Tuesday, October 06, 2009


The Great Wall. The Pyramids. The Louvre.

In a thousand years or so, archaeologists will dig up the remnants of the great culture that was the Third Milennium, and wonder, "What the hell were they thinking?"

We've learned to accept a certain amount of...kitsch...in our city centers, I suppose. There's a McDonald's across the street from the Empire State Building, as an example, and a block-long shopping center catty-corner to that, with rotating retailers like Victoria's Secret and other mall-centric operations, leading up to Macy's in Herald Square.

Nothing wrong with that. But Pizza Hut and KFC next to the Great Pyramid? That's going to cause some consternation, to be sure.

McDonald's is IN the Louvre, and in a fit of majestic irony, under the Museum of Communism in Prague. Starbucks next to the Great Wall, and I'm not sure if the irony or the coffee is more bitter.

The best of American culture has become so pervasive that historians will debate whether KFC predated Cheops, or if Starbucks was around in the Mongol uprising.

America was always great at absorbing culture and cuisine. Think about it: those great "American" foods-- the hamburger, the hot dog, pizza-- are all European.

And now we've digested them, repackaged and repurposed them, and sent them on their merry way to infest and infect the rest of the world, so much so that I expect we'll start seeing terror attacks involving fast food restaurants more frequently.

We have in our history symbolized great excess and a squandering of wealth, but now we squander majesty and heritage, as well.

That can't be a good thing.