Monthly Archives: October 2008


by Sally Applin

So the downside of all this conservation of resources–the downside of “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” is something that I’m calling “Ecorexia.” These are the people that take extreme measures in their conservation. The ones that reuse plastic bags for a year, or don’t use any heat in the winter. The ones who may be disguising their depravation as conservation. In your quest to do right by the planet, beware the siren call of ecorexia.

Trend: Ecorexia–the disorder of “extreme” conservation.

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.


by Sally Applin

During the past few weeks, I attended two different concerts: Neil Diamond and David Byrne. Both fringe “boomer” bands and both interesting to me for different reasons. Neil Diamond’s concert seemed heavily weighted towards Baby Boomers and their parents, while David Byrne’s seemed to attract Baby Boomers and their children.

Both concerts addressed the human condition. Neil Diamond took it in a spiritual direction, while David Byrne asked a lot of questions. Both performers used African rhythms, African-Americans or just Africans/African Americans as back up singers. The sound flavor of Africa is primal, early to our roots as humans (in my belief system anyway) and for the themes of the human condition, soundly comforting.

Neil’s take on the human condition was to address it within the framework of salivation. He began with the energy and pop of his younger material. “Sweet Caroline” was sung with extra choruses to insure that everyone in the audience had a chance to see and hear him sing it–and also to drive home the point that “good times never seemed so good.” Midway through the show, Neil took us down to the bottom of the arc where he became the “Solitary Man” and his duet partner told him “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore.”

After taking us to the depths of solitary despair, Neil talked to the audience about being spiritual, being a man of “the Lord” and of his country, and sang a spiritual song, followed by “America in Blue Jeans” with the latter song featuring projected images of the World Trade Center, the American flag, immigrants and the Statue of Liberty. This emotion was capped with a rousing “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” which delivered us from a solitary state and from the trials of immigration into a revival tent. It sort of seemed like he was telling a life story of someone who had suffered and then “saved” in some way.

Neil’s story likely works for the parents of boomers who are immigrants who came here and made their own way, who feel a certain bond with America and who had Neil Diamond songs providing the soundtrack for their lives.

David Byrne took us on a different journey. Byrne and his entire ensemble wore white–as if they were already in heaven or some sort of clean place. Byrne’s hair is a shock of white as well which made him blend in with the crowd of peers who had come to see him with their adult children. As he sang, three dancers, all younger people, interacted with him during the performance. It was sort of like watching an old man ducking younger people on the sidewalk or in the park as they skidded under his legs, leapfrogged over him, and spun him around. Throughout this, he just kept playing his music, doing his thing.

The story in Byrne’s show was similiar, though the nostalgic hits were interspersed with current material–a collaboration with Brian Eno. The Eno pieces were obvious, as he has a signature to his work that changes rhythm from the energy of the early Talking Heads material. The arc was different in this case. He moved us from the urgent energy of the early Talking Heads, towards a more laid back and curious mindset. Then the build took us to “Burning Down the House.” Byrne didn’t seem to be seeking “Salvation,” he seemed to be getting “ready to rumble” with the human condition.

In preparation, Byrne surrounded himself with a cacophony of trickers to stave off the inevitable. The finale to Byrne’s performance was an surprise performance by The Extra Action Marching Band. The Extra Action marching band is from San Francisco. This quote is from their website:

The Extra Action Marching Band is a collision of big band and ecstatic turmoil. Despite their name they rarely march, but rather shimmy, crawl, mob and charge. Trumpets pounce like eagles and tubas drip ass-bouncing blurps from fat fingers. Drums shudder under wild eyed and white knuckled drummers, and through it all winds the flag team; glittering and sinuous creatures who masterfully pulsate pom-poms in a hypnotic fantasy. The listener is hoodwinked, soaked, and savaged into giddy abandon.

Powerful and empowering, the Extra Action Marching Band seduces the pre-civilized will. They are immediate and visceral – more of a sweaty invitation than a show. They are a parody of idioms with shattering volume – guerrilla theater with the rug rolled up…

As the sound boils into a spinning crossfire, sweat and flying hair tangle in a delicious knot. Audience and band submit together, to each other, to the whim and fancy, to satisfaction. Irresistible.

I don’t know about you, but “dancing towards empowerment” is more of my kind of salvation.

Trend: We’re all on the “Road to Nowhere.” The real question is “Which way do you want to travel?”

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

Vieuxveau Pauvre

by Sally Applin

To continue my post on the trend of “inconspicuous consumption” — in retrospect, I think that it’s counterpart is going to be quality. This means that thrifting will likely trump Target/Walmart and the bargain chains because if its made it to thrift, its got to have some quality in the construction that made it last.

When times are tough, and people have limited amounts of money, it seems that the idea of an investment in what one buys to last, becomes important. It isn’t just limited to consumer goods. There is a rise of concern about quality in food. Quality food may take longer to prepare, but what we put in our bodies will be better for us. Quality lasts and quality will help us last. 

The notion of quality as a trend layers over both “inconspicuous consumption” and of “get smaller” and neatly funnels into the eco-mantra “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”

Through my trend filter, these look like this:

Reduce: get smaller. Buy less, but better quality so it will last. We will see less spending. We will see more Micro Homes.

Reuse: if people can’t afford new quality, they will seek out “old quality” either by thrifting, or home swaps or garage sales. (Another trend taking off for clothing seems to be  working wear goods such as painter’s pants, field coats and other kinds of very durable, high quality, but lower cost, and lower status “inconspicuous consumption” items.)

Recycle: Quality food will lead to more composting, more home gardening, more tuning into the ecosystem. Quality clothing will lead to more sharing, swapping, thrifting as durable goods can last. 

