Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Dream of Neverland

As I stumbled yesterday around one of my two local grocery providers I noticed that they now play the radio quite loud in the shopping space. As I tuned into what was being played the words of the song stuck me:

Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair
In 77 and 69 revolution was in the air
I was born too late into a world that doesn't care
Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair

I listened while watching the many young shoppers milling around me buying their dinner. I should note here that I live in the student area of our town, the suburb right next to the university and as a result I share my space with lots of students. Where we all buy our food is a central shopping plaza, the reading of which deserves a few words before I return to the dreams of 77 and 69.

There are two grocery shops in the plaza, one a cooperative (well the remains of one, when I speak to Swedes they all say..ahhh Konsum it was great in the 1970's), the other is a multinational company (ICA) that has surpassed sales of the co op long ago. The atmosphere in each of the these shops is very different. In Konsum there are many ecological products, prices are a little higher in many areas, the idles are not so stacked (things are often not available), there is no music being played, when they have a demonstrator on site it is usually for something like bread or a type of new soy product. In recent years Konsum has been fighting a loosing battle with the providers of cheaper imported products. We get bonus points, vouchers and bonus cheques home in the mail from our membership in the co op.
ICA is flash; it is crowded with young students buying cheaper food that is usually in a packet, they have a good selection of vegetarian foods but none of it is fresh, they have a good deli, prices are often 25% cheaper than Konsum. I shop at ICA when I am broke or when we are looking for dessert or a packet of dairy free muffins. The isles are stacked high and thick in ICA and they are not so wide between the shelves.

Back to 77 and 69.....The song I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) really irritates me but it is nonetheless interesting. Why it is interesting, the lyrics seem to be a sort of cutup from the late 40 years of cultures of dissent (that quickly became fashions), focusing mainly around the "Hippies" and the "Punks". This fits well with what Stuart Moulthrop described as "molecular culture" (After Levy 1997): "a shift from narrative to ludic engagement with texts and from interpretation to configuration as a dominant approach to information systems" (S. Mouthrop "From Work to Play: Molecular Culture in the Time of Deadly Games" 2004). I would add to the ludic classification; remix, cutup, mashup, and detourement. Whilst 'ludic' is a useful way to describe a textual practice, it does not in itself aid in the analysis of the results of the practice. When one actually looks at the lyrics of I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) they make little sense but Sandi Thom the singer of the song has such a powerful voice that she could be singing about the prices for spam ham and lunch sausage and it would sound alright.

The next reason why "Punk Rocker Flowers" is interesting is its reference to the P2P file sharing dilemma and general digital media from the perspective of the majors:

When record shops were still on top
And vinyl was all that they stocked
And the super info highway was still drifting out in space

Now this is interesting because back in April Sandi had burst forth from her basement where she had been sending a webcast of herself to sign a deal with RCA. So the "info highway" has been, up till now has been going very much in Sandi's direction.

So to conclude, if you really want to be a 'punk rocker with flowers in your hair' and join the people who do care it is going on all around you. First think about what it is you eat, where you shop and what media you take in. Then get active. Here is an example of activity, Squatting, the occupation of unused space for creative purposes: HOW TO SQUAT. Here is more:


"I was born too late to a world that doesn't care
Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair"
Sandi Thom "I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair)"

"The essence of your ignorance is the aesthetic of my anarchy"
Amsterdam Grafitti 1998

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