Plus: the scourge of gumSteve Hammer

While I tend to place November and December at the top of my hit parade of months, May comes in a very close third. It's the final month of spring, the last month of non-90 degree weather and people seem to be in a pretty cheerful mood. Even some of my best friends have fallen victim to the powerful lure of the chewing gum industry and its evil ways. Like lobotomized cattle, these people chomp and smack their gum for hours on end, oblivious to how it impacts other people.

And so it is with me. The list of people I would condemn to a lake of fire is at its smallest in several years. My apartment is newly cleaned and I even got cable TV reinstalled in time for the NBA playoffs.

(This column was printed prior to the decisive game seven of the Hornets-Heat series, but in case Miami is eliminated and I don't have another chance, I just want to point out that Miami head coach Stan Van Gundy is a dead ringer for '70s porn star Ron Jeremy. I see him on TV and expect a cheesy porn film to break out at any time.)

But just because I'm in a good mood doesn't mean the people and things who normally piss me off get a free pass. One must always be vigilant in the face of assholery. I think Barry Goldwater said that.

First up on my list of death are the radio advertisers who insist on using blaring horns and sirens in their spots. I was driving the other day when a radio commercial featured a very realistic-sounding truck horn. I almost drove off the road, thinking this 18-wheeler was about to crash into me. A few minutes later, more horns and sirens in radio commercials caused me to try and pull over. I am going to remember these commercials and never buy these products again.

There's yet another tragedy of modern life which has yet gone unregulated by law. Despite my best efforts, chewing gum is still freely available at hundreds of thousands of stores across America.

Even worse, my dream of a gum-free workplace is no closer to reality. This scourge is going unchecked and is even encouraged by some.

In my house, you're allowed to smoke or drink anything you want, but the minute you break out a piece of gum, you're rudely ejected and invited to never come back.

Even some of my best friends have fallen victim to the powerful lure of the chewing gum industry and its evil ways. Like lobotomized cattle, these people chomp and smack their gum for hours on end, oblivious to how it impacts other people.

If you ever turn on the news and see my picture and hear an anchorman talk about my arrest, there's about a 99 percent chance that it will involve a homicide of someone who wouldn't stop chewing gum in my ear.

Sure, the law allows you to chomp your gum as loudly as you want, but the second I grab a gum-chewer by the throat, force their mouth open and extract the offensive gum straight from their mouths, then I'm the one guilty of assault. Show me the justice in that.

While I like to kid about problems such as that, there are many real-life problems out there which are equally ignored by the mainstream media.

I've recently become a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, even though I realize that people will never treat even other people ethically, let alone animals.

There are some astonishing and depressing facts about laboratory testing on animals. Roughly 10 million animals are tortured in the name of testing new products, the vast majority of which have nothing to do with saving human lives.

Just about no animal is exempt from this legalized torture: horses, lambs, pigs, goats, kittens and even turtles. In many states, laws force animal shelters to turn over lost dogs and cats to experimenters.

This is despite the fact that animal testing is notoriously unreliable and increasingly unnecessary given new technology. The evil drug thalidomide, which caused thousands of human deaths and mutations, passed animal testing with flying colors.

PETA's stance on animal testing is summed up in a grim bit of doggerel: "Unseen they suffer, unheard they cry. In agony they linger, in loneliness they die."

I've been doing quite a bit of reading on animal testing - but then, I'm a reading addict. I'd estimate that between work and home, I receive about 30 magazines on a regular basis.

My favorites are the trade magazines I receive free, just by filling in forms on the Internet. My two current faves are Convenience Store News and Beverage Aisle, which cover their respective beats with passion and fervor.

If it hadn't been for the trades, I wouldn't have known about the fact that "flavor shots" are being touted as the savior of the soft-drink business. Very soon, you'll be able to add a blast of chocolate or raspberry flavoring to your fountain-dispensed soft drink.

CSN recently delivered on the surprising fact that Indianapolis is 25 percent underserved in the critical convenience store area. We have only 535 such stores, or only 75 percent of the national average. In contrast, Columbus, Ohio, only slightly larger in population, has 110 more C-stores.

And where else but in an industry trade can you read articles with such enticing titles as "The Case for Screw Caps" or "Pork Rinds All The Rage Among Dealers"?

So while so-called "serious" news gets grimmer and grimmer, and the nation is heading towards hell faster and faster, immersing yourself in useless news is a good way to forget about your troubles.


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