Guest Post: Shawnee Barton

Just back from 3 weeks of driving, odd hours, a fender bender, lots of rain, the amazing POC workshop in NY, a lecture and meeting some very talented grad students in Richmond, VA (and a few at UNC in Raleigh). 3200 miles and 45 sheets of film later I’m home, editing and taking it all in.

In the meantime here’s an appropriate guest post from good friend and artist Shawnee Barton:

The power was out at my local Costco yesterday. Skylights bathed the warehouse in natural blue light, a welcome change from the usual garish fluorescent green.  The food bar shut down, but the customers, uncertain of how to react, continued to stand in line.  Butchers threw buckets of ice on top of fish. Pharmacists scrambled in the dark to find a hysterical woman’s Prozac.  She turned to me in line and said, “If they don’t find my meds, they’ll be the sorry ones!” and I think she was only half kidding.   It was surreal.

As I walked around, soaking in the bizarre situation, I realized that the “powers that be” deemed only one thing worthy of an emergency generator…the cash registers.   Barcode scanners were beeping and receipts were printing like everything was normal.  When I saw this, I thought, “Now that is capitalism at its finest.”

The Costco power outage made me realize that no matter what, someone will make sure we keep buying more crap.  And when the world ends, most people won’t be in the arms of loved ones; instead, we’ll be standing in line at a big box store trying to buy some water, a flashlight, and an Us Weekly.  “Cash or credit?” will be the last thing we hear.

The power was out at my local Costco yesterday. Skylights bathed the warehouse in natural blue light, a welcome change from the usual garish fluorescent green.  The food bar shut down, but the customers, uncertain of how to react, continued to stand in line.  Butchers threw buckets of ice on top of fish. Pharmacists scrambled in the dark to find a hysterical woman’s Prozac.  She turned to me in line and said, “If they don’t find my meds, they’ll be the sorry ones!” and I think she was only half kidding.   It was surreal.
As I walked around, soaking in the bizarre situation, I realized that the “powers that be” deemed only one thing worthy of an emergency generator…the cash registers.   Barcode scanners were beeping and receipts were printing like everything was normal.  When I saw this, I thought, “Now that is capitalism at its finest.”
The Costco power outage made me realize that no matter what, someone will make sure we keep buying more crap.  And when the world ends, most people won’t be in the arms of loved ones; instead, we’ll be standing in line at a big box store trying to buy some water, a flashlight, and an Us Weekly.  “Cash or credit?” will be the last thing we hear.

One Comment

  1. Posted November 4, 2009 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    This has been fantastic to read, especially in light of comments I heard earlier this evening during a lecture by Rebecca Solnit. She said that in moments of disaster, we are in fact calm, and not chaotic. Panic, rather comes from the hollywood need for a hero, and the government’s fear of an uprise. In fact,people that have experienced a situation of distress together experience a unique sense of connection, and commune with society.

    Sadly, your experience was interrupted by capitalist priorities.

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