Saturday, April 4, 2009


Eveything lately has gotten me thinking about freeganism. Even Questionable Content, which I have been reading on and off for the past few days in between even worse procrastination:

If you didn't get it from the comic, Raven dated an "intellectual" hobo (ex-college kid who turned to freeganism as a social statement). It's a pretty hilarious strip, I really recommend it.

A few weeks ago I was walking around Morningside Heights (Mo-Hi, if you will) at night and saw a group of white people, in "normal-people" clothing, sifting through trash outside of Morton Williams. I couldn't figure out what they were doing for the life of me. A group of elderly people had gathered to watch. I asked one relatively non-senile looking woman what was going on, who described it like a performance art piece and left with a bit of disgust. I was intrigued and yet repelled, the same feeling I get when walking into a social gathering and feeling it overtaken by pod-people sporting ironic sideburns and Buddy Holly glasses. I smell hipster culture!

But then I saw the Agnes Varda (a member of the original French New Wave movement) documentary "The Gleaners and I," which I instantly 5-starred on Netflix. Gleaners are basically like freegans, albeit without the bobo implication (I apologize for using the word, but it's so damn catchy! Even IF I hate David Brooks with an undying passion! And almost all NYT columnists that aren't Paul Krugman!). What Varda does is equate her own need to collect things, like random bits of stuff on the street, in order to compile a complete memory, with the act of literal trash picking. I'm currently writing this all out in 500-word essay form for my New Wave course, but it's quite fascinating. Until now only Godard movies have gotten me so riled up, and this time I'm not even angry!

It almost makes me want to become a freegan, especially after having my practically freegan friend Kirsten visiting for a week. I've accumulated more than my fair share of trash-picking stories, including North Park university dumpster-diving, eating a whole pizza found outside of Famiglia's, and sharing vegan muffins found in the trash can of McBain 5. It would be completely impossible for me, though. For one, I love meat. I love cheeseburgers. I love all things fatty and wonderful that you'd never find in a garbage dump. I also secretly really like ordering food from restaurants, and take great pleasure in ordering things for everybody, even if I mispronounce words. Perhaps this is the reason why freeganism and veganism go hand-in-hand. Regardless, it's a good idea, and a solid part of the DIY aesthetic, and punk culture in general, I suppose.

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