Trend: What’s “new” is the “old” European mindset

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

Inconspicuous Consumption

by Sally Applin

Now that the financial crisis, which is impacting everyone in different ways, is global, I think there are some new trends coming up worth paying attention to.

Looking “rich” is no longer going to be fashionable in the areas where there is economic crisis. Gone are the logo bags, luxury watches and outrageously expensive fashions. What’s in will be what’s affordable, and what is low key. The fashion challenges will now be about how to make thrifting, WalMart, Target and their ilk–fashionable. Mostly, I’m putting my wager on thrifting. Not only is it cheap, it meets the new “green” criteria as well. 

People wearing conspicuous consumption clothing will be at risk for not fitting in, which will potentially make them a target of thieves.

I still stand by my prediction that we’re on our way to Great Depression clothing–monochromatic functional clothing in layers. We’re already part way there with maxi skirts and men still hanging onto retro facial hair.  Look for 1930’s music to make a comeback as well.

Trend: I’ve just listed them, but I think the main one is that obvious symbols of conspicuous consumption are going to retreat in the West as the economy slows down. To avoid being a target of the large percentage of the population who are being disenfranchised by this downturn, those who have it, will hide it.

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

Big Brother is Watching (out for) Us

by Sally Applin

Apparently since we can’t seem control ourselves (see the financial news for the in-depth saga of that) there are two companies that are helping us with our impulses.

In yesterday’s New York Times, there was an article about Ford’s “teen proofing” new product/service called “MyKey” which apparently will help to moderate teenage reckless driving.

The NY Times article states:

“Like V-chips that restrict what children can view on television, MyKey allows parents to limit teenage drivers to a top speed of 80 miles per hour, cap the volume on the car stereo, demand seat belt use and encourage other safe-driving habits…MyKey can sound a chime whenever the vehicle travels above 45, 55 or 65 miles per hour, and prevent the driver from turning off safety features like traction control, which inhibits spinning tires. It can also be set to mute the radio and chime repeatedly until the driver is buckled up.”

Also in yesterday’s news, Google announced its “Mail Goggles” filter for Gmail. The Mail Goggles function is likely named after “beer goggles,” the condition one is seemed to have when having imbibed enough alcohol so that one’s judgement is impaired. The Mail Googles filter will not permit the user to send email unless they have solved some math equations within a certain timeframe–thus creating a checkpoint to be certain that they actually do want to send the message. The general idea is that after a few drinks, it might not be a good idea to send that email to your ex, your boss, or your current partner–even though it may seem like a really good idea at the time. To further complicate matters, the Mail Goggles can only be set late at night on the weekends. So if you are prone to wanting a self-checking solution 24/7–it seems that you can only do so late at night on the weekends.

While Google lets the user set the controls, and Ford puts it in the hands of the parents–its still an interesting trend. When all else is being thrust out of the hands of institutions and into the hands of the individuals, two institutions are offering to “watch out for us.”

Trend: Something about both of these seem less innocent than they seem. I can’t put my finger on it yet, but watch for more things coming along from corporations to “save us from ourselves.”

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

Beware the White Rabbit (candy)

by Sally Applin

Well, I was sort of hoping to be wrong about rule-breaking as a trend, but melamine is back in the news.

As you may recall, a year or so ago, pets were dying because they ingested pet food made in China that contained melamine, an industrial compound that artificially boosts protein readings in food inspections and is toxic–causing poison crystals to form in the body that cannot be broken down by the kidneys. According to Wikipedia:

“Melamine is an organic base and a trimer of cyanamide. Melamine is combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a very durablethermosetting plastic, and melamine foam, a polymeric cleaning product. The end products include countertops, dry erase boards, fabrics, glues, housewares and flame retardants. Melamine is one of the major components in Pigment Yellow 150, a colorant in inks and plastics.

Melamine also enters the fabrication of melamine poly-sulfonate used as superplasticizer for making high-resistance concrete. Sulfonatedmelamine formaldehyde (SMF) is a polymer used as cement admixture to reduce the water content in concrete while increasing the fluidity and the workability of the mix during its handling and pouring. It results in concrete with a lower porosity and a higher mechanical strength exhibiting an improved resistance to aggressive environments and a longer life-time.

Melamine is sometimes illegally added to food products in order to increase the apparent protein content. Standard tests such as the Kjeldahland Dumas tests estimate protein levels by measuring the nitrogen content, so they can be misled by adding nitrogen-rich compounds such as melamine.”


Since we export melamine to China to manufacture plastics and other things used in households and China uses tons of concrete for its internal building growth there must be excess melamine available, which may creates a surplus and temptation for those intent on fraud.

What baffles me though, is why it happened again in milk and milk products for human consumption. First they tried it in pet food. The pet food was recalled because pets were dying–so they tried it again a year later in infant formula?!

The problem may be in dissemination of information. Did China let its people know what was going on and why? Or did they save face and invent some other reason for persecuting (or not) those who created the tainted pet food last year?

The problem may also be that of not feeling like one needs to abide by the rules. As China changes, perhaps its people are going through some sort of transition of asserting independence from the government. An act of rebellion, as it were, without understanding the consequences.

The most plausible reason, may have to do with melamine itself. In TINY doses, VERY TINY, in a LAB, in a controlled laboratory experiment on RATS NOT HUMANS) it appears that it can be metabolized IN TINY AMOUNTS IN RATS. NOT HUMANS. However, it has its limits because it does cause crystals to form on the kidneys and kidney failure. In other words: NEVER EVER EVER TRY THIS.

Could it be that in separate cases each one of these idiots tried a “little bit” and didn’t die so they thought it was safe?

Trend: eat and feed your family and pets food that you can source. In other words, “Beware the White Rabbit” candy.

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.