The Ten Most Under-Appreciated Things of 2011
It's still free, constant and in the public domain, thus ripe for privatization. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a challenge by free market advocates late in 2012. Justice Thomas is not expected to recuse himself despite his standing in the Gravity Denial community. Gravity has it's detractors. NASA, the major airlines and the PGA are among the most vocal. The Neckware Association of America, The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and The National Pork Producers Council are among it's biggest supporters. Gravity was a big player in 2011. It kept the Republican side of the aisle seated during the State of the Union address but failed to keep Wisconsin State Senate Democrats in Madison in February when Governor Scott Walker decided to eliminate collective barginning rights for state employees. All are urged to enjoy gravity in 2012 while it's still free and available to all.
Words are the main component of Tweets, texts, emails, blogs and to a lesser extent, Facebook, serving only as commentary on images of your nephew smoking a bong and kittens batting balls of yarn. Words failed Governor Rick Perry and spewed from Newt Gingrich like fracking chemicals from a gas well. The air above Iowa was filled with billions of words though none made any sense, stark evidence of their speakers' dire mental state. Words printed on paper became more and more scarce but were spoken in abundance by the couple seated in front of us at a screening of The Decendents. Money, not words, constituted the language spoken by corporations deemed individuals by the Supreme Court and as such, entitled to the protections afforded under the Bill of Rights. Words like job creator, Obamacare and job killing tax policies were repeated over and over and over and over again by Republicans. Words like craven, timid and spineless described Democrats. Use of words will increase in 2012 leading up to the presidential election, but we'll see a precipitous decline in meaning and veracity.
Man Made Fabric
It seems like only yesterday petroleum based fabrics were held in very low regard by the general public except for members of the life insurance industry and immigrant pushcart vendors. Now, one must stand in line and pay handsomely in order to purchase plastic clothing. Fabrics are calibrated to specific types of physical movement. There are pants for running, walking, sauntering, strolling or staggering. Underwear is specialized to a degree unknown outside of certain Amazonian reptile species. Shirts are engineered to wick, channel, absorb, filter, drain, desalinate and store water. Sports wear is a serious business. Cycling clothing provides the only comic relief. Yoga requires an entire sub-genre of fabric engineers working rotating twelve hour shifts inventing pants that render the wearer genderless as a Barbie or Ken doll.
The sea; deep, blue, inspiration for novelists, singers of shanties and Discovery Channel programmers sure coughs a lot of crap up on the beach. If you walked down a beach in 2011 you were likely to find an impressive collection of medical waste, fecal material of all stripes, sealed but leaking 50 gallon drums, plastic bottles, panties (see above), nylon rope, treated lumber, personal care and contraceptive products, tires, in fact, whole late modal automobiles. We've all seen photos of Hemingway in his library, posed in front of shelves stuffed with huge conch shells, shark jaws, whale skeletons, life rings from the Lusitania and so on. What beach was he walking on?
Brand Stickers on Fruit
It's important to remember that apples, tomatoes, bananas and oranges are industrial products manufactured by multinational corporations from petroleum and other chemical compounds. Tomato may or may not be a fruit, but there's no mistaking the sharp tang of the Periodic Table of the Elements when you bite into one. The ubiquitous stickers remind us we're not eating a ripe, juicy Jonagold, but rather a manufactured widgit designed on software that, with a few coding tweaks, could create a clone army of Komodo Dragons. Be loyal to your brand. Don't remove the sticker. It's no worse for you than the banana hidden underneath.
Mad Men recalls a time when liquor drinking was uncomplicated. Morning, noon and night, sleek, flanneled ad men enjoyed an unassuming menu of distilled beverages. Honest tubers or earnest grains providing grist for eye openers, pick-me-ups or the proverbial hair of the dog. Market research revealed that adding sweeteners and artificial flavoring to our old friends bourbon, vodka, whiskey and gin would make them appealing to women, children and puppies. This discovery led to increased market share and profits. Walk into the liquor store and you will find Butterscotch/Marzipan Kentucky Bourbon, Cheese Cake n' Banana Puddin' Tennessee Sippin' Whisky and Capn' Crunch Russian Vodka with Crunch Berries. Public schools are replacing fruit juice and water vending machines with open bars. The effect is not unlike watching a remake of the Dirty Dozen, the Lee Marvin and Telly Savales characters made up to resemble the Olsen twins. Scotch appears to be the only distilled beverage that has escaped the ignominy of flavor infusion. Single malt aged in Shamrock Shake cups can't be far behind.
Direct Meat Sales
Milk delivered daily from the dairy to your house? Long gone. The daily newspaper? On it's way out. The Postal Service? In hospice. But you can still get frozen meat delivered to your doorstep. As business plans go, it recalls the heyday of Fuller Brush or Good Humor. Two men who appear to have once been deckhands on Deadliest Catch arrive on your street. They're driving a '94 white Ford Ranger equipped with a morgue approved ice box mounted in the back. Perspiring, they go door to door offering a variety of vacuum sealed, frozen beef, pork, chicken and sea food products. Does anyone ever buy this stuff? Where does it come from? Where does it go? Do these men do their own butchering? At least Good Humor trucks entertained us with catchy jingles. “Get Along Little Doggie”, anyone?
Like the Supreme Court justice struggling to define pornography, the best definition of hipster remains, “I know one when I see one”. Hipsters generally are youngish to not so young and tend to congregate in the hipper parts of town. Brooklyn is a hipster haven. Fargo is not. Mitt Romney appeared at a rally wearing skinny jeans. This may have signified many things, but not hipster cred. Newt Gingrich may in fact be a hipster at heart but no clothing manufacturer makes the uniform in his size. The look includes tiny jazzman hats, Alan Ginsburg eyeglasses, pocket tees with a suit vest, Clarks Desert Boots, and polyester pants (see above). Fidel Castro facial hair for men and Dorothy Parker makeup for women. In 2011 hipsters could be found smoking at Occupy encampments, dive bars, on urban campuses and living with their parents after college graduation.
The Battle of the Spectrum
A war is being fought between the leviathans of the telecommunications industry. Cable companies, phone companies, computer companies, wire line and wireless entities, game designers, all the little companies that bury cable, string wire, retail cell phones, the FCC, the ICC, the Justice Department, content providers, Disney, Google and Facebook are the combatants. I don't understand it. No one does. Two things are clear: the winner will get lots of money. The money will come from us. In exchange, we will be doomed to forever walk around clutching little electronic flasks, compulsively sipping a cocktail of entertainment, diversion and corporate propaganda as gospel.
It's as if Chapstick tried to revive sagging sales by advertising their product caused fever blisters or Mrs. Pauls held a press conference to trumpet their fish sticks were made from sea snakes and eels. All the Big Box religions are suffering from declining enrollment. To turn things around they have embarked on a campaign to drive away even more people by becoming more rigid, backward and reactionary. The Mormons, counter-intuitively, hired a Madison Avenue PR firm to help them shed their cult overtones. In 2011 some of the more well known brands busied themselves undoing reforms made over the last forty or fifty years, hinting that the Inquisition was only a paperwork error. In the meantime they have to import clergy from the Third World, a neat reversal of corporate America's habit of shipping jobs overseas. Fundamentalists continue to be the horsefly on the ass end of democracy. Wealth ministries on the other hand, touting their ability to make investor/congregants rich, have seen their numbers sky rocket. God rendered in the image of Man or at least Goldman Sachs.