Airports are homogenized enclaves of bland internationalism. I looked around. I could be in Sao Paolo, Seoul or Seattle. The place was scattered with ubiquitous coffee chains and clothing stores and buzzed with the fluorescent glamour of duty free shops. I felt like I was in a mall that was being used as a shelter during a zombie war: a luxury lifestyle shopping center where people brush their teeth in the bathrooms and stare vacantly at each other with bloodshot eyes.
As I walked the bleak corridors, juxtapositions reared up like celebrity plastic surgery fails - repulsive and captivating in equal measure. Fashion boutiques displaying images of waif-like creatures stood next to fast food outlets emblazoned with mountainous burgers oozing plasticized cheese. Messages bombarded me: ‘Go faster’, ‘Live longer’, ‘Be whiter’, ‘Use this’, ‘Wear that’. Everywhere I turned, I was being told what I should be, what I should have and where I should go. I wondered how much less self-centered the world would be without advertising. I smiled. And that’s exactly why we have it.
* * *
Truly gifted musicians do not so much write songs as divine them. Like dream catchers, they are attuned to a higher frequency. Sensing a new emotional vibration or social dimension, they articulate songs in rhyme and amplify their meaning through soaring melodies. As with other prophets, Bob Dylan neither lusted for this adulation nor enjoyed the strictures it started to place on his ideas. For playing an electric guitar, he was heckled, berated and called Judas. How ironic, and how singularly Dylan, that he used a profound musical statement to protest and reject society’s attempted confinement.
It’s a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor,
I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.
I sat back and looked out of the window.
How did I fit into that binary? Was I pushing new boundaries or shouting down the radicals in our generation, labeling them traitors, telling them to get back in line?
Being honest with myself, I couldn’t be sure. Either way, Dylan’s lyrics applied: like the character in the song, I claimed to reject the status quo but remained firmly employed by Maggie’s Farm, Inc.
Well, I try my best
To be just like I am
But everybody wants you
To be just like them