Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Seems to me, an Amish heating miracle would be actual wood

If you're one of the dinosaurs who still gets a regional print newspaper delivered on Sundays, you've seen them. Smack dab in the middle of Parade Magazine (motto: No Celebrity Too Insignificant To Ask Their Opinion On The Importance Of The American Family) is the ad: the Roll N' Glow Space Heater. These electric fireplaces are made to look like real fire, they roll, but most importantly: they are made by real live Amish.

You can tell, because the ads feature bearded men in hats toiling alongside fresh-faced young women in homespun, all sanding away at the same fireplace mantels. They are working inside what appears to be a large barn, which you know they all raised together with the help of Harrison Ford and blonde ballet dancer Alexander Gudonov. Where are the livestock who would normally reside in the barn? My sister says they are moved outside each morning, to make room for the Roll N'Glow assembly line, and then brought back in at night once the electrical components have been stored safely away.

These ads have been around for ages - the NYTimes did a shocking expose on them last year, worth the read - but last Sunday's ad caught my eye. Because inside the sanctity of the Roll N'Glow barn factory was a new character - a guy who looked like he'd just escaped Bear Stearns' outplacement lecture - and he was shaking hands with Papa Amish. Meanwhile, one of the female fireplace workers was eyeing him like she was hungry and the visitor was a nice slab of Rumspringa.

No longer in such a rush to pick out the patterns in the Minerva knowledge challenge, I had to read why.

Apparently, the Amish have been screwed by the recession too. "We need the work," says one of the Amish employees. Just because they are a largely self-reliant religious sect that has managed to sustain itself for 150+ years in America doesn't mean the AIG and Goldman didn't do a little tapdance on their business interests in 2009. I mean, there was evidence of Intercourse with the outside world in the mere fact that the Amish were building electric fireplaces, when we all know they shun things like buttons and zippers. (I learned that on Arthur.) They may build a kick-ass portable heating unit, but that's between them and their God.

But now, here's Mr. English, getting Papa Amish to agree to lower their prices, from $547 to $348. Is nothing sacred in this economy? Can we just LEAVE THE AMISH OUT OF OUR ECONOMIC CRISIS?

I swear to god, if the young Amish woman is missing from next week's ad, gone to follow the man who's ripping off her family's livelihood, I am lodging a protest with Parade.

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