I will shop till you drop

Its grey and drizzling in Nagoya but there is no way that the Sakura is going to disappoint. Where is the umeshu? The best thing – many agree, I would guess, after my first visit here in April three years ago – is to drink umeshu while admiring the blossoms, but I prefer Sapporo beer, onegaishimasu.

Anyway, I am giving a talk on monday in Tokyo, and its to be streamed live on the net (no, I do not yet know the url, and anyway it will still be trinketised waffle in Japanese translation).

Before that, a few hours in the trinket paradise of Osu – the covered markets south of Sakai – where the bargain buys are wonderously mad nick nacks and monster Manekinekkos (is that how you pluralise the waving cat?) . Souvenirs, the stock in trade of tourism, the detritus of the world, made ironically relevant by referencing in films (Chris Marker) and exotica bookshops in galleries that, well, ought to know better. Maybe there should be a global repatriation of trinkets? All those cobwebbed attics full of kitsch ought to be seen, or better yet, returned to point of sale so the poor bastards that had to make the junk in some sweatshop someplace could resell the things all over. The craze for the obsolete and the curio is never going to achieve a cash-in that would redistribute the wealth of those that tour to those that are toured, but maybe there is good reason to make it compulsory for folks to angst just a little about who had to make all that shit. When all is said and done, my purchase of a few bits of cloth and the occasional dippy ornament is not as compromised, for mine, as the organised christmas catalogues of gifts paraded by charity outfits like Oxfam and the like.

I guess its easter (which passes unmentioned here thank Elmo), so is today an ok time to trash the dubious moralism that makes it seem legitimate to salve your conscience by buying official oxfam merchandise? I mean, why is it ok to ‘give’ gifts from charity outfits – just because some alt-bureaucrat type somewhere funds a social programme with a tiny portion of the organisation’s operating costs, and we overlook the mass production of the very goods in the catalogues that keep alibi’d consciences in clover (has anyone seen the accounts on this?) . Charity is not a fight for a substantial kind of change now is it? In the absence of a redistribution programme that can win, there seems no reason to prefer charity products over other mass produced gunk – the sort of stuff we amass on that other god-bothering festival day they have in December (to teach kids to love capitalism)? I know, I know, its sweet to give things, but a sweatshop job is still a boring sweatshop no matter how much the god-bothering rebranding turns commercialism into ethical trading. I guess that should be ethNical trading, eh?

Therefore, hypocrital as ever, I am off to the shops (actually, to buy a cowboy belt in one of those great Tex-Mex-Nippon stores, then for Korean b-b-q cos believe it or not I’m fed up with sashimi).

(pic by Miya – great navigator of Edo ‘posts’)