Black Friday Address

November 23, 2012


(Illustration found here).

Clear and near-cold this Black Friday along California’s northern coast, and though there’s a chill in the air, the environment is most-comfortable — mainly because I’m staying away from any department stores today with a conceited vengeance.
Business people, of course, love this particular day, always have — Bloomberg estimates shoppers will spend 3.8 percent more this year, knocking retail sales upward to $11.4 billion.
A lot of freakin’ cash!

And this shit won’t stop even with a touch of a backlash: Since the 1990s, the day after Thanksgiving has also been dubbed Buy Nothing Day, an idea championed by Adbusters magazine and, lately, the Occupy movement. The thought of getting masses of consumers to stay home on what has become the biggest shopping day of the year may sound like a pipe dream. But Black Friday only holds its current place in our culture through miracles of marketing, spin and rebranding. Those celebrating Buy Nothing Day, at least, don’t have to explain the name.
Crazy our society.

Turkey day was established via proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in October 1863, setting aside the last Thursday in November to celebrate the USA of us all.
As Abe proclaimed that even horrible warfare don’t stop growth and productivity: Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.
However, retail sales are still retail sales.
Business people pitched a fit when there were Five Thursdays in November, they started proclaiming this celebration cut into the holiday buying season — so in 1941 FDR switched it to the “fourth” Thursday just to stop the bitter money in-fighting.

In this age of bullshit, hard to even fathom the thought Abe Lincoln was a Republican.
Last night, I saw the film ‘Lincoln,’ the Steven Spielberg ode to the 13th Amendment and the Civil War president’s role in it — Daniel-Day Lewis is/becomes Lincoln.
One of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.
Odd and way-disconcerting to view the GOP as the party of the good — instead of the insane, bat-shit crazy bunch of today, but there they are in 1865, trying to do the right thing while preserving the union.

Although a regular color movie, ‘Lincoln‘ is filmed in such a way it appears like black-and-white, or maybe a moving collection of those old serpia-tinted Civil War-era photographs, a sense of looking at history via a cinema time machine.
Unlike previous Spielberg movies, there’s not much physical action with reality of 1865 the big picture — one gets a sense of just how shitty ordinary life was 150 years ago (compared to 2012) with drafty buildings, mud, a dampness continually requiring some kind of cloak 24/7.
And how close contact people had with each other in those days — folks were right there, up in your face, even with the president of the United States, sitting on a stool telling stories to whomever is standing in front, or around him.
In trying to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, one can see how ass-holish a shitload of people, and how they talked of now-recognized African-Americans as if they weren’t even in the room, and with names used just this side of Fox News.

And make no doubt, ‘Lincoln,’ is all about politics.
Roger Ebert, in his review, says it better than I:

The capital city of Washington is portrayed here as roughshod gathering of politicians on the make.
The images by Janusz Kaminski, Spielberg’s frequent cinematographer, use earth tones and muted indoor lighting.
The White House is less a temple of state than a gathering place for wheelers and dealers.
This ambience reflects the descriptions in Gore Vidal’s historical novel “Lincoln,” although the political and personal details in Tony Kushner’s concise, revealing dialogue is based on “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
The book is well-titled.
This is a film not about an icon of history, but about a president who was scorned by some of his political opponents as just a hayseed from the backwoods.

He was a great guy, though, as portrayed in the movie, and the modern-day GOP should take notice.
But it’s a film not for everybody — I went to see it with a daughter and my son.
And although both are well-versed in politics, they didn’t care for it — the daughter fell asleep and the son kept saying afterwards, ‘That was a long movie.’

Gee guys, politics with a heart on this Black Day.

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