Literally a rock in a bag


This festive rock-in-a-bag sums up everything that went wrong in 2016

An American department store literally put a rock in a bag on sale and people bought it

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By Caroline O'Donoghue on

Many years from now, when society has rebuilt itself and the world is under benevolent dictatorship run solely by Amazon, we will reflect heavily on 2016. There will be many panel shows and radio discussions trying to pick apart exactly what in the hell happened in 2016 to have destroyed the world so completely and, because most literate people will have been wiped out in the great Let's Get Rid Of These Whiny Lefty Assholes purge of 2020, I will be invited to speak on the subject. (I will have survived the purges because I am a wily snake, who, as my friend Ella often says, “would never in a million years have joined the French Resistance”.) 

And, when I am invited, I will bring this rock-in-a-bag. This rock-in-a-bag which, until it sold out yesterday, was selling on Nordstrom for $85. 


Observe the rock. Think on the rock. Ponder the rock as deeply as you can. 

Now, I didn’t know what Nordstrom was until this morning, but my very brief research has concluded that it’s a fairly run-of-the-mill chain of department stores in America. Browsing the website, it has a very similar look and feel to Marks & Spencer: a sort of wholesome, inoffensive, slippers-and-a-Santa-jumper place, where you might pick up anything, from a new bra to a Christmas present for your mum. To clarify, Nordstrom does not appear to have some sort of ironic Urban Outfitters take on the world – it’s just a basic department store, selling a rock in a leather bag. 

This is the product description for the rock-in-a-bag.

A paperweight? A conversation piece? A work of art? It's up to you

So, Nordstrom doesn’t even know what the fuck this is. It doesn’t know what this – this literal rock-in-a-bag – is doing on its website. What is the functional use of it? Doesn’t matter. Who does it speak for? Who cares? It doesn’t matter if the rock is unqualified, because the rock has a certain sense of charisma that Nordstrom doesn’t want to question. Let’s go on:

but this smooth Los Angeles-area stone—wrapped in rich, vegetable-tanned American leather secured by sturdy contrast backstitching –

Look, it doesn’t matter if the rock-in-a-bag is useless, because the rock-in-a-bag has pedigree. Remember avocados – that green stone fruit that everyone started Instagramming this year? This rock is like those avocados you love so much. This rock is from California. This rock’s leather pouch has been created by artisan craftspeople and you love supporting artisan craftspeople. 

—is sure to draw attention wherever it rests. 

As we stated earlier, we have no idea what the rock does or why anyone would want it, but that doesn’t matter, because it draws attention wherever it rests. That’s what 2016 is all about, isn’t it? Y’know, saying and doing whatever you want, and as long as it creates a stir, who cares, right? 

Using vintage leatherworking tools and traditional saddle-stitching techniques, Maxwell aims to create beautiful designs that embody both simplicity and functionality, and that develop rich character and patina over time.

So, as previously mentioned, the rock-in-a-bag does nothing. But that’s not important, because the rock embodies simplicity and functionality without being simple or functional at all. A rock is simple and functional. A rock-in-a-bag is weird and useless. 

And you may doubt the rock-in-a-bag. You may brush off the rock-in-a-bag as a silly fad, something no one would buy, someone no one would vote for. But this rock-in-a-bag was $85 and it sold out. People saw something special in the rock. People thought that this rock could make their living rooms great again and they put their confidence in it. Did they do it out of desperation? Fear? Boredom? We cannot say. All we know for certain is that the rock-in-a-bag is sold out. 

Look, everyone, I’m not saying that this rock-in-a-bag is a perfect metaphor for Donald Trump. But, in 30 years, when I am invited on a panel show to talk about 2016, it is going to be much easier to bring this rock-in-a-bag to the studio than it is to bring the 100-year-old body of Donald Trump. 


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Literally a rock in a bag
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