Money For Nothing, and Your Chicks For Free

August 26, 2008

Good morning blog fans – and a special good morning to my friend Shira, if she’s reading. And a big shout out to R_C, who was kind enough to read and comment on my mammoth entry over the weekend (it should be below this one). I have to say, reading it back, just how proud I am of it and the words and sentiments, not to mention the maturity it contains. Link here: 35 Days On, A 2,868 Word Review


I am no doctor of the head (yet) but I do know how to get people out of a funk. 80’s music. 80’s hair rock, power pop, and ridiculous ballads. Today, if you’re in a shitty mood because you’re back at work, or you’re pretty sure you’re in love with your best friends girlfriend, or you just watched Sixteen Candles and want to be 16 again, make yourself these CDs, and the world will seem just fine.


(Alternatively, ask me, and I’ll do it for you. I’m good like that)


Title: Closed Box’s Guide to Happy Times


CD 1: Pretty in Pink

01.  Highway To Hell – AC/DC

02.  Here I Go Again – Whitesnake

03.  Any Way You Want It – Journey

04.  Talk Dirty To Me – Poison

05.  Shout At The Devil – Motley Crue

06.  Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard

07.  Why Can’t This Be Love – Van Halen

08.  Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

09.  The Best Of Times – Styx

10.  God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You – Kiss

11.  Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison


CD 2: Some Kind of Wonderful

01.  Jesse’s Girl – Rick Springfield

02.  Somebody’s Baby – Jackson Browne

03.  Little Bitch – The Specials

04.  Pump It Up – Elvis Costello

05.  Dancing In The Dark – Bruce Springsteen

06.  We Got The Beat – Go-Go’s

07.  It’s Different For Girls – Joe Jackson

08.  Edge Of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks

09.  Boys Don’t Cry – The Cure

10.  Ashes To Ashes – David Bowie

11.  Is She Really Going Out With Him? – Joe Jackson


If they don’t put you in a good mood, nothing will!


How were your collective weekends? Fun? Exciting? Downright depressing? All Of The Above? I think I managed to break a thumb, that’s my big news.


I somehow managed to swing a 5 day weekend – taking Thursday and Friday as ‘holiday/vacation time’ and with Monday being a bank holiday here, but I want to start today’s blog with a relaying of what came to be a rather heated conversation on Sunday night, and has sufficiently pissed me off enough that I still feel a need to rant a little about it this Tuesday morning.


And it is about this: the correlation between money and happiness.


I will begin by making my opinion very clear: Money has NOTHING to do with happiness. It might make life easier on a very superficial level, but make you more happy? Hells no.


It all sprung from a conversation I was having with my friend, who I will call Jane (for anonymity purposes) on Sunday night. Jane is yet another episode in my continuing quest for reconnection with old friends, and we were having dinner at ‘Balams’-,  a 24-hour restaurant (well, virtually) in London’s Old Compton Street.


As has become to the usual pattern of play, I explained to Jane that I had undergone a massive period of change, the why, and what the ‘new’ David was all about.


The conversation, as it inevitably does, swayed towards people’s own history – it never fails to amaze me just how much people want to ‘talk’ – and then, as it does, the inevitable clashing of what makes a person happy, and my (again) inevitable repeating of what seems to have become my mantra ‘ whatever makes you happy’.


Now, Jane is a pretty together person, and a pretty happy one. She has what most would consider a pretty nice life, so there would be no reason for her not to be.


However, she made a comment during our evening, which made me wonder actually how happy she really is, and having recently read ‘Affluenza’, I was all too happy to delve as deep as physically and mentally possible.


Jane contended that she was happy because she always left the house looking ‘her best’, and was always best representing herself. She did this, so she said, so that she was constantly ‘high’ or thereabouts. I enquired that if she considered this ‘high’, and did it all the time, was it not that her ‘high’ was actually her ‘norm’.


I enquired, simply, that if we accept her constantly feeling a need to best represent herself as her ‘norm’, at what point did she actually experience a ‘high’ – that point where, on a Saturday night (for instance) someone will look in a mirror and say to themselves ‘I look good’ – a form of self love.


Jane’s reply was that this only happened when she went shopping and bought something fabulous – but with an interesting difference, Jane made clear that this ‘high’ only occurred when she bought something ridiculous, like a Gucci shirt, Armani trousers, or a Prada bag.


