Black-Friday Woes: The Death of the Department Store

They no longer shop till they drop.

Black Friday is when you’re supposed to shop till you drop. It kicks off the holiday selling season. No season is more sacred for retailers. They’re expected to do about 40% of their annual sales in those few weeks till Christmas.

The National Retail Federation is bubbling over with enthusiasm, expecting holiday sales to grow 3.6% this year to $656 billion. Since Trump has won the election, consumer optimism about the economy has surged, and this is expected to be one hot holiday selling season.

But not today, not at brick-and-mortar retailers, according to Reuters:

“Initial reports show it’s steady and not very busy at stores around the country,” explained Craig Johnson, president at Customer Growth Partners. The retail consultancy deployed 18 people to observe customer traffic across the country.

Store traffic remained subdued across the country, according to spot checks made by Reuters reporters and industry officials.

Rain hurt shopping at stores in the Northeast, Johnson said, but some retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart saw improved customer traffic at stores across the country.

Macy’s and Best Buy on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile were packed, but employees said most of the customers were tourists.

Chicago’s State Street, a normally bustling shopping area popular with locals, was desolate.

The Los Angeles Times reported a similarly gloomy scenario from Southern California:

Shoppers out in the early hours on Black Friday roamed stores in Southern California that they say were emptier than in years past.

At 4 a.m. at a Target in Duarte, Michael Chung, 40, and his three children said many of the store’s doorbuster items were still in stock. Last year, he recalled, many already had sold out by that predawn hour.

“There’s less people, and you don’t feel the holiday spirit,” said the seven-year veteran of Black Friday sales. “It’s scary. It doesn’t feel like Black Friday. This year is very weird.”

The multigenerational clans that normally swarm around malls together on Black Friday were also scarce:

“That multigenerational tradition for some families is 50, 60 years in the making,” said Britt Beemer, founder of America’s Research Group. “They drive about 25% of mall sales on Black Friday. If they don’t show up, mall retailers are going to see a significant decline in sales.”

There are still four weeks left to pull out the year. And hopes persists that this year will be decent.

But online sales are hot, according to Adobe Digital Index, cited by Reuters. Online shoppers blew $1.15 billion on Thanksgiving Day, between midnight and 5 pm ET, according to Adobe Digital Index, up nearly 14% from a year ago.

Sales by ecommerce retailers have been sizzling for years, growing consistently between 14% and 16% year-over-year and eating with voracious appetite the stale lunch of brick-and-mortar stores, particularly department stores.

The lunch-eating process began in 2001. The chart below shows monthly department store sales, seasonally adjusted, since 1992. Note the surge in sales in the 1990s, driven by population growth, an improving economy, and inflation (retail sales are mercifully not adjusted for inflation). But sales began to flatten out in 1999. The spike in January 2001 (on a seasonally adjusted basis!) marked the end of the great American department store boom:


Even as the US fell into a recession in March 2001, ecommerce took off. But department store sales began their long decline, from nearly $20 billion in January 2001 to just $12.7 billion in October 2016, despite 14% population growth and 36% inflation!

The decline of department stores is finding no respite during the holiday season. Not-seasonally-adjusted data spikes in October, November, and December. But these spikes have been shrinking, from their peak in December 2000 of $34.3 billion to $23.4 billion in December 2015, a 32% plunge, despite, once again, 14% population growth and 36% inflation!


In other words: the brick-and-mortar operations of department stores are becoming irrelevant.

Ecommerce sales include all kinds of merchandise, not just the merchandise available in department stores. So it’s a broader measure. They have skyrocket from $4.5 billion in Q4 1999 ($1.5 billion a month on average) to $101 billion in Q3 2016 ($33.7 billion a month on average). This chart compares ecommerce and department store sales on a quarterly basis:


The only time ecommerce sales fell beyond normal seasonal variations was during the Financial Crisis. This year too, they’re booming at the expense of department stores and brick-and-mortar retailers in general.

Department stores have begun shuttering stores and selling off properties, not only zombie companies like Sears, but also relatively healthy companies (in comparison to Sears), including Macy’s, which announced another wave of store closings in August and sold its men’s store at Union Square in San Francisco, at peak dollars, for redevelopment.

Brick-and-mortar department stores are dying a slow death, and nothing is going to save them. It will just take a while. The good ones will be able to grow their online presence and survive in trimmed-down form. The bad ones will fall by the wayside. Investors thinking that excellent strategic planning and execution can produce some kind of lasting upswing are deluding themselves. Even a miraculous multi-year boom in the overall economy can’t stop brick-and-mortar operations of department stores from turning into zombies.

Retail sales cannot expect much support from auto sales as the “Car Recession” is now expected to spread to 2017. Read…  Strongest Pillar of Shaky US Economy has Cracked

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  141 comments for “Black-Friday Woes: The Death of the Department Store

  1. Jungle Jim says:

    Stores in the Tampa area appeared to have a lot more shoppers than buyers. The problem with Black Friday is that people are after the deeply discounted stuff. Deeply discounted stuff counts as revenue, but not so much as profits.

    For years the financial community has told us that credit and money are the same thing. It’s rubbish, and more and more people realize that. Money is stored wealth, whereas credit is debt on offer. It is the conditional right to use someone else s stored wealth. Using it creates a sale, and an obligation for repayment. As that sinks in people become more careful about their spending. I know, I know, that’s bad for the economy as a whole, but it seems to be reality.

    • EVENT HORIZON says:

      “Money”, today, is not a store of wealth. It is paper notes.

      ONLY Gold, Silver, Cattle, Young Women, are wealth.

      WE don’t use money today, we use Federal Reserve Notes. Look into that.

      • Gerald Stehura says:

        Young women??? Shame on you!!!!

      • Frederick says:

        Young women I like the way you think Horizon lol You must be a fellow “deploreable” politically incorrect and proud

      • Petunia says:


        Could you list the young women in your family and their prices?

      • Adam Price says:

        Gold, silver, and other commodities have NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with money and are PLUNGING IN PRICE based on US dollars which are REAL MONEY.

        • d says:

          “Gold, silver, and other commodities have NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with money and are PLUNGING IN PRICE based on US dollars which are REAL MONEY.”

          NO Gold is simply going through another of its manipulated price moves taking everything else with it.

          US Dollars we the global reserve of choice, until you elected the third Doh POTUS in a row. This one think’s he can renegotiate treasury’s at will, and still retain global reserve status. What you are seeing in the fluctuatuions of the dollar could be the begging of its death throw’s.

          On monday I shal look into changing the domicile of my FX and stock accounts to CHF

          Gold is money, however the CB’S have made it untenable to use. By falsely inflating the price, to force people to store their wealth if the fiat products, that can be destroyed by the state, at will

          See india for example.

          What india has just done, is the wake up call, all fiat is now officially untrustworthy, so dead, by modis hand.

        • Frederick says:

          Adam Price how much do the banksters pay you to post nonsense online? Noone could be that ridiculous

        • Richard says:

          Hang on. That is not so ridiculous. First of all, gold and silver are NOT ‘real money’. What was the last purchase you made in ‘gold’ or ‘silver’? You cannot buy anything with ‘money’ described as gold or silver.

          Secondly, you may not like it – it may go against your preferred monetary dogma – but the dollar IS ‘real money’. Why people deny this is a mystery to me. They do themselves no favors. They make themselves look stupid. When was the last time you went to buy something with dollars and were told, “I’m sorry, we don’t take dollars. We only take ‘real money’. And please don’t change the subject by talking about credit cards or other alternative forms of payment.

          Gold USED TO BE money when it was anchored to gold through the gold standard. The world’s favorite president crushed that parity just before noon on August 15, 1971. Thanks, Tricy Dick… for nothing!

