked in and I was having the best time ever. I was pretending to sway back and forth like a hippi. As Erik Ronning would say, I had my hips on a swivel and was just working it. I was texting some of my California friends things like "this is the most beautiful triumph of kindness and kinship that has ever existed" and "music provides the world an alternative for judgement"..things I would later deeply regret. The concert continued and the drug was starting to wear off and in typical fashion I started getting obsessed with finding more, because god forbid I had to return to a normal state of being, I just wouldnt be able to have a good time. I kept harassing Sam and we finally began walking back to Electric Ladyland (we had to go there anyway to bring our stuff to the camp where our other friends were at where they had set up our tent). I was wearing my orange bears hoodie and colgate sweatpants...because even though it was supposed to be a costume party...this was my test to see if the hippies would accept me in the clothing I wanted to wear. They didnt say anything, but I think that is more a function of the "rolls and doses" which I will get to later than anything having to do with them analyzing my dress. Anyway, as we were walkign back to Electric Ladyland (you can tell I just like saying that) I heard someone yell out my name and I turned around and saw Pat Calabro and that Torrie chick from Colgate. Talked to them for a second and then kept mosying to Electric Ladyland. Got back, took another canadian research drug and told Sam I would sleep in the car and was too tired to go to the other campsite and would meet him tomorrow. This was like 1 am. So he left and I layed down in the car and didnt think the drug was working because I thought maybe it had "diminishing maringal returns". Turns out I was wrong. At about 2 am, the moon started to become the most beautiful thing I had ever seen again, so I emerged from the trunk and made some new hippi friends who were making strange bird calls. I started rounding up misfits and outliers and taking them on a journey from "tent land to RV land". There were James and Brad. They were the best. Brad went to Colby and knew Sagiv from HS, but lived in Reno know for some god forsaken reason and had offered to give James a ride who was now at his 200th Phish show. Leaving the rest to the imagination, it is fair to say the 199 other shows took their toll on James mind. I told James he needed to find some more MDMA and needed to start making more bird calls or something. In RV land, he started talking to some guy who he told me had "Pressies". I asked James, "what the fuck are pressies?"...he said, "they are powder that his been pressed into a pill". Fair enough, I thought and I ordered James to purchase them using my seed funding. We got 4 "pressies" and the three of us each took one. They were basically E I think?? At this point, I was three pills deep whose make up I had absolutely no insight into (so stupid) and was journying through RV land looking for a techno party. Looked like the party was week, so we returned to tent land and I tried to lay in the car. It was 4 am at this point. I layed there for an hour and finally fell asleep at wake up again at 8. I was pretty tired and figured the only way I was going to make it was more canadian research. I called Sam and he came back at 9...gave me a bologna sandwich and a pill. I was pretty exhausted at this point, but figured I could make it. By 10, I was in the highest spirits around and was at the general store fraternizing with the unemployed and shitting in port-o-potties by holding the plastic tube for stability and squatting. I saw Torrie and went over to their camp and started fading at 11, so I took another "pressie". At this point, it was 110 degrees and I was sweating profusely. I couldnt sit still or maintain a coversation with anyone. I suppose it would be fair to describe my state of being as "early stage tweaking". The pressie kicked in at noon and we went over to chill with Calabro who described a different pill as pretty "mellow" I decided we should buy one and take it. I took this at 12 in anticipation for the 3 o'clock show. I walked back over to Sam's camp area and sat down to chill. It was outrageously hot and it felt like all the drugs were losing effect, so I had an anger explosion and said "i need to get the fuck out of here, i cant take this anymore. sam give me your keys. i will meet you in LA."....he actually said OK and gave me his keys and told me not to crash. I said the drugs were wearing I did the two mile walk back to Electric Ladyland and got in his card and turned on the AC. I started talking on my phone...just taking a minute to chill out before driving, when all of a sudden, the letters on my bbm screen started melting and the little green arrows on my web browser started turning into moving demons. The music on the mexican station seemed to be playing inside my head and people were like radiating colors. I realized I probably shouldnt drive and got paranoid I was going to faint for some reason. So I went in the trunk and started staring at the ceiling for a while. I walked to the bathroom and the people walking past me looked kind of like they were walking sideways and everyone who was far away who i looked at seemed to be talking in a deep slow motion voice. I wasnt completely zonked and kind of thought it was funny and ironic how i got myself into such an assinine position. I told the mexican guarding the gate "i fucking hate everyone here. i need to get the fuck out of here. these people are fucking psychos" and he told me "i need to get a hold of myself before i leave". I waited another half hour and drove home. I survived. Hehehehehehehe. What a silly little weekend.

