Massachusetts residents knew something was up when Olympic god Michael Phelps showed up at a Boston Celtics home game.
What the fans didn't know was that Phelps was in the Bay State that day to film a commercial for Subway Sandwiches at the pool at Boston University. Here's a Boston Globe picture of Phelps warming up at the Boston University Fitness and Recreation Center, or "FitsRec" as the students call it.
Of course this is the same Michael Phelps who was dropped last year by Kelloggs Cereal Company despite having received sportsdom's highest honor by appeared on the front of Kelloggs' Corn Flakes.
The reason? Phelps was photographed huffing on a bong at a college party. Kelloggs felt that such an evil act as bonging made Phelps unfit to be a public role model. Yet apparently that is not what the American people feel, or that is what Subway is hoping. As Dan Neil writes in the L.A. Times:
Super-swimmer Michael Phelps returned to big-time advertising Sunday with a TV spot for Subway titled "Be Yourself." Oh, the irony.
Surely Phelps -- 14-time Olympic gold medalist and endorsement juggernaut -- was being only himself, only human, when he was photographed in November hitting a bong at a party at the University of South Carolina. That photograph, first published by the British tabloid News of the World in January, resulted in a three-month competition ban and cost Phelps a reported $500,000 deal with Kellogg. The swimmer promptly issued a sniveling apology, copping to "regrettable," "inappropriate" and "youthful" behavior (doesn't the latter want to excuse the former?). Phelps, 24, has more or less cheerfully dined on PR ashes ever since, in interviews with Matt Lauer, among others.
Interestingly, the apology from the world's fittest stoner infuriated proponents of legal weed, who saw the episode as a missed opportunity to advance the cause. After all, if Aqua-Man smokes bud, how bad can it be?
This is the greatest Olympian of all time, a man chandeliered with gold medals on the cover of Sports Illustrated. His achievements mock the moral hysteria that traditionally rains down on marijuana.
The Subway ad itself is nothing special. It's a compare-and-contrast between Phelps' glamorous life as a sports superstar and that of Jared Fogle, Subway's former-fatty mascot. Jared prefers the low-fat sweet-onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich, while metabolic dynamo Phelps dares to eat the foot-long Meatball Marinara with Jalapeño, containing 1,060 calories and more than 3,000 milligrams of sodium.
Eating these will not make you an Olympic swimmer. A floating island, maybe.
Actually Phelps is a marketeer's dream come true. Listen to how flawlessly and sincerely he recites his no doubt totally rehearsed lines at this press conference. Also, maybe it's just the echo of the scandal, but some observers have noted that Phelps appeared to be sorta stoned.
So while Kelloggs foolishly squandered their Phelps connection, Subway is cashing in royally. Is it possible that Subway is even trying to exploit the Phelps' cannibus controversy? Some critics have noted that the address of the website for their ad campaign is:
Walk This Way
Every morning, even in the bad weather above, I walk the woodland way into downtown Northampton. I'm pleased to see that once again science says that I am staying fit by doing so. According to Yahoo News:
CHICAGO – Walking or biking to work, even part way, is linked with fitness, but very few Americans do it, according to a study of more than 2,000 middle-aged city dwellers.
In what may be the first large U.S. study of health and commuting, the researchers found only about 17 percent of workers walked or bicycled any portion of their commute.
Those active commuters did better on treadmill tests of fitness, even when researchers accounted for their leisure-time physical activity levels, suggesting commuter choices do make a difference.
For men in the study, but not women, the active commuters also had healthier numbers for body mass index, blood pressure, insulin and blood fats called triglycerides. Women walked or biked shorter distances and they may have done so less vigorously, the authors speculated.
Lazy chicks! Well, I for one intend to keep on truckin' to good health. And don't forget that bicycling is almost as good.
On King Street in Northampton I passed this Springfield Republican newsbox and saw that the paper in it dates back to June 20th.
As a matter of fact I've noticed that a lot of Republican newsboxes seem abandoned these days, although I see others that are still being updated daily. Has the paper cut back on it's distribution again?
The old fashioned variety store A.J. Hastings in downtown Amherst has been open every single day without fail since 1914. On blizzard days it may only open for an hour or two, but it has never been completely closed for a single 24 hour period in all those 95 years.
Of course 95 years does not compare to 250, which is how long Amherst itself has been around since it broke free of the town of Hadley. To commemorate the anniversary, Hastings is selling a specialty version of the monopoly game.
I wonder what game piece stands for Larry Kelley - the flag? How about Augusten Burroughs - the scissors? How about J. Mascis - the brontosaurus?