This category contains 6 posts

Native Wear (for White Kids)

While shopping last week I snapped an image of some clothing that feature Native American imagery. Nearby were other items of clothing with some kind of faux native cloth or rug design. I’m surprised that such imagery still sells—retains some kind of exotic value—with the white middle class customers that I am sure are its … Continue reading

The Mini Museum: An Alchemy of Value

How small can an object be and still have value? How can a valuable object be fragmented to the point of destruction—where each individual piece is so small as to be nearly valueless—and yet when collected together with other basically valueless fragments become something completely different—something more valuable? The formula is a strange alchemy of … Continue reading

Among Warm Objects

“These wild objects, stemming from indecipherable pasts, are for us the equivalent of what the gods of antiquity were, the ‘spirits’ of the place. Like their divine ancestors, these objects play roles of actors in the city, not because of what they do or say but because their strangeness is silent, as well as their … Continue reading

Marking Value with a Foreign Language Tattoo

Something interesting happens when the linguistic sign gets the added value of being in another language. Language isn’t just the signifier/signified relationship of the word’s meaning, but also contains the added social value of the foreign language as it is read by others—no doubt indexing the owner’s global cosmopolitanism. Why tattoo “love” on your arm when you … Continue reading

TARDIS Value: Blue Box as Totem and Fetish

There is a lot of Doctor Who going around these days. My teenage self—the closeted geek who stayed up late on Fridays and Saturdays to catch episodes on my local public TV channel—would be very happy to see the show’s resurgent global popularity. I even found an advertisement that used his image on the streets … Continue reading

Fast Food. Slow Garbage.

While in L.A., we stopped for lunch at a burrito place that was supposedly well known for their tasty food. I don’t remember how hungry I was when the food arrived at the table. I do remember, however, that when it arrived I was more shocked at how it looked—a lumpy, beige-white mass, sharing the plate … Continue reading


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