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DeWese--We Have Met the Enemy

April 2000
Balderdash! Phooey! Cow chips! "We have met the enemy and he is us."

All right, ya'll, get in here, sit down and listen up. I've got a hell of a lot to cover this month.

You probably are all wondering who first said the words and phrase at the top of this column. Well, if any of you illiterate slugs ever read your history books, you would know.

The late, great Sir Winston Churchill first said "Balderdash!" Sir Winston said it when Lady Astor observed that he was drunk. Sir Winston replied: "Balderdash. Tomorrow I will be sober and you will still be ugly."

The late Felix Anderson Crawford, my wife's grandfather, first said "Phooey" one night when he ran out of Tampa Nuggets and Seagrams Seven. He was left to roll his own while drinking a Coke.

The irrepressible Marvelle Stump was first heard to mutter "Cow chips!" when he spilled a long-neck PBR on his polyester britches one night at the Dew Drop Inn Lounge in Hot Coffee, Mississippi.

Finally, Pogo (star of the long-defunct Walt Kelly cartoon strip of the same name) was the one who said "We have met the enemy and he is us!" Pogo was the wisest of them all. I personally have learned the hard way that the enemy is always me. Think about it.

Your Mañana Man—that would be me—is the first semi-famous person, however, to orchestrate the three exclamations and one phrase and to publish them in this order. Pretty catchy, eh? That's one of my few talents: orchestration.

Those words are my reaction to all this negative talk about the printing industry. It's also my reaction to Internet companies and their grossly overvalued stocks. How can a dotcom company with no sales and humongous losses be worth enormously more than our printing industry's Mail-Well, Consolidated Graphics, Valassis or R.R. Donnelley? How can unprofitable company Dotcom Website Inc.—with teensy revenues and no profit prospects for the next 10 years—have a market capitalization that is $200 million more than say, Mail-Well, a $2.5 billion, profitable company with more than 120 plants in the United States, Canada and England?

I have an MBA from Emory University, and that, I have learned, will not get me a Grande Double Café au Lait at Starbucks. I tried, and the guy behind the counter laughed at me. My MBA does mean, however, that I am semi-literate financially, conversant with the economics of the stock market and, for that matter, the macroeconomics of the American economy.
 

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