(Read the whole thing - just part of the article is excerpted)Probing a mysterious network of dropshippers, evangelicals, crapgadgets, and semi-vacant Manhattan department stores
Cory Doctorow 10:06 am Wed Nov 28, 2018
Now, (Jenny) Odell has stumbled into a much weirder, much scammier, much murkier world, when she started investigating the parents of one of her Stanford students were receiving a steady stream of mysterious packages addressed to "Returns Department, Valley Fountain LLC."
Odell's investigation revealed a bizarre network of shitty, overpriced off-brand gadgets sold through thousands of Amazon stores, as well as through a mostly empty "department store" right in the middle of Manhattan, as well as through a network of "book stores" that mostly sold crappy gadgets, whose proprietor kept on changing his name.
This network is tied in with the religious cult
that turned out to be the mysterious acquirers of Newsweek, whose subsequent shenanigans were revealed by Newsweek's own reporters,
leading to police raids.
This cult — centered around Olivet University
and an evangelical pastor named David Jang
— is also implicated in the International Business Times
, as well as weird spam- and clickbait-mills
After (Jenny) Odell's extensive investigation, it's still not clear what, exactly, the fuck is going on with all these businesses, LLCs, storefronts, online storefronts, stock-art shoops, and other mysterious practices. What is clear is that someone is making a lot of money, somehow — giant Manahattan department stores don't come cheap!
Still harder for me to grasp was the total interpenetration of e-commerce and physical space. Standing inside Stevens Books was like being on a stage set for Stevens Books, Stevens Book, Stevens Book Shop, and Stevensbook — all at the same time. It wasn't that the bookstore wasn't real, but rather that it felt reverse-engineered by an online business, or a series of them. Being a human who resides in physical space, my perceptual abilities were overwhelmed.
But in some way, even if it was impossible to articulate, I knew that some kind of intersection of Olivet University, Gratia Community Church, IBPort, the Newsweek Media Group, and someone named Stevens was right there with me, among the fidget spinners, in an otherwise unremarkable store in San Francisco.
Note: article by Jenny Odell "Shenzhen's Revenge" cited
-- Instagram freebies linked to an entire world of shadow finances.
Not very edifying company for a community church franchise to keep.
Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2023 09:07PM by corboy.