From Mon Jun 15 09:35:43 1998

Newsgroups: alt.slack

Subject: Cement Cuddlers - Worth the read

From: (Rev. Bevilacqua)

Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 16:35:43 GMT


An "Anti-shopping" Trip with the Los Angeles Cacophony Society

>> by Rev. Al


>>I had been thinking for a long time about making cement filled teddy

>>bears. I wasn't exactly sure why. At first it was just a perceptual

>>curiosity I wanted to experience, and I wanted others to experience:

>the idea of being handed what appeared to be a fluffy stuffed animal, only

>to have it go tearing through your relaxed fingers like a lead meteor.


>>The Christmas shopping season seemed an ideal time to get them on the

>>shelves of Los Angeles toy stores, so late in November, members of the

>Los Angeles Cacophony Society gathered in my backyard to gut several dozen

>>plush toys and replace their innards with Portland's finest.


>>We called them, "Cement Cuddlers".


>>Each bear wore a full-color laminated label identifying it as such

>>complete with bar code from another toy. Inside the folded tag was the



>> Unfortunate Child, do not mistake me for a living thing,

>> nor seek in me the warmth denied you by your parents. For

>> beneath my plush surface lies a hardness as impervious and

>> unforgiving as this World's own indifference to your mortal

>> struggle. Hold on to me when you are sad, and I will weigh

>> you down, but bear this weight throughout your years, and

>> it will strengthen your limbs and harden your will so that

>> one day no man dare oppose you.


>>The target was easy to select. Not far away was a large not-to-be-named

>>toystore, the biggest and newest of the chain in Southern California, a

>>massive thing like the newly christened Titanic just begging for its



>>By 10:30, around a dozen Cacophonists had slipped in managing to place

>>several bears on the shelves without arousing suspicion. Not content to

>>just leave them there we appointed Cacophonist Todd to help direct the

>>management's attention to our prank. At 10:35 Todd entered, located a

>>Cuddler, and brought it to the register, informing the cashier he


>>find the price.


>>Predictably, as he placed the innocent looking toy in those unwary


>>it went crashing to the floor like a particularly heavy bowling ball.

>>After this, it just got worse. Todd began to demand a speedier price

>>check, insisting that he had only minutes to complete this transaction

>>before it would be too late to bring the bear to his nephew who was, as


>>repeated many times for our benefit, "in the hospital with a skin


>>This element of his story, however, did not appear to provoke the

>>suspicion of the clerk, who apparently had no difficulty in imagining


>>customer entering the children's ward not long before 11 PM to dump a


>>of fur-covered construction material in the lap of an ailing youngster.


>>However, as Todd's volume increased, backups arrived. One of the more

>>astute clerks commented that she had never seen this toy before and


>>to know what shelf it had come from. Indignantly Todd led them to the

>>appropriate place. A half dozen clerks, and several customers gathered

>>round in bewilderment, passing the four bears amongst themselves and

>>shaking their heads.


>>I eventually moved into earshot, and heard one woman reading the tag

>>aloud. "That's really deep!" she exclaimed. I could no longer resist.


>>moved in to express curiosity about this toy.


>>"Oh! That's a cute bear," I remarked as I reached for a Cuddler.


>>warning, it was placed in my hands, which naturally were prepared to be

>>unprepared for its weight. Another thunderous crash!


>>Now I was outraged! "Look here!" I said. "The labels say, for ages


>>How could "Nameless Toystore Chain" sell such a dangerous toy to



>>Eventually I was calmed and began contemplating buying one for an older

>>nephew. Cacophonist Frank became interested in buying one too. We all


>>to the register.


>>Thanks to the fully functional bar code, the farce continued. However,


>>bar code used was from another toy, and so the computer identified the


>>as: Alien Face Hugger $1.99. More panic and confusion. The manager was

>>called. In the chaos, the bears are handed back and forth a few times


>>giving Todd one more opportunity to let one fall, this time "on his


>>(about 4 inches from his toes). He begins to wail and pulls off his


>>and sock. The clerks are incredulous.


>>"Would you say he dropped that on his foot?" one says to me.


>>"I don't want to get involved," I say, secretly gesturing that Todd




>>The manager arrives, and he is young and sour-looking. Easily a


>>freak. We feel he is our divinely ordained victim.


