Press Release of the Week: hurricanes, transcendental tee shirts and bling

This week’s Press Release of the Week feature required a little more digging than usual: it’s hard these days to find a press release that’s not about Hurricane Katrina. In case you were curious, Campbell’s is sending New Orleans $2 million worth of soup, Arby’s is donating $100,000 (what, hurricane victims don’t like beef n’ cheddar?), and Celine Dion is giving a cool mil. Which is impressive, although I imagine Dion’s the kind of person who sometimes pulls on a pair of jeans and finds a stray wad of thousand dollar bills crinkled up in the pocket.

Anheuser-Busch, meanwhile, “Continues to Supply Water to Victims of Hurricane Katrina.”

Ah, we shouldn’t laugh. But, really, couldn’t someone have suggested "drinking water," just for clarity's sake?

Even the National Basketball Referees Association is getting in on the act.

Apparently, unless you issue an official press release, people will assume you don’t give a shit about the tragedy, that you’re not keeping the people of New Orleans in your thoughts and/or prayers, that you’re a cold-hearted bastard who can’t even muster up the energy to type an announcement letting the entire world know that you really, really feel for the victims.

But dig enough and you can find a few companies who have other things on their mind. As they should. If America has learned one thing about tragedy, it is this: as soon as we stop selling and buying shit, the terrorists (or in this case, the hurricane – or perhaps God?) win.

So we should all applaud the people at AN:TS for boldly moving forward with the launch of their clothing line, disaster be damned.

AN:TS will be making graphic tees and “headwear,” but it’s about more than the clothes. “AN:TS is an ideal … a lifestyle,” the company tells us. President and Co-Founder Ozell Freeman explains:

"After we decided to start AN:TS, we asked ourselves what the brand should be about. Of course, apparel is about fashion but we decided that since we believe life is about passion, that AN:TS as a lifestyle brand should be about passion as well as fashion.”

Oh, Ozell, you crazy rhymin’ freak, tell us more:

“Next, we asked ourselves what we felt fashion was about. For us, fashion is about the individual expression of a personal sense of style. But WHAT IF fashion could also serve as a subtle 'reminder' that we are all part of a global community - a world colony that we can make better? This 'reminder' is symbolized through our name and anthill logo. AN:TS carries a message of global citizenship and responsibility through the creation of uniquely styled and well made apparel."

And here you thought clothes were just to cover your shameful nudity. No! They can also symbolize things! Of course this is nothing new, really. A Members Only jacket, for instance, symbolizes that you’re part of a super-exclusive club. A Jerry Garcia Band concert tee symbolizes that you’re a smelly hippie. A trucker hat symbolizes that you’re an asshole. See how this works?

So wearing AN:TS gear will symbolize that you’re part of the global community. But there’s more. The clothes are also a (symbolic) call to action: “The name of the brand ‘AN:TS’ invites inquiry. AN:TS stands for ‘Achieve Nirvana: Transform Society.’ We at AN:TS believe that through the continual pursuit of your passion, you leave the world a better place than you found it. We all have a role. No effort is too small."

Which is actually a pretty nice message for a week in which an entire town needs all our help, whether we’re sending soup or bottled water or just a few bills we’d otherwise spend on beer. Sorry for the brief foray into earnestness, but seriously: that whole city is really fucked right now.

But let's not end on a downer. Instead, let's all laugh at yet another attempt by Corporate America to appropriate the language of the streets:

“While the ultimate fashion accessory of recent popular culture is flashy jewelry -- known by its street name "bling" -- Hitachi Global Storage Technologies is today saying high-capacity, miniature hard drives are the new "bling" for their ubiquity and desirability among the consumer digerati.”

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