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Archive for the ‘Consumerism’ Category

Rebecca Schiffman

This Happened Yesterday

November 6th, 2009
by Rebecca Schiffman

NEW YORK, NY-

Yesterday, early evening, I went to the Strand Bookstore on 12th Street and Broadway.  The store is just slightly overflowing with used and new books presented on tables and in aisles of shelves that almost reach the ceiling, reminding me of a school library.   “Eighteen Miles of Books” is their current motto.

Upon entering, noticing there is no longer a bag-check, feeling the size of my stuffed, giant tote bag wedged under my arm and its weight pulling down on my shoulder, I made eye contact with the security guard.  A small wave of sheepishness and fear came over me as it always does.  Shoplifting was one of my main after school activities during eighth grade until I was nearly caught by The Gap.  Still now, fifteen years later, I feel constantly under suspicion while shopping, as if the security guards and clerks can sense that my conscience is not clear. (more…)


Ryan Day

Marketocracy

November 6th, 2009
by Ryan Day

PHOENIX, AZ-

I am, unfortunately, in no position to refuse $75 for one hour of my time, pretty much no matter what the the contents of that hour. They could have asked me to drink six bottles of catsup (ketchup?). They could have asked me to have tea with Glen Beck and soothe his uniquely bruised ego with prefabricated whispers about the peaceful forces at the center of the conservative universe (you are a child of the marketplace… the invisible hand will always lead you towards the light of the DOW…). I would have mowed lawns, bagged leaves (though I imagine the going rate of yard maintenance is somewhat lower), run backwards into the weird smelling basin at the end of the Salt River. But, alas, all they wanted was that I watch some movie trailers and tell them, no matter what I really thought, that the Rock was just the actor to breath renewed life into that excalibur of cinematic roles, the Tooth Fairy. (more…)


Matthew Gavin Frank

Red Beard’s Silent Deal

October 29th, 2009
by Matthew Gavin Frank

ALBA, ITALY-

In Alba, Italy’s rain, my hair flattens wet against my skull. Hugging the shopfronts of Via Vittorio Emanuele, I see a white triangular peak in the distance. It could be anything—a downed mountain bowing to commune with this street, the cobblestone river that carved it—except, glowing with rain, it looks to be made of canvas. I know.

(more…)


Brandon Gorrell

The Gimmicks of American Apparel vs. the Gimmicks of Urban Outfitters

October 21st, 2009
by Brandon Gorrell

SEATTLE, WA-

I have listed comparisons of what I feel are significant gimmicks of American Apparel and Urban Outfitters.

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Zara Potts

Friday Night Fail

October 9th, 2009
by Zara Potts

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - 

Every couple of years or so, I have a Friday night like this.

A seemingly endless, no-fun filled Friday night that makes me feel like the World’s Biggest Loser.

I want to go out but nobody wants to go out with me. I want to do something, but I don’t know what I want to do. I’m bored and I’m restless and I just know everyone else on the planet is having a really good time.

Without me.

(more…)


Rebecca Adler

My Life in Istanbul, So Far

October 5th, 2009
by Rebecca Adler

ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Basak meets me at the airport shuttle drop off point in the busy city center. We hail a cab and we’re off to my new apartment. She shows me how to get in and gives me a tour of the apartment. I drop my bags in my room and then we’re off again. She wants to show me the neighborhood so I won’t be lost when I’m all alone at home during the coming weeks. We walk, and walk, and walk. Where we’re going, I don’t know. She shows me her workplace, says I can come there anytime if I need help with anything. And then our destination is in sight: Cevahir, the biggest mall in Europe.

She shows me to the grocery store so I can stock up on a few necessities. I feel awkward shopping in front of her so I try to make healthy choices. I throw a couple of nectarines and bananas into the handbasket, then I head toward the dairy section. Without having to tell her what I’m looking for, and before I can reach for anything, she stops me: “That’s not milk.” (more…)


Christopher Eaton

Taking the Waters

October 1st, 2009
by Christopher Eaton

CHICAGO-

Recently I visited a friend staying at the Four Seasons Chicago. This was a new experience for me. I usually stay at hotels where “room service” is code for “vending machine.” Among the things you can have sent to your room, free of charge, at the Four Seasons are: a humidifier, a thermometer, the bellhop (shaven and bound), and a loaner swimming suit. This last item intrigued me. I imagined the concierge forcing a lifeguard to strip so I could go swimming.