On the Road (minus Sal Paradise)

I found this letter I wrote to a friend a few days after I moved to California. Sort of fun to read in hindsight...

Hey Rob,

Heard about the good news on your front...just wanted to say
congratulations for becoming Director Rob or in some circles "Don
Roberto". I had one hell of a road trip out to LA. I left on sunday
and basically drove like 800 miles a day for four days straight and
today is officially my first day of work, so needless to say I am
really tired. Most of the highlights of my trip came after I left
Chicago and started heading south through the hinterland and
southwest. It got really exciting around central Missouri as I was
cruising down the road and saw a nice mix of billboards that just said
"JESUS" in enormous letters and then others that said things like
"Meramac Caverns- 28 Different Flavors of Ice Cream", "Meramac
Caverns- Worlds rarest cave formation", "Meramac Caverns- Natural 7
story Cave" and finally "Meramac Caverns- Turn Around, you missed
us!". At that point, I was pretty excited my tires hadn't been shot
out from under me and I hadn't be conned into joining a cult. When I
finally got to Tulsa, I felt really compelled to make the experience
as "American" as possible, so I forced my friend to go with me to a
local Applebees (because I heard that was really popular for like a
friday night 'out' in a hillbilly heaven). I elected to go for the
three course dinner offered for $9.99 and reflected this to my server
Angela, who suggested the Chocolate Mousse was "excellent", so I took
her word for it. All I can say about that whole excursion is I feel a
lot more American, I am aware of the existence of an unsettling number
of lemonade flavors and I have a newfound belief in eatin good in the
neighborhood. After that, I decided that Oklahoma was really the most
boring state in the country...that is until I got to North Texas. Let
me just note that up until this point of the trip, I felt I had pretty
much "tackled" all of the states I had driven through...but that was
all before I crossed the eastern border of Texas. All I can say is
North Texas completely whooped my as$ (censored for barcap). As we
were driving, I kept seeing signs advertising a 72 oz steak eating
challenge at the Big Texas Steak Ranch outside of Amarillo, so even
though I wasnt especially hungry, I figured I had to try. When I
finally got there, I was pleasantly suprised to find a really
hilariously themed extravanganza complete with real texans and a nice
old southwest design. I got seated at a table in the corner and when
my gay cowboy waiter "Ward" arrived and I told him I wanted to attempt
the challenge, he placed me on an elevated table with a cowskin table
cloth and a big clock with the 60 min countdown right next to it. He
explained that I had to eat the 72 oz steak, a side of fried shrimp, a
salad, a roll and a baked potato in an hour to complete the
challenge...and, oh yeah, i had to sign off on the fact that people
could come and take pictures of me...which was fine I guess, because
now I know how it would have felt to have been the lady with the beard
at a traveling circus back in the glory days of side shows and such.
After failing the challenge miserably and throwing up aggressively in
the toilet, I needed to get back on the road for my final 250 or so
miles to Albuquerque where I slept in an econolodge and had a
tremendous late night dining experience at Waffle House. At this
point, my sentiment went something like Pennslyvania and
Ohio sort of suck, Indiana is just a scary place where I might be
unfortunate enough to see David Duke in a Flying J, Missouri is the
home of Jesus Freaks, Oklahoma is where Andrew Jackson forced the
indians (and now I understand why no one else wanted it), and North
Texas just worked me like the new guy in a prison shower. After
Albuquerque, I started going about a million miles an hour until I
started seeing signs for the "Petrified National Park" which for some
reason I got compelled to go to. I'll summarize that experience in
one sentence...It was sort of like being on the moon, but with
gravity. (and also, I filled up my gas there and when I went in to
pay, the lady asked how much I pumped...hadn't heard that in a while).
Beyond that, I got back on the road and had a pretty uneventful trip
to LA. In any case, sorry for the long summary...I started this email
with only the intention of saying congratulations...just got a little
carried away.


