08 December 2019

Millennial Ambivalence: The Hot Food Bar

When Whole Foods became Whole Paycheck, we could at least rationalize this by reciting the old adage, "You get what you pay for." ("Cheap gets expensive" is the polka singer version. Is this of German origin?) But when Whole Paycheck became Whole Economy, everything became much harder to rationalize.

For me, today was a gift, an unexpected day off from work which happened to coincide with a local Scrabble tournament. Unusually for me, I went looking for a restaurant afterwards rather than rushing home to cook for myself. After much Yelping and some wandering, I did what I told myself at the outset I would not do: I ended up at the Whole Foods downtown, where I shop for (a few) groceries most weeks.

When you live in LA, surrounded by culinary excellence and excess in equal measure, the idea of landing at the Hot Food Bar on a day like this feels so pointless and deflating. The abstract reality is that it is the best thing ever. I got to eat a pile of roasted vegetables out of a cardboard box, sip a stiff local IPA, and gorge on sports. I walked in with a backpack and a Scrabble bag and nobody looked at me sideways. The volume level in the room was reasonable. I'm not sure where else you can have all of these things together. I feel much better about this decision now than I did two hours ago.

Marcuse, Fromm, Adorno, Debord, among others, would have a discursive field day unpacking the Amazon phenomenon. Among the corporate powers which threaten to overtake and supersede state power, this is the only one I am truly ambivalent about. I would love to read these theorists attempting to predict the shape of the incremental drift from seeming benevolence to pure evil that we all expect. Until then, repressive desublimation sure feels good.

No comments: