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Friday, June 11, 2010

The Fish Are Biting

Why is commercialism and materialism so very dominant in our culture today? Everything seems to be commercialized; everything seems to shout that acquiring material possessions is the be-all and end-all of our existence. This is very apparent when one is touring. Tourists are expected to buy lots and lots of junk, somehow to distill all their experiences into pieces of kitsch or clothing with place names.

Cannery Row in Monterey is one such place. I had no thoughts about what it might be like before going there. I suppose I had been there as a young child, but I have no memory of it. I know it was where the sardine canning companies were located until the collapse of the industry due to overfishing, and somehow I expected something of that history to have been preserved and made museum-like in freezing a time and space that no longer exist. However, if there are any vestiges of that past left, they are hidden in the shadows of the tourist shops, restaurants, upscale clothing stores, kayaking offers, and other commercial enterprises designed to lure the tourists in to spend money. In a way, I suppose, the area is what it always was: the commercialism of the sardine industry that led to nearly making the fish extinct is the same commercialism of the tourist industry, although I doubt they could ever “overfish” the people willing to come and be pleasantly entertained.

The bait is too good.

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