        • d says:

          “Hang on. That is not so ridiculous. First of all, gold and silver are NOT ‘real money’. What was the last purchase you made in ‘gold’ or ‘silver’? You cannot buy anything with ‘money’ described as gold or silver.”

          WRONG WRONG in fact VERY WRONG.

          You need to get a more globalized view, instead of staying tunnel-visioned on a supposedly free country, that forbade it citizens to hold gold from 1933 to 1975. You are making yourself look very stupid.

          The problem with gold today, is that it’s purchase price has been deliberately artificially driven to untenable levels, by the supporters of fiat.

          I trade GLD all the time, the last physical I brought, was 5 KG, during “browns bottom”. Even @ 225 an Oz including deliver costs, it wasn’t a good deal.

        • Adam Price says:

          Gold down 13.5% in 13 days – Trump bearish for gold?

        • Frederick says:

          Nonsense the dollar is just another fiat currency and being printed into oblivion Gold and silver are the only true moniesin the world and that fact will soon become very evident As for gold dropping to 1050 again I very much doubt that Remember what happened a year ago to gold when Mr Yellen raised ratesa quarter percent Thats about to repeat

        • Richard says:

          “Thats about to repeat”

          YOU DON’T KNOW THAT. You’re just guessing – and hoping. Your comment has nothing to do with the contention being proffered: namely that gold and silver are not money. They are valued according to “money” (the U.S. dollar), just like cars or potatoes or cleaning powder. Sorry to burst your bubble but until these metals become anchored to a hard currency, they will NEVER be money.

      • Richard says:

        Sure gold is wealth – if you don’t mind seeing it decline in terms of the US dollar. What’s the point of your comment??

        • ru82 says:

          Actually, you could also take the view that gold is on sale because of the strong USD.

        • Richard says:

          You don’t KNOW that. You’re just guessing. And even if you’re right, you’re STILL buying (or pricing) gold in terms of another money (the U.S. dollar). By that measure, everything and anything that has a dollar price (and doesn’t decay) is “money”.

          Delusions of gold-bugs. Nothing more. Nothing less.

        • d says:

          Gold and silver only devalue against the dollar, if you brought or obtained it, at the wrong price.

          Gold is gold the Us dollar is a piece of paper based on confidence and trust, a rater unstable piece of paper since the POTUS Elect 45 event.

          If you cant see that the US $ is currently very unstable, and far from completely trustworthy, you have a problem..

        • Adam Price says:

          Why gold hasn’t yet hit bottom

          Gold will have to decline even further before contrarian analysis flashes a buy signal.

          This has to be particularly discouraging news for long-suffering gold bugs. They no doubt thought that bullion’s GCZ6, -0.48% drop of more than $20 on Wednesday would have been enough to completely rebuild the Wall of Worry that markets like to climb—especially because gold since midyear has been such a disappointment. Since its early July high above $1,366, the price of bullion has dropped more than 13%.

        • Adam Price says:

          Gold set to suffer a ‘deeper dive’ and drop another $200: Wells Fargo strategist

          Trader bets against soaring gold miner

          It’s been a bruising week for gold prices, with the precious metal falling as low as $1,243 on Friday, for a 6 percent loss in a week’s time — but John LaForge, the head of real asset strategy at Wells Fargo, thinks the worst is still ahead.

          “Is the $60 drop in gold prices the beginning of a deeper dive? Our answer is yes, it may very well be,” LaForge wrote in a Friday report. “The history of gold, and commodity super-cycles, says that gold may very well lose another $200/oz., testing the $1,050 level, before it is time to buy again.”

          LaForge explains that gold is “currently buried knee-deep inside a commodity bear super-cycle, which began in 2011.”

        • d says:

          When it goes back under $280.00 an ounce its time to contemplate buying again.

          As in today’s debased dollars that’s roughly under $30.0 an OZ in Nixon dollars.

    • Toddy says:

      Um. Credit *is* money in the eyes of those who have no intention of paying it back. I file chapter 11 and presto.

      As long as the creditor can resell the IOU, nobody will care.

      The Circus won’t stop til they stop printing money.

      • d says:

        “The Circus won’t stop til they stop printing money.”


        Untill they cut credit, completely, to those who wont, or dont pay.

  2. Kreditanstalt says:

    I still don’t think online sales can take the place of a kick-the-tires brick-and-mortar retailer unless one is only after branded merchandise (which is the same everywhere albeit marginally cheaper online).

    Online doesn’t sell much food – or ANY second-hand goods, used books, records, VHS, collectible coins, foreign-only clothing, older model appliances or much of anything I want to buy…

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      Both and to a lesser extent eBay, offer comprehensive user critiques of what the users have bought there. Brands don’t carry much weight online.

      Amazon,com has a very wide food offering – as a matter of fact, many specialty foods that are not usually available in most locales are readily found there.

      eBay markets quite a lot of used and/or older stuff, as does Amazon (used books, records VHS).

      • polecat says:

        Amazon …. owned, and operated by the same altruistic fellow who purchased the Bezos ……. oooops, I mean the Washington Post ….
        you know, the same rag that just put out (courtesy of some newly created black ops establishment website) a rather dubious list of supposedly ‘Russian friendly’…. and by implication, unpatriotic web sites ….. some of which are, on occasion, mentioned or linked to on our host’s blog ……. THAT Amazon ???

        Boycott Amazon AND the B-rag !

        • Frederick says:

          Russian friendly? What a joke these traitors are Just because people are finally waking up to the facts that our media is a bought and paid for propaganda tool Boo freakin hoo And some people near the top must be getting really nervous lately Buy gold and silver(kryptonite to the moneychangers)

    • OutLookingIn says:

      If the powers-that-be have their way with eventually banning the use of ALL physical fiat “cash” notes and coins, then the used and specialty goods markets will be left with nothing but barter, or the use of physical gold and silver.
      The recent events that are taking place on the Indian sub-continent will occur everywhere.
      To make negative rates effective, the bankers must do away with the use of cash. So the peon’s cannot take their money and stuff it under their mattresses.

      • Winston says:

        It also potentially allows all transactions to be monitored and for one to be entirely cut off from all means of support via entirely electronic means. Another asset for what Snowden called our potential turn-key tyranny or, what I prefer to call it, a digital dystopia.

        • Frederick says:

          Winston what you are describing is precisely what Aaron Russo described back pre 911 when talking about his friendship with Nick Rockefeller Microchipping and total financial control is the goal according to Mr Russo

        • Adam Price says:

          As I have stated repeatedly, GOLD HAS NO FINANCIAL RELEVANCE TODAY AND NEVER WILL EVER AGAIN in any financial system.

          We have moved on long ago into the vastly superior system of ELECTRONIC MONEY that has nothing to do with thingies which cannot be transacted in real time and instantly like can be done with electronic money.

          A number of COLLECTIBLES including gold can be STORES OF VALUE but that is a very tiny part of what it takes for something to be money and just about all assets are STORES OF VALUE whether they be bonds, stocks, real estate, personal property collectibles, etc.

          I do not collect “Beanie Babies” – nor junk commodities like bullion gold or silver – and have no interest in them, but the value of all collectibles is whatever a willing buyer is willing to pay a willing seller.

      • Adam Price says:

        In case you haven’t noticed, INTEREST RATES ARE SOARING UPWARDS and are up 40% on the benchmark 10 year US Treasuries – which affect all other interest rates in the US economy – just since early July. They have moved from 1.36% to 2.34% presently.

        • Toddy says:

          Yup. Let’s find out if this trend solidifies in ’18. I sure hope it does.

    • allan says:

      ebay, kijiji, craigslist.

    • EVENT HORIZON says:

      Actually, I buy ALL my books on line. I collect First Edition books.

