Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Azheimer's Clocks

Thompson's Diner
Diner, Queens, New York
I've passed the diner in the photo nearly every week day for the last 100 years. And I never cease to wonder about its clocks. What do they signify? What can they mean? Surely there must be some connection to something. Or are they self-referential?

They annoy me, reminding me of those IQ test questions where you had to name the next number or shape in a series.
Which comes next?
Who cares? Like the delightful character, Alice (who suffers from Alzheimer's) in Lisa Genova's Still Alice, when asked "What month is it?" I always feel like answering, "Ask someone else, they'll know."

Talking about Alzheimer's, today I thought I caught a glimmer. Could the diner's clocks be referring to the clock drawings of Alzheimer sufferers and if so, why?

Clock drawn by typical Alzheimer's Patient
But perhaps even more interesting is what the photo illustrates in the section of it reproduced below. Hardly what one would expect of the cultural capital of America! I wonder how many people would pick America as the location of this diner if they had not been here? It looks positively third world.

And I must remember to point this out when one of my American acquaintances tells me he would not travel outside the States for fear of the living conditions and the quality of the food abroad.

America as the leader of the free and prosperous world is one of the many myths about the country. Another is that Americans have no sense of humour. And yet another that American soaps and sitcoms give a false view of American life.

What is REALLY scary is that they give an accurate portrayal of American life and culture.

Back in the olden days when Mary Tyler Moore starred in The Dick Van Dyke Show and the Petries slept in separate beds, it may have SEEMED that the sleeping arrangements were so, in order not to offend the public's sensibilities. An example of the so-called puritan streak. We now know better.

As family-values-Republican-White-House-aspirant, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has pointed out, the reason for separate beds is merely one of different functions. For example, his bed in Argentina is for his soul-mate, and his bed in South Carolina is for his wife with whom he claims he is "trying" to fall back in love with.

Sometimes you don't even need a soap, as the need is completely bypassed by the use of live press conferences. New York Mayor Giuliani broke up with his second wife on television. Just imagine - learning that your spouse intends to dump you when watching him participate in a televised news conference whilst ironing his shirt. Except we don't iron their shirts anymore. They can wear them with wrinkles for all we liberated women care.

As well as breaking up with wife #2, Guiliani was seen by the press in the company of prospective wife #3 (a nurse) while in hospital for treatment of his prostate cancer. And while all this was going on Guiliani was trying to ignore the Louima case which was about the jailing of a policeman for ramming a broomstick into the rectum of a man who was wrongly arrested while hailing a cab to get away from a sidewalk melee.

With politicians like these, who needs soaps?

But back to sitcoms.

We had Larry-I-did-nothing-inappropriate-in-the-airport-bathroom-Craig (The Craig Case, Simply). We had another governor, Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York and the prostitute scandal. We had John Edwards' wife referring to the baby her rival had with her husband as "it." Governor James E. McGreevey of New Jersey decided he was gay and left his wife for another man while training for his second career, as a religious councillor.

All this has led to Oped journalist, Maureen Dowd, writing a The Practical Guide to Help Spurned Political Wives Survive Old Problems in the Era of New Technology.

Old "Got Milk" Ad
There was a time those, back before the web became commercialised, when there was a brief window of purity an enlightenment in America. I'd barely arrived here. The news was all Clintons. Bill and Hillary. And of course, Monica Lewinsky. A big ad campaign at the time was the "Got Milk" campaign, where attractive young models were photographed with a milk moustache. On one of my first trips to the Village I came across posters for sale, showing Lewinsky instead of the model, with the signature white moustache and the caption, "NOT Milk".

Yes those were the days. Days of miracle and wonder. Innocence lost. Days of er ... milk ... and honey.

No comments:

Post a Comment