When the swimsuit arrived, I was disappointed to discover it was just a pair of men’s trunks in my size. Apparently, someone expected me to actually go swimming.

(more…)


Peter Gajdics

Running After the Hands

September 28th, 2009
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC-

Flipping through a recent issue of the local gay newspaper, I noticed two advertisements on facing pages. On the left was an ad for the local gay bathhouse with a picture of three young, hairless (at least clipped), muscled, and implicitly virile men tangled like weeds in each other’s sweaty but greedy arms; on the opposite page was a picture of another (young) man—blue-eyed, with three-day stubble, in a flaming red shirt—advertising the latest AIDS medication. The message, whether the marketers were aware of it or not, was powerful: have fun, and if (when) you get sick, buy our medication. Sex sells, even with illness looming offstage. (more…)


Paul Clayton

Thoughts on Publishing and PR, Marketing, and Other Dirty Tricks!

September 17th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO-

I’ve been thinking a lot about book titles lately. My first published book (not the first book I’d written, but the first I’d sold), Calling Crow, had originally been titled by me as Cacique. Envisioned as a historical thriller, ala Clavell’s Shogun, I put a lot of thought into the title.

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Dawn Corrigan

George Clooney and I Have a Fight

September 8th, 2009
by Dawn Corrigan

GULF BREEZE, FL -

A little homage to Paul Toth’s hilarious “Interview” series, which you can read here. (See 8 of the last 9 posts.)

George Clooney was at the coffee shop where I hang out. He stopped by my table after he got his latte.

“You and I are pretty much on the same team, you know,” he said.

“I beg your pardon?”

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Claire Bidwell Smith

A Thousand Words: Why and Why

September 8th, 2009
by Claire Bidwell Smith

CHICAGO, IL-

Home was Los Angeles. And my life there was one of aimless, tipsy grieving. My father had died six months before this story begins and ever since I’d been casting about listlessly. One of my best friends, Lucy, lived down the street and we spent many a day together, drinking cocktails before 5pm and pondering the meaning of our mid-twenties. One such afternoon we decided that the best possible solution to our problems would be to go into business together importing t-shirts from Thailand. This may have just been an excuse to conduct “business meetings” over Bloody Marys at a restaurant in Culver City called Dear John’s, but whatever the case, we forged ahead with the plan.

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Rob Delaney

The Grimmest Squat in London

September 5th, 2009
by Rob Delaney

LONDON-

It had been a bad morning, the day I went out to look at the squat. I’d had a bitter fight with Binh and then she had a violent premonition: she saw me, she said, lying in a pool of blood; there were spilled pills and a crack of gunshot. It was, I had thought, a fairly stylised, cinematic instance of clairvoyance, but it chilled me nonetheless. It’s the East in her, these depths and silences I don’t understand.

I met Noel, an anarchist colleague from the school where I’d recently found a job, out in East London. Tower Hamlets, the place was called, allegedly the poorest area in Britain.

The high-rise was as long as the street, with five floors, and the whole building had been squatted. It was grey, desolate and forbidding, like a Communist residential block in Eastern Europe fallen into post-Soviet, feral abandonment. Slogans had been daubed in big letters along the balconies on the higher floors:

 

SQUATTERS’ CITY OF PEACE; GOD IS SQUATTING HERE WITH US

 

(more…)


Irene Zion

Son of Cash for Clunkers

August 20th, 2009
by Irene Zion

MIAMI BEACH, FL-

I read today that beginning in autumn, the cash for clunkers program for cars will be expanded. There will be Federal rebates for clunker household appliances, such as washers and dryers and dishwashers and furnaces and air conditioners. This is all part of the congressional-authorized stimulus plan passed earlier this year. $300 million has been set aside for this so far. I have no doubt that more cash will be added. I have some ideas for other cash for clunkers programs. Perhaps all you readers can pitch in with better ideas.

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Greg Olear

Invisible Touch

August 9th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

In which we contemplate what makes some art better than other art, using the example of two erstwhile members of the band Genesis.