      Also, I have a stamp collection my Grand Father started as a kid. Since I’m an old geezer myself, my collection began over 150 years ago. The best place for stamps IS the internet.

      Also various parts for cameras, etc. are best on the internet since you can buy “hard to find” stuff there in a very quick fashion.

    • Adam Price says:

      eBay offers the largest variety of “used goods” and collectibles on the planet and is the preferred choice for anyone searching for such items.

  3. d says:

    The smart chains will have 1 or 2 view stores, in major locations, and do the rest online.

    As ultimately people still like to see before they buy. The buy decision being made long after the view frequently.

    Online shopping also avoids all the check out que, impulse purchase traps.

  4. 2banana says:

    There will always be the things you have to try on or see before you buy.

    There will be other things you have to have immediately.

    Then there are things you want to be able to return hassle free and without shipping charges.

    And there are always the items you want to pay cash for and have no record of the transaction.

    For every thing else – it will be bought online.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      >>>”And there are always the items you want to pay cash for and have no record of the transaction.”

      You’re unlikely to find those things at a department store.


      • 2banana says:

        Ha! More like cigarettes, liquors, legal drugs, bedroom fun things, jewlery, guns, ammo, etc.

        Anything you don’t want the government, tax authorities, health care plans or the WIFE to know about…


  5. Petunia says:

    Macy’s closed my account when I went into foreclosure, as did other department stores, but not all. In my case, they did it even though I didn’t owe them any money. Now I spend my money in those other stores that didn’t close my account. Don’t underestimate the memory of badly treated customers.

    I will not shop on Thanksgiving, ever, because the retail staffs deserve a day off with their families and I don’t want to encourage more worker oppression. I did not shop on Black Friday because I don’t need the BF stress.

    • Frederick says:

      Petunia Im with you especially on Macys They sold me some cheap Chineses furniture and I now shop elsewhere Same thing with Sears/Kmart Im done with them since they sold me a lemon frige and left me hanging

  6. Mike G says:

    Perhaps years of the media hyping what a spastic frenzy of stampedes are taking place at malls is now putting people off rather than encouraging them to join the herd. You’d have to force me at gunpoint to go to a mall on Thanksgiving weekend.

    • Frederick says:

      Yes but you are obviously one of the sane people Mike Certainly not in the majority They call us “deploreables”

  7. Curious Cat says:

    E-commerce is a blessing to “folks of a certain age”. As I get older I find myself making fewer and fewer trips to brick and mortar stores except for the grocery and Costco. Oh, and the liquor and hardware stores and pharmacy. Everything else gets delivered to my front door – even maintenance meds.

    Also, e-commerce can provide orders of magnitude more choices in a product, and the ability to find exactly the right item. When you go to a department store you are limited to the merchandise on the floor, or you have to go to check out what a competing store might have.

    And I hear more folks are getting older. Less energy and enthusiasm for wandering around wasting an afternoon. Although I admit that probably would be useful for the exercise. :-]

    • BradK says:

      The other end of the age curve is a factor as well, though not perhaps for Black Friday. From the mid-70’s through most of the 90’s the Mall was the social epicenter of teen life. Today, those mall rats have been been replaced by the Twitter rats who shop exclusively on-line.

      Rents in upscale malls are also extortionist. And those little wooden carts selling pricey trinkets pay even more per sq. ft. of retail space than anyone, as well as a cut of gross sales. For smaller stores with smaller staff, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that rent is an even higher expense than payroll.

      As e-Commerce has shaved margins down to nearly nothing there’s just no room to cover these rents.

  8. j. says:

    …and more working-class jobs disappear…

    • night-train says:

      …and more working-class jobs disappear…

      That trend in retail started many years past. Back in the 1950s, a salesclerk in almost any type of retail could make a living and those getting a commission could do pretty well. Even had decent benefits. When I was working in a hardware store while going to college in the early 1970s, I worked with an older gentleman who was winding his career down. In that career he, on one hardware store income, had bought a home, drove a recent model car and sent two sons through engineering school.

      Over time, to accomplish the same results, one had to be ever higher in management. Most sales people in a retail establishment today are part-timers, or maybe a second income. But you are right. Many of those jobs will be gone soon.

      • Kent says:

        In the day, you had a couple of local factories that employed half the town at union wages. If you didn’t pony up, your employees went to work at said factories. That world is long gone.

  9. Bookdoc says:

    I wonder if my family is representative of others. Years ago we went for a few small gifts and a great dinner with family and friends. It’s a lot easier and more like the holiday was meant to be.
    I know a number of others that feel the same.
    By the way, I am an agnostic but still wish everyone “Merry Christmas!

    • Lee says:

      Don’t do Christmas gifts any more.

      Birthdays the same.

      If we need something we buy it when we need it – which isn’t much.

      We have enough stuff – so we only buy something when something breaks or wears out.

      Gone are the days when the wife bought Louis Vuitton bags and I gave her lots of jewelry.

      A combination of not needing/wanting the stuff and having learned to do without when I was unemployed.

      About the only things I buy every year are vegetable seeds & seedlings for the garden.

      Japanese have a saying for the phase of our lives we are entering: danshari.

    • Petunia says:

      Last year we dedicated part of our Xmas shopping budget to a nice Xmas Eve family dinner out. It is the only thing I still remember from last Xmas.

      • d says:

        Now retrench the next step, to a time when most Christmas gifts were made, and so really meant something.

        Christmas became a “Corporate consumer fest” in the 50’s in the US, and 60’s in England.

        The last true Christmas I remember, was midnight mass. In a 900 + year old Norman church, in 1968.

        Since then, they have all been nothing, but a financial drain, and pain.

  10. Justme says:

    Wolf, I think you ought to be upset that you have not made the master list of Russian propaganda outlets!

    I think you ought to file a complaint with the appropriate authorities. It seems totally unfair that gets the nod and not you ;-) :-)

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Yeah, no, actually… This whole thing is turning into a witch hunt where anyone can come up with their own list of inconvenient sites and try to tar and feather them with the “propaganda” or “fake news” label.

      Yves at NC isn’t going to take this sitting down. And others might not either. I hope this creates so much blowback for the authors of these lists that they’ll regret ever having thought of putting them together.

      • Richard says:

        Disagree totally. You should wish to associate yourself with these blogs/sites. They (you) are where the truth lies. If you disagree with the concept, you should band together and issue a formal complaint/class action suit. But you should be glad to express solidarity with these people… which, by the way, can only improve your exposure.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Richard, I’m in personal contact with the owners of some of these sites, including Susan at Naked Capitalism, and I’ve encouraged them to band together and take action. I’m a regular contributor on Zero Hedge, Naked Capitalism, and several others on the list.

          These lists are idiotic and to some extent dangerous because, if this gets out of hand, there can be real consequences.

          Many sites depend on advertising revenues. Some of the biggest ad networks and advertisers are now pulling back from, or are blocking sites they consider “fake news” or whatever – which could put these sites out of business. That’s where the danger to the country is. It’s a form of unofficial censorship.

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        I agree!

        I HATE any attempt to suppress free speech, except for incitement to violence.

        That includes phony niceties, like we must say “The ‘N’ word”, not the word itself.

        I’ll sign this Cracker RD.

        • EVENT HORIZON says:

          RD, you don’t see the censureship that exists behind the scenes at every blog site you go to.

          I write a lot, and I write controversial stuff. Not offensive, but it talks of RACE, The Federal Reserve Company, etc. and most of my comments are censured.

          A young computer savvy kid can make millions if they set up a network where people can speak/write of all topics as long as they don ‘t use obvious useless curse words. There is a HUGE market. Yahoo, YouTube, Facebook, Tweeter, Googles are all “owned” and are going to shut down the free speech crowd.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          EVENT HORIZON, you said: “I write a lot, and I write controversial stuff. Not offensive, but it talks of RACE…”

          Many of your comments may not be offensive to YOU, but they’re immensely offensive to others (and full of BS too, which is a toxic combination). They deserve to disappear into the ether.

