Music: High On The Hog
In two days, it will be a month since Laura and I moved from Los Angeles, the epicenter of American popular culture, to Arcata, a town in Northern California. Located in Humbodt County, Arcata is the home of Humboldt State University, which Laura is now attending and I am thinking of doing so myself. Humboldt County, which is full of hippies, redwood forests, paper mills and marijuana farms, is the inverse of LA. In fact, when I told some of the people in LA we were moving to Northern California, they said: "Oh, you mean near San Francisco?" Arcata is abut 300 miles north of the Bay Area, and in fact, just one small part of the immense northern area of this immense state that simply doesn't exist to the people down in SoCal.
Since we moved here, we have done more hiking, swimming, and socializing than we did the entire year we lived in Hollywood. We also do not have a television, but thankfully we have cable internet. In Los Angeles, whenever I went outside, if I wanted to do something, anything, I felt like I had to spend money to do so. The other day when I went hiking with our neighbors, they drove to the redwood forest and all I had with me were my house keys.
I have been doing a lot of thinking about myself as a consumer. For most of my life, I seemed to be indistinguishable from the pop culture products I consumed and surrounded myself with. I went to college and majored in film because I wanted to create my own media products for others to consume. I was continually haunted by a need to "go back to LA," because if I wanted to make movies, that is where I "had to go." Last summer Laura and I moved there and got an apartment with a friend from college who was already "in the industry." On our drive across the country, we had an incredible time and saw a whole lot of the country. These vivid memories of what America is like refused to go away, and stood in stark contrast to what we saw every day in Los Angeles.
When it came down to it, I did not want to "go Hollywood." Laura never wanted to in the first place, and was totally disgusted by the real Los Angeles, with all the traffic, advertising, and oblivious people. Faced with the reality of the illusion I had clung to for so long, I realized that I had to reassess everything, and try something new.
One thing that I realized was how much of a consumer I was, and had always been. I had amassed all this debt buying stuff, and for what? However "cool" I thought I was, whenever I feel nostalgic upon seeing old toy advertisements I am doing what the producers of these products and the advertisers they hire wanted me to do.
Now I see that if we are all supposed to be consumers, and have been trained to be so since childhood, there is a world of difference between a smart and a dumb consumer. Everyone's money is worth the same, it is how you choose to spend it. Do you go to Wal-Mart and buy the disposable conumer product or do you go to the local shop and look for the same product made in the USA? What if you can't afford the extra $5 to spend on the locally made product?
A lot of modes of thinking that I took for granted are up in the air, being reassessed, including my political beliefs. Since I am pretty much moved in and not preparing to move or moving, I can settle down and start writing seriously once again. My evolving thoughts on consumerism are hopfully just one of the many things I will be writing about in the days to come...but then again I've said that before, haven't I?