Monthly Archives: October 2013

Crimes of Hilarity: What Makes Criminal Behavior A Big Joke?

Hilarious crime update! Get the news while it’s hot so you can tell a funny story at happy hour….

The Narcissistic Anthropologist

THIS JUST IN OVER A YEAR LATER: SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM FOR ANOTHER SHOCKING CRIME OF HILARITY!

Last night after a very long day of dealing with the laughable nuances of client service work, an email came through from one of my Canadian coworkers with this headline:  Canadian crime story: Police probing Quebec maple syrup heist worth up to $30-million.

The email trail between a couple of folks went this way:

Canadian team member:

“Serious journalism here guys.

From The Globe and Mail:

Police probing Quebec maple syrup heist worth up to $30-million

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/police-probing-quebec-maple-syrup-heist-worth-up-to-30-million/article4510740/

Via The Globe and Mail news app for BlackBerry”

U.S. team Member:

“This heist is on par with the 1975 robbery at Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory when 300,000 tons of chocolate was siphoned off from the chocolate river.”

Canadian team member:

“We also had an issue with the Hamburgler in the 70s. Tough up here.”

U.S…

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Nine Pieces From Ninth Street: Philly street Art

I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Philly this week for the second time in a few months doing some fieldwork. My team and I spent time in several neighborhoods – in people’s homes observing life and food culture.

I remember before we arrived someone mentioned that a few of the blocks we were going to be on were a bit “sketchy” – and that in Philly they don’t have “desirable” and “undesirable” neighborhoods so much as a block by block distinction.

In any case – I don’t distinguish between “sketchy” and whatever the opposite is. It’s all real life to me. And I have to say my favorite experiences were in the very “real” South Philly. Aside from the people I talked to and homes I was in, I particularly enjoyed the opportunistic free time I had to stroll down 9th street – an international experience rolled into a several block stretch of shops and restaurants full of the fuel that sustains the locals and entertains those visitors with the right amount if wanderlust.

Then of course, there was the street art. In this case, I encountered an eclectic exhibit of sorts that was covering a construction barrier wall while we were on our way to lunch. Here are 9 of my favorite images in honor of 9th street.

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Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Art, Art and culture, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Ethnography, pop culture, sociology | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Banksy’s Street Art Sale Stunt: Proving a Case That Street Art is Just as Niche as “High” Art?

Saw this article on a friend’s facebook feed from mashable.com about infamous street artist Banksy’s latest stunt in the name of art and social commentary.  It showed this recent video of a art sale Bansky staged in NYC this weekend (among the other Central Park art stands).  It was attended by an old man and sales were, lets say, not optimal.

I often talk about street art as being more accessible than high art. However, this anthropologist is now posing the observation that perhaps street art is just as niche, but in a different way.

I welcome thoughts / discussion.  What do you think kept this world renowned artist from not beating buyers away with a stick?

Categories: Anthropology, Art, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Atlanta Pride In Pictures 2013

This weekend was the Gay Pride festival in Atlanta – coinciding with National Coming Out Day which falls on October 11th every year.

In most of the rest of the country, especially those with the highest gay populations (like NYC and San Francisco, the pride march / parade is typically held the third Sunday in June, to commemorate the Stonewall riots of 1969 that happened as a result of police raids in the gay bars in Greenwich village (for the crimes of cross-dressing) during memorial celebrations if Judy Garland’s death.

In Atlanta, the Pride season may have changed as a result of seasonal zoning laws for use of the Park- but the sentiment stayed the same.

Here are some photos from Sunday’s festivities during and after the annual parade. Atlanta is a great southern city with a unique and colorful GLBT culture that I am proud to be a part of.

