Monday, August 26, 2013

Here and There

Art culture icon Andy Warhol had this to say, in his 1975 book "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol":

What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

It was not that way in The Old Country, where nobility reigned and the humble served them the finest of food and drink before wearily going home to their meager huts to a meal of gruel and overly boiled coffee.

I haven't had a soda myself for a long time; I gave them up after I realized I no longer liked drinking them, and water or iced tea is so much tastier (and cheaper!) But it is comforting to know that I could ankle into the SavNoMor and pick up a handy 18-pack of Coke that would taste the same as it would had it been purchased in Keokuk.

Part of the global vision of the McDonald's empire is that the 1/4 pounder that you bought yesterday on your trip to New York City would be identical to the one you'll purchase tomorrow, back home in Biscuitville.  No local flavor, if you will.

And if you go to a distant city, chances are that the vista of hardware stores, discount electronic merchants and taco carryouts will closely resemble your hometown view, except that the people talk funny.  Really.  Instead of your local stores like Hard Harry's Hardware, O'Hoolahan's TV Land and Mexican Joe's Tacoria, you can wake up in any American town and spot a Home Depot, Best Buy or Taco Bell.

Even those regional accents are fading; people don't always talk all that differently from one corner of the nation to another.  This is due to everyone watching cable TV and attempting to sound like Andie MacDowell.

But, I like to listen to online radio from across the nation.  It's simple...just Google the name of a city or town and add "radio" to the search.  Then click on one of the radio stations listed and see if there is a link to listen online, and there you go.

As I write this. I'm enjoying a talk with the town manager of Oshkosh, WI, over WNAM in Neenah-Manasha.  He is discussing the problems of Oshkosh, such as complaints from residents near the railroad tracks about noisy overnight activity down there.  (Residents of Baltimore would not be bothered by noise from the railyards, as it would not be audible above the police, fire and EMS sirens.)

The city manager said that something was "kitty-corner" from another location, and also that something about the city's trash collection system seemed to be "kittywampus."  These are not expressions within the lexicon of Baltimore and it's interesting to open another tab in Google Chrome and look them up.

Here, we say "cater-corner" for diagonally opposed, and "totally screwed up" instead of "kittywampus."

And out there in Wisconsin, they don't have a term for "mass shooting" or "crooked public official taking bagsful of payoffs from paving contractors."

Language adapts to fill our needs.

No comments: