Me and My Boycott | Our Town | Chicago Reader

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Me and My Boycott

France? The way I see it, we need to start with a boycott of the U.S.


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I'd just sat down for some PC gruel at the Heartland Cafe when I noticed the large black letters on the back of the menu telling me to "Boycott France." It said my refusal to buy French goods would be an effective protest against that country's resumption of nuclear testing in the Pacific.

I thought about it for a minute. In the 1980s I boycotted the products of companies doing business in South Africa as a protest against apartheid. I'd switched to Pepsi, cut my Shell credit card in half, and stopped wearing Reeboks. So what would the French boycott mean? No French Roast coffee, no champagne, no Perrier, no Evian, no Bain de Soleil, no Esprit clothes, no Monet exhibit, no Le Car, no Nouveau Beaujolais this year. It wasn't going to alter my life very much, even if it meant no more deja vu, no hors d'oeuvres, no more menage a trois (well, that might be a problem).

But then I got to thinking: Why pick on France? What has France ever done, really, but give the rest of the world an inferiority complex, colonize, and start a bunch of nasty wars? What about the United States? Who came up with the whole nuclear thing anyway? And didn't the French use our bases and our uranium for their tests? The way I see it, maybe we need to start with a boycott of the U.S. I have a long list of complaints. Moralizing by corrupt politicians, corporate welfare, bad roads, antitrust exemptions, FCC censorship, tollways, Waco, racism, sexism, manifest destiny, ugly currency, working conditions at the post office, using taxpayer money to figure out the copulation habits of turtles, rapes by servicemen overseas, the letdown you feel when you visit Mount Rushmore, sending troops to [insert country here], public radio. Hey, the U.S. is responsible for a lot of things I hate.

Hmm. I could start my boycott with the basics. I could eat only food that came from abroad. The farther away the better. I could live on fancy British water crackers and Spanish olives. Heck, I could feel good about buying Chilean grapes! I'm boycotting the U.S.

At least I wouldn't have to throw out my TV. I'd watch Canada's Degrassi Junior High and Mexico's Dos mujeres un camino with Erik Estrada. I could watch the French Le journal on Channel 21 and hear their account of my one-woman boycott. A lot of my money would go to Chicago Cable, but TCI will soon be a multinational corporation anyway. I could buy a shortwave and listen to foreign radio broadcasts.

I'd be the opposite of my racist, God-fearing grandmother, who would only buy American. I'd have to sell my bicycle and my Delta 88. I could buy the Honda Civic my brother's been trying to sell me. I'd make sure he put the money in a foreign bank. Deutsche Bank has a cool name--maybe I'd try them. Nah, it makes me think of the Nazis. There's Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, but that country's practically the 51st state. Maybe I'd try Banque Paribas, whatever that is (provided they don't have a teller fee).

My stereo, of course, was not made in this country. But I couldn't listen to a lot of music. No Sonic Youth. No Shaggs. No Pearl Jam (thank God). I'd only buy import records--Tindersticks and Beasts of Bourbon. I suppose all of that so-called world beat stuff should start to sound a whole lot better. Peter Gabriel would make even more money.

I'd have to 86 Sam Adams. I'd drink imported beer, not because it was my socioeconomic prerogative, but for political reasons. Fuck the microbrews. I'm boycotting America.

I could continue to give money to my Thai mechanic, Mr. Pong. I'd have to lose my American-made computer. My clothes would be made by wage slaves in Indonesia--the ones I feel so guilty about now.

I could still see movies at Sony Theatres or Cineplex Odeon. They're Canadian or Japanese-owned or something. It's so hard to keep up (I wonder why that is?). Of course I could only see foreign films, but a lot of American movies are filmed in Canada so maybe I could see those, too. I could still go on dates, provided the guy doesn't have a social security number. I'd probably end up getting married!

Imagine the fun of tearing the blue pages out of the phone book and wafting them across the room. No more government "services." I wouldn't use government roads. I'd have to forge my own path. No police, of course. If they tried to pull me over, I'd just keep going. I'd stop paying taxes, only speak Spanish, and act ungrateful on Thanksgiving.

I'd get rid of half the stuff I own--but only half, because the rest is from somewhere else. If I needed new things, I'd steal them. Yeah. Maybe it'd be OK to have American goods, as long as I didn't pay for them.

Leaving the country would make my boycott a heck of a lot easier. I'd fly Lufthansa--but out of what airport? My destination would be one of the Scandinavian countries, where they have a nice social welfare system and the food tastes like shit. I'd lose weight and learn the language.

Where would I draw the line? I'd probably end up having to boycott myself. I was born here, after all. I'd remove my mirrors, throw out my photos, and take my name off the mailbox. I'd stop cashing checks, stop answering the phone, and ignore all those negative voices that only I can hear. Hey, that's not such a bad idea.

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