Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Monday, December 02, 2013

A Black Friday tail

Excerpts from The Journals Of A
21st Century Schizoid Man

Thanksgiving—the Christmas season begins

Everyone knows that Thanksgiving precedes Christmas. It comes almost a month before Christmas and the day following is the beginning of the Christmas Season. That means Christmas decorations and the shopping season begins—at least for the general public. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, such as Jews, Moslems and some atheists.

Many of us more enlightened people wouldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving at all if we didn’t have a lot of families with all their traditions. In the real Thanksgiving story, Indians help out starving Pilgrims during their first winter in the new world. Next comes a huge feast in which the Indians and the Pilgrims celebrate together with three days of feasting and games. After that, the Pilgrims, and all white folks to precede them, come and take over the Indian’s land, just assuming they won’t need it for anything, because they are just savages.

That leads to the Indians wars and many of us just don’t like celebrating a holiday in which we planned to wipe out a people and their culture after they were so much help to us.
Still, there are parents, grandparents and other relatives who will fix elaborate dinners for the entire family and we all sit together, talk about how much we are grateful for, then for many there is a prayers. Many of us don’t want to be the buzz-kill who comes home and chastises his/her relatives for celebrating the slaughter of Indians, the worship of deities we don’t really believe in, or insult the host for serving us a dead animal. So I went to my Niece Kelly’ home, where she took over this duty from my mother, who died a few years ago. My niece is a tall, thin blond woman with three kids and I took part in her feast to keep the peace in the family. I drove out to their middle-class wooden yellow house on the west end of town, came in and ate turkey, mash potatoes, sweet potatoes and enough pies to fill a warehouse. In past years I always brought a good wine, maybe Chianti, to share. Now most of my relatives don’t drink and they all know I’ve had hepatitis, so to ease their fears, I don’t even bring real booze.

Then after the meal comes the onslaught of a newer holiday—Black Friday. That is the official Christmas buying rush and that is when the real holiday season begins. And that is what is really important to our society’s retailers, because Christmas presents bring in a lot more money than what is spent on Thanksgiving dinner. So while some of my relatives were planning to get up at 4am to shop for all those great buys, I returned home where I could watch my TV and allow all that food to digest.

When I got in the house, I sat back in my leather chair, clicked on my large TV and got ready to watch a night of mindless TV. The first channel I came to was some cheap imitation of “American Idol,” where people who can sing and dance, yet have no imagination of their own and over all have nothing to really say, compete for some meaningless title that will hopefully be forgotten, along with the contestant, in just a few short years.

This Black Friday would be different from years past. It wasn’t enough that people lined up on Thanksgiving night and wait for the “Black Friday” sales. That happens every year and many people such as I just ignore it. This year was way different. The corporate masters of our country decided we needed a whole week of Black Friday sales, to really pull in the money. A few retailers, including Wal*Mart, decided to make their employees come in on Thanksgiving night, to open early to make a few extra sales. There were complaints across the country, by both Wal*Mart workers and people who sympathized with them. The move was unnecessary and it ruined the Thanksgiving holiday for the employees. But as usual—Wal*Mart just didn’t care.

So as I watched TV I was hoping to hear that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” would be scheduled in the coming weeks. After all, it was that time of the season and they showed these TV shows pretty much every year.  Both of those cartoons were critical of the commercialism of the holiday season and focused on other important aspects of the holidays. I suppose that is why I liked those shows so much. There were other Christmas specials, but those two, plus the movie Scrooged, 1988 and Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (which the TV stations rarely showed anymore), were my favorites. These messages that “Christmas doesn’t come out of a package or store” does little to affect the crass commercialism that is thrown at us over and over on TV commercials.

 This year I wasn’t noticing any air play for any of those classic Christmas specials. And I wasn’t noticing much in the way of Santa, Elves, green holly or anything to do with Christmas. It seemed as if all I saw where people buying for their shopping lists. I did see Santa selling cars in a suite.

Never in my entire life have I ever seen the kind of Crass Commercialism that had plagued these so called “holiday seasons.” Commercial after commercial showed greedy-self-absorbed people bragging about the money they saved on smart phones, iphones, TVs and Cars. Crass commercialism and selling seemed to completely replace the decorations and hints that this holiday was anything more than an opportunity to buy a lot of stuff.

After a while, “Night-Time” came on, as usual, right after our local news station. I used to watch that news show all the time. It was often biased, but at least it had news. In the last few years, that same show got away from real news and stared to covers such crap as “Dancing With The Stars.” It’s almost always about celebrities.  There are wars going on in such places as Syria. But don’t watch “Night-Time” for that. There are important questions in people’s minds such who’s getting voted of “Dancing With The Stars?” So after a while, I quit watching the show all together.

But tonight, I was hoping to get a break from all the commercialism and Black Friday hype, so I watched it anyway. And I was disappointed as usual. This week it was an in-depth interview with Justin Bieber. I should have known.

After a while I got tired of TV and went to my computer room. I decided it was time to check on my Facebook account and e-mail. Even here I could not get away from all the crap that this commercial Christmas was throwing at me;

 “Zuuzs,con; It's Cold/Flu Season So Stock Up! - Up To 40% Off Cold Remedies. Other messages from similar companies; 12 Days of Joy - Special Holiday Surprise Every Day For 12 Days; Stock Up & Save - Full Price Legwear: Buy ONE get ONE 50% off; Save On Holiday Gifts - 20% Off $60; Shop Holiday Gifts On The Cheap - Great Picks Starting at $5; Cyber Savings All Week - Special Offers On Top Brands & Products;, Great Holiday Gift Ideas - 20% off all orders; Naturalizer, Save On Holiday Gifts - 10% Off Your Entire Order; Radioshack, Capture The Memories! - Up To $80 Off Nikon Cameras…”

This was all crap which I had no intention of ever buying and I had no interest in even hearing about it. And yet it came to my computer un-invited.

The Kinks -- Father Christmas 


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