Monday, July 05, 2010


Woman arrested for assault
after attacking her drunk
boyfriend with a weed-whacker.

A bit of nostalgia struck this evening as I was watching some cooking show (actually my wife was watching it, I was innocent) that featured someplace, I think in Virginia, where there still exists one of those old-fashioned drive in restaurants where you are served on a tray in your car. It made me wonder why those places virtually disappeared. You would think that with even more cars than ever before, and fast food joints everywhere, there would continue to be a demand for such places. I guess they have just been replaced by the drive-through phenomenon. Too bad, I used to love those girls on the roller skates rolling up to your car and taking your order and all that. No doubt drive-through is cheaper and cuts down on the number of employees and stuff. But we could still use the jobs. Ah, efficiency, profit, and all that. I guess it makes sense, but it’s just not the same.

Similarly, I miss those old drive-in movies. Remember, you could load up your kids in their pajamas and take them to the drive-in. If they fell asleep in the car it was no big deal. And you could get popcorn and candy and drinks (could even bring your own bottle if it suited you) and sit quietly in the privacy of your automobile enjoying what was happening on the really big screen. Or, if you weren’t married and didn’t have kids, you could take your girlfriend and just cuddle all you wanted in the privacy of your own comfortable box. You didn’t have to be in the least intimidated by the rest of the audience. Obviously such an institution could not survive against television and things like Netflix that allows you to do the same thing in the privacy of your own home, be it apartment or house. But it’s just not the same.

What I truly miss, however, is billiards. I mean real billiards, played on a table with no pockets and only three balls made of ivory. It was a gentleman’s game. In our town the city fathers came every day during their noon hour to play billiards. We all sat around and watched. It was a game of angles, of geometry, of real talent. They all had fancy cue sticks decorated with real ivory and mother-of-pearl and there was a huge wooden case where these valuable sticks were placed while not in use. If you could find one of these cases nowadays it would probably cost as much as a house, no plywood, plastic, and staples in those days when craftsmanship still prevailed. The houses of the wealthy often had billiard rooms where the men would join to play, smoke their cigars, and make conversation. I believe that Thomas Jefferson had a secret billiard room in his famous home (billiards was regarded as not entirely respectable by some). Billiards, real billiards, has all but disappeared, even though people still play pool (often called billiards) but it is such a washed out version of what used to be it is barely recognizable. Most bars have some kind of pool table that you have to stick a quarter or two into in order to play, there are no pockets from which to retrieve balls so what you can play, and how, is very limited. It is such a poor imitation of what was once a really great game it reminds you of the death of civilization. Unlike drive-ins and drive-in restaurants, the demise of which is understandable, I do not understand why or how billiards came to disappear. Even now you may find a pool table in a private home but it is highly unlikely you will find a billiard table, and you certainly won’t find ivory billiard balls, now poorly replaced by plastic. It’s just not the same.

One area that I think has improved is automobile travel, but only in the sense that automobiles nowadays are so much superior to the older models. But in the “old days” when you went on an auto trip you usually had to bring your own food in a picnic basket or something as there were few restaurants along the way, the trips were longer because the roads were not as good, and it was much more of an adventure than it is today. And you could and did stop by streams and rivers where you could drink the water without fear of contamination. Indeed, I have to this day a special silver cup in a leather case that was used for the purpose of enjoying fresh mountain water. There were few if any roadside stands and travelers were pretty much on their own. It’s just not the same. But I must say it’s a relief not to be changing tires so often.

Most of all, I guess, I am nostalgic for the time when we were not engaged in permanent wars. We fought the so-called “Good War,” but even then we had to be pretty much forced into it. There was a clear cut reason for it and for our involvement and when it was over it was over, there was a winner and a loser, and there was no doubt which was which. We at least pretended to tend to our own business and not meddle so much in the affairs of others. Now, of course, we meddle constantly, everywhere, and depend upon permanent (even illegal and unconstitutional) wars to fuel our militaristic economy and sustain our corporations in the manner to which they have become accustomed. There were even two distinct political parties, both interested in promoting the welfare of the citizens and our country in general. Alas, it’s just not the same.

I had a monumental idea this morning, but I didn't like it.
Samuel Goldwyn

Opossums have more teeth than any other land mammal.

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