liquid bling

My level of hatred for bottled water (and the wealthy) reached an all new high this evening. I was reading an article in the British newspaper “The Guardian” on America’s new breed of super-rich, and it mentioned an increasingly popular brand of “luxury mineral water” that was selling for up to $90 a bottle in Los Angeles. The water, called Bling H2O, was apparently the brainchild of Hollywood producer Kevin Boyd, who felt there was a niche for something more exclusive than the Pellegrino being swilled by the common, single-digit millionaires around him. The URL I located for the company said to be marketing the water doesn’t seem to be working, which makes me hopeful that they’ve gone out of business, but I suspect they’re still out there, gluing crystals on frosted bottles full of Tennessee spring water and laughing their asses off. Regardless, it makes me want to visit a market on Rodeo Drive and see what the rich and famous are wiping their asses with these days. Surely they’re up to five-ply by now.

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  1. mark
    Posted July 22, 2007 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking more about the mega-rich, and how they wipe their asses, and it’s got me thinking that I need to start a new thread…

    My guess is that they use tiny silk pillows held by long, ivory tongs.

  2. It's Skinner Again
    Posted July 22, 2007 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Mark — You may want to read Chapter XIII of “Gargantua” first. Here it is:

  3. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    I spent the afternoon with a friend who calls Africa home. (Ypsi is his favorite stateside residence.) He’s back for a short r-n-r from Sudan. After he left, we wired him a meager amount of “fun money” to buy whatever he needed to relax/survive or to pass it on to whatever need he happened across.

    He gave it to an indigenous orphanage. They bought an insane amount of supplies for the few bucks we sent … blankets, notebooks, etc. and a water purification system (i.e., jug). Then, they had to pay for security to protect what they’d bought from bandits.

    Anyway, today was ill-timed, for me, for this bottled water post.

    I believe in equality. (People in poorer conditions aren’t puppy dogs or perpetual children, they’re exactly like us … just as bright, just malnourished.) The fact that my buddy who’s giving his life to Sudan imbibes (he’ll be at the Ypsi beerfest) at ease in the U.S. is a balance for me (if the Sudanese could drive afford to drive Hummers, an equal number would). That said, bottled water is insane. In Sudan, a water filter for kids requires a hired gun to protect it.

    I have anger issues with the mega rich, but, I doubt their 90 buck bottles eat up as much of their percent of income as the average consumer. It’s less insane (and has less impact, since there’s so few of them) for them to spend $90 on a bottle than for most of us to spend 90 cents. They are paying for elitism. What are we paying for?

    Is there really nothing we can’t be convinced we have to buy?

  4. Posted July 23, 2007 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    This is why I’m so thrilled with Stephon Marbury (point guard for the New York Knicks), and his $14.99 basketball shoe that is he sponsoring, called the Starbury. Marbury was actually in the Detroit area this past weekend promoting them. The shoe is just as high quality and looks just as good as any other shoe – he wears them in NBA games, and so does Ben Wallace.

    The company spends no money on marketing – and gives Marbury and Wallace a percentage of the sales. I think it’s great that parents, especially with a sport like basketball that is probably the most-played sport by low income kids, can avoid paying $80-120 just to support an insane advertising and corporate budget.

  5. terrygilmer
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    The tap water where I live is notoriously bad. I call it “Longview iced tea” because of its murky brown color. It looks bad, smells bad and tastes bad. The city council didn’t dispute this but countered that it wasn’t actually toxic to drink. Is it ok if I drink bottled water?

  6. CLP
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    You should bottle Longview Iced Tea and sell it to the rich and famous.

  7. Robert
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think rich people are wiping their asses any more. There’s a surgery that makes that all unnecessary.

  8. Chelsea
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Yeah. Sorry to disappoint you, Mark (or perhaps make you hate me), but I do not trust tap water. (Not that I feel great about bottled, especially the plastic containers.) I survived the ’80s, drinking very little of anything. But I’d really be too old now to do that again. For me, bottled water represents something of a solution, if not a perfect one. (Oh, and I surely don’t trust those so-called filters. Why do I have the feeling they’re the hoaxes of the century?)

    As for hating the rich, or even the very rich: why? Is Al Gore a poor man? Michael Moore? Was Kurt Vonnegut? If all it takes to earn your hatred is a healthy bank account, I hope to find myself on your enemies list soon.

    Yes, some people have more money than they deserve, and spend it irresponsibly and selfishly. The race is not to the swift, bud.

