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xmas xtreme

suburban baroque

We’re driving around the confused fractal street scapes of a night-time suburbia when we came across an eerie aura glowing above a neighbouring cul-de-sac. We pull in and join a procession of cars solemnly crawling past split-level houses completely encrusted with seemingly trillions of multicoloured lights in a kind of Jack Smith meets Thomas Edison, American, kitsch rococco kind of landscape of the insane. Simulacrum snowmen flash-frozen while playing hockey. Did they look at the distant mall and get turned to pillars of plastic? An animatronic, bulb festooned, wire frame deer cocks its head at 30 second intervals, a thousand blinding and strobing incandescent bulbs exhort anonymous idling vehicles to have a *Merry Christmas* I become oddly nostalgic, as I remember my own father long ago, driving our family through similarly phantasmagoric displays of conspicuous uberwattage, on bleak pre-Christmas nights, deep within the vast street-maze of Toronto’s bedroom suburbs. As a child, I felt deeply comforted by the familiarity of schlock. I guess that is the allure of Disney. Like a motel toilet seat, reality has been ‘sanitized for your protection.’ And in suburban North America, the landscape itself has become a theme park. Micheal Sorkin edited an intriguing series of essays on this topic in his (1992) Variations on a Theme Park.
I guess we want to keep out the darkness at this time of year, which is always around the corner. But darkness can also be a great comfort, a kind of buffer against the shrillness of existence. Junichiro Tanizaki expounds on this in his exquisite extended (1933) essay, In Praise of Shadows Back in the 1930’s, Tanizaki was lamenting the aesthetic impact of the onslaught of an electrified modernity, but of course these days, Japan is anything but dark. Nuclear power took care of that.
Shohei Imamura is the filmmaker that for me best captures Japan’s uneasy post-war lurch into modernity, in particular the films Insect Woman, The Pornographers and especially his (1961) Pigs and Battleships otherwise known as The Flesh is Hot
And speaking of *flesh*, Mad Cow has finally been detected in the USA, despite having been there all along if, like me, you ascribe to the theory that John Stauber promulgates in his (1997) Mad Cow USA (now, incidentally available as a free download). Stauber has been keeping us well appraised of the developments. For example, he sent us a copy of an e-mail he received from organic dairy farmers Jim and Rebecca Goodman in Wisconsin, who were recently visited by a salesman selling blood-based cattle feed, which of course is a perfect vector for spreading more Mad Cow disease. Things in the American (and Canadian) food production systems have been systemically rotten for years and one can only hope that the shit will finally hit the fan over agribusiness-induced mad cow disease and its incurable human variant: Creutzfeld-Jacob. But hey, “the American system was never intended to keep sick animals from reaching the public’s refrigerators”, said Dr. Ron DeHaven, the Agriculture Department’s chief veterinarian in the New York Times. Stauber includes an image of the feed flyer which I am reproducing here. Note the plasma and serum ingredients. One way or another, a lot of beef-eating North Americans should be getting pretty *mad* this Christmas.

1 comment to xmas xtreme

  • avatar jacquie

    sounds like the ingredients on baby formula.we take away cow milk from the baby cows so tha humans can be poisoned by it.bizarre world dude.