Tuesday, December 2


I'm laughin' now, but it ain't funny.

--Tom Turnipseed, first victim of Lee Atwater

OKAY, so, I'm not a shopper.  You might've guessed. I'm not quite so opposed to shopping as my socialist/anarcho-syndacalist/Luddite/contempto-elitist alter-ego might lead you to believe, or as he might wish; truth is it's really just the inertia.

Like any sensible person with a trip around the block to his credit, I'm aware that a) Capitalism is out to get me, personally, and b) this is nothing personal, at least not for the Capitalists themselves. For example, between this chair and the nearest Off-Ramp Mall there used to be two "sporting goods" stores, not counting a nearby Target, or the Wal*Mart I'll never enter, where a selection of doppelg√§ngers and congruencies of such goods can be found. Now, thanks to mindless avarice, there are two counting a newly more-nearby Target and that Wal*Mart, and once I get to the Mall I find a retailer of sweatshop-manufactured apparel masquerading as a Sporting Lifestyle Specialist, the aptly-named Dick's, which I would forgive its faults on the grounds that it drove the once-even-worse local geniuses of Galyan's out of business, except that 1) Galyan's CEO Joel Silverman then wound up tapped to run Indiana's BMV, which he did as abysmally as he'd run Galyan's, and 2) somehow this didn't cost Mitch Daniels his reelection. So no gratitude from me. As far as I can tell, the main thing that came out of all that is that BMV employees wound up with a dress code that requires them to go to work looking like Joel Silverman does on his way to the links. Excepting, of course, that Silverman had a couple free closets worth of that get-up he'd amassed via regional sales-rep supplicants.  Not that it isn't a great look, though, golf shirts and khakis.  It makes you look as though you almost are dressed to break a sweat or do something useful, except you have no intention of ever doing either.  Like a golfer. 

And I had to go there yesterday--there was no real alternative--and I figured while I was there I might as well check out a particular store that might carry something I was thinking of as an Ift-gay for the Or-pay Ife-way, if you take my meaning. Dick's has its own entrances to the Mall, so I can't even tell you what year I last stepped anywhere else in the place. Probably the year I bought the Lava Lamp.

I made it through the intervening Food Court by pulling my sweatshirt up and breathing through it, shallowly, though I might as well not have bothered, since I came out into the Endless Plain of the Kiosk. They were stacked up, almost literally, from one end of the place to the other, or at least as far as I could see; I wasn't curious enough to go further. And they contained, without exception, the biggest collection of crap merchandise, useless geegaws, and celebrations of unwarranted vanity I have ever seen in my life, and I've been to several carnivals and once sat in the same room for ten minutes while my mother watched the Home Shopping Network.

And--I hesitate to mention it, really--the entire place seemed geared for "consumers" too young to drive or be gainfully employed except as Disney stars or child prostitutes. Which is precisely the taste the merchandise reflected.

Yes, yes, I'm old. Got it. But I couldn't help thinking back to my own mid-Boomer youth, where it required a great deal of effort--this is the era now popularly imagined to have been controlled by dirty hippies, mind you, though admittedly it's also the Midwest--it took a great deal of effort, I say, to avoid having someone dress you like Joel Silverman. There was nothing in the entire place anyone over the age and IQ of 22 could possibly have wanted; even if the shit somehow had managed to have taste, you wouldn't want it. Chains, jewel-encrusted cellphone skins, jewel-encrusted license-plate holders, jewel-encrusted cell phone plans; it was a freakin' phantasmagoria of Awful even allowing for the quote taste endquote of the target audience. I mean, fine, I know things are tough all over, but don't responsible adults buy clothes anymore? The most tasteful stuff I saw was at Dick's, the jackets, parkas, workout clothes, hats, gloves, booties, and thermal underwear in woodland camo, or else with THE NORTH FACE scrawled across them by some corporate-shill tagger with severe visual-field impairment. 

I did press on to my destination, fourteen Kiosks of Krap down the road, which trip took me past not one, not two, but three barkers with neck tattoos and no apparent awareness of soap. Maybe if they jewel-encrusted it.

Anyway, somewhere between Tattoos #2 (Carnival Geek settled in for the winter) and #3 (Recently Paroled Sniffer of Playground Swing Seats), and on my way to a bonus headache from whatever "fragrance" the mall was assaulting shoppers with via the HVAC ducts, it occurred to me, like a moment of seemingly impossible clarity in the middle of a twenty-car pile up: one needs to navigate through the modern age as though everyone one meets has had six or seven drinks, beginning when he or she woke up, probably within the hour. It explains everything.


stringonastick said...

