Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday

Thanksgiving is not yet 48 hours past, and everything already feels like Christmas.

Yesterday was "Black Friday", a day when hordes of American gather outside storefronts in the darkness of early morning, preparing to sack them shop at them, and get the best deals. Today, a friend shared a video with some rather frightening footage of recent Black Fridays.

This must be a day met with both trepidation and expectation by store owners. Such chaos and destruction is possible; but also so much money to be made! It is the day when dollars and revenue finally start rolling in, when the drought of spending ebbs and the world takes a turn for the better.

It marks the start of the season when the ledger books begin to fill, the columns of digits creeping upward until the dripping red rink foretelling the doom of bankruptcy turns into a shining, glistening black -- the oily, inky black of economic life, thick and dark, as viscous as pitch.

Once more, capitalism is buoyed, pulled back from the brink; no longer morose as it plods to a certain death, but instead seized with a renewed vigor. Thoughts turn from distress and foreclosure toward restored dreams of wealth and grandeur. The bemoaning of financial crisis, the critiques of unfettered greed and irresponsible risk, the condemnation of crass materialism -- these are buried and forgotten.

The watchwords of a new era of responsibility -- of more saving and less spending, of frugality -- are in an instant reduced to mere feathers in the wind. Under the onslaught of magnificent crowds, terrible and beautiful crowds, fighting and spending their way to the Altar of the Good Deal, the pessimism of the planners is triumphantly revealed as the heresy of unbelievers. In a roar, their empty words are washed away by torrents of cash.

Flowing into the registers everywhere in this great land, this currency is manna for consumers and owners alike. Such expressions of devotion! Such cries of ecstasy! It is the breath of life, bearing joy and creating a sense of possibility in what had once been cast off in resignation. It comes accompanied by a sense of rekindled faith, flickering embers of hope blazing into full-blown glory, giving rise to expectations of a better tomorrow. (And outfitted in a new cashmere sweater, size: medium, color: shimmering fuchsia, for $39.99 at Kohl's.)

UPDATE: The old video is no longer on YouTube, but you can check out a new one here. I suspect there will be new videos every year if this clip is in turn deleted.

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