OM297 - Mary Kay Pink Cadillacs

This week, Ken and John talk about:

Ken’s trip to Glacier National Park (OM297)

In September of 2020 Ken and his family went on a getaway in Glacier National Park. It is Huckleberry country with a Huckleberry based economy, lifestyle and aesthetic. This berry cannot be domesticated / commercially cultivated, they probably forgot to talk about that in their Boysenberry episode (see OM59). You can’t plant them in a field because they either need some natural forest environment or maybe it is inefficient, but in any case: They have to be foraged.

As they drove in the gates of Glacier on their first day the kids were all excited to see wildlife. There was a Black Bear right by the big photo sign, just looking for delicious Huckleberries. Sometimes you see the bear and sometimes the bear sees you. Ken killed himself a bear when he was only 3, which is a crime in the state of Montana now. They actually did see a Grizzly with a bunch of cubs and people were just crowding around, taking flash photos.

The bears were used to walking up and down this road and everyone was freaking out and there was traffic stop both ways because momma Grizzly bear and two cubs were stomping right next to the road. The ranger came up and said: ”What are you idiots doing? Everybody get 100 yards away from the bear!” and she moved the people back to another place where they could dangerously see the bear. People who die by bear deserve it!

John grew up in Alaska and saw bears a lot: A Grizzly bear seems to be fairly lazy and slow moving, approachable even, but it is just conserving energy to strike and it can exhibit a burst of speed. It can metabolize the Huckleberry sugar and then suddenly faster than the eye can meet it will have a fly in its chopsticks. Black Bears you can mess with all day, John highly recommends you to go up there and poke it with a stick, trying to antagonize it, because it can’t do anything. Its claws are plastic. Go kick it, it is full of laughs, they love it and they want to play. But a Grizzly Bear? Stay away! Danger!

Glacier is so gorgeous that at one point Dylan got out of the car and exclaimed: ”Are you seeing this? The mountains!” He just couldn’t believe what he was seeing and it got him to look up from Skyrim: ”This is like real Skyrim!”, but then he went back and played more Skyrim.

The Washington Post had a piece last week about the travails of Glacier National Park because the Blackfeet Reservation decided to close their borders during COVID, which is not crazy. They are getting devastated by the virus, their culture is to protect the elders, and if the tourists continue to sweep across, the elders is who will get sick first. This means however that you cannot get into the Eastern side of Glacier National Park and turns it into a shoebox diorama with one end open to Idaho and a closed back.

Now there is only one road across the park that normally would connect West Glacier and the East Glacier reservation. It is an insane V-shaped valley where in the 1920s and 1930s with the technology at the time they had to dynamite a ledge into the sheer cliffs, mostly for the Great Northern Railway, but they have also built beautiful Ski Chalet-style grand old hotels on the lakes.

All this is North of Yellowstone and Tetons. The top of Yellowstone is just barely in Montana and most of it is in Wyoming. Glacier National Park is the world’s first international peace park because it has a little Canadian adjunct called Waterton Lakes. It is a perfect representation of those population maps of North America where Canada is a little tiny hat sitting on big America. The mountains of Glacier are subranges of the Rocky Mountains called the Lewis and Livingston Ranges, and it is all the way North by Kalispell. There is enough fly fishing and other tourism there to have a Costco and a Target in a big city 45 minutes away, but Ken’s family just stayed in a cabin right by the park.

John used to go skiing at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, which is North of Sandpoint in Idaho. Glacier was a couple of hours across the border and a surprisingly doable day-trip from Seattle. Including stops for lunch and gas you can do the drive in 9 hours and they got back last night at 6pm. The road with all the beautiful vistas and overlooks ends at a mini-mall convenience store town at the East end of the park because the reservation is closed and you have to drive back. There is a town in Montana called Jennings, right next to Libby on Highway 37.

