Ahhhhhh...Chef Beat, ah ah Langlom!! Ahhhhhh...Chef Beat, ah ah Langlom!!
What does it mean, to be great and in America?
1) your likeness on holiday six packs ofCoors Beer?
2) your pearly whites on an infomercial?
3) your kids asking for plaid at Christmas?
4) your bagel stand being the one to beat?
5) your neurosis making it onto Geraldo?
6) your dog starring in a tv movie?
7) your children's book being banned by the librarian's association ?
8) your naval selling soft drinks?
and who manages to convince old man clock to look the other way? spare us a minute, willy a? No? Then how 'bout an hour?
Hey You, Frenchie, Mr. Philosopher of 20th Century Lite
Thatfrench philosopher, the one getting his ya-ya 's out on America's post 1950's pop aesthetic. The one trying to turn simple capitalism into a heady intellectual process, if not actual Art. His is a romanticizing system of theoretics, one in which America's own style of crass commercialism is eroticized- sublime as seen in the design of an Arizona burger stand, Big Gulp drink, neon cowboy, or rented red '57 Chevy convertible. Ever the rugged academic, he takes to the road. Steering wheel in hand, his mind beholding the broad expanse of dessert before him. He is experientialized! Inside his head, various essays are being born- ...and on about the plasticity of neon frames of reference, the seemingly immortal mimesis ofElvis, ever shifting paradigms of pop history, Las Vegas' triumph over moral necessity, the golden arches' negation of the European heritage, the ideological deconstruction of the cheeseburger...
It is in this way that the intellectual attempts to elevate the satisfying of crass consumer indulgence, as if it were a lofty intellectual celebration. Eyes wide and gluttonous, his car's back trunk filled with kitsch, he reminds himself 'hey, it is ok to buy & buy, for I am engaged in deconstruction. A PostModern sluething of a high minded sort'. Excitedly, he writes in his journal a stream of academic insights. ...of McDonald's delivering the ultimate body blow to the old world legacy, diet coke as universal diety, onion rings and chocolate shakes as perhaps the most tangible symbols of the American Revolution, Elvis as Buddha, the US highway as the invalidation of temporal space...
Frenchie, our alchemist of 20th century life, let loose from the lecture circuit, freed from his study, unshackled from the dusty classroom, his newly emerging paunch offering proof of the headiness of experiential research, french fry flatulence as cultural transformation. I see you, Mr. French Man! You, with your inviting prose! Your glistening linguistic halitosis! But you 'II not convince me to partake in this, your McDonaldian bliss!
Visiting, he lauds poetically the doodads, trinkets, and gutfry burgers. He gets hard-ons to the Shangri-las, Ronnie Spector, Leslie Gore, the Chiffons, Aretha Franklin, etc. He feels invincibly ahistorical in his borrowed '57 chevy. He is adrenalized by a surge of conceptual giddiness as he places another drive-thru order in that thick french accent (all but unintelligible to those who take his order). Fortunately, he is unconcerned with whether or not he recieves what it is he ordered (he rarely does), for it is all glorious freedom!
For him, American Pop (and what other kind can there truly be?) is Baroque, Romantic,
Rennaisance, Plastic- whatever it need be. Unlike Europe, its essence is not austere, not saintly in marble or somber in stone. Rather, it is zang with life- bold vomitings of red, purple, green-always! Globs. Curves. Drops. 70 foot ice cream cones sending out gratuitous streams of neon light. He sees dusk at a Nevada roadside diner nearly negated. A 40 foot neon cowboy emits a garish disaster of blue, red, green, and yellow. Beside him, an orange crescent moon is still. Roped within his enormous bulbed lasso, it hangs inert, dull, defeated- a dismal 2nd place, nature's feeble offering insignificantly framed.
Frisbees and hot dogs signal the real dawn of the American renaissance- a time during which are perfected the art of self-worship and the art of the unnecessary. All powered along by the backbeat ofMotown and the motor city sound. Frenchie, Mr. 'J'taime America' would extract profound beauty from our often crass oasis. But "Just Visiting " is his unspoken motto-"I'll just play at being a consumer here, hoarder of junk, gulper of grease, connoisseur of crap. " He is play acting- collecting the toys while freed from the consequences of the culture which produces them. The conditions of our society remain exactly that- our own. He is play acting, and painting Nirvana upon Gomorrah because of it.
He is being as childlike as an accomplished intellectual can possibly be. He's using the gymnastic ability of his intellect to construct a make believe, fairy tale play land of America, while still proponing to be grounded in reality. His mental twists and turns- "look at me everybody, aren 't I smart!? "- are used at the service of romanticizing a culture which he's heretofore received as export. A culture which has seduced most of the western hemisphere it seems with its lure of Pop. America, that young upstart, the rogue superpower, precocious boy wonder of countries, inscrutable teen whom sage old Europe has seen eclipse them. America, with its unfathomable habits and quirky interests. Its loud music, strange clothes, unintelligible yet catchy slang. Mr. Frenchie, the old world's parental delegate, pays a curious visit, eager to be seduced. Yes, he has visited not to evaluate, but to celebrate its bright, sugary vapidity.
But what if the funds from the university ran out? His stateside friends suddenly unreliable? Funds insolvent? The book deal kaput? The Chevy repossessed? What if he were to find himself suddenly without money for even a ticket home? It's only fitting I think, that, out there in the midst of the great American where ever, Mr. Frenchie should seek employment in the arms of his great conceptual lover- the burger stand, now forced to swim unprotected in the greedy green ocean of pop. 6 months taking burger orders and fry in' up fries to buy a plane ticket would temper somewhat that fictionalized view of our cultural landscape.