Archives for March 2011

The Unbearably Cruel Star Wars Embargo

My four-year-old son is crazy about “Star Wars.” It has officially supplanted Spider-Man as the only thing he wants to talk about. He can identify all the major characters (adorable mispronunciations notwithstanding), classify them as good guys or bad guys, and match them to the spacecraft they travel in.

Not exactly prodigy-level stuff, but I find it interesting in light of one fact: He has never seen any of the “Star Wars” movies.

He is not alone among his little peers in this: most of the kids he knows and hangs out with haven’t seen the movies either, but that doesn’t stop any of them from endlessly debating, analyzing, praising, and speculating about their content. Is it “lightsaber” or “lightsaver”? I overheard a 10-minute argument on this topic, and both sides were surprisingly well-reasoned. The details of Darth Vader’s transformation from good guy to bad guy are hazy, but the broad strokes are understood as a given. These movies have permeated the culture to a degree on par with folk legend. If the movies somehow vaporized completely out of existence (a proposition I would not oppose when it comes to the prequels), I feel like kids would still talk about them and obsess over them, rewrite what they were told, pass it down, etc. Eventually it would be remade based on a generations-long game of telephone, the remakes of the remakes eventually bearing no resemblance to the original but retaining every bit of their sway over huge swaths of humanity. You know, like the Bible.
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Big Baggy Pants May Outlast The Cockroaches

What would you say is the standard lifespan of a fashion trend? How long did leg warmers and Wayfarers last in the early 80s, like two years? Three? What about stonewashed jeans? Three years, tops? Day-glo T-shirts? “Frankie Say Relax”? Shoulder pads? Cargo pants? Von Dutch hats? Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera?

Granted, some of these things come back and get a second life, usually about 20 years after the first go-round. Thankfully, the second wave of Members Only jackets seems to have crested and crashed, and when I saw a dude wearing a “Beat It” jacket unironically a couple of years ago I feared it was the start of something we’d all regret. (It wasn’t.) But even the rerun only lasts a year or two.

Consider, then, the mightiest, most resilient fashion trend of the late 20th century, one that’s lasted over 20 years now, long enough to outlast its own revival: Big Baggy Pants. I’m starting to think “trend” is the wrong word, and that this is the kind of thing that’s going to be with us forever, like button-down shirts and the little black dress.

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Ending My Love Affair With Starbucks

People really seem to like to hate on Starbucks. I don’t know why– I guess it’s their ubiquity. When a logo can be seen from any street corner in any city in America, people (city-type people) are prone to backlash.

Not me. I love Starbucks. I love so many things about it: I love the coffee, which some people say tastes burned but I feel tastes yummy, especially with four sugars. I love the fact that they sell the beans so you can make your own at home. I’m partial to the Sumatra, but when it’s not available I’m comfortable with the Kenya, or the French Roast, or any of the Extra Bold varietals. (I like to imagine that while Extra Bold refers to flavor, more flavor also means more caffeine.) I love the fact that they give their workers competitive benefits and room for advancement. I love the color green (that’s just a coincidence). I love the Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I love that when I take a road trip I can count on good coffee the whole way. I love that they will let anyone (anyone) take a dump there. In a city like New York, one must always be aware of one’s public restroom options — particularly if one is a coffee drinker or a parent — and in a city that sticks to “Restroom for customers only” like it’s the eleventh commandment, it’s hard for me to even imagine a Manhattan without a Starbuck’s on every corner.
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Purell Is The Scourge Of Humanity

There is a war coming. A war that will rend the very fabric of our society and could eventually result in the end of the human race. I speak not of the war with fundamentalist Islam, or of the otherworldly invasion that we all know is coming; no, this war will be fought — indeed, is already being fought — in our nation’s preschools and kindergartens. I refer, of course, to the coming war between the Purell people (Purellians) and the non-Purell people (the Resistance).

What is Purell? It’s a line of hand-sanitizing products that, according to its website, is “effective at killing 99.9% of most common germs.” It was invented in 1988 for use by doctors and restaurant workers, and eventually was made available to everyone in 1997. (1997– the same year SkyNet became self-aware. Coincidence?) And it is the harbinger of doom. The dinosaurs had the giant meteor; humanity has Purell. But unlike the dinosaurs, humanity has a choice, and if it is to survive, it must fight this growing menace.

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