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.
Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Art, Art and culture, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Ethnography, pop culture, sociology
Tags: 9th street, art, Nieghborhoods, Philadelphia, Philly, Street 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: Banksy, Central Park, Jaroslav Bánský, New York City, Park, Public Art, Street art, Street artist
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.
Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Ethnography, Gay and Lesbian Lifestyles, Lesbians, sociology, Uncategorized
Tags: Atlanta pride, Gay Pride
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: Anthropology, CNN, coffee, consumer anthropology, Consumerism, Facebook, Friends, Howard Schultz, MSNBC, Starbuck, Starbucks, Twitter, United States