Home > Shopping & Bobos

Shopping & Bobos

June 22nd, 2008 at 02:49 pm

Stocked up on some snacks for camping. Dh got granola bars at Target (sale).

I found Raley's a much better/cheaper place to buy water toys. I stopped by Walgreens on the way, but less selection and more expensive. Well, okay then.

Stopped at Raley's for trail mix and crackers. I hadn't walked into that store in years. For one, since I don't do the shopping. Wink But we have a very nice Bel Air right down the street now, so rules out the need to go to Raley's, like ever. So it was weird going in.

I found out that our neighbors are really snobby about the self checkout lines at these stores, BTW. LOL. They have got the be kidding.

"Self checkout lines are so ghetto."

Whatevah. I guess I value my time more.

I waited in line (longer than I've ever seen there - the customer service used to be 1000% - never wait in a line). Because I had quite a few items and was just lazy. The self checkout always gives me problems. But I usually only run in for a couple of items, which is my perspective I guess. I usually LOVE to just run in and out with no human contact.

I know Bel Air has the reputation for upscale groceries, but it's a pretty big misnomer. The store is NICE and the customer service can't be beat, but they went through and shifted a big part of their inventory to "low price leaders" a few backs. I mean come on, who would shop their otherwise? We don't live in Bel Air. LOL.


I picked up a book at the library to peruse on my vacation. If I have time...

Bobos in Paradise. David Brooks

A slightly older book, but the title caught my attention. I just love the word "bobo." Thinking to the Peter Sellers movie - "The Bobo." Or my favorite monkey, the bonobo.

Anyway, but it looks quite interesting, beyond the title. (Bobo = Bourgeois Bohemians).

"It used to be pretty easy to distinguish between the bourgeois world of capitalism and the bohemian counterculture. The bourgeois worked for corporations, wore gray, and went to church. The bohemians were artists and intellectuals. Bohemians championed the values of the liberated 1960s; the bourgeois were the enterprising yuppies of the 1980s. But now the bohemian and the bourgeois are all mixed up, as David Brooks explains in this brilliant description of upscale culture in America. It is hard to tell an espresso-sipping professor from a cappuccino-gulping banker. Laugh and sob as you read about the information age economy's new dominant class. Marvel at their attitudes toward morality, sex, work, and lifestyle, and at how the members of this new elite have combined the values of the countercultural sixties with those of the achieving eighties. These are the people who set the tone for society today, for you. They are bourgeois bohemians: Bobos. Are you a Bobo? Do you believe that spending $15,000 on a media center is vulgar, but that spending $15,000 on a slate shower stall is a sign that you are at one with the Zenlike rhythms of nature? Does your newly renovated kitchen look like an aircraft hangar with plumbing? Did you select your new refrigerator on the grounds that mere freezing isn't cold enough? Would you spend a little more for socially conscious toothpaste -- the kind that doesn't actually kill germs, it just asks them to leave? Do you work for one of those hip, visionary software companies where everybody comes to work in hiking boots and glacier glasses, as if a 400-foot wall of ice were about to come sliding through the parking lot? Do you think your educational credentials are just as good as those of the shimmering couples on the New York Times weddings page? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are probably a member of today's new upper class. Even if you didn't, you'd still better pay attention, because these Bobos define our age. Their hybrid culture is the atmosphere we breathe. Their status codes govern social life, and their moral codes govern ethics and influence our politics. Bobos in Paradise is a witty and serious look at the cultural consequences of the information age and a penetrating description of how we live now."

Anyway, this really caught my attention. I can't say I know many people in the upper class, but am entrenched in the upper middle class culture of silicon valley.

I started reading the first chapter and the author really seemed to be talking much of the upper middle class as well (kind of blurring the 2, though I personally see a LARGE difference between the 2). The upper middle class are a dime a dozen where I am from. If my spouse worked we'd be upper middle class in a second. For now I feel we kind of are on the verge.

But when I think upper class, I think of maybe one or 2 clients (income $500k - $1 mil). I think of my BIL who reigns from one of the richest families in San Francisco. & they are in a completely different realm. $200k income doesn't buy much here, but you can't argue $1 million income can buy a pretty significant lifestyle. & I really know few in that boat.

