“W.F.” — Conversations over Stolen Food, Pt. 1 of 4


We (Jon Cotner, Andy Fitch) recorded forty-five-minute conversations for thirty straight days around New York City. Half these talks took place at a Union Square health-food store which, for legal reasons, we call “W.F.” Other locations included MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera House, Central Park, Prospect Park, and a Tribeca parking garage. This piece comes from the first conversation.

7:43 p.m. Friday, December 29
Union Square W.F.

A: Hmm I’ve lifted a Harper’s, just to try out…

J: We know some of the staff so that should be ok.

A: I did wonder if he, if Harper’s loses money on the theft. Would you…

J: No I don’t think so. Perhaps the store loses a bit of money. Still…

A: Now I’d hoped we wouldn’t mention this store’s name.

J: Oh we can always edit that.

A: Right. But I’d like to say I embrace this this store as a socially beneficial one; I question my taking things from here. They have…have we discussed that companies contest the organic label? A consortium of food-industry lobbyists tries to reduce the “organic” criteria, so…

J: You’re kidding.

A: factories can add synthetic elements to what still gets called organic food. And W.F. leads the charge against—one chain won’t cooperate…

J: I didn’t realize they had a sense of ethics. I’d thought they mostly worried about making profits. I had no idea.

A: Well thousands of co-ops could tell you this place doesn’t care much about ethics. [Pause] I also read in the Sunday Magazine that food brands I’ll identify with come from major corporations. Muir Glen for instance…

J: Yes.

A: A standard, right?

J: A staple.

A. Great tomato sauce, soups taste good.

J: That’s right.

A: Kraft, I think. No General Mills owns it.

J: Why…

A: Boca Burgers—again a constant of mine, always several in the freezer—I think Kraft owns that. They form front-companies. Boca Burger gets based in Madison Wisconsin to make it look like a nice, progressive, granola (we’ll have to take that word out) food source, yet offers more of the same.

J: Well well if you think about it, we inhabit a corporate culture providing tons of choices. Should we place effort…should we try to escape this culture? Or should we settle down and make ourselves at home as life keeps drifting in this direction?

A: Impossible to decide. But we lose much while complaining. As I’d started to complain I noticed less. Just before I’d felt better and watched a girl with um humongous breasts approach that guy with curly hair, hand him a letter then run off giggling.

J: Here in the café? I stared at a different…

A: This man laughed with a person seated opposite, someone he didn’t know, so that situation too derived from the letter.

J: Was the girl good-looking?

A: Very much so. The the man circled around twice after denying interest in the girl.

J: Well did he recoil because he’s repressed?

A: I doubt we can…

J: Because he wants affection to take recognizable forms and exclude spontaneous development? Does he need all love to look the same?

A: I’ve responded similarly when confronted by women. Am I all that repressed? How could we gauge it? I’ll experience joy watching people stretch here. I’d assume repressed people don’t notice such things. Occasionally I get lost watching people get lost scooping fruit from cups held close to their mouths—as if eating noodles.

J: I picture outdoor restaurants in Beijing, not that I’ve traveled to Beijing: I’ve watched some Chinese films and can recall images of couples sharing steaming noodles. [Silence] So you’d consider this a fitting place to hold conversations, a pleasant forum, a suitable environment?

A: I think of Kierkegaard in the town square and I’m…

J: Not his study, right?

You should become a fan of Thought Catalog on facebook here.

Image via