America, March 5, 2005
Its time to shop till Christo's Gates looks like art
Its Saturday afternoon, and I am about as far from African Happy as I can be. I am still happy, mind you, but in a way only an American can be, happy in a way an African might only dream of, happy in a way I know you can relate to.|
I am standing in the middle of 5th Avenue in New York, hands full of spring and summer fashion, pockets full of cash and credit, and eyes scanning for the next sale item. Yes, I am a consumer and I am in heaven!
Arriving yesterday to give a speech on African IT at NYU, I spent the afternoon wandering the halls of the newly renovated MoMA. There, I was impressed by the pure frivolity of modern art. Unlike classic art, which had a real-world idea to express, modern art has no base in this world.
Pollock? Warhol? Lichtenstein? Tell me they had something serious to say, something worthy, something future generations will not giggle and laugh at. I only wanna giggle at the wealth we've invested in them and in the buildings to house them. Then I went to Central Park. There I couldn't giggle. There I had to laugh out loud and walk around in shock.
Christo, in his fabric-wrapping glory, has strewn 7,500 bright orange fabric-covered arches throughout Central Park in his orgy of orange called 'the Gates'. Even though I can only scratch my head and mutter, 'What the hell?' I do have to give Christo credit. He paid for the whole project himself, not accepted sponsorships or donations.
And while it amazes me, it would stun to silence the most talkative African. It stunned me that I was still thinking in African mode, especially in New York, the world capitol of consumerism. I was so stunned, I could only react in true America fashion; I went fashion shopping.
Starting at H&M, I worked my way down and around midtown, stopping in here, checking out there, till my cash was gone and my credit card warm. Shopping till I was far from African Happy, and much closer to American Anxiety, the nagging guilt for buying and fear of repaying that I know I am not alone in feeling.
Now I have my spring and summer wardrobe. Not that I needed one per see, but I wanted new clothes to intermingle with last year's purchases. New clothes that will make me look good. New clothes that feel cool and sexy. New clothes that make me happy. What can I say? I am an American consumer.