Monday, June 25, 2007

Front row at the freak show

George Carlin once observed, "When you're born in this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America you're given a front row seat." Well I’ve only be in America five minutes, and I’ve already seen Exhibit A: an IPOD vending machine. I am not kidding, Minneapolis Airport has a literal vending machine that sells IPODS and all IPOD accessories. I don’t even know what to say. I wish I could take a picture, but my digital is long busted, so I can’t. Let me repeat that again, IPODS are being sold in vending machines for $200 and up like it is a Nestle’s Crunch Bar. No wonder we owe $9 trillion. I’ve been gone six years, though I’ve visited, and six years in the states are Dog Years, so maybe for people living here the whole time, this isn’t such a mind boggling turn of events, but I’m still almost speechless. The contrast in the mad dog consumer culture is just so staggering.

Japan is the second biggest economy in the world, but judging by the two airports, I know why they are number two and destined to stay number two. In freaking Minneapolis, a big place, but hardly the size of Tokyo, there is a full blown mall with everything under sun and moon to buy. In Tokyo, the options were so few I actually ate god awful McDonalds for lunch. Here in Minneapolis, they have everything in the airport: A Fox News store for one. I didn’t even know bullshit was a salable commodity. The Body Shop, the Chocolate Factory, Nevada Bob’s Golf Shop, an eyeglass store, Wolfgang Puck’s gourmet fast food, what an oxymoron there, and numerous other sit down restaurants, and that is just what is in eyeshot. Tom Hanks’ character from The Terminal might live here for the convenience. Some company is selling kayaks, which I'm sure I can fit in my carry on bag. It only took me about eight minutes to find the Statue of Liberty, no I’m not in New York, I’m talking about the real Statue of Liberty: the lady in the Starbucks logo. This place, which I like and from which I pen this post, is like a walking cash machine selling massively caloric $5 Iced Caramel Macchiatos to the pimply, obese masses at an alarming rate. I settle for the regular $2 normal coffee.

Of course, there is still that other freakish part of modern travel: airport security. I’ve been x-rayed today more than Evil Knievel after trying to jump his motorcycle across a couple air craft carriers. To travel from Saipan to the states, at least the state of New Jersey, requires stops to airports in Saipan, Nagoya, Narita, Minneapolis and ultimately Newark. I’ve been x-rayed and bag checked four times. Only the states insisted on yet another shoe check. God, what a bunch of babies we are.


Saipan Writer said...

Jeff, I did all that a month ago, but came through Detroit. I missed the IPod vending machine. No doubt my daughter would think it's cool.

But I see the changes, too.

I'm fat. Okay, I'm obese. But I got to middle America and it reminded me of my first sojourn to Saipan. Back in 1984--I arrived on Saipan to find that, at 5'2" I was no longer a short woman, but "normal" height. And in middle America, I arrived in 2007 to learn that I'm not grossly overweight, I'm normal. Scary.

I've seen so many people waddling around, swaddled in fat, I'm stunned. My family has a fat problem, but in middle America it goes unnoticed.

And this phenomenon isn't limited to the middle aged, where we've slowed down and have let the fat catch up to us. There are tons of young people who are massively overweight.

It's better in the city than in the suburbs, at least from my observations. In the city, people are walking city blocks, climbing on and off buses, etc. In the burbs, they drive up to the take-out window. Parking lots are designed so a door is never too far away.

And the sizes of clothes in the Target and mall stores--in the women's section there are huge racks of 3x and 4x and larger!

I'm walking every day. I may not lose weight on this vacation (hey, I love to eat out at restaurants and stuff), but I really plan on not gaining.

America has enough heavy-weights. It's a national epidemic. Far scarier than bird flu, the War in Iraq, and even the threat of terrorists.

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

And it is a big part of the national health care crisis. The ubiquity of fast food is a really bad thing.