Anyway, most of my friends from high school (on the intellectual side) have spent their 20s gathering degrees and traveling the world. I am surprised how firmly they wear this as a badge of honor. & how looked down I often feel upon my own traditional route, marriage, children, accountant.

(In reality my parents weren't going to support me in my 20s or buy me a useless degree, so I had little choice but to be a lot more practical. LOL).

It REALLY cracks me up though because I have friends who work at BIG corporations and make BIG bucks as engineers and such. & yet I get the sense they kind of turn up their nose at me for selling out to the Corporations.

Oh please, I make $50k a year for a small mom and pop outfit helping small mom and pop businesses. (I actually personally have NO interest in big business). & we moved two hours away for a MUCH simpler lifestyle). & yet I get the sense my friends who work for Intel and Google thing I am a corporate sell out. I am always confused how someone with twice the income can look down upon me being such a money grubber. LOL.

{I do make more money now, but this is exactly where we were at when we moved here, and when I started to notice this divide. I still make less than my big Corporate friends, obviously.}

So when I saw this book description I thought - "Bingo!" I had to read that. I didn't get far into the book before the author started expounding on EXACTLY what I have been thinking. A lot of the big corporations have done a great job appealing to the intellectual/artistic types. & yes, it's cool to villify the lawyers and accountants of the world. The new upper class is filled with engineers and artists. & they look down upon the old paradigm.

So anyway, I think this book looks fascinating and may shed some light on my old experiences. Wish I had seen it sooner...

I'll try to take less offense next time I am called a greedy accountant. Wink My friends will go on about the greedy accountants. But look at me and say, "Well, we didn't mean you." At least I am getting a little more insight where this whole thing comes from. Hard to take it personally when you understand this whole paradigm shift in class.

I just find this stuff interesting, regardless.

4 Responses to “Shopping & Bobos”

  1. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    Interesting, everytime I read/hear about class differences with respect to income or social status, whatnot, it just rolls off my back. Partly due to my own selective processing (I shut it out), probably also partly due to removing myself from living/being around that culture. The only time I remember sensing such issues is in teenage years attending youth temple groups!! What a bad experience! Whose clothes/jewelry were better than whose, etc. Although I am SURE it was some of my own perceptions. Being a less advantaged one of the group probably heightened my own insecurities.

    So now I know why I ran away from religion! Ha Ha Ha!

  2. homebody Says:

    Fascinating Monkey Mama. Bobo's huh? DH and I didn't go to college, but are self-employed and not doing that bad actually. It is too bad your high school friends are like that. We had a couple who married a few years after us, both got college degrees, waited until they were 39 to have their first child, traveled extensively for his job as a mining engineer. We visited every 4-5 years when they were back in our area and they were as fascinated by our life as we were with theirs. She died of leukemia at 43. Why am I telling that story? I guess to honor our friends and our respect for each other's choices. Things are much different now. My daughter just graduated from one of the top 10 schools in the West (OIT) and the main speaker worked for Intel for many years (female). Her speech I found quite elitist actually and it was all about earning potential, not how they were going to contribute medically, engineering, nursing, etc which I found rather odd.

  3. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Did you know Bobo can mean fool or clown? I'd heard of this book, but it had slipped my mind. Now I want to have a look at it.

    Please keep in mind that not all engineers and artists may work for are Google, or Intel. Nor for one of the more "money grubbing" companies. My good friend is a 38 year old engineer who makes about the same per year as you do. He is not part of a culture which holds itself above others, seeing itself as less greedy, more progressive or --I don't know-- "pure"? You live in a part of the world set apart! ...I do think it is easy for people such as your friends to lose touch with ordinary lives when their own and most of their universe is extraordinary, including when it is extraordinary in earnings.

  4. monkeymama Says:

    Joan - yes - I thought the title Bobo was kind of funny in that regard.

    I know Joan - my dh is a poor film maker as are most of his friends. The interesting thing I find is a lot of the same attitudes from them, and are other more starving artist type friends, as some of these more upper middle class friends. Just very anti-establishment. It just comes across funny when so many really are in the establishment. Obviously the difference between the 2 groups is very night and day, financially.

Leave a Reply

(Note: If you were logged in, we could automatically fill in these fields for you.)
Will not be published.

* Please spell out the number 4.  [ Why? ]

vB Code: You can use these tags: [b] [i] [u] [url] [email]