Msnowe's Blog

parade thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on March 29, 2009

(Where m.snowe has a moment of philosophical inquiry about parades)

m.snowe just walked into work (yes, it’s Sunday–whatevers) and on her walk, had the chance to observe a parade making its way downtown on Madison Ave. The music was loud, the crowd not very deep. It was an annual parade for some middle-eastern country. The floats were small, and pulled by old trucks and in some cases, tinny SUVs. At one point, there were three men on horseback, and a handful of lady dancers in vibrant colors moving slowly but with purpose to the blaring music. One float got m.snowe’s attention–it had four people dressed in various costumes or full character suits–and was clearly a promotion for some kind of cartoon television show or movie. The costumes were not well done–they looked nothing like the pictures of the characters that were pasted on the sides of the float. It didn’t seem to matter to the costumed crew, though. They waved and smiled with abandon.

m.snowe watched the parade for a bit more, and the “quality” of the floats, or the number and dress of the people marching did not improve–it was ramshackle at best, and tattery at worst.  m.snowe had a moment when she thought it was sad, that the not-so-deep crowds lining Madison were cheering for such a display of what m.snowe rather prejudicially dubbed “the shabbiest tourism pitch ever.” It was clear that the american standard of what constitutes a vibrant society is partly its cultural displays–and if america is good at something, it’s at showing off how cool it is (even when it really isn’t). Usually, that takes money–and it’s clear that these paraders were operating on a low budget, and you can’t fault them for working with what they had. m.snowe’s disgustingly american sensibility, however, pitied them for a moment, and she thought “if they take this seriously, how sad…”

But only for a moment. The relative shabbiness of the parade made it easier to see the decrepitude of culture that depends on materialism/capitalism, and the depressing notion that when you place your worth on your ability to show off, you are in effect creating your own “culture bubble” when times are good. Like the economy, people who live in a culture with money can ignore their foolish reliance on materialism, because of the sparkle and shine of it. But once that bubble bursts, you’re left with maybe three horses, and a crappy character suit (that is probably infected with lice or crabs or something). And maybe it is depressing to exhibit–but it’s also more real. What m.snowe really means to say is that sometimes people are so caught up in the extragance, in the artificial beauty that was created to sell things, not enrich things, that perhaps seeing an alternate form of pride and capitalism, is a healthy, healthy thing.

m.snowe loved that parade–it was more real than anything she’s seen during the Macy’s Day.

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Arcane Sauce

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on March 5, 2009

(Where M.snowe reflects on her travels to Northwestern Arkansas)

M.snowe has never really spent a lot of time in the South, excepting Florida, which really in her mind is separate from the Southern Ideal (too much theme park, too little barbecue).  And when she says “Southern Ideal,” m.snowe must admit with some trepidation that, being a Northerner through and through, a true Yankee, the idea of the South (in literature, in history, in her mind) has become something of a double-edged idee fixe. At once fascinated by the sprawling landscapes, and appalled by some of the more notorious past (and present for that matter!), The South, both capitalized words taken as a notion, has entertained too many daydreams and day-mares than m.snowe would really prefer to admit. Despite the morbid and/or fantastic obsession that grants the South a sort of inner kinship with m.snowe, the South is absolutely “the other.” And perhaps, therein lies the fascination.

M.snowe wishes she had brought her camera, because the juxtaposition of extreme poverty with extreme wealth was visually and conceptually jarring. Literally, a motor home of what looked to be ill-repute was right next to a huge lot with an over-sized new development house, or an almost-mansion.  And the strangest part (perhaps) was that no matter what angle you looked from, it was always the richer, bloated domicile that looked out-of-place. Even if the smaller, more run-down houses didn’t exist in the landscape, the thought of a house with fake-French stone towers named “beau chalet” in the Northwest spanse of dry and rolling-hilled Arkansas would give someone either the creeps or at least the slightest tinge of revulsion at the utter dissonance of the situation. It made m.snowe wonder about the people who live in those fake mansions, and how they survive without the constant bristle of dystopic sensitivity. The headquarters of Walmart is based out in this part of Arkansas, and it happens to be one of the only businesses that is making a steady profit in our crap economy. Walmart Corp. itself is a microcosm (or synecdoche if you will) of this little nook of the country–peddling the waters of poverty and extreme wealth, yet sitting comfortably from its mansion with little or no regard for its neighbors’ well-being as they slowly drown. (Yes, there were some mixed metaphors there, but you, the savvy reader, get it). M.snowe hopes to see more of The South, because she does not want these images burned into her brain, at least not to represent the whole.