The Anchorage Zoo having a blue black bear (OM297)

For a long time there was a Black Bear in the Anchorage Zoo that they captured because he kept coming down out of the mountains into the town. The silver-blue sheen of his coat was fascinating! They captured him in Juno as they do all the time and they would have just repatriated him to some forest 10 miles away, except that he was blue and so they couldn’t! He would get bullied, it is like the Loon with the broken leg, you can’t just release that, so they did him a huge favor and put him in a 20x20 cage in the Anchorage Zoo where every resident of Anchorage went by and looked at him.

At least when John was growing up the Anchorage Zoo felt like an ad-hoc zoo where there was a guy who had won a Llama at a state fair, built a fence around it, and bought a Merry-go-round off the back of a truck. They had a full-on elephant there! It was easy to fill the zoo with bears, moose, and wolverines because you could just walk across the street and shake a tree and a wolverine would fall out of it. It was an interesting zoo!

There was also Binky the Bear and one time some kid went over the fence and Binky grabbed him and shook him by the peanuts. The kid lost a shoe and Binky walked around in his enclosure with a high-top tennis shoe in his mouth for a couple of weeks, but they couldn’t get it away from him, which was a super-bad look for the zoo because everybody knew that this kid got mauled.

John not wanting to be a tourist (OM297)

John has never been to Glacier because early in his life he resolved never to be a tourist, which is a mentality problem of a certain kind of person, but that means you routinely have to make a choice between seeing the cool thing and risking being a tourist, or standing behind a dumpster, having lunch covered in rats and pigeons in order to continue to enforce your anti-tourism hair shirt. Ken’s brother has that as well.

Over the last 30 years John has made so many decisions in order to avoid being a tourist and he has never been to Glacier or Yellowstone, which is dumb! The only time he has ever been to the Louvre was dressed all in black and he roped in after hours, he has only seen the Mona Lisa upside down, trying to steal diamonds, but he did take a look at some of the other paintings.

Ken seeing a Mary Kay car (OM297)

While Ken was in Glacier it felt crowded because everyone got crammed into one corner of the park and you had to make some effort to stay away from crowds, which they did. It felt more crowded than a usual summer even though there were fewer people because you couldn’t turn around. They kept seeing the same cars in the parking lot and got to know these people. It also happens in Disney Land where you are always in line with the same annoying kids.

They kept seeing a pearly-whitish Cadillac crossover, a weird hybrid between a station wagon and a SUV, like a station wagon with a pituitary problem or a SUV owned by somebody with a small garage, the most popular car segment in America right now. John has been thinking about buying a SUV lately. The color of the car was a weird pearlescent whitish color that looked different in different light, like a Batmobile that looks purple from one side and slightly green like a soap bubble from the other with some metallic flakes in the paint and more layers than a normal car paint job.

Ken thinks it is ugly as fuck, but it is fun for a second. His kids asked him about this color that looked whitish and rosy and the little silver Cadillac shield on the side at the base of the driver and passenger side door said Mary Kay and he was able to explain in general terms that if you sell a lot of makeup to your neighbors, or make your neighbors sell a lot of makeup to their neighbors, you get one of these, but he didn’t actually know that much about it. Ken moved to Korea at age 7 and he stayed there until High School. There were no Mary Kay Cadillacs in Korea and he absorbed it like almost everything else about American culture through sitcom references and Mystery Science Theater riffs.

In the 1970s cars had unusual colors like Avocado or Mustard, and you could get a Ford Torino in sky-blue for a period in the 1970s, but it was not any blue you would want. The only people who had pink cars were Elvis and Liberace and yet in every town there was a Mary Kay car that was your Mary Kay car because you saw it all the time. At the other side of town you might then see a different Mary Kay car and it was as much a surprise as the Wienermobile.

As late as the 1990s they had given out 7000 of these paint jobs, which made it like seeing the Goodyear blimp, except on a more accessible local level. Back then those cars were Pepto Bismol pink, and that was the brand that you were supposed to notice, but at some point they realized that nobody wants that color and new car technologies had allowed for a more classier look.

