by Jim Harris
I have decided that this year I will not do any Christmas shopping in stores now that the leading cause of death in this country is Black Friday sales at Walmart. As an alternative, I did some window-shopping at Christmas Village in center city’s Love Park the other night. The Village, which is modeled after a traditional German Christmas Market, was created in 2008. It changed its name to “Holiday Village” in 2010, when non-Christians complained, and then back to “Christmas Village” this year, when people who don’t like the word “holiday” complained.
It has alternately been known as “Cashmas Village,” “Ka-Chingmas Village,” and “Kitsch Wonderland.” Anyway, I wanted to see what’s hot for gift-giving this year, and there are indeed a number of interesting new items out there.
•One of the most popular is the Double-Barreled Taser. It allows you to tase two people at once without needing to reload. Very useful for bar fights or for when you’re simultaneously mugged by two people at once or for when a crazed shopper at Walmart is pepper-spraying you, which so often happens.
•There’s an exciting new iPhone app called, “Miss Manners.” It has a sensor that detects situations requiring a “Please,” “Thank you” or “Excuse me,” and then the phone actually says it for you in a pleasant female voice. This frees the user from the need to know or understand any conventions of polite society. A real time-saver.
•Another new item is “Pennsylvania Perrier.” It’s actually flavored fracking fluid. According to a natural gas spokesperson (who was naturally gassy), “It’s already in your water. You’re drinking it anyway, so why not have some fun with it?” Comes in five fruity flavors.
•How about a Newt Gingrich tie embroidered with Tiffany diamonds that spell out, “Take a bath, get a job,” Gingrich’s famous advice to the Occupy Wall Street folks? (I recently read that Newt once experimented with compassion, but he quickly gave it up because it gave him stomach cramps.)
•I bought a pair of new running shoes for a friend of mine whose shoes wore out after he took part in the New Jersey Marathon, which is not like any other marathon race in the world. The New Jersey Marathon consisted of running 100 times around Governor Christie.
•Also available are boxed sets of “Occupy” action figures, including Bongo Billy, Radical Randy, Smelly Kelly and Bob the Slob. In addition, they have T-shirts saying, “Occupy THIS,” and there are even DVDs of “Occupy Wall Street, The Musical” (made possible by a grant from Exxon).
I found all this commercialization of a serious political movement to be disturbing, so I asked to speak to someone in charge. I was directed to a cottage made out of fruitcake, where I found a bearded gentleman named Olaf Kringleberry, who claimed to be the Burgermeister of Christmas Village.
I asked him if he didn’t find all that “Occupy” merchandise to be a bit exploitive. “Sure it is,” he said. “So what? Somebody’s got to make some money off of them. Those Occupy people are all about supporting small business; right? Well these items were made by elves. You can’t get much smaller than that.
“Let me tell you something, Sonny. Social movements are always exploited by the establishment. That’s how they get defused. Back in the 1960s, when Tony the Tiger changed his catch phrase from ‘They’re Grrreat’ to ‘Right On,’ it was the beginning of the end for the Black Power movement. Today, there are hardly any Black Panthers, but there are plenty of Frosted Flakes. And to derail women’s lib, they came up with ‘The No-bra Bra’ and ‘No-makeup Makeup.’ Nowadays, women are buying more makeup than Barnum and Bailey.
“Listen, it’s a good thing that the city evicted those Occupy Philly people when they did, because we Christmas Villagers were in the process of mounting a crusade. We were going to charge over there on our reindeer and club them into submission with giant candy canes.
“First of all, they were squatting on OUR land. Dilworth Plaza was given to us by God, or maybe it was Mayor Nutter. I can’t remember, but anyway, it was someone in authority. And second, they’re heathens. They don’t even believe in the Almighty Dollar.
“If you really want to help your country, you’ll go out there and buy a bunch of junk you can’t really afford and that the recipients don’t really want, which will make them recycle it. It’s the patriotic thing to do. Here’s a coupon good for 1% off any $1,000 purchase … And when the Christmas season is over and the Occupy people are all gone, the plaza can be returned to its rightful owners — guys selling crack.”
As I stepped into the crisp night air, clutching my coupon, somewhat confused, I heard the tower bell strike 12. I looked across Kennedy Boulevard to see a lone bulldozer pushing the crumpled remains of a crushed encampment out to the curb. I thought of those immortal words of William Shakespeare (or was it Mayor Nutter?): “You can’t fight City Hall.”