Sunday, November 4, 2007


My ongoing surreal adventures in the supermarket ....

Part 1 - Fake Plastic Trees

I am numb and disengaged, staring vacantly at a wall of glass freezers in the frozen food section. My listless facial expression is accented by an abundance of artificial light. There is a complete absence of shadow anywhere. My illuminated body is part of glaring and blinding mass, indistinguishable from my surroundings. I could be anybody.

I retreat into the safety of my Ipod and search for an appropriate soundtrack - Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead. I switch it on, keep my eyes low to the ground and begin my search for familiar grocery items. I could easily keep my eyes shut while continuing to walk around effortlessly.

The music builds slowly and begins to vibrate through my headphones. The words echo through my body - "her fake Chinese rubber plant, in the fake plastic earth" - I begin to feel disoriented and queasy. The vibrations expand throughout my body and somehow I have become a conduit for the music to be broadcast into the heavens. I can feel it everywhere.

Overwhelmed by this sensation I climb into my shopping cart and curl up within a womb of grocery items. Suddenly the cart begins to glide slowly down the aisle, propelled by an unknown force. I realize now that I am inside of the video for this song. The items lining the shelves have become indistinguishable from each other, save for blocks of colour that define each section - bright green, orange and yellow, items that could be anything.

Somehow my version of the video is different though, as there are no blatant and defiant signs of humanity among the endless plastic neon aisles. There is no one knocking over cans, shaving their head, or cat walking down the aisles. Everyone appears oblivious to the changes that have transformed the environment. People continue to shop as normal, carefully examining each item on the shelf despite the fact that they are all identical.

I begin to scream and stand up in my cart, though no one takes notice. The cart moves faster and I hold out my arms, knocking down row after row of items. The noise as various items smash and break is unsettling even to me, though it is of little consequence to anyone around me. People walk over the strewn items treating them like only minor obstructions, like dutiful robots staying the course

The music bounces off the walls and the words echo throughout the cavernous market - "But I can't help the feeling, I could blow through the ceiling, If I just turn and run" - the entire building begins to rattle and vibrate. It is so loud that you can feel the music more than you can actually hear it. The level of energy is intense and overwhelming and it feels like the whole place could blow at any moment.

Suddenly the music slows down to a whisper. There is moment of silence, perhaps a second, though it feels longer. In the corner of my eye I see something striking - an old lady is resting on a chair in the middle of the aisle, contentedly looking around at the chaos around her. She notices me and gives me a knowing wink......

The song is over and I am now standing over a pyramid of abnormally shiny green apples, not a blemish in sight. My cart is full. I wipe my brow, take the headphones off and walk towards the check out line. I feel alive.

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