Judging by the woman who drove a Mary Kay car in John's part of Anchorage: If you were a Mary Kay sales person your aesthetic was probably accordingly and she was a lady with a lot of diamonds on her fingers and had her hair done all the time, like a fancy Texas lady with all the aesthetics that implies, and also Mary Kay Ash was a Houston native.

John and Ken not being sales people (OM297)

John is trying to sell his neighbors on the Internet a line of BS, and it seems like they buy it. He is always trying to figure out a thing they would buy, but he has never come up with anything better than a T-shirt design or an album, which is not primarily a thing he wants people to buy, it is a different thing. John is not a salesman, you have to be a type of person, to sell is a gift, but also a pathology. John’s relationship to sales is complicated, like most Americans, because we have all been confronted with an aggressive sales person.

Ken doesn’t like to be sold things and as a plain humble protestant-American type he doesn’t like to sell things, even when they have to say that they have a Patreon for people who like the show. It somehow feels immodest. John is uncomfortable with it too. There are people around the world who are selling things and there are a lot of things in our lives that we have to be grateful that someone was selling it. The mentality of a sales person is that they are here to do you a favor, but the problem is that you don’t know if you got good advice.

Consumer Reports, David Horowitz (OM297)

If you for example are trying to buy an angle grinder online it is difficult to determine which reviews are unbiased and which ones are paid placements, but it is all going to be something from China anyway. Sometimes it is suspicious that a brand-new thing has five 5-star reviews that are all minimal and written in the same syntax.

John always trusted Consumer Reports, but lately he found that there is something suspect about their app and he doesn’t like how it is designed. Everybody at Consumer Reports grew up in a Consumer Reports universe, and like AAA it has become a cult in an of itself and it feels like it has internal biases. In the past it was about the reports and about the back page called ”Selling It” where they exposed weird ads and weird sales techniques.

In the early 1980s there was a consumer advocate called David Horowitz on morning TV as America’s ombudsman who would tell people not to believe this scammy ad because you don’t need to buy 6 cans of Progresso, but you get the same price if you just buy one, and there were too many insect parts in these pastas. He had a Shoreline TV show where he got the audience to yell: ”Fight back!” at his pro-consumer crusades.

Ken really liked that and it is how you can tell he is a little Occupy Wall Street kid in training. If we could only return to a time when the thing we were most concerned about was that Progresso was trying to convince us that it was a good sale when it was really just standard price!

Full House, John meeting Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (OM297)

The generation gap between John and Ken is that John couldn’t tell you two things about the TV show Full House. Ken wonders if the Tanners in that show also smelled bad like real-world tanners. Was John Stamos a tanner and a Rock star in that show? John only knows that John Stamos was the drummer of The Beach Boys. He is in the Kokomo video (song by The Beach Boys).

John also knows that the show has an adorable set of twin girls played by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. He met them once together in the lobby of the Chateau Marmont when they were full-on eye-shadow-wearing Millennials and they were all sitting around on big cushy sofas, having drinks and smoking cigarettes back when you could smoke cigarettes. John had an encounter with them and they are very nice, but they didn’t exchange numbers at the end.

LBJ’s temperature knob on Air Force One (OM297)

Ken was just reading this morning how LBJ complained about the temperature on Air Force One so much that they finally installed a knob for him that was attached to nothing, like the slider they have at the studio for the guy from the label. Ken thought those were for the musicians, but John has been in that studio too where they gave him a guitar and told him to turn it up when he wanted it louder.

Ken moving to a new neighborhood in Utah, getting pitched on scrapbooking (OM297)

If you live in Utah, do Mormon missionaries come to the door and ring the door bell, or is it the one place in the world where you are safe from that? There are plenty of Later Day Saint missionaries in Utah because like in affiliate marketing success does not come from cold-calling on a door bell and being like: ”Hey, would you like to change religions?” - ”Actually: Yes! Come in!”, but it is people who have a friend and their kids attend church together and they were talking about it on the sleep-over and they went on scout camp trip, people who’s friends have already been warmed up a bit. Therefore there is a booming missionary industry in Utah.

