FRIDAY APRIL 07 2006
As for Katie Couric taking over the CBS news: if you spot me a whoop, I could probably muster a de-do, but I’d have to borrow the de, and I’m not putting down a deposit. My paper has the story on the front page, above the fold, with a big photo of La Femme Perqui; the headline reads NEW ANCHOR, NEW ERA.
In other news: "Captain Smith, you stand relieved. I’ll take the helm." "Thank you, Mr. Lightholler."
I don’t mean to fall into the trap of thinking that no one watches the evening news simply because I don’t, and know few who do – but here’s the thing. The CBS Evening News comes on at 5:30 here. Most people who work in offices – like newspapers, for example – aren’t home by 5:30, and I don’t imagine that the minute they get home they race from the front door, knocking over the lamp and the dog, to see what’s on the network news. When I lived in DC the network news came on at 6:30, so you could leave the office at five, have a belt at Smith & Wollensky’s, cab it home and catch the news when you got to your chic flat. You had to watch the news; like the Sunday morning cable shows, it was really closed-circuit TV for the Outer Party. It mattered. But that was in the early 90s, and that world’s gone. And we thought we were so modern because we had CNN. Look, an upstart network is covering a war! What an age in which we live!
So, good for Katie, but frankly, the only exposure I’ve had to her in the last 10 years has been her somber face on women’s magazines with a headline about colonoscopies. And the last time I checked the network news it was the same: international bad news, pointless domestic political headbutting, a roundup of floods and tornados, an “in-depth” story about a Troubling Development, then a heartwarming tale about a girl and her pony, or a Cautionary Tale about a girl and her pony and Homeland Security. Eh.
Homemade bumpersticker of the day, observed in the grocery store pick-up lane:
The car was incinerated by orbital lasers a few blocks down the street. I don’t know what was worse – the screams of the passengers, or the hoots and laughter of the thick-browed brownshirted onlookers. Ghastly times, these.
The white bumpersticker says – really - “Preserve Minnesota’s Quality of Life – Raise Taxes.” What, and give the fascists more money?
Warm day, ending with rain. We played baseball until the ball went under the fence and rolled down the hill. It’s a long hill. Goodbye ball. Then off to Costco in far-off Eden Prairie for the semi-annual stock-up; as usual, I felt annoyed to be there, since A) I did not want 128 cans of soup, and B) all the frozen foods would melt by the time I got them home. I ended up buying house-brand tissue paper in bulk, a portable hard drive, Listerine in the handy 36-gallon keg, a book, some batteries – you sure get a lot of batteries for eight bucks – and other sundry items. I passed on the two-thousand dollar piano:
Gnat liked it, though. Then we went to heaven:
If you saw this place, you’d know why I love it. Maybe they all look like this one; the only other Kks I’ve visited have been in Vegas and NYC, and neither had the full-body retrolicious appeal of this one. Even the chairs are perfect: mid-century style in seafoam green. Sigh. I don’t care if other chains have better donuts (I always get letters when I mention KK, insisting that they are vastly insuperior to some other regional delight) – it’s as close as I’ll get to that fantasy-land pretend 50s world where everything’s googie and pointy and loaded with amoeba shapes and tailfins.
Of course, it was never so. For a while I had a picture of a KK opening as my desktop: a sleek building with a line of patrons outside and a traffic cop managing the crush of donut enthusiasts. To my surprise one of the framed photos on the wall of the KK had another picture from the same event, a wide shot that put it in context: now I could see the building next to the KK. A typical 20s institutional brick building. The sort of thing I’d love to see today. The sort of thing people try to preserve. The sort of thing they tore down en masse because they looked ancient and outmoded next to these sleek new Machines for Eating. Pity is, you’re more likely to see the 20s institutional buildings around today than the 50s restaurants, simply because they were occupied by, well, institutions. In the end, they won. The coffee shops and the donut houses, all those cool 50s styles, burned out and fell down. And that’s still the greatest wholesale architectural loss of the 20th century. Given the choice between bringing back Penn Station and 100 coffee shops from the 50s and 60s, I’d choose the latter. We still have a few pseudo-Roman train stations to remind us what that era felt like. But it’s harder to recreate the simple urban pleasures of the 50s, of entering a chrome-brighht coffee house, sitting yourself on a puffy stool upholstered with sparkly purple plastic, spinning around a few times to check out the room, drinking a cup of coffee from a thick ceramic mug, dragging the ashtray over, pulling a napkin from the shiny dispenser (it never came out without ripping; never) and cracking open the top of the crusty sugar dispenser to shake a tablespoon in your joe while nodding your head to Buddy Holly on the jukebox. (More likely it would be some sugary string-smothered crooner, but hey: it’s my fantasy.
To the credit of this Krispy Kreme, the overhead speakers played – faintly – “Zoot Suit Riot.” In Eden Prairie, Minnesota, in 2006. I’ll take it.
Gnat pointed to a tray of donuts with alternating frosting – some had white icing, others had dark icing. The clerk asked if she wanted the chocolate with vanilla icing or the vanilla with chocolate icing. How I love modern civilization. Such a distinction is not only possible, but crucial. I had the maple donut, because sometimes you need a maple donut, and that’s all there is to it. I have two Kks a year. I must choose wisely.
We drove home in the rain, listening to her playlist on the iPod. She was in the mood for Powerpuff remixes, and so was I. Made dinner; did the Hewitt show, a small pebble between the Great Rocks of Mark Steyn and Christopher Hitchens; finished the Diner. I had to make some additions – since there’s a good deal of simulated conversation on a cellphone, I felt compelled to add the sound of the voice on the end of the line. But how? I ended up talking into a coffee cup and running it through some filters. Hardly perfect, but it’ll do. As I said yesterday: you needn’t know anything about “24” to enjoy, and there are no spoilers. It’s called “25,” and please: if you listen in iTunes, note the track length. The icon below will take you to the Diner page, where you can subscribe (the episode may be in the archives, once again); if you’ve subscribed, you’ll get it automatically. The MP3 version is here. Enjoy! Thanks for everything this week, and I’ll see you Monday.