Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What's the Best? [May 7]

This one all comes down to a taco. Read on, skeptics.

I've read all sorts of pieces on: Is life better now? Wasn't it great when we were kids? Today's youngster are lazy, inert endomorphs who don't know what end of a pencil to use.

Here's my question? Is stuff better?

Pencils haven't improved, the last I looked. My computer is smaller and faster than previous ones, but performs the same tasks. Hey, I am no Luddite; my iPhone is only three generations old.

The pizza at Luigi's (Fairfield, CT) is still made by dedicated craftspeople who live with and by their product. The pizza at Domino's is still made by wan, disinterested youths who care much more about when the next edition of Madden's Bloodbath of Dragon Zombies is coming out. Oh, Domino's (according to ads) now uses REAL cheese—migosh, what came before? Plasticene?

Kraft's “Parmesan” cheese still has cellulose (wood pulp) in it. Aaah, consistency. I'm just not in the market for the former hedge-fund pilferer's organic Wildebeest Stilton from upstate New York. At 35 bucks a pound.

I recently saw an infomercial pitching cookware coated with “space age” CeramoTefSilverSlick. Hold the phone. For me, the space age was in sixth grade when Sister Catherine posted portraits of Al Shepard and his six buddies on the bulletin board. I would need a slide rule to calculate how many years have transpired since then. Can't they come up with a new descriptor?

Deviazione intenzionale: I will never forget grade six, because we would periodically be ushered into the library to actually watch television, specifically space launches. Unmanned ones, at that. TV at school: cool. Launch delays: even cooler; let's skip the Palmer method today. The best time was when a Playtex commercial would come on. Even though the unmentionables were mounted on plastic busts (pun intended), the nuns would—in vain—try to cover the screen with their voluminous habits. Cross my heart.

In my entire life. I have owned exactly one pair of skivvies that adequately, er, cradled my man-parts. No improvement there. Stop with the wisecracks you are all devising. I am simply stating facts.

Of course, there is the obverse.

Cars last longer, even though we pay for gewgaws and impedimenta we don't need. Who dumped the old trade-it-in-every-three-years business model? Why the Japanese, of course. Remember when “made in Japan” meant shoddy quality?

Television has significantly improved. I thought it was a miracle when my dad trundled home a table-model Admiral. Wow, color TV! He also got a matching base that simulated the look of a console. Dad was ecstatic, praising the new order of home viewing. Seconds later, when placing the rig on the stand, Uncle Doc dropped the unit on Dad's pinkie. Then we heard adjectives of a saltier stripe as my grandmother rushed my brother and me onto the back stoop.

I also believe that programming has improved. We have 8,285 channels instead of five. I await The Lint Channel. Perhaps we can conglomerate some of these shows, like Surviving Jersey Bachelors' Swamp Pawn Shop.

Take music. From scratchy vinyl to warbly eight-tracks to crystal-clear, space-age (?) digital. Tech can make Taylor Swift sound like Kiri Te Kanawa. Has it improved music? Don't make me go there. Give me my white album, skips and all. Mahler 2 (my favorite symphony) probably sounds no better than it did in 1895. Recently, I heard a smooth-jazz (“Fuzak”) version of Dave Brubeck's classic “Take Five.” In 4/4 time. I've got blisters on my tympana.

Aah, the taco. It was, simply, magnificent. Especially made for me by a wizened, ancient woman in San Jose del Cabo. Spicy piggie, al pastor, on a fresh, irregularly shaped handmade tortilla. A huge cadre of salsas, cheeses, veggies—even fresh guac—for me to apply at no charge. It cost eighty cents.

I'd better stop here. I've got to load a capsule of Tegulcigapa Decaf Shadegrown—produced by stoop-shouldered, underpaid, mustachioed peasants—into my Keurig.

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