Made In The U.S.A.

Archive for May, 2009|Monthly archive page

Eat American

In Adventures on May 31, 2009 at 12:08 am

Shelley and I recently cashed in a gift certificate that had been given to me as, you guessed it, a gift. (I helped a friend of a friend work on her “social enterprise” coffee shop in Old North St. Louis by taking pictures of the diverse clientele in the neighborhood to help prove to a Washington University committee that was handing out a grant for $30,000 that in fact there are people in that part of town who would like to buy coffee and eat cookies and support a coffee shop. Read the rest of this entry »

I will soon be wearing someone else’s shorts.

In Adventures on May 30, 2009 at 12:03 am

I will soon be wearing someone else’s shorts because I just bought some vintage shortpants. It’s hard when you’re a big guy to buy used clothes. I always say if I was normal sized I’d dress SO great. But I guess you’ll have to just take my word for it. Anyway, I found a pair of used shorts at a vintage shop in the Loop and snatched ’em up for 12 bucks. They are currently washing to remove the germs of the previous owner(s). It’s exciting to buy clothes, even if they’re crappy shorts that somebody else decided weren’t good enough for them any more.

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Ten things… The last part.

In Adventures on May 29, 2009 at 12:58 am

Last year I also bought:

8. Paint. Lots and lots of paint. Behr, the house brand at Home Depot, appears to be made in California. That’s where I used to get all my paint; not California, but the Depot. When I painted this house, however, I went to Paint Supply on South Grand. They suggested some companies I’d never heard of, but they ended up being really nice to paint with–and they cost about a third of the price of the Home Depot paints. Read the rest of this entry »

Ten things… Parts 5, 6 and 7.

In Adventures on May 28, 2009 at 12:57 am

Last year I also bought:

5. Picture frames. FrameUSA touts 100% American-made picture frames. You can even look in on the workshop. I get that they’re assembled in Ohio, but are they importing the frame blanks from China? That’s the problem I’m having at every framery I can find. Nobody seems to indicate where the materials come from. Read the rest of this entry »

Ten things I bought last year… Parts 3 and 4.

In Adventures on May 27, 2009 at 12:54 am

Last year I also bought:

3. A cool white coffee table that looks like a folded piece of futuristic something or other. It’s nice, really. I got it from the same place I got the couch, but about nine months later. Read the rest of this entry »

Ten things I bought last year that I’d have a helluva time trying to buy this year. Part 2.

In Adventures on May 26, 2009 at 12:49 am

Last year, I also bought:

2. A big ol’ flat-screen LCD TV that screams “I’m a shallow person who doesn’t read.” I do read, but I also need my Seinfeld reruns.

It’s a Sony. I’m guessing it’s from somewhere definitely not near my house. Read the rest of this entry »

Ten things I bought last year that I’d have a helluva time trying to buy this year. Part 1.

In Adventures on May 25, 2009 at 12:21 am

I bought a house in 2007. Labor day I moved in. I unpacked for a couple of months. Then I spent most of 2008 furnishing and finishing the bulk of the place. It’s by no means “finished,” but I am sitting on a couch with my feet on a coffee table and I’m watching a TV.

Essentially, I dodged a huge bullet. A flurry of gunfire, really. I bought a whole ton of stuff when I wasn’t concerning myself from whence it came. Read the rest of this entry »

Rebuilt rugs that rock

In Adventures on May 24, 2009 at 12:15 am

Okay, amid the greenwash was some actually cool stuff in that Time design issue. Like the ABC Carpet Patchwork Collection. Read the rest of this entry »

Gag me with a green spoon.

In Adventures on May 23, 2009 at 12:49 am

Time magazine did a “Style and Design” special issue that I conviscated from the office. It’s called “The Green Design 100” and it explores “the people and ideas behind today’s most influential design.” Or so they say.

What struck me as much as the interesting products and buildings and designs was the insistence on describing products as “green” if there was any stretch of a way the label could be applied. It’s a paper-thin veil of greenwash. Didn’t kill baby seals? Green. Didn’t burn down an entire forest? Green. Didn’t poop in the town water supply? Green.