Funny; this is my reaction to being malled as well. Must be our similar ages. As a Coloradoan during my Boomer yout, it wasn't as hard finding a way to not look like a young Rethug but it's not like you didn't have to try either. It rather limited one's job prospects as well, but who cares and who's holding?

As far as the jewel-encrusted everything trend goes, a quick review of behavioral economics and our apparent economic trajectory indicates that bling of any kind is on it's way out. The details are something along the line of society always being able to adjust to changing economic circumstances by embracing a mindset that not only accepts, but celebrates and makes a virtue of the new paradigm. My Luddite anti-consumerist heart is waiting in anticipation.

John Daly said...

Honestly, what percentage of golfers (people who play ten or more eighteen-hole rounds per year) do you think are assholes (you know, people who own Hummers - or would if they had the means - and, if they vote, go for Republican/Libertarian candidates - if they're apolitical wouldn't bat an eyelash at hearing their state legislature has slashed funding of medical care for the poor, but did appropriate funding to construct a legislator-only parking garage to be named after Ronald Reagan)?

You don't think I break a motherfuckin' sweat in my khakis and golf shirt?

You're right about that six or seven drinks shit, though. Hell, I have six or seven drinks every time I get up to piss. I once stayed legally drunk for three and a half weeks solid.

Reminds me of a story. I agreed to play in a pro-am scramble out near Williamsburg, Virginia. These Williamsburg captains of industry and shit heard they were getting me in their foursome and went apeshit. The prizes were some really expensive shit like big screen TVs and big-ass souped-up personal golf carts all pimped-out and shit with the names to be painted on later by an expert caligrapher or some shit. So these fuckers think they've got it made with me in their foursome. I spend the night before the tournament with Jose Cuervo and my (then) wife drives me out to the club and I stagger to the tee, shake hands with my partners (Ed, Harley, and Carl), fuck up their names so bad they don't even try to correct me and then puke up two and a half mucho grande burritos (with rice *and* beans) right behind the blue tees. My (then) wife camcords the whole fucking thing and you can see the hopeful expectancy on these fuckers' faces drain right the fuck away when they realize they've got a plastered John Daly playing with them who isn't going to be any more helpful to them in securing those big-ass prizes than the retarded greenskeeper would be as a lifeline on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." I hit my first drive about 17 feet and I don't remember what happened after that. These fuckers ditched me in a pile of my own vomit in a bunker on hole 2. They didn't even finish the tournament, just came back to the clubhouse and split up my equipment to sell later to a collector or something. Can't say I blame them. They had a right to expect I'd at least show up sober.

Let me take you out to Crooked Stick this summer and I'll show you a golfer sweat his ass off in khakis and golf shirt (that's *with* a cart).

We can play for $1,000 a hole, but my handicap'll be I'll start out on hole one half-loaded and proceed to go through a case and a half of PBR at a steady pace over the eighteen holes. If I pass out during play of a hole I concede that hole and all remaining holes. I did that once, passed out in a sandtrap. Little dude I challenged walked away with $12,000. Not a bad day's work in this economy.

I LIKE you Dogman. Your appreciation for uneducated drunken louts as evidenced by all those baseball pictures makes me think we'll get along just fine.

Let me know.

John Daly
Whereabouts Unknown

heydave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
heydave said...

So nice of Mister Fucking Daly to stop by. Perhaps he'll remember me as the schlub who honestly sweats as he carries his goddam clubs around the course, finishing in three, yes three fucking hours only. Why do I mention this? You rode your cart over my fucking foot on number 7, John!

Beyond all that, I appreciate the background info on the Evolution of Dick, as it were.

scott's agenda of rage said...

Assuming that Andy Rooney ever dies, send in your resume as his replacement.

Narya said...

That was a truly impressive rant. And it reminded me, as if I needed reminding, exactly why I avoid all Shopping Experiences.

Clean for Gene said...

I suspect that your problem with the mall bling is the kiosks, which seem to be set up to trap the younger set. You have to go deep into the department stores, past the Tiger Shop if they still have those. Deep into Penney's, for example, past the pneumatic tubes, you may still find your girdles and spats.

Xtini, the real name for that is Muscatel spo-de-o-dee.

Speaking of the style book, please be careful with that soap joke. If only because of the mileage Ronald Reagan got out of it in 1966. These things can still hurt.