Fast Company

Can You Beat BP's Ridiculous "Reports from the Gulf"?

Can you top the writing and reporting of BP flack Paula Kolmar? Drop your "reports" into the comments!

Among the various PR efforts that BP is engaged in, they've apparently sent out a "reporter" to file missives about the company's efforts to stem the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

And what "Paula Kolmar" is writing tips well over the line of self-parody, into some kind of bizarro world where bullshit smells like puppies and champagne--and where cleaning up the oil spill while being slathered in tar balls and oil fumes is a bit like being embraced by Fabio in a grocery-store romance novel.

Here are some of our favorites. From a report titled "Ballet at Sea":

I was on a jack-up boat observing the practice operations several miles out of Bayou La Batre on a day when the ocean was calm, except for the groups of dolphins swimming around us. Even a shark came along to watch the show. Hot, humid conditions intensified by bright sunlight in a cloudless sky were actually made pleasant by the salty sea breezes topped off with lots of sunscreen and bottles of water.

See! Cleaning up the spill is like a mixture of lounging on the beach and going on a whale-watching cruise! And it's a pleasure to sniff the breeze and soak in the poetry of the clean-up:

From the relative comfort of a large square deck with a cold bottle of water always in hand, and an air-conditioned TV room with comfy sofas a level below, I witnessed beauty preparing to face the beast…A ballet at sea as mesmerizing as any performance in a concert hall, and worthy of an audience in its own right.

Makes your heart tingle, right? What beauty! And still, it goes on. From a report called "I saw the spill today":

Seeing it real-time, up close, eyes-on is, oddly, an inspiration to shake off the weariness, to look ahead, not behind, to dig in and focus with vigour on the task at hand. Yes, I saw the oil spill today. I saw the skimmers. I saw the relief well drill ships. I saw the support vessels circling the incident site. It was indeed a sobering privilege.

Another doozy, from "Family seafood business":

"There is no reason to hate BP," Betty says as the three Martins analyze the situation from rockers on the front porch of Elson and Betty’s home. (The Martins and their married children - Jeffrey, Tanya Cheramie and Dana Gros - all live on the same short street about three blocks from B&E Seafood. The six grandchildren live on this street too.)
"The oil spill was an accident," Elson says.
"This is an oilfield community," Jeffrey adds. “Everybody has somebody - a brother, a father - who works in the oilfield. People understand."

We challenge anyone reading this to write the most ridiculous, over the top "report" about the BP spill they can muster. If we get good responses, we'll highlight the best of the best in a separate post.

Please, limit your stories to 300 words: Anyone can write something ridiculous that goes on forever, but it takes a poison-tipped pen to cram maximum sarcasm into a minimum number of words.

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10 Comments

  • nathan ralph

    "Life is Precious"

    One cannot escape the impossibility of the miracle of life. This morning I took a ride on the US Coast Guard HC-144 aircraft to view the gulf. Just after we crossed the shoreline I saw a flock of brown pelicans lazily flapping around in a black pool, their feathers resplendent with a sheen I wasn't aware occurred in nature.
    There were communities of people dressed brilliantly in yellow picking up what appeared to be little black jellyfish that had washed ashore. A group was taking turns embracing and gently rubbing a group of obsidian dolphins. A tranquil scene of man and nature.
    After traveling many, many miles out to sea at an altitude of tens of thousands of feet, I saw a tiny spot of darker water. Mick Jagger's calming, lovely voice came over the radio singing "Paint it Black," and I was lost in the irony of it all. People are so upset about this little dark spot when there is so much beauty in the world.
    Yes, I saw the oil spill. I saw man and dolphin hugging. I saw plenty of fish on the shore for the brown pelican. I saw a beautiful dance of life.

  • Rene Sugar


    Looking out on the shiny ocean with those breath taking colors of orange and brown glistening in the sun, I take a sip of the cool refreshing grape Koolaid our CEO Tony Hayward makes fresh for employees every day. It has a bitter aftertaste but a good kind of bitter. You know?

    Walking along the beach with the sun shining in the deep blue sky and my refreshing grape drink keeping me cool, I can't help thinking it doesn't get any better than this. I love working for a company that cares so much about its shareholders. Life is good.

    When our vacation in the Gulf of Mexico is over, Tony says he's going to buy us matching track suits and sneakers and book us all on the first flight of Virgin Galactic. What a guy.

  • Lawrence Kolasa

    Does anyone know anything about reporter/BP flack Paula Kolmar and what she did before this "opportunity?" A quick Google search this morning didn't turn up anything.

  • Olivier Redmont

    It was a bright, sunny, and sunshine-filled morning, and with my magnifying glass in hand (I'm a journalist), I stretched out by the shore, which I discovered tossed and turned, sort of as rough as it was calm, breathing new life into the horizon before me. As the luscious water churned like melted fudge, it washed up to my toes, tickling my flip-flop-clad feet, and I felt strongly a new faith and hope and promise for American progress and domestic ingenuity. After all, watching it visually, eyeing it with my own round eyes, seeing it, glancing at it in this light, squinting from the glint of the Gulf's enduring sparkle, I knew this visible vision was appearing as a sign. Soon the heavenly clouds, which I realized were also very white, parted, gently, and streaks of gold streamed down into the chocolaty oceans, like yellowy straws into the Starbucks iced-coffee that I enjoyed earlier with the friendly and cheerful and upbeat locals.

    My concentration and investigative reporting were soon interrupted, however though, by a duck, who strode ashore, and seemed to chuckle at his surroundings, happily.

    Yes, I found myself agreeing, jotting down in my mahogany-hued Moleskine: we all could use a change of scenery.

