“Harvest Whole Foods is more than a store – it’s the hub of a community. Situated at the leafy, liberal end of Richmond Road, a few minutes’ stroll from the ostentatiously scruffy Grey Lynn Community Gardens, the large retail arm of the organic-only Huckleberry Farms Company caters to a distinct set of inner-city subcultures. The flyers and brochures left near the doors of Harvest Whole Foods reveal some of the social, political, and spiritual features of the milieu the store attracts – alongside breathless endorsements of ‘Advanced Yogic Sex’ and advertisements for a New Age guru named Autori, who can ‘make your inner light manifest itself’ for a couple of hundred dollars, one finds calling cards for organisations like Greenpeace and Save Animals from Exploitation, and appeals for donations to help emancipate Turkish dancing bears.”
Then Maps discovered that the only political reading material at Harvest was a magazine called Uncensored, many of whose contributors have strong connections with the neo-nazi movement. How very counterhegemonic of Harvest Health Foods. Maps wrote a letter to the owner of the store (Dave Spalter) which got Uncensored pulled from the shelves without acrimony. But the irony was not lost on Maps:
“Although I’m happy that the Jew-baiters and Maori-bashers in Uncensored will no longer get most favoured magazine status at Harvest Whole Foods, I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea that retailers should be the arbiters of what the public can and can’t read. I think that publications reflecting the full range of political thought, from the far left to the swampy centre to the extreme right, should be stocked by bookshops and newsagents. I wouldn’t be in favour of attempts to remove Uncensored from NZ Post shops or Borders Bookshop or Magazinno. At Harvest Whole Foods, though, Uncensored was the only political publication on display, and its mere presence seemed like an endorsement. I think that, instead of removing Uncensored, Dave Spalter might have legitimately decided to complement it with a range of other journals – journals from the sane parts of the right, as well as from the left – whose contents contradict the paranoid confabulations of Doutre, Bollyn, and co.”
I’m not sure about that, much as I respect the sentiment. I don’t think that magazines approach each other in this explicitly contradictory way, and I’m not sure that readers consciously opt for balance either. Not stocking isn’t the same as censorship – especially when your shop is a statement about an alternative way of life – and I think it’s OK not to stock magazines with neo-nazi views. We have the internet for those.
Later still Maps discovered that Uncensored magazine planned a local symposium. He wrote another letter. Maps is a bit of a hero, really.