Black Friday Rant/Good News Friday

Is everyone excited about Black Friday? No? Neither are 82% of Americans.

Kai Ryssdall of NPR’s Marketplace made this discovery on yesterday’s show and it was hilarious. Kai was literally shocked — shocked! — to discover that “Black Friday” is a media-created myth utterly lacking any toehold on reality. Really! Here he interviews Frank Newport of Gallup and was told only 18% of people surveyed plan to do any “Black Friday” shopping.

Newport: Despite all of the media frenzy [...] on Friday significantly less than half of us wil be out there braving the crowds.

Ryssdal: I actually think that’s huge news, that we’re all going absolutely bonkers for 18% of the American public.

Yes, Kai. Better grab some gloves to handle this hot scoop. The media has created one of its cute little pet memes, reported on it incessantly, and then facts prove it to be utter bullshit. Let’s see, when has this ever happened in recent memory? Oh, how about Iraq has WMD and the Tea Party is a major grassroots thing and killer sharks roam American waters and white women mysteriously disappear from their homes and people actually liked Mitt Romney?

If only folks like Kai Ryssdal, one of the media’s consistently worst purveyors of the false narrative, were in a position to do something about this stuff.

/sarcasm

In fact, one of my local news stations has already devoted an entire section of its web page to reporting on Black Friday “news.” But I understand this, I really do. Our merchant class is desperate for Black Friday to become a thing. They want this to become a national event like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, two other fake holidays they created out of thin air. Of course, I’m all for setting aside a day to honor your mother and father. Black Friday, on the other hand, is all about honoring greed, consumption, and some of humanity’s baser instincts, like shoving the little old lady in front of you out of the way to grab this season’s hot new toy. I’m not sure endless news stories of people getting trampled to death at Wal-mart are good for the brand, y’all. Maybe you ought to dial it back a notch.

I’m trying to think who buys the Black Friday bullshit. The only ones I know are the “nails ladies” at the Vietnamese sweatshop I visit for my pre-Thanksgiving manicure. Every year the nail tech asks if I’m going to go shopping on Friday; every year I tell her I’d rather stick pins in my eyes. Every year the person says, “Big savings! For Christmas!” Every year I have to tell her no, she’s been conned. The sales are no better on Black Friday than on Saturday, Sunday, or a week later. Those $25 flat screen TVs they advertise to get everyone through the door? Nobody gets those. Nobody. They aren’t real.

“Black Friday” is a narrative counterpunch to a day traditionally devoted to giving thanks for those things money can’t buy: family, friends, tradition, togetherness. These are things which have no price and can’t be turned into a commodity. Black Friday is its polar opposite, and to see it encroach on a holiday set aside for something pure offends me.

Thanks to supremely bad planning on my part, I’ve run out of dog food today. Breakfast this morning was scraping the last kibble from the bottom of the dog food bin. My quandary is that I buy my dog food at CostCo, it’s a store brand and it can’t be purchased anywhere else. But the absolute last place I want to be today is a big box retailer. And tomorrow is “small business Saturday,” another fake holiday the merchant class has created to pacify the mom-and-pop businesses Wal-Mart and Best Buy have crushed under their massive boot heels.

And this is what I hate about our consumer culture. When our best vote is the one we make with our wallets, then every action is a statement. I’d like to buy some damn dog food today, but now it appears doing so violates every principle I hold dear. It lumps me in with the 18% who want to stand in line in the pouring rain instead of enjoying breakfast with their families. It tells the merchant class that I support this stupid phony baloney crap they’ve shoved down our throats.

Le Sigh. Probably I will find a locally owned pet shop and buy a small bag of food, enough to last a couple days. It shouldn’t make any difference whether I buy my dog food today or Monday, it really shouldn’t. But thanks to the media magnifying glass placed on retailers today, it does. I really hate that for all of the many reasons I’ve outlined here.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled Friday programming. Hope y’all had a happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones. Time for some good news:

• The cease-fire is holding.

• Wireless EV charging is coming.

• Alaska tribes go tobacco-free.

• School buses in Southern California are getting cleaner and greener.

• Otters make a comeback in Illinois.

• Are bombs raining down on your Israeli neighborhood? Yeah, there’s an app for that.

• Real Madrid soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has donated €1.5 million to Palestinian children in Gaza.

Democrat Ron Barber has won Gabby Giffords’ House seat.

• Hate radio feels the pinch.

• The UN reports that the rate of new HIV/AIDs infections has fallen by half in 25 countries. More than half of them are in Africa, the continent most affected by HIV/AIDs.

• Grover Norquist faces some GOP push-back.

• Allen West surrenders.

• They taught an autonomous sub to speak whale.

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

• An injured Afghanistan veteran gets a new home custom-tailored to his needs.

• The TN Dept. of Environment & Conservation, Dept. of Transportation and the Tourist Development Dept. are joining forces to start recycling at all of the state’s welcome centers. Let me say, I’m kind of shocked they don’t recycle already, and I’m not sure why it takes three state agencies to do this. I’m going to guess (hope) that the program goes beyond the “throw your empty Coke can in this blue container” stuff.

