Friday, April 23, 2004

Who’s Consuming What & What’s Consuming Whom

When I was a kid, there were Blue Laws in my state. You couldn’t buy a broom, a pot, all sorts of things on a Sunday. The religionists had firm control and most stores couldn’t be open on Sunday. Retailers were bottom dog back then, though it’s hard to even imagine these days. It didn’t matter how badly you might need some practical item—it was not going to be generally available. I always thought that cleanliness was next to Godliness, but it wasn’t an arguable thing, they still wouldn’t let me buy that broom! I remember exactly how that grocery store aisle looked that day, even 30 years later. All the forbidden items had been gathered together and roped off with some sign taped on the rope that explained about the Blue Law. These items were unavailable until Monday.

Somewhere I suppose that church ladies and dried up preachers were glad every Sunday about this, that it was going to force you to be closer to God because you couldn’t have the fun of sweeping your floor on a Sunday afternoon. Oh, and if I recall right, you couldn’t buy ashtrays. You could still smoke, but you couldn’t buy a new ashtray. Maybe it wasn’t cleanliness that was next to Godliness, but Tobacco. They’ve always been a more powerful lobby than most anybody else in everybody’s legislature. The guys who made and sold brooms were evidently not big contributors to Texas politicians. (Things like that have often been produced by the capable handicapped or by prisoners in Texas, both groups under the firm control of state agencies, anyway.)

Eventually, I guess, the Malls caught on and there was an end to the Blue Laws. I don’t recall which came first, the chicken or the egg, but we all know what it’s like now. The Malls are king. You can buy anything any time. I tried Googling the Texas Blue Laws, but found very little about it on the Internet compared to most topics. I did find the following:

“Blue laws prohibited selling house wares such as pots, pans, and washing machines on Sunday until 1985, however Texas car dealerships continue to operate under blue law prohibitions. Many southern states still prohibit selling alcohol on Sunday. Many unusual features of American culture--such as the fact that one can buy groceries, office supplies, and house wares from a drug store--are the result of blue laws, as drug stores were allowed to remain open on Sunday to accommodate emergency medical needs.”

That date 1985 seems too recent to me as the date when the end of this nonsense took place. I would have thought that the change took place a decade earlier. Whatever the date, though, it seems exceedingly strange these days that anybody in America wasn’t 500% (like the football players say, as if there was such a thing) in favor of capitalism, of keeping the stores open. At one time, the Blue Laws must have had a lot of mighty Baptist muscle behind it, but it’s all over now. It’s like hearing about the days of Temperance, a purely historical thing, something ancient. Nowadays Texans just go awn and drank, Sunday or not, while our wives run down to the Mall.

(Joan of Arc Dreams Of Being Home Again)

Out on the way to Mayfair
We girls were weak but dared,
Deep in the mud of homestead
Soaked with the blood of lambs.

All on the way to waning,
We were wan and worn,
Soft and tired and tiring,
And too easily torn—
Yet from the haystacks the boys and I were born.

The way the wound was opened,
It gave me every clue,
It taught and preached and reasoned,
And made false dreams come true.
God reach for me and hold me from Despair.

Let all my armies mourn this circling,
Let all gone deep inside,
Let all rest late this morning,
And let regret subside—
God means that I will win, then die.


3rd draft: 01/04/04

Feebly Coming, Crawling Along, that sorry old Attraction (moving slower and sloower all the time!): oh, hell let’s just put the BAD DRIVING blog on Hold for now! Some day my prince will come…

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “Whatever you are, be a good one.” -- Abraham Lincoln

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