Archive for ‘Money’

February 14, 2013

The Rebel Sell

the rebel sell

The Rebel Sell: Why the culture can’t be jammed’ (published in the US as ‘Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture’) is a non-fiction book written by University of Toronto philosopher Joseph Heath and Canadian journalist Andrew Potter in 2004. Their central claim is that counter-cultural movements have failed, and that they all share a common fatal error in the way they understand society; thus counter-culture is not a threat to ‘the system.’ Following their claim that conformity isn’t something perpetuated by mainstream media, Potter and Heath identify other sources of conformity using work from Hobbes, Rousseau, and Freud. They describe conformity as often the byproduct of simple market preferences or, alternatively, as an attempt to resolve a collective action problem. For instance, they claim that school uniforms curb the fashion ‘arms race’ created between students when no restrictions are in place, and that they are not intended merely to stamp out individualism, as many counter-cultural figures have suggested.

According to Potter and Heath, this is why counter-culture is met with resistance: not because the mainstream is brainwashed into loving social customs, but because social customs provide a safety net saving us from a constant need to recalculate the significance of our surroundings. For example, thanks to rules of traffic, a pedestrian can generally safely stand on a sidewalk, without needing to reevaluate at each instance whether an oncoming bus might stay within its lane or whether it might hit the pedestrian. Thus, rules are by no means inherently oppressive: the undesirability of many facets of society (such as consumerism) are, if anything, caused from the ‘bottom up.’ To Potter and Heath, then, some rules may be beneficial.

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February 13, 2013

Chet Helms

the family dog

Chet Helms (1942 – 2005), often called the father of San Francisco’s 1967 ‘Summer of Love,’ was a music promoter and a cultural figure in San Francisco during its hippie period in the late Sixties. Helms was the founder and manager of Big Brother and the Holding Company and recruited Janis Joplin as its lead singer.

He was a producer and organizer, helping to stage free concerts and other cultural events at Golden Gate Park, the backdrop of San Francisco’s Summer of Love in 1967, as well as at other venues, including the Avalon Ballroom. He was the first producer of psychedelic light-show concerts at the Fillmore and the Avalon Ballroom and was instrumental in helping to develop bands that had the distinctive San Francisco Sound.

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February 13, 2013

Head Shop

psychedelic shop

A head shop is a retail outlet specializing in drug paraphernalia, as well as counterculture art, magazines, music, clothing, and home decor. 

February 13, 2013



A breastaurant is a restaurant that has sexual undertones, most commonly in the form of large-breasted, skimpily dressed waitresses and barmaids. The term dates from at least the early 1990s and has since been applied to other restaurants that offer similar services, such as Tilted Kilt (dubbed ‘Hooters goes to Scotland’), Mugs N Jugs, Twin Peaks, Bikinis Sports Bar and Grill, Heart Attack Grill, and the much older Hooters.

The restaurants often offer specific themes, both in decoration and menu, and the operators of the restaurants hope that customers will come just for the food, or that for the customer the sexual nature is secondary to the good food. The restaurants offer numerous perks for customers, including alcohol and flirty servers.

February 11, 2013

Experience Economy


experience economy

The term Experience Economy was first described in an article published in 1998 by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. In it they described the experience economy as the next economy following the agrarian economy, the industrial economy, and the most recent service economy. This concept had been previously researched by many other authors.

Pine and Gilmore argue that businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers, and that memory itself becomes the product – the ‘experience.’ More advanced experience businesses can begin charging for the value of the ‘transformation’ that an experience offers, e.g., as education offerings might do if they were able to participate in the value that is created by the educated individual. This, they argue, is a natural progression in the value added by the business over and above its inputs.

February 11, 2013

Cultural Commodification

not cool

Cultural Commodification

Commodification (or commoditization) is the transformation of goods, ideas, or other entities that may not normally be regarded as goods into a commodity. American author and feminist bell hooks refers to cultural commodification [kuh-mod-uh-fi-key-shuhn] as ‘eating the other.’ By this she means that cultural expressions, revolutionary, or post modern, can be sold to the dominant culture. Any messages of social change are not marketed for their messages but used as a mechanism to acquire a piece of the ‘primitive.’ Any interests in past historical culture almost always have a modern twist.

