As if today's "snow panic" (i.e. the obligatory run on the grocery stores for bread, eggs, and milk when there is even the hint of snow) wasn't enough (Saturday brought the second snowfall of the week - a new record for these parts), the SugarPlum and I decided to take a leisurely sojourn to our local Publix grocery store after her ballet class was cancelled (see "snow panic" above). We had an accumulation of less than one inch by noon... then it rained and washed everything away.
Not realizing the madhouse that awaited me as I pulled into the completely full parking lot, we strolled into the store to buy some coffee beans to make a fresh pot of coffee to go with our dozen glazed Krispy Kreme donuts! And a madhouse it was, buggies clogging each aisle, the bread guy just planted a rack of loaf bread in the center of the bread aisle and watched as the customers grabbed loaf after loaf like we were going to be snowed in for a week! I'll admit, I was so taken into the feeding frenzy, I left the bread aisle with a loaf of Honey Wheat bread and some hot dog buns. I elbowed my way past the dairy department and slipped the SugarPlum in an opening by the bacon packages to grab some Nathan's hot dogs. After making a plezWorld blend of assorted coffees, we made it to frozen foods for a couple of Marie Callender chicken pot pies... yummy!
Since there were no buggies or little green baskets to carry our booty, the hood on SugarPlum's coat served to hold the hot dogs, coffee beans, and chicken pot pies. I don't like my bread smashed, so we had to delicately hand carry the bread to the checkout lines. Each line was 15-20 people deep. Imagine the quandary of keeping a 6-year old's attention with all of that human activity around us! Twenty minutes and ten SugarPlum Death Threats later we were heading to sliding doors that would yield the winter wonderland before us... but not so fast!
Out of the corner of my eye, I see the usual line up of bubblegum vending machines that stand guard at the entrance of every grocery store in America. These days, they aren't limited to just bubblegum, they have bouncing balls, blowup balls, fake gold necklaces and rings, and other rubbery throw away trinkets. One in particular caught my eye, because it was top row, dead center, and had little figurines in the window... and the word "HOMIES" inscribed on the label as though written by some graffiti artist.
Upon closer inspection, one can see that the background was vaguely reminiscent of "the 'hood", with tenement buildings and old fashioned power lines (where I live, most utilities are underground). For 50 cents, you can get a random "Homie" figurine for Series 10: bandanna clad gangbanger, Kangol cap wearing homeboy, single mother, Mexican migrant worker, Black dude with backwards fitted cap wearing a Raiders jersey, a dude wearing a white wife beater, a butcher... and just about every other stereotypical 'hood rat imaginable!
I saw no humor. I saw no socially redeemable value. I saw nothing even remotely entertaining about the lineup of characters.
I don't live in the 'hood... far from it! I don't embrace it, I don't even claim to be from it! I'm not ghetto, never lived in a ghetto, and god willing, don't plan to. Call me elitist... call me bourgie (just don't call me late for dinner!)... but I find this particular enterprise to be offensive on a number of fronts. These vending machines are geared to and for children; I do not want my daughter playing in her doll house with a dude wearing a do-rag or worse yet, a pimp! I don't want her to think any of those characters displayed live the kind of life that plezWorld expects for her. And most importantly, I don't want her growing up looking at people as stereotypes.
When I was about 8- or 9-years old, Frito-Lay had a character associated with its Frito's Corn Chips: the Frito Bandito. He was a Mexican bandit complete with gold tooth, mustache, wide sombrero, two six-shooters, and criss-cross bullet belts across his chest. He spoke with a heavy Mexican accent and sang a song warning you to watch out for the Frito Bandito because he would steal your corn chips! I remember that I had a yellow Frito Bandito character eraser for one of my pencils. Well, pressure from various Mexican-American groups had the offensive character and commercials banned in 1971.
I googled "homies" and was SHOCKED at what popped up... there is a whole city of these urbanites: shirtless gangsta rapper dripping gold, a pimp, a nun, a homeless guy, a guy with a pit bull, and the Grim Reaper! You can even buy "HOMIES" figures from past series on eBay.
I'm sure this isn't a sign of the apocalypse, but it does make plezWorld say, "WTF?!?"