March 17, 2005 (Ira Pilgrim)


My friends, let me share with you my vision for Washington. I see the Lincoln Memorial remodeled, the 16th president kicking back in a La-Z-Boy. I see a Dutch Boy emblem on the side of the executive mansion with a sign noting that this is the paint that keeps the White House white. And for the Washington Monument? What else but the Viagra logo painted tastefully on the side, extending to the top in red letters thirty feet wide?

Leonard Pitts Jr. 2004

There is a tower on the Stanford University campus called "Hoover Tower." Herbert Hoover was an engineer who became Stanford's president. He later became president of the United States and presided over the great depression. Someone referred to Hoover Tower as "Hoover's last erection." What does this have to do with the subject at hand? Nothing, but it's a good beginning to a trivial column.

Trivial? Yes, even though it is a subject that is considered by many men as the central issue of their existence. I read somewhere that Ernest Hemingway blew his brains out when he could no longer get it up.

Men have been buying aphrodesiacs that did absolutely nothing, except part them from their money, for centuries. Powdered rhinoceros horn has not only parted men from their money, but reduced the rhinoceros to the brink of extinction due to hunters killing them for their horns. The powdered rhinoceros horn brings in big bucks from suckers who believe that it will help them to have an erection.

I can imagine a conversation that might have taken place between the top management of the company that manufactures "Getitup," one of several of the copy-cat drugs that came on the market after Viagra.

Joe Hype (head of the Foolem advertising agency): Here is what I propose: We start with the usual husband-wife gambit, with the wife glowing about how great her husband is since he started using our product. Standard stuff. But the best gambit comes right out of the list of side effects. We warn users that if they have an erection that lasts for more than four hours, to see their doctor immediately. The listener will think, Wow, a four hour erection; this stuff must be great.

Samuel Hack, M.D.: That condition is called priapism. Not only is it excruciatingly painful, but the treatment may leave him permanently impotent. That's why we put all of those side effects in type so small that they can't be read by someone with normal vision without the help of a magnifying glass.

Joe Hype: We don't tell them about the pain. The idea of a four hour erection will sell more drugs than you can imagine.

Samuel Hack, M.D.: A man who has had priapism may never want to have an erection ever again. Besides, it's a rare complication. It's more likely that the man will pop off with a heart attack, with the assistance of our product.

Joe Hype: Look doc, we're paying you big bucks to help us to sell our product. We don't need your criticism. Our job is to sell the stuff and make money, some of which pays for your services.

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