>>They explain the difficulty with the scans, but he seems to pay little

>>attention to the computer. Instead his eyes keep darting to Todd as he

>>leaps around on one foot howling about the lethal bears to other



>>"Come with me, sir. We'll see what we can do for you," he snaps,


>>Todd off to his little manager pen.


>>Frank and I continue as good cops to Todd's bad cop routine, but


>>to hover at the register insisting on the purchase. We discuss with the

>>clerks how troubled Todd seems and reread the label.


>>"This is weird," one clerk finally realizes, "a Teddy Bear literally

>>filled with cement."


>>I suggest it might be a doorstop for children's bedrooms.


>>Then a ray of light descends on Nameless Toystore. "It's like a joke

>>someone's playing or something," says one of our blue-vested



>>"You mean," asks Frank, with wonderfully stylized naivete, "like


>>made them themselves? Maybe just this weekend? Took out the stuffing


>>replaced it with cement?"


>>"Or maybe that crazy guy did," says the clerk.


>>"No, no. Can't be," I say. "Why would he insist on buying from you

>>something he made himself. That's illogical!"


>>Suddenly we hear Todd's voice booming again from the front of the


>>They have emerged from the manager pen.


>>This will mean so much to Bobby. God Bless you!" And he leaves with the

>>bear in bag. $1.99! Lucky bastard!


>>Manager-man hurries to the counter with his panicky stick-up-the-ass


>>one ear pressed to a cellular, doubtlessly consulting the Nameless

>>Toystore overlords. We mob him, insisting to know the price arrived at.


>>"They're not for sale."


>>We are incredulous, indignant. "This item is discontinued." He bites


>>the word and rushes to the shelves to haul the Cuddlers away. We


>>to needle him as he gathers the bears. Suddenly, he swings around


>>the furry blocks of cement as if he might do some harm. Perspiration


>>appeared on his forehead.


>>"Look!" he sputters, "I don't know how these things got on the shelves!

>>They DON'T track correctly on the computer. I've never seen them


>>I have NO explanation. It's like someone's playing a joke on MY



>>It's in that word "my". You can tell. He's gotten that look like he's


>>seen the first crack in the brand new ceiling. We understand that if


>>crack widens by even a hairline, he's going to see through it. He


>>suspects Todd. He is probably 90 seconds from realizing that we're all

>>part of it.


>>And so we decide to take advantage of our time.


>>"Could you at least tell us the manufacturer so maybe we could order




>>He whips the label over, and reads, Brutal Truth Toys.


>>This is a good time to leave. There's still a half hour before


>>so we take advantage of the energy we've gathered to make a few prank

>>phone calls. I call a rival Nameless Toystore asking for Cement



>>I'm put on hold and another clerk picks up the phone and claims to have

>>actually pulled up the info on my Cement Cuddlers on the computer. He

>>tells me I can get a raincheck. Sadly, when I ask for the stock number,


>>suddenly loses the record that he "just had, just a minute ago".


>>After going through three or four baffled and fairly easy to baffle

>>clerks, I finally get to the manager. I am slightly indignant at the

>>delays and feigned ignorance of a product I JUST PURCHASED THAT VERY


>>at their rival, the new Burbank store, we'd just invaded. The manager

>>explains that this new store carries certain promotional items not

>>available to the other stores because it is the newest and largest. I

>>detect a note of envy in his voice, and soften my approach. I become

>>confidential and ask if the new store hired away a lot of good workers.


>>"You know," I tell him, "I know it's big and everything, but it's so

>>new... I mean, they didn't quite seem to have it all together yet." He

>>agrees. He's heard rumors to this effect. "All the employees seemed, I

>>don't know... nervous somehow. It's like the store's too big for them


>>handle. I get a nervous feeling when I go in there."


>>He knows what I mean.


>>"I think it's that manager, maybe. He seemed so tense and kinda angry

>>somehow. He doesn't give me a good feeling. He seems a little odd.


>>you heard anything like this?"


>>He's heard some funny things about this upstart.


>>"Yeah. Odd manager. Odd store. Come to think of it this whole cement


>>bear thing is pretty odd. Maybe this was just a special thing he wanted


>>order. Maybe they were his idea." He agrees, but he won't call the


>>store to see if they still have them in stock there. So I tell him I'll

>>check back later.


>>And I will. It was a good night, and we still have 18 more bears to