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A Sunny Place for Shady People

Pithy, contrarian, politically incorrect and curmudgeonly rants on sex, money, power and politics and religion and philosophy. In short: Nothing matters, everything changes and there are no guarantees. The rest is rationalization and bribery. (c) Tom Milner 2002-2003. DIRECTORY of offensive POSTS at Archives: 07/09/03. RECOMMENDED BLOGS: Archives: 07/29/03. email: theoldbuzzard AT sunnyplaceforshadypeople DOT com.

Friday, May 09, 2003
Monday, May 12, 2003

(This is the fifth installment of an extended, reverential review of Paul Fussell's page-turner Class: A Guide Through the American Status System. New York: Dorset Press, 1990. Out of print but available on line at discount.)

What spirits you drink is one of the surest of the social class markers.

Favored by uppers: dry white wine; Perrier; vodka (solo or with water); Bloody Marys (but never after 5 p.m.); Scotch on the rocks; Beck's or Heineken's beer.

Preferred by the insecure middle class: club soda; vodka-tonic; scotch-soda; daiquiris; brandy Alexanders; sweet Manhattans (never taken before dinner); Bud or Michelob.

Proletarians ardently seek the sweet stuff (the higher the consumption of sweets in general, the lower the class): Seven and Seven; bourbon and ginger; Mogen David and other very sugared vintages.

The dinner hour is another firm class marker.

Uppers eat between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m..

Middles "dine" between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m.

Lowers chow down between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m.

("You can identify the nouveau riches by their practice of drinking until 10:00, eating until 1:30, and dismissing the cleaners-up at 3:00 a.m.")

Alcohol with meals:

Upper -- light white wine.

Middle -- some sort of "soda," like Coca-Cola.

Prole -- beer (in the can!).

Even your choice of ice cream signals class: top, vanilla; middle, chocolate; low, strawberry and other fruity flavors.

Now, as to "eating out," which is "a fixation with both middles and proles, since it gives [them] a chance at issuing orders, being waited on, affecting to be somebody."

"[T]he middle class can play the game it loves most, pretending to be in the class above ...."

Proles eat junk: hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos, pizza, common Chinese dishes, Mexican, meat loaf, liver and onions, "Swiss" steaks, and macaroni and cheese.

Middles and proles love to "host" Super Bowl parties. ("The satiric anti-Super Bowl party is sometimes heard of in New York and similar un-American places. Here the whole occasion is sent up by keeping the TV set dark during game time while the guests drink vodka and talk of anything but sports.")

And, of sporting events, the smaller the ball, the upper the class!

"Two motives urge middle-class and prole fans to obsession with their sports. One is their need as losers to identify with winners .... [And] they sanction a ... pedantry, dogmatism, record-keeping ... and pseudo scholarship of the sort usually associated with the 'decision making,' or 'executive' or 'opinion molding' classes."

Basically, watch what you drink and eat, as well as when, lest you find yourself in an undesirable social stratum.


Unrelated, Recommended: Nicholas Lemann, "The Controller [Karl Rove]," The New Yorker, May 12, 2003.

The rant appears on Mondays and Thursdays.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Thursday, May 08, 2003

First, only those who can afford children should breed, and that kind of flinty rationality would eliminate 96% of those born yearly, certainly a boon to conservation of scarce resources, such as food and energy.

This will be an unattainable ideal, of course, and perhaps it should be, but those who view their issue as somehow furthering their own fragile immortality, or implementing their own unrealized dreams and ambitions should be wary that their lavish parental attention may constitute child abuse not generally acknowledged, except in the psychiatric community.

Shrinks call this kind of abuse "achievement by proxy," or ABP behavior by objectification -- the inability of adults to separate their own needs and goals from those of the child.

These children become, in short, just a means to an end, e.g., providing the parents financial security by requiring their children to sustain their own narcissistic gratification.

Let's be specific.

Take a 5-year-old beauty queen [remember Jon Benet Ramsey?], a 9-year-old gymnast, a 10-year-old pilot, a 12-year-old actor, a 13-year-old musical virtuoso, an 11-year-old hoopster, a 14-year-old ice skater or tennis player, a 15-year-old college graduate.

Does any of this strike you as, at best, bizarre and, at worst, perverse?

Not all children -- of whatever social class -- will have the genetic predisposition to achieve fame as Olympic medalists, sports figures, rap stars, award winning actors, skaters, aviators, or Nobel Laureates.

Parents aren't the only culprits.

They, too, can be manipulated and exploited -- along with their children -- by greedy career-building mentors and coaches.

Perhaps the worst consequence of this grasping, avaricious misconduct is the sexualizing of children, in such activities as cheerleading, acting, and modeling. Or in child beauty contests and artistic and rhythmic gymnastics.

The so-called parental self-worth is thus sickly dependent on "selling" child sex.

It's child abuse -- pure and simple.

Or even child pornography of sorts.

The sash, crown, and trophy belong as much -- probably more -- to the adult as the kid.

These middle-class beauty contests for moppets age 12 and under is a $5 billion a year industry, concentrated in the more ignorant and backward latitudes -- places like the South, Midwest, and California.

One infant (less than a year old) was actually crowned Oregon's 1996 PeeWee Miss of America -- judged entirely on personality, disposition, sportswear, and partywear! See.

This insanity should be stopped.

Or, better yet, stop the breeding.


email: theoldbuzzard AT sunnyplaceforshadypeople DOT com

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