This week’s cool video is personal. I’m an environmental science grad from Pitzer College, class of ’83. This week my alma mater announced it has joined forces with Robert Redford and the Pritzkers (of Hyatt Hotels fame and fortune) to launch the Robert Redford Conservancy For Southern California Sustainability. Learn more about it here:

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13 Comments

Filed under consumerism, Good News

13 responses to “Black Friday Rant/Good News Friday

  1. SiubhanDuinne

    Another invented protuberance on the carbuncle of “BlackFridaySmallBusinessSaturday” is “CyberMonday.” I actually do a lot, maybe most, of my shopping on line, but for the past however-many years I have refused to place an order on the Monday after Thanksgiving, for the same reasons that I (and you) will not be going to any damn malls or big box stores today.

    • Oh yes, Cyber Monday. As if people don’t have computers at home and can do their shopping whenever the hell they feel like it. Gawk.

      • ThresherK

        Has anyone else needed to resist the urge to tell a “young ‘un” about “when I was your age” shopping? Spreading out the newspaper circulars, because that was the only way to find out what was on sale then?

        I reckon those strategy sessions on Thanksgiving night (after the tryptophan nap) resembled Eisenhower and the Allies plannig for D-Day, except with a map of the malls (not the Normandy beaches) and little models of shopping cards (rather than landing craft).

  2. Yutsano

    Wake me when Norquist is a broken, bloody corpse. Something tells me that fucker won’t die soon or quickly. Power never surrenders easily.

  3. democommie

    Southern Beale.

    My roommate, Buddy the Wonder Dog (as in, “I wonder what the hell he’s up to now!?”) eats Rachel Ray’s “Just Six” and seems to thrive on it. It’s $1.50/lb in the 17# bag. He gets a small handful, twice a day, in additions to the homemade wet food that I give him.

    His “canned” food is either chicken, beef or ground beef (about 30% by weight), roasted sweet potato, roasted carrots, steamed green beans (about 40%) and boiled white rice for the balance. The vet told me that brown rice is good for people–not for dogs, their gut is not designed for it. I either poach or roast his meat, puree it in the food processor and mix it with pureed veggies and the rice. He never leaves anything in the bowl, unless he’s ill (not often). It’s pretty easy and he really looks forward to mealtime.

    I also make his biscuits, a very simple and quick recipe. Those he also loves.

    He would like his own teevee (endless skwerl movies) and to sleep in MY bed but he’s pretty happy with life as it is.

    Oh, yeah, Fuck Grover Norquist.

  4. And all this time I thought I was the only one who snarls in disgust every time another breathless Black Friday update comes on the TV. It’s such a great story, it comes back every year!

    We had a “special” Black Friday newspaper yesterday (which was the actual banner headline, sigh.) About three solid inches of advertising.

    I’ve become such a curmudgeon that I refuse to leave the house except for an emergency for the full four days of Thanksgiving weekend. Much shuffling around the house, eating leftovers and watching old movies ensues. Sometimes if I’m really energetic I’ll poke around the attic or garage and think deep thoughts about the Christmas decorations. They don’t normally make an actual appearance till early December, though. Maybe I’ll remember where I stashed the cards from last years sales…..

    No dog food would qualify as a purchasing crisis, though at our place it would be cat food. We also favor the Costco brand, and take care to always have a deep supply on hand. Otherwise we’d probably be eaten in our sleep.

    Happy Leftover Day!!

    • We have 6 cats. I should try to CostCo cat food, don’t know why I haven’t tried it.

      • We’re very happy with it. It seems to be a good, basic, quality product that all our cats will eat, and at a very good price. Chicken is listed as it’s first ingredient, and it doesn’t have food coloring or a lot of fillers. Cats can be picky, but all ten of ours eat it. Of course, that’s all they’ve been offered for a long time, so they’re used to it. They get a bit of canned food in the morning and evening to boost their protein and moisture intake. And also because they’re spoiled and they really like the mushy food!!

  5. greennotGreen

    Hey, SB, too bad I’m not home tonight. I’d offer you some Costco Lamb and Rice to tide you over. I also feed their adult maintenance cat food to the ferals I feed, but they’re really not very picky.

  6. Flying Junior

    Good News for San Diego. Wandered into Balboa Park Wednesday only to witness the Grand Opening of Car 2 Go, Smart Cars for pay-as-you-go rentals. It was also the first time I had seen a charging station. (There are others.) Unfortunately, they will probably have to move their station soon as cars will most likely be banned from the park next year.

    • Is that like a Zip Car? We finally got that in Nashville. It’s a good idea if you live downtown near a Zip Car lot but I don’t know how much use it gets. Seems like something the young kids are into these days, though.

  7. Flying Junior

    A little bit early to tell. I guess I witnessed it before most people had heard about it. Looked like every vehicle was sitting untouched dead center of the park on the Prado next to its own charging station. $66/day is high, but affordable with no gas or mileage charge for someone on vacation. I could have used one this week with my Ford languishing at the dealership eleven days with an intermittent no-start problem.

    • I think the Zip Cars in Nashville can be rented out by the hour or maybe 2 or 3 hour blocks. They’re a good idea if you just need to pick someone up at the airport or take a trip to big box store and load up a bunch of stuff. But they really only make sense in a town where there’s a good public transit infrastructure. I don’t think of Nashville being there yet, but then, I don’t live in the heart of downtown, either.