Archive for November 25th, 2011


by lizard

I find Black Friday to be a cultural embarrassment. Partly that comes from my midwest suburban emersion in American consumerism. When compact discs became the dominant medium for owning and experiencing music, Best Buy became like a holy temple I visited every Tuesday to ritually comb through the new releases for the next thing in music. In middle school I was a mall rat, and in high school I got my first job at 15, so usually always had a little disposable income to burn. I really liked to buy things, and still do, habitually combing through the virtual pages of Abebooks for books of poetry to acquire.

That said, seeing news reports of a woman using pepper spray in the Black Friday crush of snatch&buy free-for-alls both confounds me and makes me cringe, because I know I’m not immune to what I see as a sickness that permeates our cultural landscapes.

It’s no wonder some people seek personal cures to this cultural malady. Ironically, that desire has created an entire industry of self-help-New-Age-guruism that peddles cures for the sickness. Recently, one of those gurus, James Arthur Ray, got sentenced with some actual prison time for negligent homicide, the result of a monetized sweat lodge ritual turned lethal oven for three customers.

Here’s what Ivan Lewis of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation had to say:

“He desecrated our ceremony, he abused it,” Lewis said Wednesday. “He used it in any way that he could just to get his money. He was told before not to do that, and he’s paying for it now.”

Below the fold, I’ve selected a very appropriate poem from Wendy Rose’s book, Bone Dance, that grapples with this commodification that translates cultural phenomena, or in the case of the poem, human remains, into monetary value. Continue Reading »

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