According to Mariana Torgovnick, ‘What is clear now is that the West’s fascination with the primitive has to do with its own crises in identity, with its own need to clearly demarcate subject and object even while flirting with other ways of experiencing the universe.’ Hooks states that marginalized groups are seduced by this concept because of ‘the promise of recognition and reconciliation.’ ‘When the dominant culture demands that the Other be offered as sign that progressive political change is taking place, that the American Dream can indeed be inclusive of difference, it invites a resurgence of essentialist cultural nationalism.’

February 7, 2013



fear google

XVALA is an art project created by Jeff Hamilton (b. 1970). XVALA typically focuses on pieces that address celebrity and popular culture and he refers to this as ‘Tabloid Art.’ XVALA collaborated with sculptor Daniel Edwards on ‘The Brangelina,’ a house located in Oklahoma. In 2010, Jeff Hamilton walked away from his art and the name XVALA. Hamilton passed the name on to unnamed, upcoming artist.

‘Fear Google’ is the first street art sticker designed for the Post-PC era and was launched in 2010, the same year as Apple’s iPad and other Post-PC devices. The stickers fear message shows society’s growing inability to disconnect from the internet. First distributed by friends of the artist and some Apple Store employees the first stickers appeared on the California city streets.

February 6, 2013

Marc Quinn

kate moss by marc quinn

marc quinn

Marc Quinn (b. 1964) is a British artist and one of a loose group known as the Young British Artists. He is known for ‘Alison Lapper Pregnant’ (a sculpture of Alison Lapper, an English artist who was born without arms) and ‘Self’ (a sculpture of his head made with his own frozen blood). Quinn has used blood, ice, and faeces to make sculptures; his work sometimes refers to scientific developments. Quinn’s oeuvre displays a preoccupation with the mutability of the body and the dualisms that define human life: spiritual and physical, surface and depth, cerebral and sexual. Quinn’s sculpture, paintings and drawings often deal with the distanced relationship we have with our bodies, highlighting how the conflict between the ‘natural’ and ‘cultural’ has a grip on the contemporary psyche. In 1999, Quinn began a series of marble sculptures of amputees as a way of re-reading the aspirations of Greek and Roman statuary and their depictions of an idealized whole.

‘Self’ is described by Quinn as a ‘frozen moment on lifesupport,’ the work is carefully maintained in a refrigeration unit, reminding the viewer of the fragility of existence. The artist makes a new version of ‘Self’ every five years, each of which documents Quinn’s own physical transformation and deterioration. Self, like many other pieces by the YBAs, was bought by Charles Saatchi (in 1991 for a reputed £13,000). Despite reports that the piece had melted, it was exhibited by Saatchi when he opened his new gallery in London in 2003. In 2005, ‘Self’ was sold to a US collector for £1.5m. The National Portrait Gallery in London acquired the 2006 iteration of ‘Self.’ His portrait of John E. Sulston, who won the Nobel prize in 2002 for sequencing the human genome on the Human Genome Project, is also in the National Portrait Gallery. It consists of bacteria containing Sulston’s DNA in agar jelly. ‘The portrait was made by our standard methods for DNA cloning,’ writes Sulston. ‘My DNA was broken randomly into segments, and treated so that they could be replicated in bacteria. The bacteria containing the DNA segments were spread out on agar jelly in the plate you see in the portrait.’

February 6, 2013

Daniel Edwards

amy winehouse by daniel edwards

Daniel Edwards (born 1965) is a contemporary artist whose pieces address celebrity and popular culture in ways that have often stirred controversy. His work is generally accompanied by press releases. He includes the idea of promotion and associative fame in his own marketing of his art. His work includes a sculpture of the disembodied head of Ted Williams, a life-sized statue of Britney Spears giving birth while nude on her hands and knees on a bearskin rug (Edwards titled the piece ‘Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston,’ explaining that it symbolized Spears’ decision to put childbirth ahead of her career; Britney Spears actually had a caesarean section), a bust of Senator Hillary Clinton, and a 25-foot (7.6 m) bust of Fidel Castro.

In an Associated Press interview, Edwards asserted that he incorporates celebrity stories because: ‘You’re bombarded with these stories. And there’s a thread that winds back to the art. That’s not a bad thing. People are interested in sex, and it works for art as well.’

