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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

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(Levon)

If you read our newsletter yesterday you know that we’ve made some changes in living arrangements.  Our little beach house with our brother and sister was a perfect summer fit, but along with the cold came the feeling that it was going to get cramped.  Okay, it was cramped.  We moved two doors down to the closest motel where now we live a pampered resort life for a weekly rate in cash that would make anyone consider a winter visit to the beach.  It’s nice to have our utilities and furnishings under one bill.  Even HBO and wi fi.  Unfortunately the weekly rate doesn’t include any room service or clean towels.  This morning I asked for more single serving coffee packs and was told, “no, the weekly rate doesn’t include anything extra like that.”

I said, “okay, just checking.”

“It doesn’t hurt to ask,” she replied.

??? Anyway.

It is interesting to note that entire segments of society float about hotels in their off seasons to capture this phenomenon of relatively inexpensive living.  Every hotel on the beach is advertising $200 per week; the nice ones are $39 per night.  We have interesting neighbors, as do all the other 50 hotels within 4 miles of here.

This peculiar style of living has provoked another experiment.  Not wasting food.  We have been involved in trying to start a local Food Not Bombs chapter in Virginia Beach.  Norfolk has a successful one as do many cities, and the idea is to enact in a peaceful protest by having a meal together that would have been wasted or discarded.  The protest is against war, poverty and destruction of the environment.  (www.foodnotbombs.net)

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ashley's flier

Dumpster diving is the term for collecting discarded things from their owners and may also be referred to as curb shopping, urban foraging, or aggressive recycling.  There are levels of diving, such as telling a store manager that you would like to systematically collect the nightly throwaways.  However to avoid messy conflicts or spending time with such policies, most establishments make the easiest policy which is “sorry, we can’t.”

The second level of diving is to find an insider who will let you take it.  At Starbucks I was such an assistant without my even knowing of the concept. On the Upper East Side of Manhattan I had a regular nightly few that took our countless coffee cakes, fruit trays, drinks to be poured out and sandwiches “made fresh daily.”  (The sandwiches had marked expirations for about three days but had to be discarded to advertise as “daily.”)  Where is the sense?  I took home all I wanted.  Of course I understand the scale of which Starbucks and its similiars operate, and how much expense would be involved in properly disposing of the food.  On one hand, yes they should spend that expense, but on the other, they knowingly turn their heads to this midlevel dumpster diving at every location I’ve encountered.  Okay…

The third type of dumpster diving is pretty blatant.  I don’t dumpster dive literally for food.  For living room furniture: guilty.  But not food.

Soup kitchens have been my nightly trip this week at 6:00.  I have served at plenty of these in my life and think that is important to do so.  But never have I walked in on the other side of the line and waited for my table to be called.  First, they turn the lights off to silence the room.  Then when the volunteers names are called, we clap for them.  I can’t help but wonder how much better it would feel if we all ate together instead of reaffirming lines that exist between us.  After all, this is not a hand out; it is a resourceful means of sharing what was almost turned away.  There is no shame in that.  If Harris Teeter had a cookout out front in the parking lot every night at 6:00, it would be differently attended.

Let me be clear that there is no experimenting when it comes to interacting or considering myself in contrast to the souls I sit with.  I am perceptive, yes, but I’m there to eat.  I don’t pretend to be the same or any different. We all have a circumstance that’s a little complicated to explain, on both sides of the serving line.  Just wanted to get that said.

I’m pretty excited about the gig in Norfolk on Saturday.  Ashley won third place in the Spirit show two weeks ago and got a gift card for the same place I’ll be playing.  We’re on our way to scout it out.

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