For what it’s worth, the magazine cited eight “companies with a conscience”. They are:

Ikea, because wood is responsibly managed for their products and all the company’s outdoor lighting products will be converted to solar this summer.
John Hardy, because the headquarters in Bali include an organic farm and are built of bamboo and ud bricks.
Ligne Roset, because the French furniture designer “manufactures and compartmentalizes products in a way that helps facilitate the breakdown and reuse of each object at the end of its life cycle.”
Macy’s, because the shopping bags are recyclable, online orders ship with biodegradable packing material and 30-plus stores use solar energy.
Nike, because of the “reuse-a-shoe” recycling program, and factories are working to reduce waste and toxins.
Polartec, because the company makes more than 20% of its products from post-consumer waste.
Tag Heuer, because the headquarters uses natural light to reduce dependency on electrical power and it has collaborated on a watch with Leo DiCaprio to raise money for environmental charities.
Tiffancy, becaue the company is “a pioneer” in the eco-gold and ethical mining movements. And because its distribution plant in Jersey uses solar systems for 35% of the plant’s electricity.

I’m feeling a little cynical, because some of them seem like a bit of a stretch. Especially the Tag Heuer thing.

On a completely and utterly unrelated note that has nothing to do with the list above, the most expensive space for advertising on a magazine is the back cover. This issue’s back cover has an ad for a lovely Tag Heuer timepiece.

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Growing green. And then eating it.

In Adventures on May 22, 2009 at 12:32 am

I bought pretty plants last weekend and potted them. Coleus, impatiens and a trailing vine I can’t think of the name of. They’re in the pots on the front porch, so if you stop by they will hopefully still be alive and blooming. I noticed that they were grown at two nurseries–one in Colorado and one in Michigan. I figured it would be hard to buy imported plants. Isn’t that the sort of thing they confiscate at the border? Read the rest of this entry »

Oberweis

In Adventures on May 21, 2009 at 12:05 am

I’m not sure exactly which US territories constitute the domain of Oberweis dairies, but if you don’t currently live in a region serviced by one I suggest you move. Quickly.

Yesterday I visited an Oberweis dairy in West County because it was immediately next door to the location of a photo shoot. After the shoot, I stopped in.

Oberweis does milk and ice cream. They’ll even deliver it to your home. Read the rest of this entry »

“If you go to Wal-Mart, you’re a rat.”

In Adventures on May 20, 2009 at 12:51 am

Last week there was a “Keep it Made in America” rally held in downtown St. Louis. Simultaneous rallies were held in other cities around the country, promoting the idea that “building it where we buy it” is important to our economy.

At the St. Louis rally, 80-something car dealer turned Buy American advocate Dave Sinclair spoke to a crowd of already- and soon-to-be-laid-off auto- and steel-workers. Whether you’re on the side of the workers who think the corporations keep too much money, or the side of the manufacturers who think their workers make too much money, or the socialists who think the two sides deserve each other, you’ve gotta love a quote that cuts through the BS. “If you go to Wal-Mart,” Sinclair said, “you’re a rat.”

Other attendees said other things, but none of them were quite as awesome as Sinclair’s quote.

Jesse Jackson said something I agree with: “We are subsidizing the export of American jobs. Don’t get mad at the workers in foreign countries. They don’t take our jobs. Our companies go over there and give the jobs to them.”

But you can’t blame the companies. They do what makes money. It would appear we make it profitable to sell cheaply made things. Even if it means they have to go overseas to make them cheaply enough for us. And even if it means we’re shopping at Wal-Mart to get them even cheaper.

U.S. Senator from the great state of Missouri, Claire McCaskill, seconded Reverend Jackson’s notion. She agreed that it makes no sense to prop up ailing companies if those companies are simply going to outsource jobs overseas. “Let’s build them where we sell them,” she said. “We are in a defining moment in our history. We are drifting away from our heritage. If we begin to accept the notion that we are only going to ‘buy’ in America–we aren’t going to ‘build’ in America–then the sun is going to set on our greatness.”

I’m not sure if that’s entirely true. I understand the concept that manufacturing generates wealth, but I don’t know that I understand it.

It was recently pointed out to me that we need to face the fact that America is a consumer culture. Sure, I’ve heard that a million times. But this time it resonated a little more. It doesn’t just mean we like to consume. It means that we only like to consume. We like to consume so much that we consume ourselves. We consume items that enable our consumption–cheap things, imported things. Bad things.

