April 26, 2001

"Don't suspect a friend,
Report him!"

The ads are plastered to the sides of the Muni trains I take downtown. "Brazil!" they scream, in a font that seems disturbingly close to that for the title of the Terry Gilliam movie of the same name. It struck me as more than a little odd, an ad campaign that conjures images of tiny offices, bureaucracy run rampant, and duct work. Not to mention the shoe-hat. I wonder if the marketing department has any idea?

It's not dystopia they're advertising, evidently. No, it's Macy's 55th Annual Flower Show. Yes, it seems a bit odd to me too, a department store hosting a flower show. I'm expecting motives hidden somewhere, perhaps in the 30 some Brazilian flags snapping gracefully in the breeze outside the store. The last time I saw this many Brazilian flags in one place, I had made the mistake of trying to drive through Los Gatos after the Brazilian soccer team had just won a qualifying game the year the World Cup was held in United States.

Perhaps the motives are hidden within the men's store, where there are several costumes from this year's Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. The centerpiece is mostly white and pale blue, entirely covered in sequins. The short jacket with the wide shoulders and tight pants look like what you might get if you crossed the space age with traditional Spanish bullfighting. On either side are enormous sequined wings, and suddenly the costume is reminding me of the movie again. An accompanying sign announced that it weighs more than 150 pounds and is symbolic of hope and the future.

I went outside. I know what Gilliam's futures look like.

The women's store is hosting the flowers. The cosmetics and fragrances department are buried under trees, bromilliads, spider plants, dozens of other plants I've no names for, fountains and foam done up to look like stone ruins. At first, it seemed rather magical, something out of one of my dreams, a harmonic fusion of man and nature, with man taking a secondary role. Then a woman at one of the cosmetic counters approached, about to offer me a makeover, I presume, and the bubble shattered. I was in Macy's; this is a commercial environment. The whole thing is artificial, from the foam-stone Aztec-styled "ruins" to the plexiglass enhanced and controlled fountains. Suddenly even the plants seemed fake. The only real thing left was the warm scent of controlled air. I dodged the cosmetics lady, and headed for the door.

Brazil indeed. I kept my eyes down as I merged with the flow of shoppers, tourists, and commuters on Stockton Street. No one should see the horror on my face; they might report me.

No comments:

Post a Comment