There is also a growing immigrant Latino population that might be interested in assimilating to the friendly local community religion, not just kids that couldn’t get visas: ”You got to go on a mission, but you can’t leave the United States!” There is definitely some of that because in the Trump era the church needs to know people’s immigration status because they would love to send the bright Latino kid to preach the good word in El Salvador, but what if ICE doesn’t let them back in?

In 2002 Ken moved to a new neighborhood in Utah, the first house they owned, and one Sunday after they had been to church a woman called Ken’s wife, she was super-bubbly and chatty, wanting to welcome her to the neighborhood, but after 15 minutes of chit-chat she went: ”This might seem like an odd question, but what do you do with your photos?” - ”I keep them in a box under my bed!”

Her spiel was to either shock or faint shock: ”You do what? How could you do something so awful with your photos? You don’t scrapbook?” - ”I really don’t!” This woman turned on her scrapbooking pitch, but Mindy just said: ”As I said: I don’t scrapbook, I just have a box of photos!” After that encounter this woman never talked to Mindy again, neither at church nor elsewhere: ”If you are not in my downline, I don’t have time for you! You are not helping my bottom line!”

When John hears someone say they never scrapbook, he knows it is someone who has never scrapbooked. When Ken hears someone say they don’t scrapbook he gets out his browning. It is a sign of trouble! There is a whole industry about that! Ken has never been to a MLM party. He was invited to a Pampered Chef party in college when college kids were trying to make an extra buck doing this. His sister briefly did Cutco Knives and she came over to their house to show how well they cut and how they sharpen.

John going to a MLM-party for candleholders when he was 9 years old (OM297)

When John was 9 years old in 1977 he was invited to a MLM party because his best friend in elementary school Aaron’s mom who worked full-time was going to supplement her income by having these parties. They will tell you that they don’t try to sell you anything, but they need a group to practice, but of course they are going to hit you up. She was selling candles and candleholders and John was all excited and he broke his piggy bank and ended up buying one.

Both John and Ken were very tight-fisted 9-year olds who didn’t want to spend their money and who knew what they were saving up for, but the pitch for this candleholder was that it would be a good gift for his mom and John was excited because that was the one thing he would break his piggy bank to do. He did give it to her and they still have it today in a box of Christmas things.

This party was very exciting because all the women from around the neighborhood had dressed up for it like it was a night out. They were drinking wine, they were laughing, Aaron’s mom gave a presentation about these candleholders, and John got swept up in it.

Ken’s brother having been a lawyer for a MLM company (OM297)

At one point Ken’s brother was the in-house counsellor at an MLM company and he hated it because thanks to Orrin Hatch it is now legal to make vague health claims about this stuff without actually doing any FDA approval processes. He had to spend his whole time keeping sales staff from making specific prosecutable claims, which means both the sales staff and the higher-ups hated him because he always said: ”No!” He was afraid he was going to be practicing MLM law for life, but he jumped when he saw a tech company and he is much happier doing IP law and tech stuff.


Ken doesn’t have any kind of skin regimen for his hands, but at some point he should. John’s hands are smooth, but he wished they were rougher, which would convey that he was better at sword fighting. He has podcaster’s hands and all his hands have been is on the idiot slider at the studio. His left hand has calluses on the finger tips from playing guitar, though.

Any time they mention even the smallest town in America on the program they will hear from listeners within hours that this is where they are from and here are some photos of the thing they had mentioned. John tried this the other day on his podcast Road Work (see RW190) where he wondered how many listeners he had in Istanbul, and he got a tweet from a guy who said he was listening to John’s show from his house in Istanbul, but he was not an expat, but a Turkish guy, some fan in Turkey.

John is not asking to hear from Futurelings that their mom uses Mary Kay products, but he wants to hear from Futurelings who themselves use them, in particular if they sell Mary Kay products, or if they don’t sell them and just use them about what the advantage of them is.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License