The speakers at the rally probably don’t realize that they’re making my point too. We are rats if we buy at Wal-Mart, but not just because it’s anti-union–because it enables our additction to consuming ourselves. Foreign workers don’t take our jobs, we give them away in exchange for less expensive t-shirts and TVs and tchotchkes. We are at a defining moment in our culture. But it’s not going to be defined by a government propping up an industry. It’s going to be defined by the people who spend their money, one dollar at a time, and what we choose to spend those dollars on.

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Wilco (The Album)

In Adventures on May 19, 2009 at 12:22 am

Wilco’s got a new record due next month. They sent me an email to announce they’d put it up online for free streaming (their way of saying, I think, “please don’t steal our music, but you’re welcome to listen to it.”) A week or so later they sent another message to announce that CD and vinyl versions are available for pre-order. Read the rest of this entry »

Purple Death

In Adventures on May 18, 2009 at 12:44 am

At this point in the process my myriad failures aren’t particularly notable. Still, I feel the need to bare my soul and drag my deepest darkest secrets into the public eye. So here it is, you sadists. Another big time disaster custom made for your enjoyment. I’m a horrible, horrible person. I’d like to apologize to all of you for what I’m about to say. I know I’ve let you down, and even though you’ll say that these words are hollow consolation, I want you to know I regret my behavior. Here goes: Read the rest of this entry »

MITUSA Certification

In Adventures on May 17, 2009 at 12:47 am

Yes, it’s true. There is a certification for Made In The USA products. It’s called USA-C.

While I have absolutely nothing to do with it, I’m going to claim responsibility for this company’s certification process.

To be clear, I have no reasonable right to do so. But still. I called it. Read the rest of this entry »

Made In USA News

In Resources on May 16, 2009 at 12:41 am

There is a web site that aggregates pertinent news to people who are interested in things Made In The USA. It is called Made In USA News.

It may not be the most dynamic site you ever saw, but see it soon and you’ll see that there’s things to see there. See?

Sorry. I’m tired. Read the rest of this entry »

Cliff Claven buys American

In Adventures on May 15, 2009 at 12:31 am

Many apologies to Mr. John Ratzenberger, who is no doubt equally cursed and blessed by his brilliant stint as know-it-all-mailman Cliff Claven on NBC’s 1980s hit show, Cheers. Hopefully he feels more blessed. But still, he’s got to get annoyed at people like me who still call him Cliff after fifteen years off the air. Anyway…

Did you know he now hosts a show on the Travel Channel called Made In America? Read the rest of this entry »

Lawn Mowers

In Adventures on May 14, 2009 at 12:13 am

As I was mowing the lawn tonight I looked down and noticed that my Craftsman lawnmower was Made In The USA. Neat.

I bought it used last year, so I wasn’t particularly concerned at the time, although I was happy to buy a perfectly functional beater mower to cut my postage-stamp sized lawn. Read the rest of this entry »

Get ready for Chinese wine.

In Adventures on May 13, 2009 at 12:38 am

The good news about Chinese wine? If other China-made products are any indication, a magnum of tasty Sichuan Merlot will likely retail for $1.95.

The bad news about Chinese wine? Everything else. Read the rest of this entry »

I still need a new record player.

In Adventures on May 12, 2009 at 12:34 am

I still need a new record player. The one I rescued from the dumpster occasionally slows down, making it hard to rock out with anything out.

Even though I still need a new record player, I went to Vintage Vinyl on my way home and bought four used records. I must confess, I felt old and unhip buying four records that are decidedly uncool. But still, the heart wants what it wants. Read the rest of this entry »

Jiffy Steamer

In Adventures on May 11, 2009 at 12:54 am

One of the side effects of paying attention to where everything comes from is that you’re occasionally pleasantly surprised by the things that are Made in The USA.

I borrowed a steamer from my stylist, Whitney, to steam the wrinkles out of a pair of giant muslin backgrounds for a photo shoot. (It’s for a client who, I have to say, has a pretty unrealistic expectation. But I guess “client” and “unrealistic expectation” sort of goes without saying.) Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

In Adventures on May 10, 2009 at 12:40 am

Mom, if you’re reading this and I haven’t yet given you your gift, stop reading now. Seriously.

