The River

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bookstores, Blogs, Traveling Wilburys

I was in Barnes and Noble during lunch yesterday, enjoying the space, the contrast to the dull gray office. I go to the coffee-shop-in-a-bookstore to work fairly regularly. Before ordering my cup a java and settling down, I wandered through the sale books. Over the PA system the music department played a cover of the Traveling Wilbury’s “Handle Me With Care.”

I’ve been fobbed off, and I’ve been fooled
I’ve been robbed and ridiculed
In day care centers and night schools
Handle me with care

Been stuck in airports, terrorized
Sent to meetings, hypnotized
Overexposed, commercialized
Hand me with care

Today I read Lohmann’s latest essay again, Crowd Machine.

The crowd is the product, the baseball game and the stadium the means of its creation. But the crowd is more than its own product of self-reflecting ecstasy. It's a machine, comprised of spending units processed to deliver money to a variety of enormous financial concerns. The crowd machine is constantly in motion, sending out its components to exchange money units for consuming units — obscenely overpriced junk food, disposable novelties, emblem-emblazoned clothing. The crowd machine is a consuming machine: it consumes the spectacle of itself consuming its own spectacle, in a mediated loop of ecstatic social control; and, in its particular incarnation as consumer of mediated corporate sporting event, it is intended to consume the effluvia of capital (junk food and junk products) that pours towards it within the stadium itself. Just as television exists to deliver the audience to the advertiser, so does the corporate sporting spectacle deliver the crowd first to itself, but also to the wonders of capitalism's notion of ideal community — a completely surveilled ecstatic spending machine.

The truth of the Wilburys song really caught me as I perused the publications. So too does the truth of Lohmann’s piece.

I read a quote the other day to the effect that everyone you meet is dealing with their own struggles. We're all overexposed, commercialized. Units caught in an impersonal machine.

Be a revolutionary. Handle with care.

Sometimes a few nuts will twist loose and fall out of the machine.
yes, and it helps to have a hard head
...and the poor fool will move out of the building that is the 'system', look up into the blue, blue sky and cry 'argh... no ceiling.'
Shem! Great to hear from you. Good luck with the bookstore. Keep in touch. I'll do the same. I see you have a new blog (new to me). I'll see you there and maybe in Rockford some day.
I look forward to it. I recently found a ton to talk about, so I restarted the blog, and started looking to see if the old favourites were still around, like yours, and I'm glad to see you're still publishing.
Yeah, you're welcome anytime to come and visit and see the place. Just got my shiny new digital camera, so I'll put some pictures up on the Penny Lane site to show what it looks like. Very proud of it so far (head visibly expands with ego power)
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