Data Freedom in the New World

American’s are a very eclectic group of people. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. I also don’t believe anyone would argue with the statement that within societies, human beings tend to have certain things in common; People travel, drive cars, pursue some level of education, etc (widespread trends). While we celebrate the diversity of people in our society, I find it very interesting that we often focus primarily on only a select few dimensions of their behaviors for marketing purposes. For example, the cross section of users who visit to book travel or visit the NYTimes Travel Section represents an audience with a very wide range of individual interests. There is certainly a value in being able to identify a “travel user” in this particular example, but my point is that many people travel. The concept of a “travel user” in this context is more a representation of a specific “in market user” than someone with say a particular interest in geography or travel blogs which I believe are two distinct things that are too often lumped together. The idea of “in-market” data has quite a bit of merit if used properly, but in the process of media buying it is often leveraged in a way that is counterproductive to the economic goals of the advertiser. Does the fact that someone visited Edmund’s because they are looking for a car to potentially buy makes them an “auto user” in a general sense of the word? No, it just means that of the 50% of American’s who have a car, they happen to be in a small sub segment of that group considering getting a new one. These people should not necessarily be associated with “auto enthusiasts” (ie people who visit Wrecked Exotics or Car and Driver, etc). To compound the issue, many of the major data companies aggregate users from their various publisher sources and compile “meta data” around a particular segment they arbitrarily define (I am magnifying the lack of classification segmentation a bit for the sake of proving a point). This is paradoxical to the whole purpose of a data market. The use of data is supposed to take the intuitive human component away from targeting, but I don’t believe that is what is really happening. Behind the glossy marketing collateral and sexy flow diagrams, a majority of the data market is really a collection of business development guys striking deals with publishers to place cookies on their users and then finding a way to aggregate that in an intuitive way. They operative word here is “intuitive”. Intuition is a human trait that you won’t find noted in any description of scientific method.
The online display market has been plagued by a constant battle between scalability and granularity. However, the growth of supply and demand aggregation has alleviated some of the operational hurdles to achieving both at once. That being the case, why is data being approached using a methodology that media buying has already abandoned (To be clear, I am talking specifically about the bundling of data). On the media side, advertiser’s now have the ability to access huge amounts of differentiated publishers and content through dramatically less platforms (and emails, etc). This empowers them to abandon the traditional network model and not be forced to bundle their campaigns in with countless other advertisers using a technology that must appease publishers as well (since they are also clients of the same intermediary). My question is why can’t data providers do the same thing? The existing platform infrastructure offers the scale required for data providers to act individually, yet the trend towards the network model persists.
Arbitrage only acts to reduce value for the end participants. Combine this with the notion that people are extremely multidimensional and we can clearly see how there is an opportunity for large niche publishers to take ownership of their data and not allow it to be watered down and bundled. Let’s use the site as an example. You may laugh, but if you consider the various dimensions of a person, the ability to identify a user from this type of perspective represents a very different type of information than the concept of an “in-market travel user” does. This view of information should be very valuable to a marketer as it is roughly the digital analogue to the way product placement is used in television shows or magazines catering to a particular group of fans or enthusiasts. In many ways, it could be argued that this data might have more long term value with regard to developing consumer brand loyalty than targeting audiences of “in market users” in relatively widespread behavioral groups. Glenn Beck, Jamie Lynn Spears and I might all book plane tickets on occasion, but beyond that I don’t think we have much in common.
There is a huge opportunity for large, niche publishers to take ownership of their data and empower a new dimension of the data marketplace. One that is both lucrative to them and differentiated to the media buying community. The infrastructure is in place, so the only excuse for archaic methodology is a lack of education.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Digital Satire

Chapter 11: Cannibals

I rubbed my eyes as the digital cacophony ripped me from my slumber. My nightly Olive Branch was over. It was 835 am and within the next half hour, I would be back in my trench on the battleground of egos. Unlike vampires, these bloodsuckers rise with the sun. I had a feeling that today the greed heads would be out in full force. Allagash was back from Europe and the recent blood in the water provided the additional nourishment required to help his head grow. He had a hard time fitting it through the corridor last week, but in anticipation Tristan had called in the local construction crew to knock out the support beams so he could weasel his wormy figure in with no problem. Teddy, the little feller, would be there as well. He would probably manage to make it in a few hours late after his phantom meetings in Studio City scattered throughout the morning.

