Suddenly, they’re selling them everywhere! Those trendy fabric shopping bags you take to the supermarket for groceries, so you can bypass plastic OR paper!
Oh, no, Mr. Bill!
And when I purchase my usual store-brand bargain roll of, pardon the expression, CVS toilet tissue, I see they’ve repackaged it in a de rigeur green-and-brown wrapper, now proclaiming this product ‘s environmental friendliness. How thrilling – um, going to the bathroom’s designated an officially sanctioned planet-saving activity?
If anyone could give ecology a bad name, it’s CVS.
Then, over breakfast, I notice a review of a local art gallery trumpeting its latest group show – recycled objects – with a sculptor whose mostly mediocre work has been largely ignored forever suddenly grabbing the spotlight for his “green” creations.
Actually, didn’t Dada’s daddy, artist Marcel Duchamp, already invent using “found objects” – readymades – nearly 100 years ago, like back in the early 20th century?
Supposedly, around 1915 Duchamp coined the term readymade to describe his found art, ranging from such recontextualized objects as a bicycle wheel, to bottle-drying rack, and even a urinal.
The old shall become “new” – with a vengeance.
Lately, like some holier-than-everyone-else St Peter at the Gate, Al Gore infests my nightmares, dispensing instant critique my carbon footprint is too large, while he flits about the country in his personal private jet after driving to the corner in his gas-guzzling SUV. Oh, sorry, that’s the Bush-Wah Crime Family?
Excuse me, but isn’t all this environmental correctness becoming … a convenient marketing ploy?
I mean, besides being an entire burgeoning industry, it’s threatening to become the New Tyranny – although much of it’s really been done before.
Thirty years ago, Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences showcased visionary ecology exhibits. Twenty years ago, my friend Margaret, a brilliant character actress, drama teacher and comedic performance artist, pranced and pirouetted around onstage wearing edgy fashions cannily crafted from trash-bags, using street theater to encourage folks to recycle and use trash cans via municipally funded performances in various city neighborhoods. Swathed in plastic, Margaret was way ahead of her time, the Queen of Green.
Quite presciently, Margaret and her husband relocated to rural West Virginia more than a decade ago, moving into a nifty farmhouse on a rolling plot of land complete with minnow pond and live deer. Really, she’s been a pioneer in simple, basic, back-to- nature Conscious Living.
Speaking of which, one of my favorite movies ever is French avant-garde film director Agnes Varda’s amazing, intimate and picaresque 2000 documentary, “The Gleaners and I.”
Varda’s aesthetic, political and moral point of departure is “Les Glaneurs,” the famed 1857 Millet painting of peasants picking up after the harvest and scouring newly reaped fields for leftover food. In its glorious unpredictability, her film traces this centuries-old proletarian practice of gleaning – how the poor pick up what others leave behind – grain, turnips, potatoes, grapes, etc. – and ingeniously comes full circle to the present, exploring such related contemporary practices as “dumpster diving” and “freeganism,” with their implications for planetary survival.
These days, going green’s the newest obligatory lifestyle and, I fear, yet another oppressive form of political correctness. I get the feeling if the late Shirley Jackson were writing her chilling short story “The Lottery” today, she’d have the crazed villagers stone miscreants to death for not recycling! It’s gotten that bad.
Whenever an ideology becomes the smothering norm, I wanna go in the opposite direction. I guess it’s the cranky contrarian, or curmudgeonette, in me. Hey, how can I reduce my carbon footprint any further? I already don’t own or drive a car. I choose to live without air conditioning. My wardrobe’s from thrift shops. My shoe size is six-and-a-half. Doesn’t that count in my favor?
Sometimes all this foofaraw brings out my Inner Republican. Climate change and global warming? Whiny liberal myths! Besides, what’s so great about penguins and polar bears, anyhow? We’ll clone ‘em and be done with it! So the glaciers are melting? Prove it! The Kyoto Protocol’s for wusses! My corporation can take over your corporation! Oil dependence? Makes the world go round! Down with “Sustainable” and “Renewable”! Eventual collapse of civilization’s systems and societies is inevitable! Let’s just pollute the planet ad infinitum, deplete our natural resources, exterminate the poor, gobble up the food supply, obliterate intelligent life as we know it, and then begin anew someplace else. Littering on Mars? Pollution on Pluto? What an investment opportunity! Mergers and acquisitions, here we come!
Attaboy! Go gettum!