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Confessions of a Culture Jammer

Following My Muse
Robert T. Nanninga
Surf City Times
November 20, 2003


One of my favorite holidays is fast approaching. This day is set aside to acknowledge the abundance of our lives while recognizing there are things considerably more important than the "Keeping up with the Jones's." Never meant to be a day of sacrifice, this annual event is one of cultural revival where people free themselves of the ritualized want of needs defining modern society.

The holiday of which I speak is not the one of gluttony that precedes it. It is not Thanksgiving, or as I like to call it, Dead Turkey Day. Instead, I refer to the internationally observed Buy Nothing Day (BND). Created by a Canadian media activist, Buy Nothing Day calls for a 24-hour moratorium on buying stuff of any kind, for any reason. Giving is good, as is bartering, trading, sharing, and borrowing.

Street theatre and other forms of public display are a featured aspect of this public holiday. This year I decided I was going to aim high in my BND efforts. Unwilling to brave the hungry crowds of shopping sheeple, I required an alternative that did not include being mauled at a mall or confronting Christmas capitalism. Another priority was making a difference without being arrested.

Checking in with the Muses, it was Thalia, the muse of Comedy and idyllic poetry, who suggested paradox as a way making a statement. "Paradox?" says I, "Isn't that rather ambiguous?" "Not at all" was Thalia's reply. "Asking people not to shop is too obvious. The real challenge would be to enroll shopkeepers in taking the day off."

I love it when the muses throw down a challenge.

The next morning I asked Mozy the proud proprietor of Mozy's Café if he would be willing to show solidarity with a global community confronting mass commercialization of a public consciousness. I explained the mission of ADBUSTERS, and the ideology behind Buy Nothing Day. Seeing a perfect reason to spend the day surfing, Mozy agreed BND was a worthy cause and would be glad to participate with us by not participating in the seasonal monkey business called "The Biggest Shopping Day of the Year."

Knowing that one merchant does not a movement make, I decided to ask the very Green, and very groovy owner of the best environmental retail shop in San Diego County to join Mozy and I in taking the day off from the materialistic mind set controlling our species. I suggested Environgentle customers would appreciate such a gesture. As expected, Environgentle will close for the day as well.

As businesses committed to sustainable environmental stewardship I knew Mozy's and Environgentle would be easily enrolled. So too was the encouraging number of friends who immediately embraced the concept of Buy Nothing Day once exposed to it.

I write this with the hope others will join us locally in recognizing November 28th as Buy Nothing Day, and plan actions based around educating people of the alternatives to the "Shop till you drop" doctrine currently dictating Western civilization. I would also like to hear from readers who successfully pull of BND actions. I will share all responses with this audience.

Culture Jamming has never been so easy.

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