  9. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Terry, without knowing your local political climate, I think one concern with bottled water is folks who can afford it will buy it leaving others to drink municipal tea, rather than vote to fund improvements public infrastructure.

    Chelsea, why don’t you trust tap water? Is it based on the science? Do you know someone who fell ill from drinking it? Or, is it because it hasn’t been marketed to us since the 1980s as flowing straight from the wild springs to our lips?

    “City water,” sounds dirty, because cities can be a little dirty. Ice Mountain water, sounds clean.

    The odd thing is, Ice Mountain’s own Web site admits its water is “municipal water” passed through carbon filters (and thereby “transformed”).

    We don’t trust city water. We don’t trust filters. Yet, we trust filtered city water if it has a refreshing label and corporate encrusted stamp of approval.

  10. Posted July 23, 2007 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I cant blame people for spending their money however they wish. I certainly spend my money that way. I think the problem is deeper than that. The problem is that the world’s resources arent spread evenly.

    I buy bottled water now and then but mostly just reuse the bottles by washing them and refilling them with tap water. Those plastic bottles are darn convenient.

  11. Robert
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    My approval of bottled water directly correlates to the size of the bottle. The littler the bottle, the more I hate it. the bigger the bottle, the more I love it.

    Pretty soon, Coke and Pepsi are going to buy up all the water treatment plants around the country and we’ll have running tap soda. Then we’ll see how you feel about bottled water, Mark.

  12. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Lynne, I’m going to indulge in a little hyperbole. Forgive me. But, what for me, is progress in humanity over the past few centuries is exactly blaming people for spending/acting however they wish.

    (Hyperbole alert.) In theory, you can’t legally spend your money to have sex with a nine year old, assinate your spouse, bribe officials, or pollute the air and rivers at a cancerous rate.

    I suspect you’d agree that there is a point were spending freely becomes immoral or blame worthy.

    The underlying morality has been that you may spend as you wish as long as it doesn’t cause harm to others.

    Drawing the line between personal freedom and public harm is always a messy cost/benefit game. If handguns are legal, bottled water should be, too.

    But what do we know about bottled water? Empirically, we know it hurts the environment through:

    1) Waste of the actual bottles
    2) Waste from transport
    3) Diversion of natural resources (all those Tennessee critters can no longer drink from the fresh stream that has become Bling).

    The risk is that it will increasingly hurt humans by making the right to potable water (aka life) a class priveledge.

    I’m really not an extremist (I’m a reductionist?). I’ve bought it for convienence and I’m sure I will buy it many times in the future. But, part of my protestant attachment is an accompanying ease in assigning blame. I blame myself for ninety percent of what I do: drinkin’, smokin’, bloggin’… (I also have the ideological convenience of forgiving myself for my weakness).

    I really have my issues. I’m destructive and wasteful. Human. If bottled water is someone elses nicotine, that’s fine. But we can’t pretend it’s benign.

  13. paulg
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    Ironically, if you actually went into the mountains and drank from a mountain spring, you’d probably get pretty sick. Most people must know that unprocessed water is teeming with “all-natural” pathogens- bacteria, viruses, amoebas, protozoa, flukes, microscopic worms, etc.

    That’s why I’ve felt the trendy waters were a scam since they first came out. If they’re cleaner than normal tap water, that’s just because they’ve had more chemical processing.

    Also, who would go to the trouble and expense of building a water collection plant at some remote mountain spring? Nobody. Besides the cost, imagine all the regulatory hurdles that would be involved. So all these companies use ordinary tap water. Maybe they “filter” it, but that’s more for psychological than health benefits.

    Wasn’t there a fad for unpasteurized juices a few years ago? I’m not sure why- maybe because pasteurization smacks of corporate chemical processing. When people then got sick from bacteria-contaminated juice (the exact problem pasteurization was designed to prevent) I just had to shake my head…

    People should avoid these despotic fashions. Say no to the marketers. Turn off (or shoot) your TVs. :)

  14. edweird
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    When I lived in Ann Arbor I always bought my drinking water by the gallon. I could cook with Ann Arbor’s tap, but couldn’t drink it. It tastes like a pool to me. This was one of the main reasons I bought in Ypsi. The three or so years I lived here (between stays in A2) I could not only cook with the water, but I could actually drink it. I remembered that so I looked here when I went to buy.

    I also stopped paying for cable over 8 years ago. I don’t regret it one bit.