Mom!

Okay. Everybody else, I got my mom a really cool Mother’s Day gift. It’s from, where else, Etsy. Read the rest of this entry »

Cabela’s

In Adventures on May 9, 2009 at 12:33 am

Cabela’s is the “world’s foremost outfitter” of things for hunting and fishing. I don’t hunt, but I sure like to fish.

I’m going fishing this weekend with Henry. Sorry mom. I’ll be late for Mother’s Day. In fact, I’m writing this post early. As you’re reading it, I’ll be fishing.

Wish me luck, because it’s a fishing tournament. Think of it like a big bike race, but with camoflauge and spitting. (I’ve never understood why so many Read the rest of this entry »

I confess to buying even more Chinese junk.

In Adventures on May 8, 2009 at 12:48 am

It’s really hard to not buy Chinese junk.

Not for me personally, I don’t think it would be terribly hard. But I don’t live in a bubble.

I had to buy some props for a photo shoot on short notice. A spatula, a frying pan and a platter. Read the rest of this entry »

Lesotho

In Uncategorized on May 7, 2009 at 12:31 am

Hey, I was right. I thought Lesotho might be in South Africa, and it is. Sort of.

Lesotho is a landlocked country, a kingdom in fact, surrounded entirely by South Africa. And apparently they make shirts you can buy at the Mills Mall in suburban St. Louis at the Old Navy outlet store.

Read more about Lesotho if you’re so inclined.

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Made in Missouri at the Mall

In Adventures on May 6, 2009 at 12:21 am

Every time I go to the mall, I stand around looking at tags on things I can’t buy.

Shelley and I went to the Mills Mall this weekend, and I got tired of standing around looking at tags on things I can’t buy. (I did discover a shirt in the Old Navy outlet that was made in Lesotho. I don’t know where that is, but now I’m intrigued.) So I went into the Missouri Mercantile store. The store is run by Read the rest of this entry »

I had to buy Chinese brads.

In Adventures on May 5, 2009 at 12:13 am

I needed brads to hold together three-hole-punched paper scripts. 99 pages each. (For the story about how Kinkos… er, Fedex Office, screwed up the order and printed seven sets of 99-page documents backwards, from 99 down to 1, email me. It got the project started on the wrong foot. Things went downhill from there.)

They did punch the holes in the scripts, though, so that was good. And the holes were even on the left! Thank heaven for tiny miracles. Read the rest of this entry »

MITUSA-Mania is Sweeping (or Mowing) the USA

In Adventures on May 4, 2009 at 12:56 am

Hey, look! My obsessive compulsiveness is rubbing off on my friends.

From reader Dan:

I’ve been wanting to buy an old fashioned reel lawnmower for some time and finally think I’m going to bite the bullet and buy one.  I was between a Scott’s Mower and an American Lawnmower Company mower, but (and this is where you come in) the decision may have been already made for me since it appears that the American Lawnmower Company’s mower is made in America (according to StillMadeInUsa.com).  In honor of your great MITUSA quest, I think we’ll go with the American Lawnmower Company model!

Aw, shucks.

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All the best steel temporary fence posts come from America.

In Adventures on May 3, 2009 at 12:57 am

Just when you’re feeling a little down about the prospects of, and reasoning for, buying American-made stuff, you are sent a press release that reminds you that the goal is a good one.

Thanks, reader Tom, for bringing this to my attention. Read the rest of this entry »

Stuff = Time

In Adventures on May 2, 2009 at 12:29 am

My mother just forwarded an email newsletter to me. It’s from Simplify 101, a web site on decluttering and organization.

The crux of the story, written by Aby Garvey, is this: stuff equals time. I think it makes sense. And it’s another good reason not to buy so much. Here it is… Read the rest of this entry »

Green Marketing

In Adventures on May 1, 2009 at 12:20 am

Speaking of greenwashing, I recently received an email inviting me to participate in an online webcast of a “Green Marketing Summit.”

Join leading marketing experts at the free, online Green Marketing Summit. Experts will discuss evolving consumer attitudes, avoiding greenwash, the impact of the recession, and emerging trends in green trade shows and green branding.

Other highlights of the email included: Read the rest of this entry »