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by Rob Horning

9 Jul 2009

This could be a purely personal idiosyncrasy, but I’m wondering if it might indicate something larger about why big-box stores are so successful in America. I’m extrapolating from my weird aversion to going to the local bike shop. I just started to ride my old bike that I had in Arizona, and I’ve quickly realized that I need a few things for riding in New York City—mainly a helmet and new handle grips. Even though there is a local bike shop five blocks from my apartment, I find myself procrastinating about going over there. Maybe I spent too much time in record stores as a teenager, but I have this unshakable paranoia that the people in the bike shop will laugh at me. They will see that I am not a “real” biker; riding a bike around is not my lifestyle, it’s not my brand. I’m not going to ride my bike to work, let alone be one of those guys darting through traffic in midtown, menacing pedestrians and drivers alike. I’m not going to join Critical Mass and try to blockade the transit grid. I don’t wear special gear to bike around in and I am not even sure I know what model of bike I have. (It has gears.) I’m strictly “entry level,” to use Hipster Runoff terminology—I’m a novice, an amateur, too clueless to even know what is at stake with the subcultural signifiers. If I had more strength of character, perhaps, I would brazen it out in the bike shop and get what I need, despite my vague sense that it will be slightly more expensive than it need be since I’d be paying the specialty store/small business tariff. I wouldn’t care what people might think of me.

But instead I am attracted to the possibility of shopping anonymously. I think of going out to Target to get my bike helmet. There I can be assured that no one in the store particularly cares about what I am buying. I might even be required to check myself out at a self-service register, permitting me to have no encounter with another person at all. How convenient!

Anyway, my suspicion is that convenience, anonymity, freedom from other people’s assumptions about our lifestyle, the automatic assumption that we are pursuing a lifestyle inauthentically, the desire to face as little human contact as possible while we are in consumer mode—all these things are intertwined ideologically, and make up the field of consumer capitalism as its experienced by ordinary people—or at least people like me. Big-box stores seem engineered to supply a specific retail experience that protects our anonymity and minimizes our need for human contact, preserving our bubble of narcissistic fantasy as we roam around handling the merchandise. When this bubble gives way—when we seek the nuisance and insecurity of human contact—we mediate the relation through the signaling function of our goods and disappear into the life that they imply.

by Joe Tacopino

9 Jul 2009

Julie Doiron is renowned for her work as a singer-songwriter, as well as with bands such as Eric’s Trip and Mount Eerie. So much so, in fact, that the town of Bruno, Saskatchewan declared June 7th Julie Doiron Day. See her battle the dentist in her new video for “Consolation Prize”.

by Zane Austin Grant

9 Jul 2009

Some people move a lot, jumping from city to city, addicted to the newness and the ability to abandon their pasts.  Through this process, they begin to refine their autobiographic introductions.  After exchanging names, jobs, and past times, new acquaintances start to size you up not only based on what you say, but how you say it. Meeting people is easy when you have the story they want to hear, but figuring out just what that story is can be taxing, and the repetition and refinement of those stories can make you start to question what had actually happened. 
 
Local is mostly a series about that addiction and those disaffected left behind.  As Megan, the principle character of the work, travels from city to city, she tries on multiple identities until she starts to have trouble remembering who she is to which people.  Sorting through forgotten name tags at her movie theater job, she starts to make up histories for different names, slipping into simple pasts in each attempt at a new introduction and losing a piece of her self in the process. 

To capture the feeling of the city, Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly had their friends send them pictures of spaces in each place that they thought held some unique aspect of the local.  In this issue, the Oxford movie theater in Halifax, Nova Scotia serves to reinforce the idea that identity is in some sense performance in that people are going to watch actors on film.  Perhaps more importantly, it also plays upon the ease of worker substitution, as evidenced by the pile of abandoned name tags, each representing the forgotten past of someone who had worked there before.  As Megan sifts through names in these panels, she is touching objects that are representative of past employees who bore different proper nouns, but probably sold and tore tickets in equally efficient ways.

by Courtney Young

9 Jul 2009

Before the international frenzy that Barack Obama commanded following his historic presidential campaign and win, Michael Jackson was the global face of black exceptionalism and achievement. His death at the age of 50 on June 25, 2009, almost succeeded in crashing the Internet and suspended social media mechanisms such as Twitter. In excess of 1.6 million people logged into a random lottery system in hopes to garner one of the 20,000 tickets needed to gain access into Jackson’s memorial service this past Tuesday. His face has graced the cover of virtually every major (and minor) international periodical, newspaper, and news program since his untimely death. Much has been written and reported about Michael Jackson from his impact on an impressively diverse and large demographic to his transformation from a beautiful, cherubic child to a grotesqueness unknown or unseen before him to his massive debts and legal troubles stemming from allegations of pedophilia. As a child of the ‘80s, Michael Jackson was the model for many of my own personal interpretations of Thriller, but for me it’s his role as the seminal figure in the integration of African American musicality into the global pop culture stratosphere that bears the seismic weight of his significance.

by Joe Tacopino

9 Jul 2009

Toro Y Moi is the moniker of young South Carolinian Chaz Bundick. And as “Blessa” shows, he certainly has listening to a lot of Panda Bear and Flying Lotus. Look for two full-lengths in 2010.

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