Saturday, December 29, 2007

Attention Shoppers...

Last night, we saw Walmartopia, an Off-Broadway musical that is not subtle in its political satire. It is the story of a woman and her teen daughter who work at Walmart more than full-time and still cannot afford to move out of their motel. Act 2 takes place 30 years in the future, when Walmart has taken over the world, with the exception of Vermont--a state that declared itself a historical preservation and would not allow the convoluted empire into their quarters.

A few months ago, M and I visited Watkins Glen, NY, a rural country setting that is home to Farm Sanctuary. At 10 p.m. one night, we needed tampons, peanut butter, and a sports bra (don't think too hard about that one), so stopped at the local Walmart, where we realized we had just entered a portal to everything that's wrong with the world. It was like someone sucked out our souls and replaced them with a hole of buzzy fluorescent lighting. We quickly left--past the McDonalds Express--but stopped to mourn over the earth worm "live bait" vending machine! In case you're wondering where it was located, just check across from the hunting supplies.

Here is my disclaimer for the above paragraph: That had *not* been our first visit to Walmart during that trip. Perhaps it was our third. Before that last visit though, we *did* know there was a lot wrong with Walmart, though we didn't know the specifics. Though I don't want to admit this, we had the dangerous "if you can't beat em" mindset, at least temporarily, as we were blinded by finding everything we wanted in one place. And really, there was something magical about finding non-leather shoes and triscuits in the same place. Thankfully, we finally saw the light, and I'm not referring to the car headlight replacements in Aisle 3. I don't know why we went in the first place, and I'm unsure of exactly what finally pushed us over the edge, back into that innermost-pit known as "our ethics."

My colleague and BFF recently led a workshop called "The Merry Vegan: A Holiday Survival Guide," (nice press here) which, among other things, explored alternatives to contributing to consumerism, as well as more socially-conscious consumerism (if you're gonna do it, you might as well support the right places). One blogger has a nice summary of the workshop and some of the places we suggested supporting.

This summer, I might visit a friend's summer home in Vermont. I hear there is a general store that sells everything you need--including late-night tampons and peanut butter. I can't wait.

Walmartopia was the little musical that could. It started playing at the Fringe Festival and then had this highly successful run at the Minetta Lane Theatre (closes tomorrow, I believe). For those who like theatre, it's nice to know there are those fighting for social change--with a sense of humor. (Sidenote: here's a play I was in last summer.)

More theatre later: Thanks to a friend who works in the box office at P.S.122, tonight I'm seeing this.