About once a year I go to KFC, whose name (only a rumor, still very compelling) was changed from Kentucky Fried Chicken because the FDA refused to allow “chicken” in its name anymore; not technically, not since in vitro modification turned them into featherless big-titted avian mutants. I order the 3-piece crispy chicken, with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a biscuit so dense each bite is a choking hazard. The flesh is so tender, the bones so malleable — as if designed to fray at the gentlest human hand — I spread the breast convexly towards my mouth in the same fashion as one might eat the sliced side of a mango. The abstract expressionist-y garish pattern on the walls and/or booth cushions seem stuck in the ’80s, too depressive for nostalgia, as if we, as an entire race, had aesthetically plateaued. There’s an exuberant youthfulness to the 1:00 a.m. patrons of Taco Bell, and an underlining patriotism at Denny’s or even McDonald’s. The patrons at KFC seem involved in some collective Last Supper, each one seated alone in the center of a large table. I finish my meal in less than 20 minutes, my chin greasy like a productive cunnilingus session. Later that night, I vomit.
André the Giant’s feud with Hulk Hogan was subliminally marketed as the theatrical completion of the Cold War. The WWF wanted someone tall and dumb-looking to pair off with Hulk Hogan, whose self-reliant and somewhat manic confidence seemed almost spiritual in capacity; yes, American. Though French in nationality, André René Roussimoff was of Bulgarian and Polish descent, which I easily lumped into Russian. My favorite wrestlers were “Macho Man” Randy Savage and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper; like their glam metal hairband counterparts, these aggro men dressed like strippers. The problem all started during WrestleMania III (1987), when André ripped Hogan’s golden crucifix from his chest after snapping a metaphorically extended olive branch. The nuclear arms race between Reagan and Gorbachev was at its height, the latter’s forehead birthmark resembling some kind of Hiroshima-shaped splat. Two years later, in 1989, a then only 19 year old Shepard Fairey created Andre the Giant has a Posse, stickers widely distributed among the skater community, which eventually became OBEY, a massive “street art” campaign whose spirited anarchism eventually corroborated with a more violent paradigm: Capitalism. Now a clothing franchise in the price range of J. Crew and Banana Republic, stylish people born way after can enjoy not getting the irony of their obedience.
According to Celtic legend, this fair maiden married a Count on the condition that he let her bathe in privacy. Giddy curiosity turned to subdued envy, then sexual jealousy, then finally rage — which may have started this whole Male Gaze mess. One day he finally intrudes upon her, discovering one pissed off lady split off bilaterally into a serpent below the waist. Our two-tailed siren Melusine still has not received a penny in royalties for her likeness in the Starbucks logo, whose oceanic motif must have been a nod to the company’s first location at Pike Place, though it was Starbuck (first mate on the Pequod, Moby Dick) after whom the corporation was named. That Starbuck’s lost its possessive apostrophe (or never had it) is telling: it was never our place. Their logo is abstracted, cartoonish, and most mistake cray’s two tails for the claws of some crab or lobster hybrid. Regardless, in the public’s eye, she is split in two, her identify defined by its very fragmentation, as if diagnosed with bipolar or borderline personality, when all she wanted was to be left alone. From the emergency dump, to a business meeting between two people without offices, to the very diluted brown water upon which this entire enterprise is built, Starbucks is the place where people who’ve run out of options go. And they put a lid on everything, scared of what you’ll see beneath the murky waters.