  15. Chelsea
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Not all bottled water is filtered (or maybe even unfiltered) tap water. Some is. I don’t drink that.

    There are several reasons I don’t trust t.w. The point, however, is, I don’t–so bottled water is my only reasonable choice. I’m sure there are others who feel the same.

    It’s also true that water is a precious resource and that people in Africa and the Middle East often don’t have enough of it, and that that is the cause of a lot of misery in those regions. But Nestle-Poland Spring, say, is not likely to start sending water there, so I don’t feel as if I’m taking away from anyone else when I buy bottled. Nor do I think I deserve to be hated for a choice that enables me to drink the water I need.

  16. sylwill
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    How can you trust the bottled water then if you don’t trust the filters? I swear some little kids in Tennessee or Montana are just filling up them bottles with tap water anyways.

    That’s what happens in India and Mexico; why not here?

    My husband mistrusts tap water so we just have a Brita filter jug. I despise spending money on bottled water. I ain’t the rich and famous :-P

  17. Tom M
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    The poor can drink my urine.

  18. mark
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I should have mentioned it in the post, but I too, on occasion, drink bottled water. It’s probably more of a sin when I do it, because I know the societal costs involved. We each have to live our lives though. You cannot exist in this modern world of ours without leaving some negative mark on the world. I was a non car owning vegan for a long time, but I still ate veggies trucked across the continent, and I still took hot showers made possible by nuclear power. No one’s perfect. If they are, they’re dead… So, I wouldn’t take it personally, Chelsea.

  19. Posted July 24, 2007 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Mark, I find it quite important to maintain my purity of essence, and, like several of your other readers, do not trust tap water. I’m quite frankly offended by your attempts to demonize those with higher standards.

    You can feel free to hate me while I continue to drink only pure mountain spring water.

  20. terrygilmer
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    If I was to market “Longview Iced Tea” now would be the time. During the summer the algae in Lake Cherokee gets especially bad which leads to the water’s robust color and flavor. It looks like a beverage but feels like a meal.
    And if you think that’s a little gross, has anyone else seen the Ramones high-top sneaker from Converse? I always felt my footwear just wasn’t punk rock enough.

  21. mark
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks interjecting “purity of essence” into the conversation, Murph. You’ll see that I moved it up to the front page… I’m embarrassed that it didn’t occur to me before now.

  22. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Two among my top five dearest of friends drink only bottled water. I don’t hate them. In fact, I dare say, I almost love them. And, we’ve broached the taboo bottled-water topic.

    I don’t get bottled water, but I try not to hate what I can’t get (unless it’s beautiful or rich).

    I’m pretty sure Mark Maynard, on the other hand, hates everyone and everything.

  23. Chelsea
    Posted July 25, 2007 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Mark. You, too, OEC.

    I think you both know that a person can drink bottled water and still be a good citizen.

  24. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 25, 2007 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    My bottled water drinking friends are, by far and large, much better citizens than I.

  25. egpenet
    Posted July 26, 2007 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Bottled water is chemically dead. There are NO health benefits to drinking the stuff in little plastic bottles … zip, zero, zilch … other than having a fluid to flush out your kidneys.

    The higher-priced waters we know and love DO have some chemicals, which we need. But good oldYpsi tap water has more minerals we need, plus some nano milligrams of junk we do NOT need, and then there’s the clorine and the flouride.

    Oh, well.

  26. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 29, 2007 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    So, I was looking for the weekend weather report on Saturday and happened across a report on channel 2 that said a consumer group has pressured Aquafina to truth-in-label their product as from a PWS (public water source).

    One of Aquafina’s “PWSs” is the Detroit River. (Although I fully trust this Ypsi water resource, it’s fun to imagine what image of Detroit East/West coasters would conjure up to replace Aquafina’s mountain-top logo.)

    Aquafina, is Pepsi; Coca-Cola, according the article, isn’t quite sure how much of its water comes from municipal sourses.

    The article continues: “Wholesale sales of bottled water grew to $11 billion in 2006, according to the Beverage Marketing Corp., and the industry is expected to maintain growth rates of about 10 percent. The fastest growing segment of the industry is sales of bottles of less than 1.5 liters, which includes the individual serving sizes sold in many convenience and grocery stores.”

    Eleven Billion Dollars.

  27. Ted
    Posted July 30, 2007 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Don’t worry. All of these things will work themselves out in the free market. All those who deserve water will have it.

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