Weekly Asheville Disclaimer Page: 10/15/08

Business booming for balding models who specialize in ‘economic despair’ pose

It was a bittersweet phone call, but one for which Hank Hallman had been waiting years. It was Oct. 2, and Hallman recalls picking up the phone and listening to the message that every professional despair model longs to hear.

“I’ll be there,” Hallman told the caller, “briefcase — and head — in hand.”

Despair models have, until recently, had a rough go of it. The soaring stock market of just a few years ago favored high-end luxury-goods models, and many despair models were unemployed for much of the bubble. Before that, the 2001 terrorist attacks were initially greeted by despair models as potentially being a nice little earner, but the despair market was quickly glutted, “co-opted by amateurs,” as Hallman puts it.

“Ironically, we do some of our best work when we ourselves are out of work,” said Chris Flump, a despair model whose work can be seen this week on the front pages of USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Sports Digest.

But Wall Street’s recent losses have been gains for the despair modeling industry. Unbreakable, written rules dictate that media outlets are required to publish daily photographs “of a middle-aged man in state of shock, frustration or surrender” alongside stories detailing financial crises.

“Cha-Ching,” said Hallman, before striking a “No-No-Noooooo!” pose for New York Times photographers. The photographers guide him through a series of poses.

“You’ve lost all of your clients’ money, and are now switching religions, and mentally composing a prayer to your new dark lord,” the photographer calls out. “Try this: head down, staring at the ticker over the rims of your glasses, a centrifuge is pulling all the skin on your face toward the floor … good. Now, your brain is expanding and pushing against your skull … nice. OK, you’re watching your wife cheat on you on the floor of the stock exchange — Got it! That’s the one.”

Flump feels that work will be plentiful in the coming weeks.

“I’m having to come up with new poses, because the hand-on-scalp thing is just overplayed now,” said Flump. “It looks like the same picture with every story right now. I’m experimenting with the kneel-and-sob and the hand-over-heart mixed with a hateful leer, so I can stand out a little.”

In an economic sign-of-the-times, Hallman is taking out a large loan to purchase two condo units that are still under construction a little more than a mile inland of the Miami coastline.

“Oh, it’s a massacre out there in the financial sector, so my gig is pretty safe,” says Hallman, as he practices frowning while leaning his head against a corded, wall-mounted telephone, the same kind that legally must be featured in 40% of photographs of the stock-exchange floor. “I’m trying to diversify, so that I’m not invested entirely in despair. I’m looking into slack-jawed disbelief and migraine-nose-bridge-pinching, and for my safety backup I’m developing a pose in which I squeeze back tears by putting both index fingers in the inside-corners of my eyes in anticipation of complete molecular separation of my body.”

News Briefs:

Kay Hagan, Elizabeth Dole trade punches in campaign ads B-word seems inevitable


Ace Appliance closes after 52 years Market too soft for ‘Mack-Ruh-Wayuhv Uvvins’


New digital mammogram proves superior to “eyeballing” technique


Gerton and Horse Shoe endure snub as Obama visit includes only Asheville


PETA presses Ben & Jerry’s to use human milk, but only if PETA can watch


Palin’s support among women drops after National Geographic airs footage of her devouring two of her own offspring


Scientology hits all-time low in public opinion, making it acceptable option for local man

Reader’s poll Results

The results from last week’s readers poll:

What is the expansive matter John McCain is concealing behind the knot of his necktie?

24%: The mottled skin of a goose that has been stored underwater for several months, then left to dry beneath the sun on a rock.

12%: A place where you can pay by the hour to take a nap, with complimentary skin-blankets you can curl up in.

23%: Albino buffalo jerky.

22%: McCain’s scrotum, which got caught up in his necktie while he was getting dressed, but which was left there since he was in such a rush that morning.

16%: Waddle, straight, no chaser.

N.C. Supreme Court Docket Update

The McCain/Palin ticket came under a new line of attack on Thursday when Bob’s Picnic Salads, Inc. filed a cease-and-desist order in the N.C. Supreme Court, alleging copyright infringement over the Maverick Coleslaw line of products.

At issue, specifically, is the trademark “Whip-crack/‘yee-ha!’/Wink” that ends every Maverick Coleslaw commercial and promotional appearance.

“I didn’t spend a lifetime of dedication to the art of perfecting and advertising picnic salads to have a couple of political opportunists swoop in and capitalize on my hard work,” said Carl Rogers, CEO of BPS, Inc. “When you hear the word ‘maverick,’ you should equate ‘Whip-crack/“Yee-ha!”/Wink’ with delicious coleslaw, instead of equating ‘Wink/“You betcha!”/Nose wrinkle” with four more years of deregulation.”

When reached for comment, a McCain/Palin campaign spokes-maverick initially responded with a wink, before dismissing the question outright with a nose-wrinkle.

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