Monday, December 07, 2009


If you're not from the Des Moines area, you're almost certainly unaware of the local rag known as Juice, a free weekly put out by the junior minions of the Gannett corporation, current owners of the once-esteemed, now-reviled Des Moines Register. Juice aims to be a stylish guide to all that is hip and happening in the metro area, and falls as laughably short as you'd expect. (Hey, a local bar is having something called Tacky Sweater Night! What a perfect excuse to run photos of the staff wearing--get ready for it!--tacky sweaters! Isn't that wacky? Isn't it? For God's sake, say it is!)

Anyway, this thing has inexplicably stayed afloat for a few years now--Gannett is bleeding The Register dry, but for some reason, they keep pumping money into Juice--and I pick it up maybe twice a year to see if it's gotten any better or worse. (It always gets worse.) And in the latest issue I found a profile of--well, no use singling her out by name, but she's president of a local Young Professionals group. At first I misunderstood, and assumed Young Professionals was the name of a conservative rock band, but no, it's a social networking thing, or something. Honestly, I'd rather be living my life than "networking," but, fine, different strokes and all.

The thing that pissed me off about the profile of this woman was her description of her job. To quote: "I work in group event management for [insert goofy company name here], a performance marketing company in West Des Moines that helps clients motivate, engage and empower their employees to perform better. My department assists their clients with planning and executing their business meetings, product launches and sales incentive trips to places all over the world. I travel on some of the larger programs to assist our clients and travel team."

OK, based on this description, I have no idea what the fuck this woman does for a living, and I suspect that's the point. A performance marketing company? That helps clients plan business meetings? And sales incentive trips? Sounds like the kind of bullshit obfuscation you pull in a bar when you're trying to disguise just how soul-deadening your job really is, but you hope you can make it sound impressive enough to at least get you laid.

But her job is almost certainly not soul-deadening, because that implies you have a soul in the first place. And once you've made the leap to using the word "empower" in relationship to your job without putting it in ironic quote marks, you've pretty much kissed any trace of a soul goodbye. This is the type of person who probably voted for Obama--because hey, that's what the young people agreed they were doing, what with their social networking and all--without realizing she's already a perfect little Republican tool.

If I sound unusually bitter, well, I find it infuriating that this person even has a job--sorry, is empowered to have a job--when so many good people are out of work, and when necessary, worthwhile positions are being eliminated left and right. The more interesting story about life in Des Moines that Juice wouldn't dream of examining is that our libraries and municipal offices are forced to shut down for several days as the city simply can't afford to pay its employees. Culture is sidelined, and even the most basic functions of government screech to a halt, but there's always room to pay somebody to do something that isn't worth doing in the first place.

And the good folks at Gannett will be there to celebrate their every non-achievement.