Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bye bye, Miss American Pie

Indications are that the Mayans were right and that 2012 is indeed the end of an era, not because of  some change in politics or religion and not because of anything cosmic or tectonic, but because a piece of America as we knew it has died. An America, exuberant in itself, proud, forward looking, confident.  Hostess bakeries died this week and not because of mismanagement but because of what America has become: timorous, ashamed of what it loves and afraid of being provincial.  Our sweet land of phony authenticity.  Of thee I sing.

The Twinkie, the Ho-Ho, the Snowball are gone now, along with the Oldsmobile and the Mercury; with Buddy Holly and the independent hamburger stand. You can't buy a Hostess cupcake any more for much the same reason you can't find anything like Hopper's Nighthawks any more. Your cupcakes have to be 'artisinal,' gluten free, in season, free range and come from a 'cupcakery' just as that cup of Joe is now an 'Americano' and served (artisinally) by a 'Barista.'  You're not à la mode enough though, unless you order something that sounds like Mississippi camp-meeting glossolalia and costs forty bucks for a "venti."  Good God, don't ask for a "large." America's rites of self detestation and the industries that thrive on it the way a tapeworm thrives on weakening it's host have us all scrambling for the plastic, made in Taiwan, European panache that we attribute to lands  that we otherwise pretend to loathe because, of course, they're 'authentic' and we're not. American means fake and we flee from it toward an imported synthetic authenticity.

The Authenticity industry with it's vast smoking factories churning out the local and seasonal and artisinal synthetic-reality products we crave and the flim-flam pseudo-scientist diet doctors selling us low 'carb' gluten free and without fructose and for heaven's sake, not 'processed' foods: we zumba and carb-count our way to South Beach to be fleeced.  In an age most noteworthy for the triumph of scientific method over superstition and fallacious conjecture, we have come more to trust 'alternative' information that comes from movie actors, comedians and people who get rich by insisting, contrary to all evidence, that gluten is poison, that miracle berries and magic beans will let you live forever, that cooking your food is bad and the fructose you get from corn is full of bad and fattening juju unlike the identical Furanose Sugars found in (organically grown, artisinally picked, local and seasonal ) strawberries.

Studies show. . .  I cringe when I see that and nearly always it means that tendentious conjecture based on selected facts might fool you into thinking. . . It nearly always means that there was no real study.  Large scale, double blind and randomized scientific studies that are repeatable and published in peer-reviewed journals don't have a chance against diet doctors, Oprah-backed pundits or miracle food and fake science purveyors, not in a country trained to favor faith over fact, trained to celebrate the notions of celebrities and mistrust scientists; trained to patronize diet doctors who tell us that studies show.

Twinkies have anti-oxidant  "preservatives" which everyone knows are bad because studies show. They contain things like gluten and fructose that everyone knows are bad because studies show.  Twinkies may be authentic, but they're authentic American and that doesn't count. We long for something Tuscan, even if we're not sure where that is -- something from Tuscany where it's all artisinal.  Hostess Snowballs -- they didn't stand a snowball's chance in the new America. Maybe if you called them gluten free Palle di Neve or Boules de Neige and opened chic little sidewalk places in Boca Raton and Park Slope and South Beach and had them served by Ballistas for ten bucks each. . .
Ah well, one can only dream now of  temps perdue.  Where? When? O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.

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