After attending the Netroots Nation conference in Providence, I spent $23, and took the Megabus to New York. (I’d wanted to take the train, but I couldn’t justify spending the additional $90.) I met up with Linette and the kids there, and we took over the Brooklyn apartment of Linette’s brother, Neal, forcing him to sleep on the couch, while the four of us collectively drooled, pooped and peed all over his ridiculously comfortable bed. We stayed for four days, and, in that time, managed to hit seven museums, eat about a half-dozen good meals, and meet up with approximately 20 distant relatives and old friends. I’m reluctant to promise, as I still haven’t posted anything about our trip to Charlotte two years ago, or the weekend that we spent in Toronto earlier this spring, but I’d like to eventually share some of the highlights here. (For instance, we got a behind-the-scenes tour of the New York Historical Society archives that was incredible, and I’d love to tell you about it.) In the meantime, though, I wanted to share some photos that I took in Times Square, which, at least culturally (and spiritually) speaking, was the low-point of the trip.
I had a good time, as I was with some old high school friends, but I really can’t stand the new, Disneyfied Times Square. (I prefer the old, seedy Times Square of my misspent youth.) My old high school friend Brad [seen here being patriotic], however, had promised to take his daughter to the huge M&M World complex, so I went along for the ride, without putting up a fight… Brad, after all, hadn’t complained when I’d insisted upon starting the day with a visit to the Cindy Sherman exhibition at the MoMA, or, later that morning, when I made him take me on a romantic carriage ride around Central Park (while our daughters stared longingly at a carnival that they weren’t allowed to enter).
M&M World is three stories tall, which means that they’ve got a thousands of square feet that they need to fill with lowest-common-denominator crap designed to excite the consumption centers of the American reptilian brain. My favorite piece was a plush M&M suffering from a rectal prolapse, which I’m assuming was added to the collection so that geriatric visitors would have something to gravitate toward, as their grandkids stare in awe at the tastefully rhinestone-encrusted items of clothing… I particularly like this M&M’s, “Oh, no, is that my colon that I feel against the inside of my leg,” face.
Speaking of rhinestone-encrusted couture, here’s a $3,000 jacket that I had my eye on. According to the tag, it’s “like” a jacket that could be worn by the likes of Hillary Duff and Hannah Montana. It, of course, wasn’t worn by either of those two folks (one of whom I think is actually a real person), but that’s beside the point.
There’s a lot of military stuff on the shelves at M&M World. Apparently, there’s a long, proud history there. At least, they’ve got shirts on their shelves that announce that, during World War II, M&Ms were the first candy to be carried into combat. My favorite military-themed piece at M&M World was this assault vehicle manned by happy, yet stern, M&Ms waving American flags.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that the M&M folks also go to great lengths to commoditize patriotism. Here’s a good example. It’s a shirt on which the Statue of Liberty is being showered by M&Ms. (I can’t tell for sure, but I think the building in the background could be one of the Twin Towers, which makes me think the M&Ms could be signifying either people leaping to their deaths, or the particulate matter which caused respiratory disease in so many of the 9/11 first responders.)
And, we didn’t just go to M&M World. On our way to meet up with more friends at John’s Pizzeria, we also stopped at the mega-Toys R Us, where I found the following in their “Princess School” section, next to their Twilight Barbies. In case it’s not clear from the photo, these are heels for three year olds… [note: I'm including this so that I can, once again, use the "prostitot" tag.]
And, then there were the gummy bear ear buds, complete with “gummy scent.” Because, really, who doesn’t love to sniff things after extracting them from their ears?
And, as if that weren’t enough, there’s also a whole section of super-sized candy! Here, for instance, is their display of suitcase-sized boxes of Nerds.
The good stuff will come later – there was plenty of it – but I just felt as though I had to vent a bit. As distasteful as I’m sure some of us found the more traditional porn of the old Times Square, I find this blind, gluttonous, unapologetic consumerism even worse… And, on that note, I leave you with this video of Reverend Billy, of The Church of Stop Shopping, ministering to the masses on Yew York on the sin off mass consumption.