the envious pen
A letter to Nat:
A while back you wrote:
Read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and you will never
go to Wendy's or any other purveyor of fast "food" again.
It is a proverbial eye-opener."
I saw that book at B&N when it came out -- it garnered
quite a lot of attention. I read a review that was a little
critical of the methadology or the focus or some other such
BS, but the reason I have not read it yet is merely that I
Some news about me and fastfood, though. I am going through
a process of terminating my custom of these places. There
are a number of reasons, most of them coming together as a
general vibe which is, to me, a point of ethics.
I believe in being true to what you believe -- that one's
beliefs must have consequence in one's life. This has come
out in the Litmus Test chapter of Seven Years [speaking of
which, it is coming along nicely, but I get the feeling
that the title will change over time -- but to what I am
not sure. Just as Kerouac named Burrough's Naked Lunch,
maybe you could come up with a suitable title, in time. Any
thoughts?]. I will give some of the vibe componants below:
American culture is a very saleable item -- cheap, sexy,
and packaged so that it is very easy to consume. It is
also, in many ways, the lowest common denominator. Make
lots, make it cheap, make it the lowest quality the punters
will take 'cause you can make higher profits that way. Make
it all the same -- but make infinate variety -- just make
it so that the differences are cosmetic, not qualitative.
Ah -- generalisations, generalisations, but there is
something there -- I have lost the ability to construct
logical flows this morning -- I apologise for that.
When I evaluate the influence of American Consumer Culture
overseas I invariably come to the conclusion that it is not
good. Which means it is bad. In this climate of relativity
it is uncool to use such definative terms, but screw the
ACC's influence is bad when local flavour and
differentiation and customs are negated and ignored -- when
the flavour of a place is forgotten because le Big Mac is
cheap and convenient and tasty. So much of the beauty of
the planet is dissipating beneath the swell of ACC and it
makes me sad. Ok -- it is part of America -- let it run
wild accross over America. That is the choice of Americans
and those living here. As I live here, it is my choice to
make what I partake of and support with my dollars, so I
will not go to Maccas, KFC, Taco Bell, WalMart -- the
easiest targets in a war against the lowest-common
demnominator crap supply.
It is, of course, impossible to be one hundred percent true
to this. One cannot be a part of this nations economy
without contributing in some way to a multi-national that
is active in other countries in a native-culture-negating
But I gotta try.
So I'll make special effort with producers who do not add
to the health/safety/considered economic advances of local
cultures -- be they third world traders or McDonalds which
sells in Italy and Provence -- homes to some of the world's
most gorgerous cuisines where youngsters are buying the
package and slowly losing the beauty of their indigenous
Also, locally, I look at the Walmart Effect upon small
towns, and I am saddened. People make choices, yes, and no-
one is forced to got here. But -- when a super WalMart
opens on the outside of town and a quorum of people choose
to shop there and locally owned supermarkets close and the
optometrists and video store and shoeshop all hurt and
close and so the people who choose not to got to WalMart
are left with little alternative -- well that is ugly.
WalMarts and their ilk sucking the guts out of vital small
tows centers, leaving them desolate and economically
devastated, conributing to the urban sprawl instead of
using what it there, the infrastructure, cleaning up
brownfields -- just speading out giving us less and less
country for people to live in -- that is ugly. And in/at a
local, personal level I cannot contribute my money to
corporations and institutions that support and do that.
Economically for me there will be a sacrifice, but I think
it is worth it. You're not going to find me at an anti-WTO
rally. I believe in acting according to carefully thought-
out principles. I don't want to force anyone -- not even
Laura -- into doing what i do, or think what i think -- but
I do want people to think about their decisions, and their
consequences. I guess I dream of an enlightened, thoughtful
populace. who are free to have differeing opinions and to
live their lives differently -- just desiring that they
would think and act true to their thought out beliefs. I
don't want to be bound by rules -- as a Romantic and
Idealist I want the ability to make my own decisions
without federal regulation.
Yes -- there is a can of worms and some contradictions
here. Wanting to live in freedom, respected to make good,
reasoned choices, but knowing there are many who don't, or
won't, and that practically we need some regulation.
So I act at the personal levela nd look at myselfin the
mirror every morning and can live with myself.
Or atleast I try.
Hmm -- There is a condensation of a whole lot of thoughts I
have been dealing with. Just came out. That will teach you
for bringing the topic up. Deal with the deluge as you wish.