Jane comes from a relatively affluent background, but by no means is she a ‘Daddy’s Credit Card’ girl, and she explained to me how the high worked. She would save for a month, maybe two, and THEN allow herself the pleasure of the shop. Immediately, I wondered about the need to ‘belong’ – how the Gucci/Prada/etc shopping experience wasn’t necessarily about the quality of garment, but rather the need to feel the high of belonging to an exclusive club, or designs on a lifestyle, or indeed, as she had mentioned the need to always look her best, the projection to the outside world.


I asked Jane why it was that rather than go and buy something once a month, she didn’t do what the vast majority of people across the country do, which is economise, or feel the fun of shopping on a more regular basis, and do so in Top Shop or one of its many equivalents – for the pair of £200 Armani trousers she told me she had recently bought, and recalled as her last ‘high’, she could buy any number of trousers, admittedly, they might be a slightly worse cut – but why did she feel the need to deprive herself?


She looked at me in disgust. In fairness, she is a self-confessed snob. She explained to me that if she had the money, why shouldn’t she do what she likes? I countered that it was fairly obvious that (a) she didn’t have the money since it took her a month or two to get to the point where she could buy something, and (b) that it was a case of relative values – that a £30 pair of trousers in Top Shop were only a £170 worse off than the Armani ones by the label on the price tag. Sure, maybe the Top Shop ones cost £1 to make, and the Armani £10, but the relative increase was dependant only on the label, and that’s what you were paying for. Jane simply answered that if she shopped in Top Shop or Primark, she would be desperately unhappy, and probably wouldn’t leave the house.


By pulling Primark out of thin air, I immediately thought she was making an interesting point without realising it. Primark is generally considered a budget store, but is ridiculously popular due to it place as the ‘disposable fashion house’ on the high street – that you can buy things in there for next to no money, that look ok, but you know you’ll throw it out after a couple of times wearing it. Jane basically believed that it was either designer labels, or she was scraping the barrel, and I wondered if it was the seemingly mental black hole she invented in-between that signalled just how insecure or otherwise she was in the way she looked.


In the car on the way home, I argued the case of a person having relative value, while Jane continued to argue her point that to her, it was the luxury that equalled satisfaction, while I argued that satisfaction, and happiness, came from within.


Jane posed a question – if I were to become an overnight millionaire, would I want the luxury Mercedes driving in front of me over the Polo I was driving? My answer was simple: No. I said that I understood that the Mercedes was probably a better car, with more features, was more luxurious, and was, in the eyes of others, probably a nicer car, but that I was comfortable in my Polo, and didn’t see the need.


Jane really couldn’t understand it. And became quite animated. She then posed another question.


She had been desperate to see George Michael in concert, and asked me if, in a hypothetical situation where my favourite band was playing, and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see them, that I would pay over the odds to see them. I answered, again, that I wouldn’t – a noted a time when this had actually happened.


Last year, Pearl Jam (my favourite band) came to play in London at the Astoria, a significantly smaller and more intimate venue than their usual arena shows. Tickets sold out within minutes, and eBay prices went from £500 to £800 to £1400 in 24 hours. I explained to Jane that, as I believe in relative value, that never, in a million years would I even have thought for one moment of paying £500 for a ticket, let alone what they went for in the end.


Jane couldn’t understand – why, she asked, if I had the money, would I not want to see them?


This argument went on for quite some time, as this mammoth diatribe can probably attest to, and the fundamental difference in values are probably apparent. But I wonder, and perhaps you can help – is relative value relative to what you have? Or should you follow Jane’s mantra of desiring the best, and using money as power? I know (very firmly) my ideals.


That will most certainly do for today. Again, if you are reading, my thanks to you.


Keep well, and fill your hearts with love and 80’s Hair Rock, all of you


Closed Box


4 Responses to “Money For Nothing, and Your Chicks For Free”

  1. Abby Says:

    Those are some great cds!! I should really make a set for myself!

  2. David Levy Says:

    Like I said… i’ll send ’em to anyone who wants ’em

  3. posteret Says:

    Great blog!
    I think that I would pay over the odds for an experience but not for a possession. I am a bargain hunter when it comes to clothes and don’t understand the obsession some people have with labels.
    So in your place I agree that I don’t care what car I drive as long as it goes but I would have paid the money for the concert if I had it.
    It’s like when I go on holiday, if I’m going to a far flung spot I will pay up the cash to do any of the “experiences” available there that I might not be able to do again. eg going to the Maldives it would be crazy not to pay and go diving!

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