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Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Ethnography, Gay and Lesbian Lifestyles, Lesbians, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Coming Together Over Free Coffee: A Starbucks Political Statement and Marketing Magic

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The U.S. political environment is pretty bound up these days with the debt ceiling crisis and government shutdowns, etc.  All the CNN and MSNBC addicts among my readers (I imagine quite a few) are likely well aware.  If you look to your Facebook and Twitter feeds you will likely see lots of griping and general dissatisfaction with the inability of our government to be able to work together as a team to solve our financial problems in an effective manner.

How do you get politicians to play nice?  If you watch political dramas on TV (aside from the aforementioned “non fiction” news channels)  like House Of Cards on Netflix or on MovieBox on mobile, then it might seem counter-intuitive and darn near impossible.  But Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz would like to think that we can all get along and encourage collaboration – ease the bind in our governments bowels by lubricating the works with a steaming hot cup of coffee!  In that spirit, there is lots of “free marketing buzz” around the  Starbucks free brewed coffee promotion  being activated this week at Starbuck’s nationwide.

The concept:  today through Friday if you buy a cup of coffee for a friend or coworker you get one free.   The political message Starbucks is serving up:  let citizens lead by example by demonstrating a spirit of generosity, togetherness and collaboration.   Obviously more of a marketing ploy to tap in to the political sensibility of those first-worlders with enough taxable income to be concerned about the debt crisis (and spend several dollars a day on coffee) than an effective political activism tactic – but it leverages a warm fuzzy social fact that connects well with the brand – the idea of coffee as a social lubricant in America.

I applaud Starbucks for being so intuitive with their brand strategy in that regard.   Just like tea in Great Britain (and Asia for that matter), cigarettes in China (among only-child teens and twenty-somethings  who seek to make friends by sharing smokes) and other forms of social bonding over consumables – Coffee in the US represents the spirit of community.  It’s why Starbucks was able to so successfully launch a “third space” coffee house chain whereby people can find another place to be and hangout over hat’s not their office or a bar but still offers a stimulating incentive to get together.  The coffee house trend became popular during the Beat era in the US and saw a resurgence during the 90’s.   This was reflected in popular culture with TV shows like Friends  where the cast of New Yorker characters would regularly meet at the “Central Perk” coffee house to catch up and bond over life’s big and little situations.  🙂

It’s a far cry to think that congress can solve the world’s problems by integrating some slow-drinking caffeine and cozy couches into their collaboration process. Methinks a bottle of Jack Daniels would go a little further, but I digress.

In any case – this narcissistic anthropologist can appreciate some good strategy – albeit a bit transparent – when she sees it.  I raise my cup of Joe to the marketers who can find ways to make political statements while also making money.

Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Branding, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Marketing, Politics, pop culture, Rituals, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Loneliest Generation?

This article poses an interesting paradox: how is it that the most socially networked generation in history is also potentially the loneliest? I suppose the idea here is that in the era of being able to carefully curate your public facing identity we are missing the ability to make more intimate human connections and thus limiting our self actualization ability.
I am not sure I buy it – honestly. I think the social network environment actually opens up more opportunity for human intimacy – introducing us to people with similar ideas and ideas that we may never have met otherwise – allowing us to have friends wherever we go and thus giving us more possibilities to connect with one another and further our pursuit of “who am I and what am I doing here”.
Interested in thoughts out there. Are Millennials really that lonely?

So-Called Millennial

Recently a clever video went viral called The Innovention of Loneliness which illustrates some of the modern problems that have been introduced because of the Internet and technology. If you’re a millennial, most of what the video talks about will feel familiar, like the ability to “self-edit” and constantly be plugged-in to our communication platforms. Mark-Anthony Smith of Entitled Millennial wrote about his personal experience of growing up with social media starting with AOL Instant Messenger all the way back in 1998! His experience should also be very familiar to the average millennial. It correlated with my experience as well, and acknowledges that the internet (for good or ill) is an integral part of how millennials grew up.

I thought I would follow up by talking about the video, and some of my thoughts on the impact the internet has had on our ability to relate with each other.

The…

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Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Generation Y, Millennials, pop culture, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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