          If you want to publish this sort of stuff, start YOUR OWN BLOG. No one prevents you from doing that, and you can say whatever you want. Maybe you’ll even get a few readers.

          But you need to understand something: this comment section is like my living room, and we’re having a friendly conversation with plenty of polite disagreement among friends. So I won’t let you use it as your personal platform for spouting off your hateful thoughts while aggravating other commenters with obnoxious replies.

          Many other comment sections have similar rules. That’s why many of your comments get blocked around the internet. So start your own blog. That way you get to say whatever you want.

      • Petunia says:


        On a more serious note, The Washington Post is owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who has a $600M contract with the CIA to run a cloud database. This cannot be ignored in the context of this witch hunt. The real question that needs to be asked is, what is The Washington Post willing to do for that $600M contract?

        • BobT says:

          Nail on the head ma’am

        • Kent says:

          I posted on another site that TPTB just need to band together and take ownership of the large networks and hosting sites. The fedgov can then provide them with lucrative contracts for whatever. Finally, the sites shutdown any sites they deem unfit in the interests of their shareholders.

          It’s not censureship when it’s done by private interests.

        • Crazy Horse says:

          The voters have spoken. The REAL fake news sites are the Washington Post, NY Times, CNN, NBC, ABC, FOX & Small Things Considered. As an American if you want to go to a site that is only 50% fake news you have to turn to RT.

      • Mark Hodge says:

        I, for one, thought that Wapo’s publication of the so-called “fake” news sites was a great public service. Now I have a list of places to go for real news. I was surprised this site was not included on the list.

      • polecat says:

        BOYCOTT AMAZON !!!

        • Frederick says:

          Yes please and Facebook and Google as well please

        • JerryBear says:

          I think we are going to end up with a grim fascistic corporate socialism in the United States where all retail commerce is handled by WalMart and Amazon.

        • d says:

          Something like that is on the cards, and POTUS Elect 45, is part of making that happen.

          45 is very much, you pay first, or you dont get

      • kitten lopez says:

        i’ve chipped my own ice berg off and am floating so far from the rest of the world, this “fake news” thing is HILARIOUS in a not-so-funny way because of how the new york times and the mainstream press in general seems to miss so much in the way of trump’s coups and the Standing Rock standoff. as well as the economy and lives of real people.

      • kitten lopez says:

        this witch hunt is also why i think in going backwards, there’s going to be a return to the old ways, something similar to mimeographing newsletters and sending ’em via the postal mail.

        as a writer who’s always been aware of what i casually write to others via the free email sites i use, and how any story of sedition can be reverse-engineered (i got schooled early by the grown up children of communists, trotsky-ites, and early union struggles and heard about wire tapping and being sent to prison without charges for years), i notice a tiny sparkle of titillation in NOT having to worry whenever i wrote a hand note or type a letter, which i try to do now to the few i write to still.

        while i was kinda joking about you starting a bar or a convention of sorts, i’m NOT joking that as the eternal energetic, cheerful, and creative optimist you appear to be in spite of all the headlines you write–just be on the look out for “new” ideas for doing what you do in different ways.

        i don’t know what’s going on and i’m reeling still, but i think i’m kinda right about going back to the sixties in many ways i’m not even sure of yet. that’s all i know. we each touch our piece of the elephant and that’s all i’ve got. i’m as blind as the rest of everyone.

        but technology has killed live music, small theatre, art, romance, patience, attention, news, etcetera… it’s killed a lot of urban creativity that isn’t focused only on monetizing every fucking thing.

        so i think people are going to be hiding in plain sight by avoiding the deadness of the internet. the internet kills everything, even nascent art ideas. things and people have to grow and struggle and practice in PRIVATE. the “tah dah” factor is gone on the internet. it requires a different twitchy distracted temperament.

        anyhow… being offline so much has returned my attention span for books to me, and i was worried it was gone FOREVER. so i know my own twitchiness wasn’t as permanent as i’d feared.

        this is a scary but very exciting time. what a relief. all the strained smiles and cold politeness was KILLING me.

        i’m not saying quit this… i’m just saying… yeah, shit’s going down. but a lot of here were made for this time.

        • Petunia says:

          Obama passed the NDAA, they can lock you up anytime they want and they don’t need a good reason. Yes, a democrat did that.

          As far as the internet goes, every thing on it is traceable, changeable, and available. There is no security and no authenticity, what you see is what you get at that moment. By all means get a life away from it.

          So, what are you reading, anything good?

        • Wolf Richter says:

          BTW, is your book still in print? I understand that you might not want to disclose your true name, but I’d love to take a look at it.

        • kitten lopez says:

          aw, shucks, Mr Wolf! that’s sweet of you to ask… my regular name is erika lopez (kitten lopez is my street dance goddess name) and the book that’s still in print is “flaming iguanas.”
          flaming iguanas was about me starting a motorcycle gang of one (myself) and going cross country on a motorcycle i’d just learned to ride.

          but when i went “mad” from all this stuff of trying to be successful and we started our publishing company (yeah, printed in china after exhausting quotes in the u.s.), my ego and who i was in this world just SHATTERED over and over and i went on tour and people felt DIFFERENT (doing live solo performance also hones the ability to read a fucking invisible crowd… it’s addictive when you’re in sync)… but this whole other odd “me” emerged–Kitten Lopez.

          it’s my goddess street dancing persona that i try to be in life as life is now my Art with a capital “a.” to keep it from being irrelevant sofa art. so i’m living my long “theories” best i can, often with writing as the initial sketch.

          then i illustrate and make the “costume.”

          i take long baths to re-think what i’d done that day and how i could do better or who i’ll clarify things with or check up on. i give people a whole LOT Of thought these days.

          so i’m trying to find the crack in the pavement to BE the green shoot and inspire more.

          and i hated writing fiction because it made people feel a certain way, but it was too impersonal for me. it was “entertainment,” although whenever anyone “woke up” to themselves then it was worth it. but it was killing ME to write. it takes sooo much out of me to break past my own bullshit.

          but writing… it was so “yesterday” for ME. it wasn’t on the ground. it was vision as merely theory… FICTION. but i need blood now.

          i’m tired of fiction and documentaries and photographing shit and saying you’re trying to change stuff with AWARENESS. we’re all plenty aware shit’s all kinda fucked up…what’re you gonna DO about it??? THERE’s NO MORE TIME…

          because voting’s not enough and you NEVER need viagra when you live ready to say “fuck you.” in a good way.

          man, i’m SPEECHING. that’s another secret of art as i hope it is soon.. more audaciously daring to embarrass itself by going too far in an idealistic way.

          that’s what i try to do with fan letters to that that monkey chaos guy. he’s too funny alpha and clever and if this book is too successful, he’ll hover in douchery for a buck. it’s a trap.

          you’ve always always always gotta willing to suck royally, to bite the hand that feeds you, to make sure you’re clean. especially NOW.

          yeah… this is a money site. but that’s the central question, isn’t it? everything’s whored out and who’s not tramped out to death? i mean young girls are supposed to be proud of being SLUTS? you’ve GOT to be fucking kidding me.

          looking someone in the EYES has gotten more forbidden than displaying our genitals.

          James knew i was on your site and left the room. fuck. i saw your question and knew it’d be hell to find it LATER in the list!!!

          gotta go/lucky youse guys!

          someone’s doing a fucking Indian CERMONY in the backyard where that internet douchebag wanna be used to live and make racket…

          SAN FRANCISO IS BAAACK! (at least for now… !!!!!)

          besos/sorry for the length. writing is easy/editing is THE HELL!!!


