Spam-baron Hormel makes a line of soft pork logs, suitable for grilling. They’re about 18 inches long. The package says “Center Cut Pork Loin” or something like that, and just holding the thing you wonder how big a pig they came from - if this was the center cut of the loin, well, that’s one large loin. They come in the usual flavors - teriyaki (salt), cajun (pepper) and lemon pepper (lemon, pepper). Cooked right, they’re delicious, but there’s something unnerving about slicing open the plastic bladder and pushing the thing out on the grill. It’s like a big, eyeless, muscular worm. It makes you glad that we don’t have three-inch thick 18-inch worms around here - you’d carry a hoe at all times, if we did. There’s one! Kill it!

I sliced it up, put it on a tortilla, added some cheese and lettuce and salsa. Delicious. It was a local corporate salsa, but good nonetheless. I know, I know - I should be buying boutique salsa. You know the kind. It either has a plain label, and a name like "Mike’s Salsa", or it has a magnificently designed label with Aztec iconography and foil highlights spelling out Salsa Miguel. In either case it’s $5.95. Should you balk at paying that much for salsa, fear not: the grocery store usually has a small card that gives you a story to go with the jacked-up price. “Made in small batches in Schubert, Wisconsin, Mike’s Salsa has been a local favorite since 1985. We’re proud to bring it to our store, and recommend you try all three varieties - mild, medium, and hot!” You try it, thinking Mike of Schubert might have stumbled on some magical recipe, but then you realize he’s buying Pace in bulk at Sam’s Club, pouring into jars, printing off the labels on his Lexmark, and laughing all the way to the bank.

Miguel’s usually has a story, too. “Made in very small batches that cannot be detected by the naked eye, Salsa Miguel has been a local favorite in the Xuburt Province since 1985. That angry fellow on the label is Qils-yukumin-anquoin, the Toltec god of painful garnishes - but don’t be put off by his scowl! This salsa always makes us smile. Try all three varieties - mild, medium, and something Miguel calls ‘Morning Cannonfire.’”

I suppose I could make my own. But making one’s own salsa is sort of the thing Martha Stewart would do if she was a guy. (That would be the only thing, probably.) It’s like making your own beer. I can understand making one’s own beer if, for example, beer is not otherwise available. But there’s a store down the street that sells all manner of fine beers. Some are from breweries that date back to the 18th century. I imagine they’ve gotten the kinks out by now, and it’s safe to drink.

Besides, if I did make a fabulous batch of salsa - sorry, that’s the wrong term. It would be kick-ass salsa, or killer salsa; it would only be fabulous if Graham Norton was making it. If I did make some killer kick-ass salsa, I’d never duplicate the recipe; the entire process would consist of throwing stuff in the chopper and hoping for the best. Next time I’d leave something out by mistake. Coriander. Or cilantro. Or both.

But nothing I make in the Mexican realm will equal the Chili Cheese Burrito at Taco Bell. (Gasps of horror from the audience.) True. It is perhaps the only menu item so fine it survived a merger and acquisition. The Chili Cheese Burrito was a specialty of the Zantigo chain, a far-superior purveyor of FauxMex food. The meat was finely granulated, stirred into a cheesish fluid imbued with peppers, and served in a thin burrito. Mm mm. When Taco Bell took over Zantigo they killed the Chilito dead, but the people rose up and demanded their rights, and in a rare act of corporate wisdom they brought it back, for good. You can still ask for a Chilito by name, and they’ll make it. Ten years after the death of Zantigo. Amazing.

Recent movies, briefly noted:

“The Conversation.” Double-F Coppola’s little essay on paranoia and surveillance, c. 1974. What a different world: Cindy Williams is a movie star, Harrison Ford is an ominous thug. (The effect was somewhat ruined by a tight sweater made of a synthetic blend, and a Quiana shirt with Concorde lapels.) While I do not reflexively bow to the shrine of 70s cinema, there are brilliant highlights, and this is one of them. And it brings back all the shitey dreck and witless ugliness of the 70s, too.

"Frailty." I wrote about this movie when I saw it in the theater. Rare is the night-out when your friends and family not only hate the movie you chose, but give you little oh thanks for THAT glares when it’s done. I’m sorry, but this is not a slasher movie. This is not a horror movie. The Giant Swede thought it was another Hollywood broadside against religion, but I don’t see it that way at all. In fact I don’t know how you can. It’s just a vision of God most people don’t like. The good news: there’s a God! The bad news: He is old-school Old Testament all the way, with the smiting and the judging and the cleaving mmmGLAVIN.

Speaking of Glavin: I got the most obscure Simpsons reference in the paper the other day - in a brief segment about aged boomers in the nursing home, and why I am heartily sick of the boomer aesthetic setting the terms for the culture, I wrote the headline THE, BOOMERS. THE

Somewhere Sideshow Bob is smiling.

But you know, now that I think about it, there’s been a sharp decrease in the Boomer Uber Alles effect. If an ad agency suggested using a Joe Cocker song for a car commercial they’d be met with rolled eyes. There’s a marked decrease in tie-dye nostalgia and dead rock-star hagiography. Culturally speaking, I think that pig in the python has finally been digested.

Perhaps now
we can begin to regard the 60s as the wildly bifurcated age it was. As they all are. I was reading a scholarly (meaning, boring) study of motels in America tonight, and the section on the Holiday Inn chain was fascinating. When you look at the design the chains put out in the 60s, it was pure modernism. But the people who inhabited these spaces were not exactly steeped in Bauhaus theory; this was just the way things looked nowadays. And when they turned on the radio, it wasn’t vanguard experimentalism, but Country / Western. Their reading choices were mainstream, their TV choices banal. About .09 percent of the population painted their faces, wore granny glasses and said “groovy” on a regular basis. Most everyone else wore polyester, had sideburns and good jobs and watched “I Dream of Jeanie” without ever worrying about the social-control implications of the laugh track. They lived bourgeois lives in a world whose architecture was simultaneously classical, googie and modernist. Jack Webb reached more people than Jimi Hendrix every week.

This is not the Boomer Text, of course; Boomer Scripture usually paints the 60s as this wild era of free sex, Stones concerts, protest marches and moon shots. That which was made by the L-7 crowd can be enjoyed ironically, in retrospect; everything else is a holy relic from the age when saints walked the earth.

Perhaps so. All I know is that when I hear a sitar, I’m outta there. I’m more interested in square culture, because it’s consistently more bizarre than hippie stuff. I mean, go hear this. That was the 60s as much as the Boomer Liturgy, and I suspect it was what the 60s really sounded like on a day-to-day basis.

But I said this before, about the same site, I think. Repeating myself, at my age? Time to upload and hit the sofa for some TV; I’ve earned it. This Bleat is the fourth piece I filed today. One Newhouse, two Strib columns, and this. I’m done. Stick a fork. Thirty! See you tomorrow.

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