Monday, December 27, 2010

Tastes like... transgression.

It's vaguely peanut-shaped, approximately tangerine-colored, and I guess sort of banana-flavored. I'm referring, of course, to the humble circus peanut, a peculiar confection that manages to decontextualize every one of its disparate elements. Nobody likes them, nobody eats them, nobody buys them, yet they are available for sale at filling stations and convenience stores all across this great land of ours, huddled together in dusty cellophane sacks. I think they put them on those wire racks so the candy section can never quite sell out. They are to the candy counter what most 20th-century music is to the concert hall.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A hangover from days gone by.

Chuck Taylors used to be made in Massachusetts. Now they make them in China. As far as I'm concerned they're not even real Chuck Taylors. They're replicas. Knockoffs. And PBR? Don't talk to me about PBR. The actual, real Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee closed somewhere back in the mid '90s. What they sell now is Pabst Brand beer, contract-brewed to meet a specific price point and skillfully marketed to a target demographic. And just who is buying this incredibly accurate reproduction of a humble working-class pleasure of decades past? They're young folks from the suburban middle class, mostly. Seeking authenticity.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Satsuma season

I have been told that in the 1920s in my family's home village, my Great-grandfather would bring home an annual Christmas orange. The old man would sit and solemnly, with great care, peel the orange. The kids would stand watching, waiting. And he would distribute single sections of orange to one kid at a time until it was all gone. That was it for oranges for another whole year. If they'd been here, now, he could have got sacks of oranges cheap from the supermarket to snack on till dinner was ready. But you can't get the mythic kind anymore.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Showing Some Class

Imagine a fellow who mostly listens to country music but sometimes Classic Rock when he's on a ladder because there's something about perspiring heavily while scraping window frames that makes a guy want to hear "Mississippi Queen" from a paint-speckled boombox on a milk crate. On his birthday, does this guy suddenly figure, "Hey, I'll break out the Schoenberg?" Does a lady who reads those Harlequin romances every day of her life suddenly on Independence Day crack the spine on Finnegans Wake? No. So how come on special occasions I'm suddenly expected to appreciate the complex subtleties of fancy food?