December 4th, 2002

2020 lack of vision

commodify the revolution

Downstairs at Selfridges right now (as other people feel compelled to climb mountains, I can never resist Oxford Street in December) is a space full of high-class counterculture-styled consumer items. Last year I was amazed to find Mark Pawson zines in there, but this year two shelves have swollen into a major section, with displays themed for alternative press, flyposting, subtervisement, sticker art, skating (including chunks of genuine tarmac), recycled clothes, DIY culture, rude toons, badgemaking, stencil art and, topping off the collection, two huge graffiti-ed lorry doors. They've even employed counterculture-styled shop assistants to engage you in casual coversation over the anti-style badges, pornographic ash-trays and ironic t-shirts (I wonder if there's a specialist temping agency?). The night I was down there, there was even a DJ. The worst of it is, though, that there are things you want down there. Lomography cameras. Sigmund Freud action figures. Mark's little book of plug wiring diagrams. And then you can go upstairs and derange the £300 dresses or poke three different sorts of AIBO. Days of small-press fairs, zine-networking schemes, counterculture networks and unoffical art, all shrinkwrapped, bar-coded and available for purchase at prices ranging from reasonable to ridiculous and back again. What happened? Did Decadent Action (who used to advocate blowing your giro on tea at the Ritz) finally win? Will I get used to watching attitudes I thought were radical appropriated, commodified and innovatively repackaged as this month's lifestyle enhancement item or amusing t-shirt slogan? Revolution for sale, expensive but worth it, changing the world, one amusing christmas gift at a time.

To complete my life as a disgusting tick on the underbelly of the consumer leviathan, I went to the opera last night to see Glyndebourne's Carmen. the tickets cost £49.50 ea. (though as usual I bought them at two tickets/300 words) and it was sponsored by British American Tobacco, for heavens' sake, and was mostly about how cool bull-fighting is. Dirty, dirty, dirty ...

But then, at least I'm not claiming that creating random poetry through the medium of sheep has something to do with quantum mechanics.
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