No More Turkey

America thrives on the superficial. Nothing screams “superficial” like the holidays. Never a fan of this particular season and its excess, my tolerance this year is at its lowest ebb.

Last fall at this time, Mark was out walking and was more than a month into his final trek. As Thanksgiving approached, we were sad that Mark wouldn’t be with us. We were also stressed knowing that in less than a week, we would be moving 26 years of stuff to a new house, having just closed on our house in Durham.

It’s only Tuesday, yet I’ve already heard three separate media outlets doing a version of “how to cook a turkey.” Are there no cooks left? Just this morning, NPR had Bon Appétit’s Adam Rapoport in to talk about getting through the next few days “fueled by anxiety,” as you choreograph the perfect family gathering around the bird. My suggestion for the person from Rhode Island hosting 27 people at her house—dump the anxiety and order out for pizza or Chinese.

One big, happy family.

If you’re not  invested in maintaining the facade, then in my way of thinking, the holidays are likely a time of dissonance and even angst. The most noble attempts at down-sizing and disconnecting from “the Christmas machine,” or something like daring to eat differently only deepens this sense of alienation from friends and family. Mark’s death has done nothing to dull the usual holiday malaise creeping in pre-Turkey Day. In fact, his being killed has only heightened it. Continue reading

Shopping Season

Thanksgiving week is an odd one. A national holiday tacked onto the tail-end of a work week makes for a disjointed flow at best, when breaking rocks for Whitey.

For those of us punching in on Friday, it’s essential to keep in mind that the day has been hijacked by commerce and consumption. Any business transacted will likely take place between Black Friday bargain hunting.

If you are one of the people cursed to be a retail worker, it’s the start of a month’s worth of madness leading up to the high holiday of shopping and crass commercialism, Christmas. I’m glad that my part-time merry-go-round this year doesn’t include a seasonal stint for a well-known online retailer headquartered in Freeport. I’m not feeling overly-Christmas-y this year, with all its uniquely American decorative flourishes. I’ll be keeping it as simple as can be.

Indeed, I’m opting for as much normalcy as I can latch onto here at the close of 2016. So, I won’t be shopping on Black Friday, and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find me out at the mall or Big Box any other day in December, either.

Bargain-hunting on Black Friday

Bargain-hunting on Black Friday

You Can’t Say That

Gen Y shutting down free speech.

Gen Y shutting down free speech.

Free speech and the right of Americans to speak their piece is arguably one of our nation’s most vaunted freedoms. Short of yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater and a few other caveats, whether you agreed with another’s protected speech, the right to say it was sacrosanct for more than 200 years.

Leave it to millennials to fuck that up! According to Pew Research, our milliennial snowflakes are much more likely than older Americans to say government should be able to prevent people from saying “mean and hurtful” things about minority groups.

Millennials want to eliminate bad words.

Millennials want to eliminate bad words.

Continue reading

Black Friday: Shopping Apocalypse?

Zombies at the mall; from George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead"

Zombies at the mall; from George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead”

Black Friday is today’s buzzword. Millions of Americans will be out shopping, some of them ‘til they drop, or maybe, get shot. That’s ok, it doesn’t necessarily signal the end of society as we know it.

I take solace that about 15 percent of Americans actually shop on Black Friday. The rest of us prefer to steer clear of our local shopping mega marts. In fact, Nielsen, the market researcher that has been telling us a great deal about us and spotting trends for more than 60 years, says 85% of consumers won’t go anywhere near a mall or a physical store on Black Friday. Continue reading

Working It Out

Self-help and the great host of gurus plying their trade is never-ending. There is a book and a product for whatever ails ‘ya, or a magic talisman that can turn any losing streak around.

Life reduced to a series of mantras, aphorisms, or simplified down to a three-step plan of salvation helps offset the pain that’s never-ending and always nearby. Visualizing a different reality doesn’t mean that the problems won’t be there when you come back from some other spiritual plane. Continue reading

Into the black

Shoppers stream into Macy’s for pre-Black Friday bargains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The blending of Thanksgiving and commerce continues to elicit outrage and moral indignation. This year, like in years past, critics of consumerism and those hearkening back to some romanticized version of an America free of consumerism are railing against those who are exercising their freedom of choice to shop early and most likely, often—especially for bargains.

The term “Black Friday” gets trotted out like a fresh “Tom” by the media about a week before Americans sit down to observe one of our high holidays as a nation. While gathering to give thanks for the bounties and blessings from the past year, many of our fellow countrymen are already plotting their shopping itinerary before the meal is finished and the leftovers are put away. Continue reading