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    • Two major disclaimers to this conversation - #1 and the most important -> I do not take myself very serious and I sort of have disdain for people that do take everything very seriously. #2 This story and conversation is not really about politics - but, politics gave it the legs to keep on walking. Which always reverts to #1.

      I had moved to Wasilla, Alaska in 2000 and started a multimedia marketing business. Really, I was hoping to do about 90% commercial photography before I realized that industry was heading downhill fast and certainly for a guy with no actual working experience. I got involved in the Wasilla Chamber and felt I was a warrior amongst many who felt they had to "stick-up" for choosing the "Valley" lifestyle over Anchorage.

      Fast forward to 2004, then Anchorage State Senator Ben Stevens, son to now deceased Ted Stevens received a crazy email from a lady out in "Meadow Lakes" which is north of civilized Wasilla and it was a common perception that region was sort of sketch. I guess she ranted on about how a certain person tied into the oil business was literally cashing on various politicians.

      With all the arrogance you can imagine, Ben Stevens replied from his Senator email account "YOU ARE JUST VALLEY TRASH". Oooooh buddy. She forwarded his response to the Daily News and I heard about it on the news on a Friday. I happen to be in Anchorage visiting vendors and we all got joking that I was VALLEY TRASH.

      My brain started to creatively cook. I called a shirt screener in Palmer and told him my idea and wondered if he would knock out a couple of simple sample shirts that I could pickup in the morning. Before the term "viral" was really born from the internet, I knew I needed to move fast.

    • I ran a few shirts down to the local NBC television affilliate Saturday morning and they were happy to run a story. It really was so fun and the artwork was so simple that it all made perfect sense

      Rats...I cannot find the image I was looking for.....I had my shirt screener make up about 20 shirts and on my way back from Anchorage I noticed a local brewhouse was having their one year anniversary with a live band in the parking lot. The term Valley Trash had spread like wildfire and so when I gave everyone a Valley Trash shirt to model by 10+ inebriated folks in a parking lot at 10pm, it sorta fit the brand nicely. I forwarded that photo to the Anchorage Daily News and that ended up making the front page on MONDAY. (that was photo I was looking for)

      The really difficult part about tapping into a "viral" moment, you are not sure how long it would last. With stickers, shirts and hats over a three year period I probably sold over 10,000 but probably lost money because I had to order in small quantities and then sell basically at cost for distribution into stores.

    • I did end up selling the shirts at the Alaska State Fair which was sort of a benchmark that you had "made it" in Alaska mercantile. LOL

      Also, the momentum got so strong that then State Senator Ben Stevens for his own political survival came out to Wasilla and did a MEA CULPA press conference on our turf. As the acting President-Elect for the Chamber, most or many people wanted this to be a witch-hanging of sorts but I always reverted to #1. I really thought it was super funny how it played out and I was happy my creative skill set and marketing acumen was able to capitalize on a unique situation.

      Thus, the story re-ran today in the Anchorage Daily News I suspect with the overwhelming current political turmoil that the Gov'r has created and Ben Stevens is now back in the news.

      For those not current with ghetto rapper slang, O.G. = Original Gangster which makes my self-proclamation funny. But, hopefully you understand the "viral" OG reference.

    • Hahaha! That is an awesome story. I didn’t realize how great it would be from the title, because I didn’t know what O.G. was. Now I wanna be an O.G.

    • The site features photos of happy shirt wearers frolicking in a Wasilla parking lot during an outdoor concert Saturday, along with links to the fictitious "Ben Stevens 'Eating Crow' cookbook," a duet with rock singer Tom Petty called "Don't Have to Live Like a Refuse-ee" and a motivational tape in which Stevens "shares the secrets of stereotyping for maximum impact."

      Very funny and creative. 😂

      You got Sarah Palin to model the shirt?!!!!

    • So, when I got headsup the Anchorage Daily News was reposting the 2004 article and then @Chris finding the Wiki listing.....and, I happen to be flying up to Alaska this morning for a weeklong client photoshoot....and, I just happened to complete migrating all my archived images from DVD to my ReadyNas....lo and behold I found the folder of Valley Trash images...Obviously I remember taking all these shots....but, I put together this little collage and to me...not sure about you but it seems to be a great collection of proud a good way.

      Again, this before Instagram and everyone doing selfies....but, I encouraged people that bought my shirt to let me take a photo of them...and, then I would post up on the now-defunct valleytrash website.