February 6, 2013

Gold Sink


money sink by jorn kaspuhl

Gold sinks are economic processes by which a video game’s ingame currency (‘gold’), or any item that can be valued against it, is removed. Excess currency leads to inflation of player driven prices. Game designers must balance between scarcity of currency and ease of acquiring currency.  This process is comparable to financial repression (measures that governments employ to channel funds to themselves, that, in a deregulated market, would go elsewhere). Most commonly the genres are role-playing game or massively multiplayer online game.

The term is comparable to timesink (an activity that consumes significant time), but usually used in reference to game design and balance, commonly to reduce inflation when commodities and wealth are continually fed to players through sources such as quests, looting monsters, or minigames. Gold sinks are commonly called drains or gold drains. They can also be associated with item drains. The intent of a sink is to remove added value from the overall economy. For example, in ‘Ultima Online,’ items that were placed on the ground would be gathered by the server. This form is referred to as decay or garbage collection.

February 6, 2013

Free Store

free store


Give-away shops, swap shops, freeshops, or free stores are stores where all goods are free. They are similar to charity shops, with mostly second-hand items—only everything is available at no cost. Whether it is a book, a piece of furniture, a garment or a household item, it is all freely given away, although some operate a one-in, one-out–type policy (swap shops). The free store is a form of constructive direct action that provides a shopping alternative to a monetary framework, allowing people to exchange goods and services outside of a money-based economy. The anarchist 1960s countercultural group ‘The Diggers’ opened free stores which simply gave away their stock, provided free food, distributed free drugs, gave away money, organized free music concerts, and performed works of political art. The Diggers took their name from the original English Diggers led by Gerrard Winstanley and sought to create a mini-society free of money and capitalism. Although free stores have not been uncommon in the United States since the 1960s, the freegan movement has inspired the establishment of more free stores. Today the idea is kept alive by the new generations of social centers and environmentalists who view the idea as an intriguing way to raise awareness about consumer culture and to promote the reuse of commodities.

Culturally, some people feel that accepting free goods carries a stigma, so many people who use these shops are those who are led to them either by need (financially poor, such as students, single parents and the elderly) or by conviction (anti-capitalists and environmentalists). Swap shops, where you are asked to bring something in order to take something, are one way in which stigma issues are addressed. In the United States, Really Really Free Market groups organize periodic ‘market days’ in city parks. Participants are encouraged to share unneeded items, food, skills and talents (entertainment, haircutting, etc.), to clean up after themselves and to take home any of their own items they were unable to give away during the event. In other cases, used goods are picked up from the donors’ homes, thus eliminating overhead costs. Donors are often not motivated by financial need or strictly anti-capitalist conviction, but by a desire to get rid of what would otherwise be garbage without adding it to landfills. Another recent development in the give-away shop movement is the creation of the Freecycle Network. It was started in Arizona for the purpose of connecting people who had extra belongings to get rid of with people who needed something, organized as discussion/distribution lists, and usually hosted on one of the free websites.

February 6, 2013

Help at Any Cost

help at any cost


Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids’ is a 2006 non-fiction book by science journalist Maia Szalavitz analyzing the controversy surrounding the tough love behavior modification industry. Szalavitz focuses on four programs: Straight, Incorporated, a copy of the Straight Inc. program called KIDS, North Star wilderness boot camp, and the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools. She discusses the background, history and methodology of the troubled teen industry, including techniques drawn from attack therapy, Erhard Seminars Training (est), and Synanon, all of which are highly controversial. She uses first-person accounts and court testimony in her research, and states that no evidence exists proving that these programs are effective. The book also includes advice for parents and an appendix with additional resources on how to get responsible help for teenagers.

Teenagers have been participating in tough love behavior modification programs since the 1960s. Many of these programs take place in the wilderness in the style of military recruit training (also known as boot camps) and the teenagers are subjected to rigid discipline, including mandatory marches, physical abuse, solitary confinement, and deprivation of food and sleep. These programs have little to no oversight from the United States federal or state governments. Teenagers’ claims of abuse at these facilities have not been investigated because the programs are not regulated.