By Randy Giusto-

Don’t forget that this Friday is not only Black Friday, the pinnacle of shopping experiences for the American consumer, but also that other famous other end of the spectrum holiday known as Buying Nothing Day.

The folks over at Adbusters came up with the original campaign that has been celebrated wildly in Europe and other parts of the world (but not as much in the US). It is billed as a 24-hour complete fast and body detoxification process from our shopping and media consumption culture.

Last year they called for a complete fast from all consumption including electricity, which was a bit, I have to admit, over the top. This year Adbusters is pushing their “Carnivalesque Rebellion Week” campaign. That’s right, a whole week that runs from November 22nd to the 28th that encourages people to “live without dead time.”

Adbusters’ web site gives this explanation:
“A few people start breaking their old patterns, embracing what they love (and in the process discovering what they hate), daydreaming, questioning, rebelling. What happens naturally then, according to the revolutionary past, is a groundswell of support for this new way of being, with more and more people empowered to perform new gestures unencumbered by history.

Think of it as an adventure, as therapy – a week of pieing and pranks, of talking back at your profs and speaking truth to power. Some of us will put up posters in our schools and neighborhoods and just break our daily routines for a week. Others will chant, spark mayhem in big box stores and provoke mass cognitive dissonance. Others still will engage in the most visceral kind of civil disobedience. And on November 26 from sunrise to sunset we will abstain en masse – not only from holiday shopping, but from all the temptations of our five-planet lifestyles.”

But this year’s gloomy global economy is taking some of the bang out of previous years’ shenanigans. It seems there are more “green” and charitable events scheduled, and the number of cities around the world that are celebrating BND is down significantly from years past. Most cities on Adbusters’ site have nothing listed under their schedules, while the gang in Berkley has been discussing whether to join other Bay Area groups for one mondo event. As one Berkley poster put it “if we held it in Berkley we’d be preaching to the choir!”

So, the few scheduled events on AdMob include-

  • Atlanta– FreeMarket at CouchCouch on Edgewood Avenue
  • Boise– Zombie MeetUp, Bike Ride, Mall Walk, Picnic (free food) and ZOMBIE TAG in BoDo!!!
  • Capetown, South Africa– rendezvous at the bar at the Long Street Café, at the smoking end!
  • Cedar Rapids– slapping Corporate Crime Posters on bathroom stalls of big box retailers
  • Denver– Parade, bazaar, and 8pm showing of the film “What Would Jesus Buy?”
  • Ft. Lauderdale– a serene day of kayaking instead of going to the malls (huh?)
  • New York City– the event has been moved to a Facebook meetup (now that’s really lame!)
  • Osaka, Japan– meditating and placing a Zenta Claus figurine outside major retailers
  • Providence– event held in front of the Statehouse
  • Salt Lake City– Community Coat Exchange modeled after Rhode Island’s events in the past
  • San Francisco– Creative Housing Liberation’s Black Friday Housing Harvest “will include a rally, mass march, and a housing takeover where yummy food by “Food not Bombs” will be provided along with loud, fun music and guest speakers from all over the Bay Area.”
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada– Plastering posters up at the UBC Economics department!

Boise and Denver sound like the most fun in the traditional sense if they follow through. In Capetown you’ll have to mind the smoke! Ft. Lauderdale and NYC are just plain lame! Where’s the spirit? I chuckled when I saw Osaka’s plans. I have been in Osaka in December and can tell you that they go all out for Christmas in Kansai. Huge holiday light decorations in parks and along major shopping thoroughfares, Christmas trees in store windows, it’s all pretty surreal.

So will you be fighting the crowds scrambling for those 5am specials or standing in line at 4am for a chance to get a coupon for the 12 Blu-ray players that your big box retailer will have for $99?

Well, if you haven’t noticed, Black Friday came early this year as retailers have been celebrating by running specials weeks before the event. I sat through the CES 2011 New York Press Preview a few weeks ago to hear all about retailers’ plans for Friday as well as the rest of the Holiday 2010 season. Will I go out on Friday? I don’t shop that much as it is, and have like many cut spending quite a ways back, especially on things that aren’t really necessities (but that depends on how you define a necessity- Call of Duty: Black Ops?). I also usually avoid Black Friday in general due to the crowds, traffic, and lack of parking. So no matter how you celebrate it, try to have fun out there!

I also believe in that old Boris Karloff line from the Grinch Whole Stole Christmas— “maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store after all!” Now if I only I had my own Zenta Claus!

 – Randy Giusto