Archive for the ‘shopping in america’ Category

Shopping for Justice: “I think I know I mean, er, yes but it’s all wrong” edition

June 21, 2007

So I saw this commercial on the TV for the new Farm Aid-esque Pop Stars Singing John Lennon Songs For Darfur. Sponsored, somehow, by American Express.

And my first, typical, cynical instinct was to be disgusted by this latest example of the American trend of commercializing humanitarianism — convincing people that if they’re concerned about a social/political issue, the thing to do is go out and BUY this bracelet/t-shirt/cd! (A portion of the proceeds, we’re always assured, will go toward ending breast cancer/saving the children/stopping evil in its tracks!!) I have thought about this a lot, and I am conflicted about it, because I’m as into a good benefit concert as the next guy, provided I like the bands. But I recognize the perversity in it, and in general, when I choose to take action with my wallet, I send my dollars straight to the organization I’m into helping. But if a person wouldn’t be otherwise inclined to do something about an issue, the only harm I see in the whole thing is the fact that some corporation, inevitably, is profiting from the whole transaction. But what else is new?

So I googled this “Instant Karma” project, and found Amnesty’s press release, which statesthat “proceeds” would support the Save Darfur campaign, and gave a track listing. Although it might be nice to hear that ALL proceeds were going to Save Darfur, and might be even nicer to hear that all of these artists were personally donating a couple of their millions to the campaign, and not just their sweet voices, the track listing made me kind of want to hear this record. I mean, Xtina Aguilera singing “Mother?” I heartily approve of that.

So I guess I am a hypocrite, is what I’m saying.

Disgusting or Awesome? You Decide!

May 18, 2007


Because politics can no longer just be politics, but like everything else has to emulate reality TV, behold: the Food Stamp Challenge!

In this episode, my own congresswoman Jan Schakowsky learns what millions of poor people already know: you can’t really live on food stamps, and you certainly can’t eat nutritiously!

Ok, I kid, but I actually don’t think this is as silly and insidious as some others do. Yes, it somehow manages to make the issues of poverty, hunger and public benefits all about HER, but maybe it does require stunts like this to get people’s attention.

What do you think: disgusting or awesome?

p.s. I am actually a fan of Jan, despite (or because of?) the Pirro-esque shady past of her husband Robert Creamer. She always seems to vote the right way on lots of issues I care about.

Yo, I’m back and I’m thinking LUNCH

March 26, 2007

Either there’s been a malfunction, or someone has not been carrying her blogging weight around here. What gives? Did you get a job or something, Squashi?

So, my new job starts soon, and given the whole 9-5+commute thing, I am getting nervous about how many hours there are in the day. And about what I am going to EAT. So I need to get organized.


I am trying to decide between the Mr. Bento by Zojirushi (or one of its variations), and the cute Laptop Lunches lunchbox. Each of them has an enthusiastic internet posse. Exhibit A: Mr. Bento Porn . Exhibit B: Vegan Lunchcast.

I love these wacky people and their practice of photographing and describing their lunches for the world to see. They inspire me to eat prettier, healthier food. And they make me wonder, am I the sort of person who could get really into posting pictures of my food on the internet? Stay tuned…

shopping in america– first in a series

March 9, 2007

hangers, from “Untitled-Thrift” by Brian UlrichThis amazing photo essay really spoke to me. I hate to admit it because of my crunchy hippie/commie background, but I do an awful lot of my shopping at big chain stores these days. When we were starting out here in NYC I needed to supplement my aging wardrobe to make it work-ready. Also, our current apartment is more than twice as large as our last one, and we lost a lot of little things in our move (mainly because they wouldn’t fit in our car back from MI). Long story short: I had a lot of consuming to do in the past 6 months. For a while at the beginning, I went to Target around once a week, and most of my current shoe collection was collected at the vile DSW.* And even though they are “discount” or “resale” stores, my work-clothes-sources Filene’s Basement and TJ Maxx are definitely way closer to the evil end than the indie/homemade/anarchist end of the shopping spectrum.

*more about which some other time.

I usually justify my shopping choices by declaring that my massive student debt and middling wage forbid me from patronizing the little locally-owned boutiques in Brooklyn. (Another reason I avoid these places, one which i (WE) will doubtless blog about later, is that i feel decidedly unwelcome and unattractive at many of these boutiques because my pant size is well above the maximum hipster-approved 6.) Despite these rationalizations, I have a nagging inner voice of reason that informs me coldly about all the ultimately expensive externalities I am creating by patronizing places that encourage precisely the type of soulless, environmentally-collapsed, worker-unfriendly country I was raised to complain about bitterly.

The original solution to this angst was Craigslist– which worked really well for furniture and household goods and was relatively easy and fun to use. However, the business-casual clothing on CL leaves a lot to be desired; ebay is no better, so my solution of late has been thrift-store shopping. Thus far, I’ve gotten one suit, several sweaters and shirts, and a handful of forks. Is this really a solution? I felt just as wretched wandering the overstuffed and somewhat filthy isles of Beacon’s Closet and Salvation Army as I did trolling the Union Square Filene’s for ecologically disastrous yet obscenely cheap cashmere sweaters. These thrift stores are (as the essay accompanying the photos points out) really just as sickening a product of our time as the Atlantic Mall Target.

What to do? I really really love pretty stuff, though I also really love the ideal of hippie minimalist anti-consumerism and DIY. I am a ball of contradictions! I don’t really need more than 4 suits, but I am a lawyer! And we just had a 5-day trial, which required me to recycle my first suit on the fifth day, so maybe I actually need 5 suits! Not to mention, it takes about 3 shopping days and a lot of luck to find a decent suit at a thrift store, while there are racks and racks of them waiting to be bought in a short 30 minutes at Ann Taylor Loft.

Sigh. I probably would be a morally and environmentally good person if I wasn’t so preoccupied with all these endless internal debates.

Anyway, Brian Ulrich, the photographer, also has a blog. From a moment’s glance, he seems like the type of artist we’d all like to be.

(p.s. appropriately enough, Talking Heads’ awesome “(Nothing But) Flowers” came on the radio as I wrote this. Here’s to a greener post-apocalyptic hunter-gatherer culture!)