Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Consumer Rehab

I loved this article by Harry Fuller on HuffPo entitled Get Thee To A 12-Step Program. I've always been attracted to 12-step programs, even though I find it difficult getting past the second step, the one where I allow a power greater than myself to "restore me to sanity." This would imply that I am insane. I can admit that I'm powerless, but even if I'm drooling, naked in the snow, forgetting my name and address, I would still have a problem admitting I was "insane."

Of course, recognizing that there is some power greater than my big-assed important self is also a stretch. But I was able to get past the whole Higher Power/God concept by imagining some electro-static chi force that runs like a current through the air and through our veins (and through our light sabers), that possesses some uber knowledge that I can tap into for miraculous inner strength and forward moving, er, motion. As you can see, I've never been big on the whole God thing.

Be that as it may, I can agree with Harry (we're on a first-name, 12-step meeting basis, you see), that American consumers seem to be powerless over energy and other types of excessive consumption, and they need a power greater than (or equal to) themselves to restore them to sanity (or at least make them stop drooling).

I am very happy to report, since I quit my American corporate job and moved to Paris, that I have all 12 steps done. Finito. I'm cured. I probably could consume again, without experiencing any slips. If I find any money to spend, I'll let you know how I do. Here is my take on Harry's steps:

  1. I haven't eaten fast food in years
  2. I don't work in corporate anymore, so I don't do meetings
  3. Since I sold everything I own, I don't buy stuff anymore. But if I desperately need something, I buy it at the pawn shop down the street. That Guy finds the rest of what we need on the sidewalks or in the trash.
  4. I rent a furnished apartment that is full of antiques (myself included). No Ikea stuff to be found.
  5. I am very much aware of the dollar nose dive, each time I take money out of my American bank account at a French ATM: If I take out 100 Euros, $150 is deducted from my bank account. Think of it this way: If I want to buy an apartment for 200,000 Euros, it will cost me $300,000. Lovely.
  6. Paris neighborhoods have everything you need. I always buy local. Fresh bread from the baker. Vegetables and fruit from the greengrocer. Fresh butter and cheese from the local cheese house. Fresh and dried meats from the local butcher. I use leaves off the trees to wipe my ass. What else do I need? (OK, I'm lying about the leaves)
  7. I didn't read the book about the evils of corn, but my friend told me the whole story on a long drive from Dallas to Waco, Texas. I consider myself anti-corn now. Anyway, corn syrup is crap. Corn is the Big Brother of malevolent ingredients - it lures you in with the promise of something and delivers nothing of value, except weight gain. I read all labels and eschew anything with any form of corn in the ingredients. Seriously.
  8. In France, everybody has their own little rolling grocery cart (even though That Guy thinks ours is very gay) and reusable shopping bags, and everybody uses them, unless you are forgetful. Then you have to put up with the angry stares from the checkout girl and the other people in line at the grocery store, as you are grudgingly given one, just one, plastic bag. Believe me, after this experience, you won't forget your reusable bag or grocery cart again, no matter how gay it is.
  9. We walk everywhere. Or take the Metro if we go across town. My brother has to deal with the guilt of driving my gas-guzzling hot rod that I sold to him when I left.
  10. There are very few parking lots and no drive-up tellers here. Phew. Cleared!
Harry didn't give us steps 11 or 12. This is either because there are none, or he was on deadline and decided to end his article at 10, or...there are none. He says that we can make them up. So, here's my contribution:

  1. (pretend that says 11) Don't waste precious breath or ozone, discussing Reverend Wright. Just don't. I know it's tempting if you are a useless traditional media mogul, but with some help from your higher power (bloggers), you can be restored to relative sanity. (This does not preclude me from writing about Wright again, right?)
  2. (pretend that says 12) Women: Don't succumb to the lies perpetrated by fashion magazines and corporate, suit-wearing penises, that dictate you must be...a size zero and have huge tits and a tiny-but-bubble butt and no visible flaws, and own all the "latest" $1000 handbags (or Chinese knockoffs) and CFM shoes and throw your wardrobe out each "season" so you have the latest and greatest... in order to be fuckable.
I've discovered that, if you just close your eyes, everybody is fuckable. Insanely so.


Rich said...

Hey, I am having an e-mail problem so here's the URL for the video you asked about:

interesting how our two posts intersect at consumerism. The media affect is so invisible and so pervasive here that you don't even notice you're being snowed.


karen said...

Wow. I wish the checkout folks here in the good ole USA would glare at us for "needing" plastic bags. I told the kid at our local pharmacy the other day that I didn't need a bag, so he proceeded to crumple the one he had just pulled out into a ball and throw it in the garbage... kinda spitefully, at that. Nice. We have a looooong way to go in this plastics-petroleum-consumer-based economy.