It’s As American As……..

I have said it before and I will say it again now, I am often troubled by the vituperative nature of the dialogue in America these days.  It feels as if people are fighting each other verbally for some idea they have of what is “American”.  It feels often as if people are saying “I am more American” than you and I am right.  And if you think I am not right, then you are not really American.  I say that what is American is the dialogue itself, and we have lost sight of that I think.  What is important about America is that we have always had the dialogue and respect for the dialogue and for those engaged in it.

It seems, currently, that it is futile to engage in talk, if I express a political opinion I am either wrong or silly or I am simply dismissed or ignored.  So I decided to take a different tack and talk about what is really and indisputably American; food.

Almost as much as sports, food is a matter of regional and ethnic pride in this country.  I was lunching on barbecue the other day and the restaurant offered a stunning array of sauces.  I knew, for example, that the golden mustard based barbecue sauce is a staple of the Carolinas, and the sweet generally associated with St. Louis.  And I am not a barbecue expert by any stretch.

I have lived in many regions of the country and have had the privilege of learning in each one.  Fresco in southern Cali, green chili in Nuevo Mexico, crab cakes in Maryland, maple syrup in New England and cornbread and fried green tomatoes in Florida.  And so much more.  As a result of living in New England I still make applesauce and can it every year.  As a result of living in New Mexico I still wrap lots of things in a warm flour tortilla.  Since I grew up in New York, I still love good rye bread, especially with pastrami.  And Florida strawberries make the best jam. And so much more.

Starting with politics and ending with food.  Maybe if we all just sat down to a meal and tempered our dialogue with shared food we would understand each other better.  Maybe if we broke cornbread together the dialogue would be tempered with respect.  A ridiculous idea I know, but this baker of apple pies can dream, because our food is as much a reflection of our diversity and the rich tapestry of our culture as our political points of view.

Ad Culture in America and other addictions

For some time now it has become obvious that ads are targeting the wallets of baby boomers.  No longer do you see prime time ads for diapers and other baby and toddler accoutrements or youthful clothing (unless you are watching Stacey London), for example.  I assume that many of the “baby” ads are on during the day as the bad assumption that all good mothers stay home and watch soap operas still seems to hold some sway in this country.  Even most of the cleaning goods ads seem to be on at odd times with the exception of those that are geared to us “older” folks and our limitations.

Now, almost without exception, we seem to be bombarded with ads for products for women who have urinary urgency or accidents, for getting and keeping an erection (and no, the women having sex with those guys do NOT look like the women in those commercials).  Likewise, commercial for “manly” incontinence underwear, hair replacement, hair color to correct gray, supplements for every ailment, pills for everything under the sun including vaginal dryness; all of which have hideous side effects.  These side effects, to my mind, are far worse than the ailments that they are intended to correct/cure/affect.

So I was watching television the other night, thinking about these very things when a commercial came on that I had not seen before.  Mind you there are lots of laxative, bowel, digestive and urinary tract commercials but this one stood out.  It was a commercial for a laxative marketed to relieve opiod dependence related constipation.  What?  I thought.  The news is full of the “new” American heroin problem.  First, heroin is not a new problem but its prevalence among new classes of users has brought new attention to it.  Today the news is all about those who become dependent on pain medication and when they either can’t get enough or can’t afford it, they turn to the cheaper alternative, heroin.  And we know that pain medication can be obtained from multiple doctors since mostly they don’t talk to each other although some states, mine included, are getting smarter about tracking these things, making it harder to scam the system.  All of these drugs cause constipation apparently. So some bright ad person’s idea is to take advantage of this new scourge of the dwindling middle class and market to addicts to alleviate this particular side effect of their addiction.

Oy vey.  It seems that the money spent on this particular advertising would be better spent on treatment but greed is the American way, especially if you can capture a few of the baby boomer dollars.

Practical Advice For My Son #7 ~ Ask For Directions

Okay, so there is a joke; a joke about men asking for directions. But the joke arises from a reality, at least in American life and culture.

American men often have the idea that asking for help in any way is a sign of weakness. This goes for any kind of help, from the most serious psychological help, to medical help, to reading instructions, to asking directions. Silly mostly.

If you are having a breakdown, or a relationship problem, get professional help; you never know but you might save a marriage, help your children, save your life. If you feel bad, go to the doctor; you never know but you might feel better, improve your health, save your life. If you are in hour three of trying to put together a tricycle, play kitchen, desk, lawnmower, read the instructions; you just might feel better, get to do something else and, in the case of heavy machinery, save your life.

If you are lost, or don’t know where you are, ask for directions. Not only will your partner not think less of you, they are likely to be grateful. Also, you will get where you are going much more quickly. It is likely that you will avoid a great deal of frustration that you would have to hold in pretending that you actually know where you are and where you are going (and yes despite this drama your passengers doknow that you don’t know).

While being a problem solver, a solution seeker, is an admirable and sought after trait in the business world, there is a fine line. When you simply don’t know how to solve something, fix something, build something and you can’t imagine or create a solution, ask for help. always remember that asking for help is not unmanly, it is efficient. There are so many better things to do than wasting your time trying to figure everything in life out on your own.