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Playlist: Shopping

Compiled By: 2 below zero


What is it that makes us want to buy? Is it necessity? Packaging? Image? Price? The documentaries, stories and commentaries in this playlist explore our consumer impulses through several prisms. Jonathan Mitchell's fantastic documentary "City X" examines the shopping mall. (I love the first line of this doc: "What are you looking for? ... I don't know.") Jack Warga muses about Christmas decorations in November. And in "Consuming Desire," Todd Melby and Diane Richard of 2 below zero go shopping with people who probably shop too much.

City X

From Jonathan Mitchell | 22:33

A history of the mall, as told by an anonymous city

City X
Jonathan Mitchell

Cityximage_small City X is a history of the modern shopping mall through perspectives of people living in a real, yet unnamed, city. Using a sound rich audio mosaic of observations and ruminations, all scored to Muzak, the universal mall experience comes to life, for better or for worse. City X was commissioned by Hearing Voices radio with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It was first broadcast (in a shortened form) on NPR's Living on Earth in November, 2004. The version presented here is the full length version of the piece It has been heard on: NPR's Living on Earth WUIS's Living in Illinois WBEZ's re:Sound Third Coast Festival website (www.thirdcoastfestival.org) PRX podcast

Dance That Brings the Dead to the Living

From Jake Warga | 03:00

A 3min commentary about Christmas shopping in November.

071201_40_small Script:
I walked downtown today and felt like crying. It's not even December, but the decorations are up. Phones to ears in agony, no one is  smiling. Crazy people, ghosts, prowl downtown…ignored because they're crazy, or crazy because they're ignored. No one notices me,  I am unremarkable in the shared cold.

I blast a song in my ears, the ipod clicking up with the volume, the  lyrics: "this is the dance that brings the dead to the living."

Commodity fetish, Karl Marx, all around. Happiness is behind the thick windows.

A girl, thin, attractive, no face, only the small of her back exposed as she squats in a department store window, her flesh the same color of the mannequins she is bowing to, who she is dressing, or is it the other way around?

Movie, just to escape, escape by immersion. Johnny Depp with large blade greets me, threatens me for noticing too much.

"What is the What" is in paperback and audiotape in the bookstore below, Sudanese refugee story, free gift-wrapping.

I see a ghostly reflection in the window: a cancer patient, bald, unhappy, aware that time is short, but it is only me. A clicking, random, rapid, arcade game in the theatre lobby. Man fires with pink gun, a final volley, letting it all out before his quarters expire. 
To kill.

A disheveled babbling woman walking past Santa's village, it's started to rain, it's always started to rain. She talks to and past me. She yells. I yell. No one notices, I click-up the volume, “This is the dance that brings the dead to the living”

Song: Cloud Cult

Consuming Desire

From Todd Melby | 27:07

Enter the world of passionate collectors and compulsive shoppers to find out why people spent money on objects they don't need.

Consuming_desire_yes_yes_yes_small Consuming Desire examines Americans' love of shopping. In particular, what motivates us to buy more than we need and whether this culturally sanctioned pursuit hints at darker aspects, financial or emotional, in our lives. Central to the story are six or so Chicagoans who present an array of behavior that may or may not be problematic, depending on the listener's own point of view. These individuals "show" their collections of purses, pottery, designer clothes and more. They also talk about the exhilaration they feel when the buy, and also for some the negative emotions that come after binges. Their insights raise questions about the difference between collectors and compulsive buyers and how ephemeral and even addictive the "shopping high" can be. Experts on collecting and compulsive buying place the sources' stories in a broader context. As many as five percent of Americans now show signs of being compulsive buyers, according to a soon-to-be-published study. Issues around medical treatments, legal precedents and other newsy bits are explored. Rounding out the story is a critical perspective of rampant consumerism given by members of a Voluntary Simplicity group in Chicago. One member invites the listeners to shop "frugally" with her: It's for them to decide in what ways she's different from the other shoppers, or if the emphasis she pays to frugality is perhaps itself extreme. Aired on Chicago Public Radio's "Money Talks" series in May 2005.

Orginally aired on Chicago Public Radio's "Chicago Matters" series.

Built to Fail

From Eric Molinsky | 06:12

My family buys stuff they don't need -- and that causes problems.

Dsc01945_small The economy is not in great shape. The price of everything is going up. But manufactures and advertisers keep tempting us with brand new cars, computers, phones, clothes, etc. It's called "planned obsolescence" -- the deliberate phasing out of styles to get you to buy the same products over and over again. Independent Producer Eric Molinsky says that idea hits close to home.

Out of The Ashes

From Canadian Broadcasting Corporation | Part of the CBC Radio's Outfront series | 13:15

Mastin's store was once the heart of the community where you could buy a bag of flour, a pair of boots, a side of beef and a flannel nightgown all in one stop.

Prxoutfrontplain_small Out of the Ashes Beth Mastin watched in tears as workmen ripped apart the old family store in Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario. Mastin's store was once the heart of the community. You could buy a bag of flour, a pair of boots, a side of beef and a flannel nightgown all in one stop. And if you joined in Grandpa Mastin's after hours poker games you could lose your shirt too. But now the store is closed and the building will soon become the new permanent home for a local aboriginal theatre group. Beth believes her grandparents would approve. by Beth Mastin Producer: Steve Wadhams Outfront Opening and Closing Theme available - (see Timing and Cues section for more details) SEE ADDITIONAL LICENSE TERMS

Checkout checking out?

From Merle Kessler | 02:53

Unintended consequences of automated checkouts considered.

Default-piece-image-1 Replacing clerks with do-it-yourself checkout machines is cutting down on grocery store impulse buys. A proud impulse buyer, an alarmed Ian Shoales explores this problem that threatens the very fabric of the free marketplace.