  • Matthew Resnick

    I met with volunteers from the Audubon Society alongside a peaceful inlet as the sun reached its midday zenith yesterday. As they gently scrubbed the thickened sea-water off of a number of pelicans, a peaceful tranquility washed over me as these beautiful birds so calmly relinquished their animalistic pride for a proper cleaning. I talked with Susan, one of the smiling, soft spoken Audubon members as she gently massaged darkened liquid from one of the more majestic creatures of the group. "We've wanted to come to the Gulf for a while," she said, "The water here was well-known for its sub-par cleanliness even 10 years ago and this event was the perfect excuse to stop by and give our feathered friends a thorough cleansing." When asked what the long term effects of the freshly peppered ocean would be on marine life, she surmised that, "With the work we're doing here, local avian populations might just end up healthier than ever."

  • V Evans

    A Bloom Centuries in the Making
    Watching from as far away as possible, I am struck by how our planet continually reminds us of its really old geologic history. Miles below the ocean floor, from its deep tendril roots and through the help of BP, oil is unfolding like a bloom centuries in the making. Long and tenacious, a 'stem' of oil has stretched toward the surface of the sea so that it may flower in the sunlight in all its burnt-orange and shining glory. And like any bloom, its 'pollen' coats sea creatures, birds, and land, changing their lives forever.

    We human beings are receiving so many gifts through this event: the opportunity to tangibly care for nature by cleaning off birds and sea things that are overcome by the oil's generousity; and spiritually by realizing the power of man to release such abundance. And let us not forget the people who live along the shore where history is in the making, and who model for the rest of us the toughness of the American character as their local economies wither.

    I bow my head for a moment each night when this comes on TV.

  • Dave Rockliff

    As the sun pulls itself over the horizon and rains down rays of joy upon the gulf of Mexico I stare out from my perch atop the most luxurious 40 year-old shrimp trawler i've ever had the pleasure of riding. Looking out to port one might think they are entering heaven as the sun's luminesense is intensly reflected by the blacky-brown mirrored glass that coats the top of the waves. The maple tinged water of the gulf evokes a rumble in my stomach telling my brain that it is almost time for breakfast.

    I can't get the thought of something slathered in a thick coating of heavy syrup out of my head. But before I can eat my stomach creates room for pancakes by orally coating the cutest little patch of sheeny ocean with dispersants that have entered my central nervous system via the spiced air of the gulf. I get a rush mingled with a sense of pride knowing that i'm doing my part to help the great folks of Louisiana. As my rush of pride subsides and I can once again walk in a straight line I think back to my first whiff of these intoxicating, exotic fumes.

    The odor's potpourri-like essence cannot be described in words and it leaves me smiling to myself knowing how lucky I am to be able to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity (in this specific location at least). I watch a brown pelican flap his wings in slow motion, getting his morning tai-chi workout in as he frolics in the water. I can't help but laugh to myself knowing that the great folks at BP are paying me to do this. The wage isn't much but anyone that has been out here knows the experience is payment enough.

  • Susan Geissler

    The day dawns quiet on Deepwater Deux's deck. Gazing upon the sea is like stepping into Edward Munch's beautiful work "The Scream". Skimmers plie over water steeped in green and bronze. My soul cries out with unadulterated joy. Before the sea was just blue. Is it sky or water? Is it a dolphin? What purpose do dolphins serve? Now the water is so much more. BP is dedicated to bringing color to our world. It's an inspiration to all productive Americans, unlike thoroughly unproductive dolphins.

    BP also brings excitement with Jerry Bruckheimer's new special "PROJECT P90X:BP Cares". Bruce Willis assembled a quirky team of astronauts, convicts, fighter-pilots, strippers-with-a-heart-of-gold, sexy scientists, race car drivers and pirates. Difficult childhoods give this crew unique sensitivity toward the commercial fisherman embarking on exciting new careers in sanitation.

    Love Triangles! Heartwarming Animals! See the hot-pant wearing crew rescue a baby sea otter and nurse him back to super cute health.

    A kick-ass training montage! Nickleback plays as the crew does pull-ups. They inspects tubes of oil in a laboratory so dark and sexy no science takes place there. Sadly we lose the funniest crew member. As his body floats to the surface Bruce closes his eyes, shouts NOOO!!!! WHHHYYY!!! skyward and temporarily quits the team. Soul searching begins.

    Explosions! Why? There's always explosions. Cars flip over! Why? There's always cars flipping over. The boat crashes down Bourbon Street! Why is the boat in town? Because it's flippin' sweet.

    The team makes it just in time to use magic space rocks that fix everything. There's cheering, the stripper and pirate kiss, Bruce and his arch resolve their differences and embrace. Coming soon!

  • Benjamin Grynol

    As I sat on the picturesque shoreline, and the sweltering heat kissed my forehead, a bead of sweat fell upon my brow. Embracing this moment, I sat back and admired the camaraderie and passion that each of the local fisherman bequeathed, as they accepted the situation before them, understanding that they no longer had an opportunity to create financial security through the means of fishing the local waters.

    As the oil glistened in the sunlight, and sunbathed on the surface of the mystic waters, my breath was taken away by the sheer beauty of the swirling patterns created by the oil as it slowly moved around, creating “Van Gogh-esqe” paintings on top of this alluring natural resource.

    As the day passed, and I bathed in the memorable aromas of the toxic fumes surrounding me, I sat back and reflected, “Am I ever privileged to be able to take part in such an important historical event.”

    Rather than help to clean up the oil, I am so fortunate that my role to help mitigate this situation, is to write about the events before me and reach society on a global level. My endearing efforts will most likely have a positive effect on society as a result of people reading my work. This is my contribution to help BP, and I am proud of my role.