Every year I read of a brave citizen who willingly puts him or herself in harm’s way in defense of American Consumerism— and gets trampled to death in Walmart in the process.
But this year, I saw it. There was a video on Facebook showing the actual scene on Black Friday, the opening of the doors and crowd crashing through like people trying to get on helicopters during the Fall of Saigon or into the lifeboats during the sinking of the Titanic. But instead of running away from grave danger, they ran straight to the shelves to gorge themselves on purposeless plastic paraphernalia that no one needs, not ever. I didn’t see anyone die, but there was mayhem and murderous intent as people of all ages, races, genders got into fistfights, grabbed packages from children, attacked fellow shoppers with their shopping carts and more.
How to write about this? I gave myself three choices:
1) Go deep into a Howl-like trance: “What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Mocolch! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming in the Walmarted aisles!…” *
Try to capture my astonishment that the bar has sunk yet lower, my shame, revulsion and disgust that these are fellow citizens of a country I’ve claimed as home, dig into the pus and gaping wounds of a sick, sick culture until we all collectively vomit out the soulless life we’ve created and start to crawl back to sanity and something approaching civilization. You get the idea.
2) Give up writing and thinking about it all, board the first plane to Iceland or Bora-Bora or the Volta region of Ghana and return to a civilized society.
3) Try to have some fun and see if satire has any muscle left in the national discourse. And so my first-draft attempt at no. 3. Any rappers who want to take it on and work with it, you have my blessing.
(* Minus “Walmarted aisles," this prophetic passage from Allen Ginsberg’s Howl written some 60 years ago.)
THE WALMART TRAMPLE
© 2015 Doug Goodkin
Hey you and you and you! Come in and get a free sample!
Come crashing through the doors and do the Walmart Trample!
You trample to the left! You trample to the right!
You grab, you push, you pinch, you punch, you get ready to fight!
Go get that G.I. Joe! Go get that Barbie Plus!
Don’t mind the blood and gore and the scratching and the pus!
You trample over here! You trample over there!
If a kid gets to a package first, you yank ‘em by the hair!
You block ‘em with your cart, pull down their saggy pants!
That’s how you do the Black Friday Walmart Trample dance!
So come on folks, get in your car and start off your vacation.
Do your part to pump up good ole U.S. consummation.
Leave your meditation, pop your medication,
Be a card-carrying member of the cap’talist Congregation.
Get in the store and holler! “Hail the almighty dollar!
I’m takin’ over Aisle 3 and no one better foller!
Wham! Bam! Kapow! Kaboom! That’s the way that I consume!
I’ll throw you in a garbage pail! Don’t mess with my Walmart sale!”
“I gotta get the goods anyway that I can!
I gotta show the crowd I’m a shopaholic man!”
“I gotta shout and curse and I’ll smash you with my purse!
No dude can mess with me, 'cause I got here first!”
They don’t do this is Belgium, they don’t to this in France!
It’s only in the U.S.A. they do the Trample Dance!
So goes the freaky fray each and every Black Friday
Normal folks possessed for a cheaper price to pay.
Putting fists into your face or biting your right ear.
But it’s okay, they’ll be fine, until this time next year.