        • JerryBear says:

          I don’t think Technology has killed these things so much as it is how our Robber Baron Neoliberal Capitalism has done it. The vulgarization, trivialization and alienation of everyone and everything that Marx predicted. You cannot turn everything into a commodity for investing.

      • Adam Price says:

        The Washington Post: Useful-Idiot Shills for a Failed, Frantic Status Quo That Has Lost Control of the Narrative

        Don’t you think it fair and reasonable that anyone accusing me of being a shill for Russian propaganda ought to read my ten books in their entirety and identify the sections that support their slanderous accusation?

        I was amused to find my site listed on the now-infamous list of purportedly Russian-controlled propaganda sites cited by The Washington Post. I find it amusing because I invite anyone to search my 3,600-page archive of published material over the past decade (which includes some guest posts and poems) and identify a single pro-Russia or pro-Russian foreign policy entry.

        If anything, my perspective is pro-US dollar, pro-liberty, pro-open markets, pro-local control, pro-free-press, pro-innovation, and pro-opportunities to rebuild America’s abandoned, decaying localized economies: in other words, the exact opposite of Russian propaganda.

        My “crime” is a simple one: challenging the ruling elite’s narrative. Labeling all dissent “enemy propaganda” is of course the classic first phase of state-sponsored propaganda and the favorite tool of well-paid illiberal apologists for an illiberal regime.

        Labeling everyone who dissents or questions the ruling elite’s narrative as tools of an enemy power is classic McCarthy-era witch-hunting, i.e. a broad-brush way of marginalizing and silencing critics with an accusation that is easy to fabricate but difficult to prove.

        Such unsupported slander is a classic propaganda technique.

      • Edward E says:

        Bill for targeting Russian propagandists passes in the Congress

    • Maximus Minimus says:

      To stay on topic, you do know who owns WaPo? I sure will think about it when I do my online shopping.

      • BrianC says:

        Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post.

        I refuse to shop Amazon. (I disagree with their business practices, and I am *not* a fan of Jeff Bezos.)

        Remember: Every choice you make is a *moral* choice.

        • Maximus Minimus says:

          Apart from moral reasons, I start to hate the Amazon experience on it’s own merit. IMO, they started to throw customers who are not Prime under the bus.

    • Petunia says:

      Every site I like was on the list except WS. I demand WS be included!

      • Frederick says:

        Three which I frequent didnt make the cut either
        1. Boiling Frogs with Sibel Edmonds
        2. USA Watchdog with Greg Hunter
        3. 108Morris108 with Morris Herman

    • MC says:

      That’s just great: I survived one Cold War, where my childhood home was less than 30 miles from a military site which was to get a couple of Soviet nuclear missiles to wipe it from the map, only to end up in another.

      And if last time I had doubts about who the bad guys were, this time around I have none.

    • Rick says:

      That site reeks. You don’t have to be pro-Russian to be telling the truth.

      • Frederick says:

        Three which I frequent didnt make the cut either
        1. Boiling Frogs with Sibel Edmonds
        2. USA Watchdog with Greg Hunter
        3. 108Morris108 with Morris Herman

    • Dan Romig says:

      One of my favorite pieces of media spin machine propaganda is that Russia invaded and occupied Crimea. The New York Times and Washington Post have tried to reinforce this false narrative.

      To Victoria Nuland and Robert Kagan, I say “Fuc# you, not the EU!”

      On the topic of gold and silver, they have some industrial value, but they have stood the test of time (with price fluctuations and manipulations). Other commodities are also stores of value, such as grains, rice, oil and metals. One needs grains for food, and iron for steel.

      As far as brick and mortar retail, I buy my tires from TireRack exclusively, and have a local mechanic mount and balance them. Why would I go to a tire service center and pay a lot more? For music, BestBuy does not stock SACDs, so they need to be ordered online or purchased from the Minnesota Orchestra directly. Minneapolis has quite a few great used record stores to buy new and used vinyl, and there’s so much to choose from at these stores that you can’t replicate with Amazon.

      There’s no way to substitute some retail outlets though. I always buy my bike(s) and motor bike parts/supplies through local shops. I could save a buck or two sometimes, but I value having trustworthy and skilled shop owners there to help me, and I appreciate that they’re employing people too.

  11. nick kelly says:

    Some odd ads seen recently: razor blade price wars have broken out.

    Any marketer will tell you that males are far more price resistant (except for exciting stupid stuff)
    They don’t like shelling out 20+ $ for 5 blades.
    Rick from Pawn Stars is just one of the guys hawking competitive blades.

    It’s got hot enough that Gillette now is running ads saying how much longer their blades last than budget blades.
    Lately I’ve been buying Mach 3 for about half price at a flea market.
    Lady of house who is a marketer says they are stolen- but maybe the guy bought stock somewhere…

    I think this clash of budget versus name brand is accelerating and is significant. The normal ads that appeal to the ‘sizzle’ of product are now forced to focus on value. I have no doubt that this is an unwanted defensive campaign by Gillette- not a battle it chose.
    The typical ad from Gillette didn’t even mention price- just how incredibly smooth it shaves.

    The whole dollar store phenom is part of it. I just bought a set of Rubber Maid ‘Take Along’ food containers. $3 at Dollarama, identical $6 at next door London Drugs, which itself is supposed to be a budget store.

    Second, even stranger ad: starts out like typical ad, could be for anything.
    Lady with kid in dept store comes to check out:
    Clerk: will that be debit or credit?
    Lady: Credit, and starts to hand over card.

    Suddenly a bunch of toys at check out start chanting: NO NO NO
    Then the text reads: Use debit. Have a happy January. Stay in the black.
    From Interac.

    This strikes me as unusual.

    • BrianC says:

      Hmm – Could be counterfeit product…

      Some manufacturers are discovering that if you outsource your manufacturing overseas that the vendor can go ahead and run a few more on the side and then sell the extras for himself. Since he’s building your stuff with your logos to your specs and the *extras* look just like your product… It’s going to look real to the buyer because it is!

      Offshore… A good place to store your IP for safe keeping!

      • EVENT HORIZON says:

        There is a book “The China Price”, that deal with this very topic. They run a second production line, and these goods go out the back door to the “Grey Market”.

        Where do you think these great Prada and Coach products come from on the internet. Some are actually the REAL DEAL and are not fakes, but came of the “shadow” production line.

        But, if these extra greedy designer companies want to ship their manufacturing from Italy to Chinese peasants….then too bad.

    • David G LA says:

      I think the two on line “blade a month” clubs have shaken up the razor market. (Harry’s, dollar shave club). it was to be expected.

      • Clean shave says:

        I ran the numbers on a Harrys membership and found it costs the same as purchasing Mach 3 blades in bulk at Costco. Unfortunately, my wife just informed me that Costco didn’t have them when she went shopping this week. So I’ll need to find a new source.

        • Kent says:

          I buy a years worth on eBay. If you keep an eye out you can find great prices.

        • Adam Price says:

          The Gillette Mach 3 Razors on eBay are often COUNTERFEIT and eBay does a very poor job in policing counterfeit items such as these.

    • mynamett says:

      Fock Gillette. They are supporting globalization. Give your money directly to China. I think they have no manufacturing plant in Canada, why give them our money, better give it to China directly.

      Buy this instead

      Careful shave really close.

      and these blades.

      • MC says:

        Without turning this into a a shaving culture topic, earlier this year I bought a Weishi safety razor, which is apparently the Rolls-Royce of Chinese razors.
        Well made, great designed… but shaving quality is truly disappointing, especially considering it’s not that much cheaper than a genuine Merkur or Muhle safety razor. How they could screw up something as simple as a razor is well beyond me.