As I got out of my bed, I reached for my device of mobile bondage. The red light was flickering out of control. My handy social communication application provided me with the motivation I needed to make it out of my house:

Kendra: Record Revenue Day for Neckbook. eCPM is .18 cents. Where are you google? Looks like we aren’t the ones who should be worried. Right Stacey?

Greg von Dervoot in reply to Kendra: Great work team. I am getting dressed now. I only have appropriately fitting clothing left. Looks like I need to do some laundry ;) I know how much you all enjoy seeing the northern most reaches of my rectum. At least I still have a few baby shirts left from my wife’s last miscarriage. I’ll wear one of those.

Korinth in reply to Greg von Dervoot: Korinth, don’t worry. I have mostly nappy pubes and I am working on integrating our UI into an Apache OS using LAMP methodology.

I pressed the button just to the right of the scroll ball. I thought I had convinced myself that nightmares can only happen while asleep. Apparently, I wasn’t always right about everything. The novelty of Greg's ass didn’t seem to provide any solace to my blues. Sadly, the decline of western civilization mandated that I earn an income to survive…so I had no choice but to trudge on and convince myself that this day would be different than the last.

Tales from the Moron Zone

A short story for fun...

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into...

The Moron Zone.

This is the Jubilee North line. This train terminates at Devastation Station. Next stop will be The Moron Zone…

You awake early from a night of drinking and copious drug use. Your bones ache of abuse and neglect and your throat burns from dry heaving the night before. Your 150 dollar IKEA mattress and sheet set reeks of feces and cold sweat, and your 5 foot 4 inched friend is curled up at your feet like a shivering mutant rat.

There is dried smokeless tobacco on the corners of his mouth. His three year old sale rack J. Crew khakis rest aimlessly on the 20 dollar tennis shoes he decided to wear to bed. His grey Gap pocket tee is missing its pocket and the visible portions of his socks are stained tar black. He has the look of a grown child you do not fully understand and thus cannot fully trust. His motives are opaque at best while his eyes and actions scream of mischief and filth.

You try not to wake him as you stumble to the bathroom to deposit the waste your body so desperately needs to expel. You realize then that he is not asleep but staring at the wall. You have not time to express hollow pleasantries as you proceed down the lacquered wood stairs to the bathroom. As you fill the toilet bowl with your orange tinted urine your mind begins to wander to the night before.

Your small friend caused you to go home early, but you harbor no feelings of ill will. Amongst the crowd of degenerates and scum you call friends, only he was denied access to the bottom-shelf watering hole you attempted to enter: The only bar in the neighborhood willing to take a chance on the boy was a homosexual dive bar that has no name but a picture of a rooster in neon lights and affectionately known as “cock.” If it was not for the ten dollar cover charge (which you could not afford) a world of horrors awaited him and his backside…but possibly free drinks as well. Not willing to risk it you went home.

Your phone rings as the memories fade into oblivion like so many before. The drowsy voice on the other extends an invitation to a cozy apartment in Hells Kitchen. You had met the man on the phone the night before. He looked kind enough, with a strong chin and gentle eyes. His willingness to hit on girls distracted you from his painfully over-gelled hair, strong scent of cheap cologne and shamelessly revealing collared shirt. He seemed harmless enough, and there is nothing on your calendar for the day, so you passively accept the invitation.

You notice two friends passed out on the floor from the night before and bring them on the cross town journey. It is a chilly Saturday afternoon and his apartment is 8 avenues away but you decide to make the trip by foot due to a lack of funds. As you descend the streets across town, passing through the hustle and bustle of Time Square, to the shadowy streets of Hell’s Kitchen laden with foreboding, you get your first sense that all is not well. You approach the address you scribbled during the phone call and notice a chicken coop like structure attached to the front of the apartment building. At this moment the sneaking suspicion that something might be off intensifies, but your animalistic sense of flight has not yet peaked. You buzz his apartment and you are let in. One member of your crew does not understand the lock mechanism and becomes trapped in the chicken coop. It takes you 5 minutes to free him…

As you exit the elevator on the 3rd floor and see a “Fo Shizzle…Welcome to my Hizzle” doormat. You and your fellow traveler’s eyes meet with suspicion, but still you do not run. You step cautiously into his decrepit mineshaft of an apartment and notice the flooded bathroom and sink full of rotten food and soiled dishes, but inexplicably you remain. By the time you are ushered inside and seated on the couch you are staring perplexed at 2 full size TVs positioned directly next to each other. In this moment you begin to recognize the ghastly horror of the situation and you are paralyzed with fear. His roommate emerges from his lair displaying dual winged tattoos on his back and is addressed by some strange inbred variation on his last name by the hair gelled man. You are handed a 40 ounce bottle of Old English malt liquor and you are asked for 3 dollars in return. As you take a sip and slowly retreat into unconsciousness all becomes have arrived in the place of legends, were even the bravest fear to tread. You, my friend, are in The Moron Zone...and there is no escape.

