We, here at The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond, have always been advocates for and supporters of small businesses, including (sometimes against my better judgement) those started by my good friend, Eugene, and his pal Purly. In 2010 we featured their Vermont Hand Crafted Tenkara Rods as that style of fishing was gaining wide acceptance and in 2012 we introduced the world to Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits. (Click this link to read that original post.)
It is with great regret we announce today that the manufacture of Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits has ceased. Sadly, the failure of this business is a result of the unsettled times in which we find ourselves. Born of a metaphor and nurtured on hyperbole, Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits were at one time considered “at least adequate” by untold numbers of customers, satisfied or not. Abandoned now in favor of more extreme measures, affected by a pandemic and caught up in events beyond their control, Eugene and Purly have been forced to close the doors. Join us now as we remember an innovative, truly American product, including exclusive, behind the scenes photos.
Barack Obama had just been elected to a second term when Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits hit the market. Their original ad copy spoke to the mood of the country:
We are faced with many issues in these troubled times, and some people would have you believe that these issues are complicated, difficult to understand, and worthy of thoughtful conversation.
Everyone knows it’s winner-take-all these days, so quit screwing around with careful reasoning and listening to the other side! You need bold rhetorical strokes to shut the other guy up, and you want the broadest brush possible to paint him into a corner when logic fails. Our selection of new products gives you everything you need to win any argument!
Many a dinner table “discussion” was put to a stop by one of their 12″ “mini” brushes and the reach of its 6′ handle. Word spread and the orders poured in, capably processed by enthusiastic staff working in immaculate surroundings, using a filing system that one expert described as “indescribable”.
Customers who didn’t have time for stuff like “facts”, “logic”, and “choices” also appreciated the narrow range of colors offered, described in the literature as “the only two colors that matter these days!”
Orders increased very quickly, as people stocked up with a supply of each color. You never knew what color the next guy would be using or when you might need to change things up, just to keep the morons off balance. More raw materials were required, along with storage, so an annex was added and a Chief Materials Foreman was hired to insure uniformity and quality. The system and methods he initiated were viewed by modern efficiency experts as “absolutely unbelievable.”
The workers in the Shipping Department displayed teamwork and ingenuity as they fulfilled their duties. Their dedication was recognized by many customers, one of whom wrote that their packing methods were “beyond imagination.”
Rapid growth defined Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits for the next several years but demand exploded in the summer of 2016. Concentrating on their most popular category, production of extra-large brushes was increased while researchers sought ways to make bigger and bigger brushes. Eugene and Purly showed appreciation to their workers, leveraging their success to provides niceties such as “breaks”.
Pandemic-Ready Modern Restroom and Sanitation Facilities were also installed.
Relying on word of mouth and a dedicated force of Professional Sales Representatives, countless records were set and business was on an upward trajectory, like a spaceship.
Meanwhile, folks were painting in broader and broader strokes, the likes of which no one had ever seen. They were also demanding brushes of constantly increasing size. Supplies of ingredients for proprietary paint formulas became harder to find and shortages developed. It was unclear how long Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Number Kits could live up to its promise that, “these two colors absolutely will not, under any circumstances, mix together, enabling you to make your case with no shades of gray! They actually repel each other, and are also permanent, so no one (not even you) will ever be able to change your mind!”
The previous high standards were relaxed and paints began to smear. Surprisingly, many people wanted smears and smearing became a craze. Bold rhetorical flourishes looked to be in danger. It has come to pass that broad strokes, being plural, require too much engagement for some people, many of whom don’t want to change their minds anyway.
In an effort to meet these changing requirements, a high-priced Consultant was engaged in January of 2020. He worked diligently until he fainted with exhaustion that afternoon, but as he slid to the floor he mumbled something about the World’s Biggest Brush.
Such a project would involve huge expenditures, for which Eugene and Purly sought financing. Unable to secure loans via traditional avenues such as banks (something about needing a Social Security Number), more creative means were employed, mostly barter and arm twisting. Precision equipment was needed, along with personnel to run it, and these were obtained in short order.
For the base of the World’s Biggest Brush, it was decided that ash was the appropriate wood to use. In plentiful supply, and cheap, due to the number of ash trees in Vermont being cut down to save them from the Emerald Ash Borer, an imported, invasive pest, ash only made sense. Log after log was processed, milled, and joined until, this summer, the base of the brush was large enough that no brush anywhere else could possibly be bigger.
A discussion ensued regarding the fairness of making only one giant brush so it was decided to cut the base in two, which took a day and a half. Only the firmest, strongest opinions could ever lift either piece, but Eugene and Purly were confident they would sell and felt this was the best choice as it would solve the problem of having one color of paint left over.
Paint color itself became an issue as events unfolded over the summer. The choice of either black or white suddenly seemed quite inappropriate. Aware that they were creating the new problem of having two colors of paint left over, Eugene and Purly set about finding two new colors to replace them. Eugene suggested his favorite color, which is Safety Green, which Purly complimented with his, Hunter Orange. Focus groups shielded their eyes and agreed they had rarely seen a combination like that one.
Innumerable holes were carefully drilled in the two brush bases, in anticipation of the imported bristles, due in from China at the beginning of July, which is about the same time U.S. Customs Agents raided the headquarters of Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits, Inc. The 13 tons of brush bristles they’d ordered had been confiscated at the docks and turned out to not be brush bristles at all, but cosmetic weaves made from real human hair, suspected to be that of political prisoners in Chinese camps. Convinced Eugene and Purly knew nothing about such things and were, indeed, shocked and appalled at the thought, the Agents departed, as did the dream of building the World’s Two Biggest Brushes.
Eugene and Purly remain philosophical about their foray into politics. They have scrapped their plans to develop a two-handed brush for internet use, though, because, as Purly put it, “Black and white just aren’t good enough for some people any more. Our brushes were never intended for lies, anyway. That’s what the internet’s for, I guess.”
It’s nearly August and to men like Eugene and Purly that means it’s time to start thinking ahead to winter and, quite frankly, they have just about had it with people. They are back at their place above Horrible Swamp, off Lower Skunk Hollow Road, where you will find them strictly enforcing social-distancing rules — meaning if you’re not them and get hit with bird shot, you’re too close.
The former employees of Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Number Kits, Inc. have been working hard, cutting the bases for the World’s Two Biggest Brushes into smaller pieces, as the new employees of Eugene and Purly’s Exceptionally Large Cribbage Board Company. Once they figure out how to move those pieces indoors they hope to have the painted boards available in time for Christmas. Limited Colors. Shipping extra. Pegs not included.