        Regarding blades… are those genuine Dorco’s? Despite being as cheap as hamburgers on a weight basis, counterfeits abound.
        I’ll stick with Astra, which I would recommend warmly were it not for the fact they are Russian and so supply in some countries may have dried up. Shark (Egyptian brand) are a viable alternative.

        But I think we all agree Wilkinson and Gillette blades are the worst on the market.

    • Thomas Petersen says:

      the Interac commercial sound like a public service of good advice. I’ve used debit cards ever since they were available after learning the cost of credit as a young man. The hard way!

      Seeing Interac is something as exotic as a nonprofit in the world of finance reminds me of the early days of digital payment cards where legislation ensured an alternative to cash payment without added cost.

      It was a different time back then.

    • Petunia says:

      My millennial made us buy from Dollar Shave Club. The $32 price for drug store blades was one reason, but the real kicker was that they lock up the blades and treat you like a criminal for just looking at them. Now we get them delivered for half the price.

      • nick kelly says:

        I reached up into the display counter to get a package of blades and a loud beeper went off- scared me.

        • JerryBear says:

          In the future I suspect you will be painlessly vaporised.

        • d says:

          It can be painless, otherwise many of the old and poor will use it as a free and easy suicide method.

  12. mynamett says:

    I started to order stuff online directly from China through Aliexpress and Banggood. I don’t buy expensive stuff because of warranty issues. So I limit my purchases to around 10$ sometime higher but never over 49$.

    I bought double edge razor for 3 $, double edge razor blade, replacement parts for my bikes. It is easier to buy for China and it has more choices then locally. For example I bought a portable DIY oscilloscope from China; cannot find one locally. A soldering Iron 8$ dollar china, 25 $ locally with less power.

    I am done with shopping locally for cheap and small items. I only buy expanse item such as drill, air compressor locally. No way I am paying these expensive prices we have here in Canada when I can avoid it.

    The elite has pushed globalization on us, I will make the elite happy by buying directly from China.


    surely the amerikan consumer has enough stuff. and needs no more.

    can’t we all stay at home?

    stop being consumers of more unnecessary stuff?

    shut the economy down, you sheep.

    • milking institute says:

      “Shut the Economy down” may not be such great idea but yes,Consumers are saturated and the world is awash in overcapacity in just about every category. too much Oil,too many Cars and too much “Stuff” everywhere. everything is becoming a commodity. it all began with the rise of the chinese manufacturing juggernaut that has flooded the world with product, imo. I have a chinese made automatic Watch that has been ticking like a Rolex for 10 years,extremely well built,i paid 95.00 for. Apple better watch out,the new chinese mobile phone companies are already selling phones with similar quality and features for half or less and are eating Apples lunch in China. just wait until the 24 hour factories run by Robots spit out 75.00 TV’s….The Malls are DEAD,unless they reinvent themselves into entertainment destinations. it will take either massive new consumer demand or severe worldwide stagnation to bring things back into balance and many companies will not be around to see that. your house Pet will come from a Cloning Facility available in many colors/sizes and will carry a 3 year warranty,welcome to the future!

  14. Albert E says:

    Noticed yesterday that on MSM tv probably well planned and well paid ‘stories’ from stores on both sides of the pond: news anchors expected to be reporting from a sea of Black Friday Zombie consumers. In fact most stores were empty. Possibly online but possibly the economy too. You know, it’s the encompassing stupid… But this time it’s US telling THEM

  15. Albert E says:

    Sorry predictive text… It’s the economy stupid ;-)

  16. RD Blakeslee says:

    Buy blades from Burma

    Not from China

    No slaves in Burkas

    Gonna make mine. Ah!

    – Burma Shave

    • night-train says:

      Now that was funny. I hope the commenters here are old enough for the reference.

  17. walter map says:

    Strangely enough, while in-store sales are expected to continue to decrease, in-store retail jobs are expected to continue surging:

    What’s wrong with this picture?

  18. michael engel says:

    Department stores are empty shells, in many cases. Because they have no interest in being stuck with unsold merchandise, The goods you see there belong to vendors, designers and outside suppliers.
    The mark-up is huge, so they can give you a huge but, a smaller discount. Most of the risk is shifted to vendors.
    Because merchandise sold on BF can be returned next
    year they don’t report sale to the vendors immediately . Another reason for delay reporting is it delay payments. Department stores manipulate sales reports and can delay payment for 120 days or more. They can dump unsold merchandise back to vendors and create a huge problem.
    Department stores sale clerks seems to have very little skills
    and knowledge in the art of selling. They are unpleasant, even rude to their customers, who can be very different from them. They have no clue how to make you a happy customer and get the cash out of your pocket, or the credit card out of your wallet, with a smile. Selling is a lost art in department stores.

    • Petunia says:

      I agree the sales staffs in most stores are abysmal. If you ask them if they carry something they usually don’t know. They spend an entire day in a store and don’t know what’s in it. I go occasionally and have a better idea of what they carry by checking online first.

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        Where I am, it all depends on the ownership.

        The local IGA franchisee does a good job (owner on premises)

        So does the local True Value hardware store

        Dollar General and Lowes are quite another story.

        All “capital interest” (so to speak) is remote.

        Less customers, less work, same paycheck, customers go away, fine.

    • nick kelly says:

      I don’t know if this is small city Canadian phenom but I find the staff in most Dept stores surprisingly well intentioned if not always knowledgeable.
      It may have something to do with the fact that jobs are hard to find here- but they are almost always at least polite.

  19. economicminor says:

    How did we get from brick and mortar to shaving?

    The world is changing again.. The effort to restrict change has again failed and now is accelerating rather quickly.

    The FED and the elite has a new(old?) plan to win the big Monopoly Game and it seems that their attack on cash and the freedom of speech is part of it.

    What is being revealed are some of the players I had not previously known. I really didn’t realize that Bezos was one of the bad guys. He and Google appeared to me to be upstarts and more likely on the side of the populous but over the years they have been won over to the dark side. Sad as I buy a lot from Amazon.

    I heard on NPR this morning that Donald has very tight connections with China in borrowed money and proposed hotels inside China. Things are certainly not as they appear.

    I am beginning to wonder if he wasn’t a plant when the elites understood the populous’ dislike of both Republicans and the Hillary Cabal. He sure did play up to the baser instincts of large segments of the population. Most people had no idea of his global reach. He is the ultimate consummate globalist and certainly not a populous. As such, most of his campaign was just bs rhetoric.

    I think what is happening to brick and mortar is inevitable but the consequences are very uncertain. Some who suggest that revolution is on the way are probably correct but how that exactly manifests itself is also very uncertain. The way of life in the USA for the last 100 years is ending and lots of people not only understand that but are uneasy due to the uncertainty of the future.

    The thing about change is that like a river, you can dam it up but eventually you can not hold it back forever.. If you keep building the dam higher and higher there will come a point when that dam breaks and all down steam is wiped away. I think we are watching the cracks in the dam form and all are anticipating the break.

    These next few years will be pivotal years and the way we work thru this will determine the future of the world. It is very exciting and very scary at the same time.

    • Adam Price says:

      China is collapsing currently due to massive debt bubbles and rampant real estate speculation and there is more than $6 trillion in bad debt currently on the books at banks in China.

      IMF: Chinese banks are disguising a massive amount of bad debt

      China’s banks are disguising bad debts by turning them into “securitized packages” rather than writing them down as non-performing loans, according to the IMF.

      The “untradeable debt” comes from China’s “shadow credit” world, which has generated a massive amount of credit that has the potential to become suddenly illiquid.

      The debts consist of interbank loans in “a structure potentially susceptible to rapid risk transmission and destabilizing liquidity events,” the IMF says.

      The amount of “shadow credit” grew 48% in 2015, to RMB 40 trillion (£470 billion or $580 billion), the IMF says, “equivalent to 40% of banks’ corporate loans and 58% of GDP.”

