The Clean and the Disposable

Do you actually eat at the events? I never eat at the events.

Why? I don’t do buffets.

Why? I don’t like people touching the food and then, like, putting it back. Breathing over it, like if they’re sick. I skeeve that. That’s something I just never do. We always have a cocktail and then we go out to dinner after, but never, ever, eat at an event. And breath, I can’t stand the breath. If somebody eats a crab cake and then starts talking to me, I want to throw up. I’m like, Oh God, breath is disgusting.

It’s bad enough normal breath for people, but when you start eating and you have things in your teeth, it’s so annoying. It’s so rude.

In the mornings, my husband feeds 28 dogs upstairs. I used to do it but he took it away from me because he doesn’t really spend a lot of time with them like I do. So he likes to interact with them. He feels that’s the time in the morning before he goes into work when he can relax.

In addition to so-called nudist or sauna clubs, where the male customers wear a towel while the women are naked, large brothels have also become established. They advertise their services at all-inclusive rates. When the Pussy Club opened near Stuttgart in 2009, the management advertised the club as follows: “Sex with all women as long as you want, as often as you want and the way you want. Sex. Anal sex. Oral sex without a condom. Three-ways. Group sex. Gang bangs.” The price: €70 during the day and €100 in the evening.

According to the police, about 1,700 customers took advantage of the offer on the opening weekend. Buses arrived from far away and local newspapers reported that up to 700 men stood in line outside the brothel. Afterwards, customers wrote in Internet chat rooms about the supposedly unsatisfactory service, complaining that the women were no longer as fit for use after a few hours.

-Der Spiegel, How Legalizing Prostitution Has Failed

At about $.065 per plate, they aren’t cheap but you get what you pay for. You could easily, depending on what you place on it, reuse these by wiping them off or shaking off crumbs.

These have become our new “go-to” disposables and it’ll be hard to revert to the traditional cheap and flimsy white paper ones.

-Amazon User Review, Dixie Ultra Disposable Plates 8 1/2 Inch 384 Count

…they must come armed with paper trails to defend the wrongfully accused and incriminate members of competing groups. Or they adopt a strategy of choosing sacrificial lambs to protect more essential players. “You learn how to diplomatically throw people under the bus,” said a marketer who spent six years in the retail division. “It’s a horrible feeling.”

…things go wrong, you need to rectify, and then explain, and heaven help if you got an email from Jeff,” he said. “It’s as if you’ve got the C.E.O. of the company in bed with you at 3 a.m. breathing down your neck.”

-NY Times,  “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace”

Notions of disposability, cleanliness, and freshness are inextricably linked in this culture. Disposability is the ultimate display of power over something. It implies a comfortable position of plenty; we praise “throwaway” gags in the sitcom as the sign of seemingly endless inventiveness, the ultimate display of power over money is its frivolous waste, a wealth ghetto’s lawns are defined by a lack of leaves or weeds and the ability to buy the day labor on the cheap and dispose of it at a moments’ notice. Among the socialites private trainers are hired as personal gurus and consulted in private that the women might shrivel like shrink wrap and never sag nor loosen like the spines of old books. The market prefers the used commodity mint-in-box so that the buyer can not open it and admire it.

The extent to which an object or person might communicate any of the conditions of its existence is tantamount to talking back; and talking back suggests the presence of an other. We don’t mind the blacks, we just wish they didn’t have to be so…black about it, you know? When someone comes to this country so we can hire them for less than minimum wage, the least they could do is learn the language. We lose a couple dollars a year having to explain things to them over and over…

We’d prefer our vinyl virginal and our toilets obsessively sanitized so that we can imagine that when it comes our turn its us and only us that have defiled them. We’d prefer our cultural canons sanctified; we just finished cleaning them. Several people have asked me, entirely in earnest, “Like…is there one book I can read where I can just pick up all that stuff you just told me?”

Labor implies the body; it is in some manner a bodily function; we retain our purity in our disingenuous displays of the seemingly effortless and the presence of sweat is sanctified only when it represents the earnest sacrifice of the powerful to their audience; when Elvis throws the handkerchief in the crowd or Bruce Springsteen vindicates the struggle of the working man in catering to them in the brief ellipses of power they hold as the consumer; as the audience; they wink at the voyeurs to signify they’re not dirty for looking. We exhibit privilege in the ability to which we can hide the physical labor that goes into recreating the particulars of our existence; when Donald Trump or George Bush show up in a mesh baseball cap this is as far as they’re willing to go; political photo-ops in soup kitchens never show scraps of food on the candidate’s clothing.

Agricultural workers in the high budget cinema can only wear the nicest clean and pressed versions of whatever the proles might wear (maybe? We never really checked.) Brokeback Mountain attempted to shock audiences with scenes of homosexual lovemaking but shrunk at the possibility two men who work on farms might ever wear anything short of perfectly fitting clothes without a spot on them to match what must be at least $75 haircuts.

Maybe some people were waiting for the end of the Levi’s commercial where the handsome young models just fuck already; I’m happy they found their movie. But similarly the faces of fictional prostitutes, like all depictions on the sympathetic side of the physiognomy in the US cinema, have been wiped down like so many tables at a restaurant. And worse, their experience and behavior has as well. The radical vision that an ugly guy could possibly get a date with a woman was enough to net Marty the best picture in 1955. Pretty Woman and Milk Money suggest that perhaps a woman can be bought and not rented with a bit of financial coaxing and the promise of a more “respectable” life as a trophy; that the only psychological marker of years of economic and sexual exploitation is the delightfully “quirky” deployment of vulgarisms and whatever Hollywood screenwriters thought street slang in the 1990s. And this can be scrubbed clean to make them palatable. The rich man learns that his Cinderella is not in fact Michelle Riggi’s caterer but one of her dogs. It’s alright to take her home; she’s dependent and won’t bite. She’s not actually one of the masses-she’s not unwashed. Her neck is not red.

Anarchist friends in Seattle once told me of the rich “taking on eccentric people like pets”. They never mentioned if any of them looked like Julia Roberts.

The psychological cleanliness is similarly prized; signs of damage are avoided or steep recompense is sought in the form of obedience or external praise for its handling. The act of charity must be done in public; the old cliche where the attractive person brings their two uglier friends to the dance to seem that much more desirable seems rather quaint when a person of wealth can surround themselves in pictures with starving children from the rarely specified “third world” in quantities that could fill several high school gymnasiums. They must simply be failed westerners after all; Facebook not bombs.

Where its convenient anyway.

In the dedicated Amazon employee, the glorified temp worker, the Amabot we see the concept of the high end tech product being rolled out at cheaper and cheaper prices within a couple years of its initial offering price. But this time it’s the tech workers themselves. And like a Playstation, they’re built to be replace every 2-5 years. They must prove themselves pure and worthy proletarian Pygmalions for that 3am neckbreathing from Mr. Bezos.

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