Kingsley Barham, Florida businessman, is now issuing trading cards for the victims of 9/11.
Before this, he was making marijuana trading cards, but he saw the September 11th attack as more marketable.
“Can you just imagine this? 'I'll take one Jimmy card for your four window-washer cards, and I'll even throw in one Todd Beamer!' " says Monica Barbella after the company approached her about a card for her husband, James, a World Trade Center property manager who died helping oversee the evacuation. "I was so amazed I couldn't even say more than, 'Send me info and I will talk to my kids about it.' "
Barham looked up 80 of the victims he saw in the newspaper, and contacted their families.
The "Questionnaire for Heroic Subjects" says the company's goal is to "put a human face" on the victims, asking, "What would you like people to know?" Could they make a great coleslaw or mix a good martini?" a questionnaire asks. It adds: "Give us an angle and we'll give it a try," promising to employ "a team of high skilled writers and editors" to craft 100-word-or-so profiles.
For those at a loss for mere prose, the questionnaire suggests verse: "Poetry packs a punch!"
This makes me sick. I mean violently ill. When Topps made their “Enduring Freedom” cards featuring George W. Bush and Colin Powell it was one thing. These men are alive and still in our media every day. These cards encourage patriotism. Barham is capitalizing on a fascination with the morbid. Anything for a buck, right?
And they’re making quite a few. Although they market this as a charity organization, they are only giving $100 to families for every 1000 cases sold. Basically one dollar for every $5760 dollars of gross revenue total.
Mr. Barham acknowledges receiving criticism for "capitalizing on a tragedy," but he is no stranger to controversy. In 1998, state attorneys general from across the nation denounced an earlier series of his marijuana cards. Mr. Barham says the negative publicity didn't hurt sales.
Perhaps it is good to put a face on those we lost in our tragedy. Perhaps it will help others to understand what we have lost. Perhaps. Perhaps it is a good thing to pile our country’s deceased with Michael Jordan, Sammy Sosa and Pikachu. I guess it’s a matter of opinion.
All quotes courtesy of Emelie Rutherford, Wall Street Journal