      If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It’s similar in principal to the way American banks disguised bad mortgages inside securitized packages before the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-2008.

      Back then, US mortgage providers gave out too many loans to people who couldn’t repay them. On its own, that should not have been a problem. A mortgage default only hurts the bank that made the loan. But banks bundled together packages of those mortgages and sold them as “mortgage-backed securities” to other institutions.

      Bad mortgages were mixed in with good ones, making it impossible for investors to judge their quality. When it became obvious that some of these packages were toxic, no one wanted to buy any them. The market became suddenly illiquid. And the credit derivative hedges and leveraged bets layered upon them magnified the problem throughout the entire banking system, creating the financial collapse that plunged most of the world into recession.

      In China, a number of smaller banks are now trying to do the same thing.

  20. kitten lopez says:

    (this turned out to be a long response. you must’ve SENSED i’d been dancing madly in the living room with all the windows open to also hear the rain –IT’S GORGEOUS OUTSIDE WHEN THERE’S REAL WEATHER HERE!!! and i took a break to check the conversation here and…watch out!..)

    ah! funny you should ask about my reading!–i just read the front and end of “chaos monkeys” a few days back, and as i was in the middle of a lot of intense insights about situations/people that now come with wherever i’m at, especially since i’ve been dancing/shaking off a lot of the intense energy that is around–and i got the gist of the folks’ in tech, and the kind of vision that has changed EVERYTHING about the world and thought, “oh, fuuuuck”…

    and i shot off the author 3 emails about where he’s going as a writer so that he doesn’t veer off into the ditch of the writing business, in which you’ve got the balls to call up the spirits this writing shit DOES call up (why many writers can go mad, and with no support to say, “yeah, man, this is USUAL. relax. go with it and report back…”).

    and i laughed because i couldn’t STAND the guy, for as “cool” and clever and smug as he was, even with his own failures (which is see as successes in holding onto his testicles and thus, humanity..he’s not yet sure about his soul as he’s young and sees too much of the bullshit, but his ability to fuck with it can win. like making fun of valley girls back in the 80s and then you can’t stop talking like one even though you’re from long island).

    so i sometimes get hits of people and freak them out but that’s okay as i do this “colored girl love” now on everyone… when i was a runaway, i had to get my wisdom on the fly in concentrated doses that’d often take DECADES to unfold with meaning.

    but that’s the thing i came back to say:

    fuck, i’m on a roll. i’ve been writing love letters too and they are so unnerving and nauseating for me to DELIVER, that i get tingly and feral. it’s like an exercise i do to keep myself from getting emotionally complacent and flabby. (smile)

    but then i feel EVERYTHING. it’s like a drug. but i can will it to happen now by crossing myself and hoping for the best and whew…

    i guess in all the chaos i’m seeing the green shoots ahead of the apocalyptic dystopia i’ve been dreading. i still see the big one for all the carnage and thinking that produced it hasn’t changed, BUT i feel like we’ve been here before… but NOT REALLY.

    i guess i’m embarrassed to admit this to you, Miss Petunia, but i think i really do believe in this magic stuff. like it’s POWERFUL, mad powerful. i read your posts and you KNOW broke. broke not only knows how to spread money brilliantly—you HAVE to, as you say—but you also SENSE bullshit. you sense more. why? i don’t know. i only know i like to be lean that way. i feel it’s dangerous…

    anyhow, the magic… i’m meandering- i type faster than i think. but i feel like art/change now is gonna happen OFF LINE and the intense energy over the elections, yeah- plural, are proof of the reality of tangibility of “feelings.”

    and after reading “chaos monkeys” front/back, and i couldn’t read the middle because these folks were so HOLLOW it broke my fucking HEART how like dead cattle and what a waste all this is…and for WHAT? more shit? it’s so unholy it’s a wonder we’re not ALL weeping like the indian in that “don’t litter” commercial of yore. i mean FUUUUUCK… no one’s HAPPY. no one’s really running away with the motherfucking CHEESE.

    so maybe i’m desperate and mad right now, but i feel dissonant/disparate things i cannot for the life of me, make SENSE of… but i think real change/art is gonna happen offline this shit. the people who created it and control it are… they’re not…CRAIGSLIST…
    i mean it’s all so cheesy and that’s why this SITE blows our minds.

    i love that Wolf puts through that event horizon guy who’s off jerking off in his own mess and farting on the side, but Wolf’s like okay, man… stay, but try and not spit in ladies’ faces so much okay?…

    and the internet and the people who’ve gamed it all already, have made whores of us all with our apartments and our cars and our fucking porn stars… did you know we’ve all made them whores to as now those 3 minute vids we jerk off to for FREE are just loss leaders for hooking?

    and this is okay? nothing’s sacred. nothing. fucking Standing Rock stand for that for me right now. like STOP IT…

    and i think that a lot of stuff is gonna start happening offline but i don’t fucking even BELIEVE that myself. it’s such an addiction it’s astounding to be outside of it and i feel like i’m in a body snatchers movie everytime i venture outside. it’s creepy and stressful. and people DISAPPEAR and it’s okay and we outlawed sleeping on the sidewalk and gave a thumbs up to the death penalty and i’m like…


    but maybe i answer my own question:
    why does poverty develop a sixth sense that is almost mystical or trippy like being a feral dog cornered in an alley???

    because that’s what it’s like living in america now. and i believe that the more people who lose their shit and their american hologram shatters–i mean REALLY shatters–not that polite cocktail party chatter about rates and shit… i’m talking about when you’ve lost EVERYTHING and you don’t even LIKE PEOPLE anymore and you can’t even TALK to anyone who has their shit because it’s like you’re DEAD and they’re on another dimension.

    the hologram breaking; that it’s like learning how to live again after a stroke. i’ve said that before. i’m not that old that i’m redundant to my redundancies…

    i’m seeing the story, the MYTHOLOGY play out and it’s hilarious in that “not funny” way… but the hope is that the energy we manufacture is not PASSIVE, either…

    and if we’ve been here before (for i know i’m not the only one who feels it in terms of a couple hundred, few hundred years), but it feels like it’s time to CHANGE the fucking RHYME. i heard that before, but now i REALLY GET IT.

    and i get why art isn’t a sofa art joke like i’d feared it’d become. this site is that, too. Wolf doesn’t shut down that guy like liberal elite bullshit… he puts some of the farts through, but when he starts SPITTING, he makes him go out on the patio with the door closed or something.

    my metaphors…fuck it. these are epic times that call for metaphors like aspirin to tone down the vertigo.

    this was inspired by your book and i cannot possibly lie to you, who bares all here. i have MAD respect for that. you don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks and i love you for that. regardless of whether it’s about chinese ribs drying on the back fence or having a guy respect his mother’s choice to get out from under the house. i love this shit.

    this is ART to me, now. it’s relevant and enlightens and challenges and if art is curated, then this site is curated by event horizon having to go outside to mess himself more, and

    i don’t know. i’m already far beyond my corner of the elephant and have gotten megalomaniacal again. but that is how i must myself lurch into what’s next so that i may believe that we can CHANGE THE RHYME.

    i mean what else CAN we do, right? it’s exciting yeah to be around during “what the FUUUUUCK” times. since the mid seventies it’s been DEADLY.

    i grew up around this shit and it’s sparkly like putting a D battery to your tongue and finding it’s still good.


    sorry you asked, Petunia?

    to anyone else who may have made it this far:
    i also wrote this to help the other mad ones here who feel silly for this stuff that’s happening not only to me but others. don’t fear it! we each have our own brand of madnesses and to get anywhere good, we must honor them. this is why behaving is DEATH. you kill your own gods angels ancestral messengers voices… whatever…and yeah… they exist, all of ’em…. only distrust ’em when they tell you to hurt anyone or key anyone’s car. i know that voice and have loved it and do believe you can’t be truly good til you’ve tasted the bile of being truly evil.

    whew…i’m tired. James is back. must get offline and be in the real world with him now.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Kitten, I moved this into its own new thread. But I can’t do this often. It’s time-consuming, and I don’t have time :-]

      When you write long things like this, please do NOT post them as replies to your prior comments. This pushes the comment into a very skinny column, which is impossible to read on a smartphone (where many readers read this site). Please start a new thread. This way, it will have its own big-fat column and is much easier to read, and people will read it with pleasure.

