Land of Vultures

The vultures thicken as you drive south along the New Jersey Turnpike. The Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) soar and swirl, rocking their wings. Delaware and Maryland add more Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus) to the aerial ballet. These birds are notable for their shorter tails, silver/white-tipped wings, and a lot more flapping.

Road kill seems to have been a blessing for for vulture populations.

Something else is noticeably expanding along the NJ Turnpike. Enormous warehouse buildings. These are one story, windowless, lined with bays for semi trailers. They’re on both sides of the highway. Amazon, Logistics This, Logistics That.

So here’s one of the great distributive nodes of late capitalism, where all the crap in the world comes before it goes to the people who order it. From some grim factory in Vietnam, say, comes the widget, across the ocean by way of a shipping industry notorious for its shadiness, abysmal working conditions, and pollution. Then barreled down the highways and byways in great belching vehicles to one of these vast distribution centers. In these vast 21st century sweatshops — Amazon is notorious for the way it treats its workers — the bauble is sorted and packed and routed for its next stage.

Here in NYC, this next stage means delivery trucks blocking roads, hydrants, and crosswalks as they idle poisonously. Because the blessed consumer must have it now! (“Consumption” literally means to burn out from within.) How soon before this imperishable gimcrack is jumbled at the dump?

In the case of Amazon, all this garbage has enriched and empowered a grotesque plutocrat beyond the dreams of Croesus. And he only wants more: monopoly, subsidies, fealty from the consumer-serfs, ass-licking from the politicians, democracy as his plaything.

All that land covered over in these distribution centers used to be habitat, now it fulfills the dreams of buyers clicking away at their MAKE IT MINE buttons. But, of course, it’s not fulfilling at all, is it? Hence its continuation, the endless buying, the desperate attempt to fill the emptiness that just gets bigger the more things are poured into it.

1 Response to “Land of Vultures”

  1. 1 Ellen May 5, 2019 at 8:17 am

    I agree. Amazon is vile. I also know that mass consumerism is not the key to happiness that so many think it is, especially if they can get it shipped fast.

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