Wednesday 28 Sep 2016

Civilization
David Simmonds


CAUTION:
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS A REFERENCE TO TIGER WOODS,
BUT IS TIGER WOODS JOKE-FREE.

Prehistoric men, though we don't remember them vividly, are usually shown sporting beards. Today's man is usually clean shaven. Exceptions to the clean shaven norm include a licensed eccentric, sociology professor or holder of a fashion stubble exemption.

So this creates an argument that one of the best harbingers of the onward march of civilization is the development of the shaving device. In making this assertion, I acknowledge the views of Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, whose 2,000 year old man claimed the nod should go to Saran Wrap.

But a quick examination of the website of the world's leading shaving technology producer, the Gillette company, confirms I am right. Just look at these major advances in facial hair removal technology:

the invention of the safety razor (by Mr. Gillette) in 1901

the introduction of the one-piece razor in 1934

the advent of the adjustable razor in 1957

the coming, in rapid succession, of the Techmatic razor of 1965, the Trac II razor of 1971, the Atra razor of 1977, the Sensor razor of 1990 and the M3power razor of 2004.

And all of these developments were merely the prelude to "the most significant innovation in Gillette's history - the launch of Fusion power in 2006".

The Fusion Power razor, I have informed myself, contains five blades with a patented blade glide technology, a precision trimmer, a microchip for consistent power (and not just any microchip, an "on board" microchip), a low battery indicator light and an automatic shutoff.

Talk about the best of all possible worlds!

Just pity the poor sap struggling to shave in 1956 with a non-adjustable, single piece razor. Even the woman who has given birth can only have the vaguest idea of the pain such a man must have suffered. And imagine the remorse that a Trac II user must have felt when he discovered in 2006 that he had been forced to spend the last 35 years shaving with two blades instead of five.

And lest we think that civilization rests on its laurels, the website loudly proclaims "only time will tell what revolution Gillette delivers to the world next". My heart stopped beating for a second there.

I can hardly wait for the revolution. Will the next razor, the Intergalactitrak9, have,

a nine blade system controlled by a patented gyroscopic mechanism

an ear wax and hair remover

an MP3 player, either on or off board

a voice recorder

a GPS device

a remote coffee pot and car starter

text messaging capacity

a free coupon on your next purchase of Saran Wrap

and come in a large cardboard box with a CD and an incompehensible instruction book written in pidgen English?

Somehow, I'm not inspired to throw in my lot with Gillette. First, of course, there is the Tiger Woods fiasco. Gilllette, according to a recent newspaper report, was one of a handful of Woods' major sponsors that collectively suffered a decline in market value of between $5 billion and $12 billion. compared to their competitors, in the 13 trading days after 'the incident'.

How could a company be dumb enough to put its reputation at such risk, when it could have hired a private gumshoe at the outset to work a few airport bars on the golf circuit and learn enough to run up the red flag?

At least Gillette was smart enough to hedge its bets by featuring two other athtetes in additon to Woods: Thierry Henry and Roger Federer. That's soccer player Thierry Henry, who committed a blatant foul that wasn't called or owned up to and that led to a goal that scuppered Irish hopes of appearing in the 2010 World Cup. All it will take is one report that Roger Federer once kicked a cat and the company's value will go right down the tubes.

And second, there's the law of diminishing returns. How much better can shaving get; or even if the answer is "just watch us", how much better does it need to get? For my part, I'd be happy to get back my old 1965 Techmatic razor, pay the same price old price for it and get the same old shave. I'd probably pocket quite a bit of savings.

And who knows, if others did the same, and all those smart Gillette scientists and engineers were redeployed, maybe we could really make a difference. We could develop a device that extinguishes contemporary country music. Or brings intelligent life to the NHL. Or, as the beauty pageant contestants say, achieves world peace.

Or a device that detects corporate hypberbole. That would be a contribution to the onward march of civilization.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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