    • Petunia says:


      Whenever I think things are going badly, I remind myself that Richard Nixon tried to have John Lennon deported, and Lennon fought him until he won. Had Lennon lost, he would not have been gunned down on the streets of New York, and might have lived to a ripe old age, in style, in the English countryside. It’s all about perspective.

      That Chaos Monkeys guy is a bit of a dick, but if you understood the business, you would understand the courage it took to say the things he said. He closed a lot of doors by choice, and I feel a kinship with him. I also closed a lot of doors by choice and even tore some down. The broke part was not only a consequence but also a cover. They only see money.

  21. kitten lopez says:

    p.s. i want to clarify that i don’t have anything against anyone ELSE (such as yourself, my gracious host) writing fiction; it’s not for OTHERS anymore, as much as i think it is now visionary people casting SPELLS. “enumerating” possible scenarios as if in a sketch.

    i think it’s a form of preparing for the living out of the vision, because even to be SPONTANEOUS, you often have to rehearse possible scenarios so you’re not a deer in headlights when your moment arrives.

    like guys practicing picking up women in bars. shtick is magic. it CAN be… but which KIND of magic? and what does it do to us? that’s “karma” to me. what we court.

    so i think it’s now the PROCESS of doing/making/manifesting art and craft (expansive meanings, please) that is practicing for all the shit that’s next. i think fiction can be perfect for that because you’re not confined by events, reality, dimensions, or possibilities.

    that’s fucking COOL.

    fiction writers have to DARE. and then to SHARE it??? yikes! so many powerful audacious beautiful loving muscles involved in the desire to share of oneself. it’s HOLY when it’s done well.

  22. Chicken says:

    Deplorables shop online b/c they can avoid sales tax that way. Domino effect is the result. Besides, there are still some real cool items made pre-70’s that aren’t anymore.

    Will the real bachelor please stand up? I’m pretty sure the actual fake news outlets are calling their own kette black?

    WaPo – No better place to have fake news rgan inside the beltway.

  23. Edward E says:

    Where I live, going to the big box store is the big social event of the week, so nobodynever any some hardly ever orders anything much rarely online. Like when you’re trying to get to the lemon pepper it’s hard to scoot the watermelons out of the way.

  24. oldfarmer says:

    There’s already too much stuff in the world. I no longer shop. For Christmas, I give each person on my list an envelope with a thousand dollars cash in it. Seems to be popular.

  25. kitten lopez says:


    “Whenever I think things are going badly, I remind myself that Richard Nixon tried to have John Lennon deported, and Lennon fought him until he won. Had Lennon lost, he would not have been gunned down on the streets of New York, and might have lived to a ripe old age, in style, in the English countryside. It’s all about perspective.”

    yes! James is also talking about the bhuddist story about the farmer and the horse (example: his son breaks his leg–BAD–but then he’s unfit for war when they call for soldiers–GOOD). you never know whether something is a blessing (eventually) or a problem, and they can change with time/perspective.

    “That Chaos Monkeys guy is a bit of a dick, but if you understood the business, you would understand the courage it took to say the things he said. He closed a lot of doors by choice, and I feel a kinship with him. I also closed a lot of doors by choice and even tore some down. The broke part was not only a consequence but also a cover. They only see money.”

    you misunderstood! as an author and performer and former master manipulator, i now see past so much now, and while he was writing about ONE story (tech), i was READING A WHOLE OTHER STORY UNDERNEATH his main story: his struggle at knowing too much and having too much power can turn you into a depressed, cynical asshole who manipulates people, OR you can give up “the game”…and STILL be a depressed, cynical asshole…

    i am struggling with my own “giving up of the game,” and finding god on the other side of this (that’s why i write ‘love letters’), and thus my 3 dashed off emails to him were “love letters” saying i know what i saw in him–HIS “god,”—and not to fall for the cheap hits of his power.

    as a young, ambitious mad artist, i was lucky to have received INTENSE hits of wisdom from my elders and it was inspiring to me to be truly SEEN for what i was going for, who i truly was–and so i did the same to that guy.

    i’ve seen too many alpha men make themselves eternally small with the limited games they think they are here to play. such games end up breaking their OWN hearts because they actually don’t like to be the lonely alphas at the end of the day because it’s LONELY and it’s a top position in a losing game.

    for example: i fell madly in love with a movie producer who found love when he had sons he had to take care of alone and he’d spent his entire life manipulating and exploiting women…so he could MAKE or RUIN a woman… but he’d gotten too much success and practice at un-doing women, so he will ALSO in turn be USED by women in the game and be always suspicious of what she “loves” him for, and he will be LONELY.

    but he used his magic powers to make such a world of such women…

    it’s TRAGIC. because he’d cry to me and admit things to me and i loved him but i couldn’t touch him…he’d have ruined me as casually as throwing a coffee cup away.

    i wrote 3 letters to that “chaos monkeys” guy because i SEE alpha people and they are often lonely and can get stuck in using their powers in a small game that snaps their own necks. if i can help them KNOW that there IS a way to use these powers to be vulnerable (human and full of shit), then he can take his STRENGTH and AUDACITY to higher levels and truly LEAD people and inspire others to be bad asses.

    they are mad at others’ laziness and get to feeling okay for how they play people, because they think they deserve it.

    power is a tricky thing. but you KNOW this. i just didn’t explain myself well.

    but that he hacked some internet dates’ emails and put THEM together… and his sailboat and the kids…he’s a ROMANTIC. and this world is too ugly for HIM, too.

    so i wrote him because i saw so much feeling and life and it was incredibly wasted on such industries.

    • Petunia says:


      You have a lot in common with the Chaos Monkeys guy because you both loved something that will never love you back. For you it was a guy, for him a business. My kinship with him is about understanding our outsider-ship. I doubt that he will ever be truly able to leave the business, he needs to be in the sandbox, I am fine playing outside of it.

      • kitten lopez says:

        Wow…that was insightful.

        and yeah; i’m also very fine playing outside of the sandbox, too. but the next step for me, as the female, came down to my finally having to fuck somebody as casually as having a beer with them to discuss any future business and i folded. (that’s an understatement.)

        but i just read about rose mcgowan going rogue against hollytown and i smiled because i GOT it. every hollywood woman who goes nuts has only gone sane.

        but thanks for the chaos monkey suggestion because what i wanted to know was “who are these people? what is their vision? what do they WANT???” and it was all simpler than i imagined, as i see them all over the place here and i’d think, “i MUST be mission SOMETHING.” and i WASN’T!– so thanks for that.

        • Albert E says:

          And here was me checking in to see what Wolf and the gang had to say about the fake economy. Feel like I clicked and swiped into a parallel universe. Maybe u two need to meet for a coffee or swap email addresses instead ;-) On second thoughts nah let it all hang out here instead if the bossman is happy. Maybe I’ll finally understand the fairer sex…

        • Longtime Lurker says:

          Can’t believe this used to be called the Testosterone Pit; I feel like I’m about to get my 1st period.

  26. WTFrogg says:

    And I thought that “Dear Abby ” was long gone. ;) :) Just reincarnated I guess.

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