You look around as you come out of the strange daze…it takes a few moments to collect your senses as you reemerge from oblivion. Some creature appears to be rustling around on the “borrowed” brown leather couch across from you. You still can’t see clearly and it looks like the oddly familiar sight of a large rodent convulsing…oh wait no, you say to yourself, that can’t be possible. You are right—it’s not. It is just your declining mind. You release a sigh of relief and giggle to yourself as images of Michael Flatley tap dance across your subconscious. A redneck is sitting to your left and appears to be slapping his erect penis against his stomach. At first you don’t believe your eyes, but this hillbilly appears to think everything is normal. You ask why he is doing that and request he puts it away. He mutters something that is far from English or coherent. His hair gel has faded by this time and he looks like an altered beast with an unusual chuckle and glazed eyes. Does he live here or is he a vagabond? And you remember…it is his residence you are in. It dawns upon you…you are in The Moron Zone…

The lucid realization of your location springs you into action and you attempt to ply your sweat-soaked body off the imitation leather upholstery...the gravity of the situation overwhelms you, forcing you to recline once again...horrid memories from the day past come flooding into your brain like a tidal wave of stupidity...a cackling laughter shatters the pristine silence. You recognize the awful noise coming from the quasi-human to your right. He continues to remain enthralled by his penis, stopping the playful slapping of his genitalia only to ask if he can “swipe” a slice of your half eaten pizza. You stare at him in utter disgust and silently hand him the decaying mixture of bread, tomato, and cheese. You turn apprehensively to your left to see a balding 29 year old gay gentleman telling stories of anonymous and shameless sodomy in the back allies of Alphabet City. How did he get here? Who invited this man?

For a moment you contemplate leaving and you muster the courage to rise from the couch...You walk slowly to the door as not to alert the dulled senses of the creatures around you. Suddenly a drug-crazed Insurance Broker blocks your path to the door. Do you run? No. Hide? No. You remain...for you are in The Moron Zone and it is now your home…

You shudder at the realization that there is no easy way out. Everyone is now staring at you…you hear a lizard like yelp and you process the sound “buddheeeeeee”. While you are wholly disgusted, you finally accept the fact that you will not be walking through the front door anytime soon. The sodomist pleasantly referred to as “Cara Cicatriz” places his hand gently on your shoulder and daintily asks if everything is O.K. You say “yes” but would prefer to choke him and leave…the repercussions of a hate crime prevent you from such action. After 4 deliveries from multiple drug dealers in a 5 hour window he eventually offers you some Bolivian Marching Powder and you graciously decline.

How did you end up with such a group of degenerates, you ask yourself? Before you can come to terms with the situation the hair gelled host proudly reveals that he is a member of the welfare state and collects a weekly check of 400 dollars from the US government. You are repulsed. You go to the kitchen and slice off a piece of onion. You are charged $.20. Is this really your life? You slap yourself and realize, yes, this is reality. The other hillbilly glides by elegantly with his tattooed Wings of Desire and starts referring to people as farm animals…you are trapped in The Moron Zone and your life has no meaning…

You meander back to the couch and take your place amongst this unfortunate collection of cretins. Miserable and petrified, you plant yourself in the seat near the window and as you stare out into the concrete bleakness that typifies the far west side of the island; you continue to be tortured by the staccato rhythm of a human zeppelin slapping against its abdomen. Why did you answer the phone? What would your parents think? If you could only break through the gates of the chicken coop three floors below…you would be free. But no…the alliance will not allow such a thing. A dated homosexual, an unemployed hillbilly, an undergraduate blonde cricket, “Smitty” and a balding 25 year old with a calculated comb over need you. A sense of duty wipes over you…your disdain for this decrepit genetic wasteland subsides and you accept your role. You accept your fate. The portal to The Moron Zone is closed and you have no way out. You are not an observer…it is you…