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Sung J. Woo

Book Review: J. Robert Lennon’s Pieces for the Left Hand

August 6th, 2009
by Sung J. Woo

WASHINGTON, NJ -

Every time I open a new book of fiction, there’s a part of me that hopes for the improbable: to encounter something new, something utterly original.  So as you can imagine, I’m let down a lot.  But sometimes I get lucky.

It’s been two weeks since I finished reading J. Robert Lennon’s Pieces for the Left Hand, but here’s this little gem of a book, still sitting on my desk.  I don’t know when I’ll return this paperback to its designated shelf, but it won’t be anytime soon, for I keep going back to it, reading one of the 100 anecdotes in this collection at random, smiling and chuckling along the way.

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Doug Mulliken

Not a Thousand Words: Marvin Gaye, Mexico, and Patriotism

August 1st, 2009
by Doug Mulliken

United States of America, North America, the World -

I am an American.  I am an American because I was born in the United States of America.  I was born in the United States of America because my parents, and their parents, and their parents’ parents, and their parents’ parents’ parents, were born in the United States.  My family can trace its genealogy in this country back to a man named Robert Mulliken who was born in Scotland and arrived in the Massachusetts Bay colony in the 1680s.  Think about that for a second.  My family has been in this country since the 17th century.  I am about as American as you can get.  My ancestors may have come from Scotland or Ireland or wherever, but for me to suggest that I am a “hyphenated American” would be a slap in the face to those Americans whose connection to the country of their ancestors is, say, three years instead of three centuries.  I’m not Scottish-American, or Irish-American; I’m just American.  And yet I feel no connection to my country.

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Don Mitchell

My Rolex

August 1st, 2009
by Don Mitchell

COLDEN, NY-

I put on my forty-year old stainless steel Rolex Oyster Perpetual when I need to impress someone. I take it out of the drawer and shake it a few times to get it running, snap the metal clasp in place, trying not to catch any arm hairs in it, and I’m cool. Guys nudge each other – check out the old dude with the Rolex. Wonder what he deals.
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Shya Scanlon

Five Thoughts Upon the Eve of my 34th Birthday

July 27th, 2009
by Shya Scanlon

LOWER EAST SIDE, MANHATTAN-

On Water

I’ve become pretty water-savvy over the past few years. Who hasn’t? Spring water, sparkling water, water from the quickly disappearing glaciers of Alaska – we’ve all been drinking more bottled water. I know some people who have stopped drinking tap water altogether. They say they don’t like the taste, but I think it’s actually a matter of trust. I drink it, but I probably shouldn’t. When I order tap water in restaurants, it’s slightly embarrassing. Can’t I afford the bottled water? Am I making some kind of statement? (Sometimes when the refrigerator in my kitchen kicks in, the lights in my apartment dim a little, and I feel my eyelids dip to match the encroaching darkness as though they’re struggling to blur the line between what they guard and what they guard against.)

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Tyler Stoddard Smith

I Want to Protect the Institution of Marriage Between a Man and a Woman (4th of July Special)

July 4th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith

AUSTIN, TX-

With the 4th of July upon us, my neighbor screaming from a lost extremity at the hands of a Black Cat and enough potato salad in my gullet to occupy Paris, I got to thinking about America. And American institutions. Well, people, the hallowed institution of marriage is under attack in America, not just from Communists like Barney Frank and the state of Iowa, but also from other insidious forces both seen and unseen. So, in the interest of preserving the kind of marriage that God and Texas intended, here are some things to be especially mindful of:

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Zsofia McMullin

There Are No Dessert Forks in America

June 30th, 2009
by Zsofia McMullin

PORTLAND, MAINE-

A couple of years ago, when I was fresh out of college and living in my first apartment, my parents came to visit from Hungary. Opening a kitchen drawer, my Mom was surprised to find months’ or even years’ worth of Hungarian snacks, spice mixes, and other food stuff stashed away.

“Why do I keep sending you all this when you don’t use them,” she asked me. I didn’t really know the answer — or didn’t want to admit — that it just felt good to have all those familiar flavors right at hand, even if I didn’t want or need to use them. The shiny packages of meatloaf mix, the crinkle of the chocolate pudding powder package, all reminded me of home.
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