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September 18, 2003

Bourgie Crime

I just turned in my Beetle to the local dealer. The lease is over. We are now back down to being a two car family. I took a last few digital pictures of it. This is actually its best side. [picture goes here] The front fender, where the fog lamps are has been twisted and disfigured and drags large pieces of plastic and bits of small wire on the ground. I periodically use bailing wire to put the mask of respectability back on the car.

It's a $200 piece of body work (I know because I'll be charged for it as extraodinary wear on the lease return inspection.) I always knew that but never really bothered to spend the money. But I cannot tell you the countless times that people have stopped me in traffic, pointing out the defect.

Some time ago, while hanging out with lefty academics, and some time before that while haning out with bean counters in Nordy shirts, I acquired the skill of speaking loudly about my salary. My buddy Ted and I used to joke about rising above the Southern California Poverty Line. In 1988 it was around $38,000. My girl Lisa said that to get people to talk about their 'price' was the first step in liberating them from the corporate plantation. Both Ted and Lisa were right of course, but for different reasons. For Ted it was about the ambition of rising through and beyond the middle class. For Lisa it was about empowering the masses to recognize their own value in non-material terms. Same thing really. Nobody wants to be a stooge.

My point is that sooner or later, I felt comfortably out of the middle class materialism and suddenly salaries just became salaries. Automobiles just became automobiles. It's easy for me to say so as I am momentarily on the high side. But what I'm laughing at is how it seems so urgent that my car is devoid of birdshits and other cosmetic imperfections. There is nothing so uppity, I reckon, as a cool car that is dirty. It's a crime against bourgie brotherhood.

As I walked back home from the dealer, I noticed one of those flyers on a telephone pole. You know the type, printed on a home laser printer, selling an old motorcycle or offering babysitting services with the phone number frilly edge that you tear off and forget what it was for. This particular flyer was looking for a digital camera that had been lost.

Right below the name and address of the victim of the crime was a small heartfelt note. It asked the person responsible that if they couldn't find it in their heart to return the whole camera, that they should at least return the memory card, as it held pictures of their little boy which were of sentimental value.

My take on this is that it illustrates both the civility and depravity of our culture. It shows civility in that there is, in the face of this material crime, an opportunity for healing. The victim is not hurt by the theft of money but of memories. Now another part of me wants to slap these parents. How precious could the picture be if you haven't already downloaded it? Yeah maybe it was his first steps, OK I understand. Sorta. But isn't it depraved if you think of the kind of people who might actually steal a digital camera and read this ad and actually send the chip back? They'd have to be grasping yuppie minions wouldn't they? A real thief doesn't care about sentimental baby pictures, and if he can get an extra 10 bucks at the pawn shop for the chip, he's gonna take it. Hell he might even photoshop it and sell it as kiddie porn. Bottom line is that I believe the yuppies who got their camera stolen had a reasonable expectation to think that other yuppies stole it from them.

I wish I would have had my digital camera in my cargo pants to take a picture of that flyer, but I left it at home next to the laptop.

Posted by mbowen at September 18, 2003 02:24 PM

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What does Bourgie mean?

I use it all the time but I don't know what it means?

(serious question)

Posted by: Andrea at February 25, 2004 07:33 AM

Bourgie an adjective describing the attitudes of the bourgiosie, a French term for the people between the ruling class and the working class. Marxists like to beatdown the bourgios for accentuating the petty differences between themselves and ordinary workers. It's adapted by blackfolk pretty much in the same context - people who shuffle papers instead of doing manual labor. Still they work for the same bosses and could be fired just as easily as anyone else. There are all kinds of house/field analogies as well.

Posted by: Cobb at February 25, 2004 07:49 AM