Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Upside of the Downturn

Between you and me (she writes with no small irony in her blog,) I am sort of relishing the tanking of the American economy. No, I am not cruelly enjoying that people are losing their jobs, homes and the ability to feed their families. On the contrary, my heart goes out to them. (Since my husband loses his main income-generating job in a couple months, I guess my heart goes out to myself too.) The part I am pleased about is that we may be seeing the “end to life in America as we know it.” Assuming we’re not moving into our “Mad Max” and/or the Rapture era, our society would only benefit to moving into new social, economic, environmental and cultural territory.

I learned in 10th grade (shout out to the former Dessert Sun School in Idyllwild, California!) that historic trends swing like a pendulum. We’re either in the middle, veering toward one of the poles, or at the extreme end of the pendulum before it makes it natural way back toward the middle. The Renaissance followed the Dark Ages. The 1960’s followed the 1950’s. For every historic yin there was a yang. Einstein and Hitler. Penicillin and the A-bomb. Mollie Katzen and Ray Kroc. The Beatles and Celine Dion.

United States is an historic anomaly, a country that broke out of the monarch mold and was built from the bottom up (albeit on the broken backs of slaughtered and enslaved brown people.) We’ve been on a trajectory since those rich, white founding fathers put their heads together in Philadelphia. The Westward Expansion. The Civil War. The Industrial Revolution. World War II. Levittown. Plastic. Television. The Internet. The pendulum is a-swingin’, and all signs point to the fact that America today is at an extreme reach of ye ol’ pendulum. The two elections of George W. Bush should be all the proof we need of that. Need more? The Dollar Store. Still more? “The Bachelor.” Another? Rush Limbaugh. One more? High fructose corn syrup. I could go on (the TV examples could take an entire page!) We are at the absolute height (I hope!) of mindless consumption, empty values, Earth-raping food production, political corruption, and we’re heading toward an economic extreme. Not coincidentally, the average American’s life treads as heavily on the Earth as can be. Awareness of the Earth plays no part in a mall-centered, fast food-injecting, plastic-coated, trash-spewing, Starbucks-fueled, plugged in and jacked-up American life.

The highlights of today’s America according to Buzzlog’s list of the top overall web searches: American Idol, Katie Holmes Haircut, Celebrity Plastic Surgery, Britney Spears, Bristol Palin, Ponzi Scheme, and a variety of dog breeds. A selections of today’s box office top ten: “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” “He’s Just Not That Into You,” “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.” The New York Times bestsellers list puts the work of Danielle Steele at number five. Kelly Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You” is number three on MTV’s top twenty video streams.

Wow. That is some vacuous shit, man.

So we’re looking at the end of America as we know it? Bring it on.


  1. By the way, my kids saw "Paul Blart," I used to shop at the Dollar Store, and I love watching TV.