As I mentioned a few days ago, Ypsilanti had the distinction yesterday of playing host to a three-hour-long, live infomercial. While I couldn’t attend in person, as I had a meeting in Ann Arbor at the same time, I did have an opportunity to go down to Riverside Park on Saturday afternoon, scout things out, and talk with some of the hundred or so people who were brought to town by QVC for the filming… Here are a few brief notes, followed by video of the entire segment, as it aired.
They couldn’t have picked a nicer weekend for filming in Ypsilanti. It was like paradise on earth. Even the non-flowering bushes were flowering.
This is the woman responsible for those lovely flowers. “They’re not real,” she said to me with a smile, as she saw me taking a photo. “I know,” I said. “I used to live in Los Angeles. I know everything’s fake.” I heard later that they also put a boat of some kind in the river, which, given the fact that it’s only a few feet deep at that point, seems pretty silly. I’m sure it must have looked cool in the background, though, sitting there, just over the bush full of tropical flowers, as the host urged people to buy bags of slow cooker “fudgie brownie wedge” mix… I also heard that they made members of their staff dress up like they were fishing, repeatedly casting their hookless lines in the background, completing the image of Ypsilanti as a tropical Mayberry.
This woman’s job, she told me, was to watch the items that would be the sold the following day, during the live broadcast. I asked if people in the live audience would be given an opportunity to buy them, and she said that they’d be handing out ipads so that folks could still have the experience of buying stuff while sitting in front of their television sets at home.
I’m sure I could have learned more, if I’d taken the time to poke around and talk to more people, but that’s about as far as I got with my primary research… Here, for those of you who didn’t have an opportunity to watch it live, is video of the entire segment. (If you can’t make it though all the pitches for the $33.14 Genius Salad Chopper, which, by the way, now comes in teal, just jump ahead to the 26-minute mark, where you’ll find their nice little feature about Haab’s.)
One final thought… It’s easy to make fun of shit like this. Without a doubt, it’s some of the lowest common denominator nonsense you’ll ever see. I mean, people were actually standing in line to see a man sell them surplus dinnerware and $33.14 salad choppers, right? But, with all that said, you’ve got to give these folks a hand. I heard the show’s host, David Venable, and his staff, dealing with folks at the Saturday morning farmers’ market in Depot Town, and they seemed incredibly gracious. And, while I suspect it was stipulated in their contract with the City that they make the occasional mention of Ypsilanti, I don’t think they probably had to go as far overboard as they did in singing our praises. I don’t know that it’ll translate into a massive tidal wave of tourism, but, putting all my cynicism aside for a moment, it felt good when David said he’d consider moving here because of Go Ice Cream (at about the 96-minute mark)… Also, say what you will about this particular niche of the entertainment business, these guys bust their asses and they’re damned good at what they do. How in the fuck anyone could keep up their enthusiasm about a device that cuts food into 1-inch cubes, I’ll never know…