Sunday, September 7, 2008

Junk and a rant about a junky place...

Well, here';s a big pile of junk lying on my suitcase. I am leaving on Wednesday and I have too much to pack. Giant afghan squares and 6+ flapper hats notwithstanding. 10 points if you see Gangle.
So tonight I watched the documentary "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices". It's easy to find this for free online, so if you haven't seen it, I'd suggest doing so. I've heard a lot about it and I'm actually annoyed at myself for not seeking it out sooner.

I got more and more furious watching it - its methods of destroying the towns it sets up in, driving other businesses to close, its ruthless policies on just about EVERYTHING you can think of. Sexist, racist behaviour, encouraging its employees to go on welfare because they don't provide affordable health insurance for them, not offering overtime but making their employees work stupid hours... I could go on and on. I was BRISTLING. Encouraging their employees to donate a portion of their paycheck to an "emergency fund" to help other employees - which they DO, to the tune of millions - meanwhile the owners of the company are millionaires and only donate their money to support the political campaigns of other rich bastards who will keep the system running in their favour - it's horrible. There is too much to outline, really. Watch it.

The thing that made me the most sick is that, while touring, we go to Wal-Mart ALL THE TIME. At 3 AM, driving out of a city, that's what tons of bands do. They go on a Wal-Mart "run". To stock up the bus with cheap food and supplies. I mean, fuck: I've put on my slippers and track pants gleefully, relieved that there's a Wal-Mart so I can grab a few things along with the guys. It's hard to find time, or shops, when you're in a small town in a remote neighborhood with time constraints. I KNOW Wal-Mart is evil, but I have literally SKIPPED HAPPILY into one of their giant superstores (thank god we weren't attacked - watch the documentary for more on that hideousness). I've always wanted to boycott using a Hilton or Hilton affiliate hotel while on the road, but it isn't practical. Not only do you have to make do with what's there and what's cheap, but when you're touring with eight other people, not everyone is going to give a shit, even if you do. And thus, Wal-Mart shopping becomes a weekly event on tour. And we give them hundreds of dollars.

God, I wish there was something I could do. It's pathetic. I don't want to be part of the problem, but a lot of times there is no alternative, and I think a lot of people fall victim to this and go with the flow because there is nothing else they can do. I mean shit. Even in Toronto, if you want a good selection of cheap yarn, you basically have to go to Wal-Mart. I know I will shop there again, and I hate knowing that. But I can just imagine trying to tell the guys, and our tour manager Jack, that we shouldn't shop there. It wouldn't make SENSE in that situation to try to boycott going there. The band needs food and supplies. Where the hell else are we going to get them on the road? At a gas station?

By the way, in the documentary I noticed that Guelph, Ontario, is one of the cities that has successfully fought against having a Wal-Mart set up in the city. I didn't know that.


candace & nux said...

ahhh. yeah, we own a copy of that movie. i havent watched it in a while, but it really pissed me off as well. i knew most of the content long before which is why we've only ever been in a walmart about 4 or 5 times ever, but the movie threw me over the deep end. it IS hard to avoid necessity though.
zellers usually has the closest price/one-stop-shop comparison without *as much* unethical crap, but their hours arent great. most towns have at least one 24 hour grocery store, BUT its not always cheap :(

i really know what you mean though. being the one in a group of people with ANY type of ethics is sometimes awful and nothing more than a lonely inconvenience or a depressing guilt trip depending on what you do. try being a vegan at a wedding, haha!
the one thing to remember is that you should never feel bad about speaking the truth on someone elses behalf (especially when they cannot). trying to un-know what you know will make you go crazy.

Anonymous said...

don't leave.......

way_away said...

I was living in Guelph during the hey day of the Walmart battle: there was a HUGE outcry against it. HUGE. Students, the community, everyone. It was amazing.

And a failure: a Walmart opened in Guelph in 2006, I believe. I remember being completely BOWLED over when I heard (I was no longer living there at that time). There were some special restrictions to their being there, but they opened.

As I recall, the community did try everything they could tho: groups within the city told city council that it would ruin the smaller downtown merchants, impair traffic, etc... And apparently that didn't work. THEN, some religious people at some religious thing nearby the proposed site tried saying that Wal-Mart would detract from the spirituality of the area.

Here is a cut from the Guelph Mercury with specifics, if you're interested:

Yeah, Walmart pretty much sucks.

la dilettante said...

The tour life seems like it just leaves you no choice when it comes to things like bottled water, shopping at Wal-mart, eating no-name deli-meat sandwiches every night. Obviously those things are bad for the planet and for people in general...but you guys have pretty much next to no alternative! That is life on the road!! I think the thing to keep in mind is that at least watching that kind of thing moves you - it makes you realize you have a conscience and that's what matters. I try my best to "green" and socially conscious but I mean - LOL - I JUST posted that entry about that Primark place and how much I loved it but also how bad it must be to shop there. My thought is that as long as I keep educating myself about the choices we can make to make the world a better place the more I will be able to do that. It's not easy when you're on the road or when you're a poor student or when you're just poor. We all have to do our part but we have to be realistic, especially when it comes to affecting other people and their lives and choices. The way I see it is: I try to buy local produce, but I'll buy cheapie canned goods from Food Basics. I'm not going to clean my toilet with baking soda but I will try to buy "green" cleaning products. I eat chicken and fish, but I try not to eat too much beef or processed meats and foods. They're all things that make a small difference (you gotta start somewhere!) but those kind of choices make me feel a little less bad on the trips I make to Primark...or Wal-mart ;) Cause at least you're still doing something and that proves you at least give a shit.