Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Signs O' The Times: Toast Goes Hipster - Mexican Bird Narc

"Artisanal toast" for $7 a slice. Really?
As I've playfully griped about before, my job in the real estate business requires me to work every other Saturday.

Given that this economy is still quite sluggish for the 99% of us (no offense meant to any 1%'ers who may be reading) I'm definitely not complaining, but at this time of year Saturdays can still be pretty slow.

NPR keeps me going though, and on Saturday's edition of "Wait...Wait Don't Tell Me!" host Peter Sagal mentioned a couple items during the show that I felt compelled to share.

Now I don't claim to be an expert on hipster culture by any means, but having lived in a pretty cool 5th floor duplex with a roof deck in a building populated by numerous hipsters (and many more wannabe hipsters) right next to the Montrose Avenue subway stop near Williamsburg in Brooklyn for a couple years, I've had some close hand exposure to the lifestyle.

For the record, I was not trying to be a hipster; the room was a steal at $800 a month, the building was a 90 second walk to the L-Train into Manhattan and I was friends with the brother and sister who lived there; plus it was cat-friendly and had the aforementioned roof deck with amazing views of Manhattan. 

One of the interesting aspects about the hipster lifestyle is their uncanny ability to latch onto things once considered relatively mundane or a thing of the past, and make them "hip" again. While trucker hats, skinny jeans, old bicycles, beards, thick-framed eye wear and vintage clothes were quite familiar to me, I was surprised to hear that toast has achieved hipster status.

Yes, toasted slices of bread are now a "thing." Apparently "toast bars" are popping up inside restaurants, bistros and cafes in hip urban settings all across the country.

For me growing up, toast was something you threw into the toaster, buttered (maybe some jam) to go with eggs; or maybe you answered "Whole wheat" when the waitress at the diner took your breakfast order at 4am after a night out and asked what kind of toast you wanted with your eggs.

So I congratulate hipsters and foodies for taking toasted bread from something that was secondary to a side order; to something people now line up for and pay $3 - $7 a slice for; granted some are getting apricot jelly, exotic jams, maybe some truffles or some kind of special "organic goat butter" or whatever spread on this delicious new hipster toast - but call me old fashioned.

I'm just not shelling out $5 bucks for a piece of %$#@&* toast, I don't care how cool it is.

Finally, the second funny thing mentioned on "Wait Wait..." on Saturday was the unfortunate case of Mexican driver Guillermo Reyes. As reported by Lee Moran on the NY Daily News Website, sometime during the week of January 6th, the 49 year-old Reyes was pulled over by cops at a DUI checkpoint in Mexico City.

The traffic officers heard someone yelling, "He's drunk! He's drunk!" from the back seat of Reyes' car; turns out it was poor Guillermo's parrot. The law-abiding, or possibly spiteful bird prompted police to pull Reyes out of the car and he was found to indeed be past the legal limit and was hauled off to the drunk tank to sleep it off. The cops did allow him to take the bird with him though, so that was cool of them.

For the record, I am not a parrot fan. When I lived in the aforementioned duplex in Brooklyn my roommate had one. Let me tell you, on TV or in the movies the idea of a talking bird is really funny, but in real life I found it disturbing and creepy.

The birds can be moody, real wise-asses and apparently have intelligence and reasoning ability that's akin to a three year-old human child, really they do.

The bird used to mimic my cat's meow from the other room; which was disturbing when I was chilling out with my cat next to me watching a movie. And it used to sit in the shower in the dark muttering "pretty bird, pretty bird" to itself for hours. I'm just not a big fan of animals with the capacity to mimic human speech.

But I am fond of the story of Winston Churchill's famous parrot Charlie, who lived to be over 104 years old. The bird was born in 1899, Churchill purchased Charlie in 1937 just before the war broke out and his beloved bird spent much of the Blitz with the famous British statesman and prime minister.

The bird was well known for cussing out Nazis and Adolph Hitler in particular, Lord knows Churchill loved to drink and likely spent hours cursing out Hitler during the war. Many world leaders were shocked to hear Charlie the parrot yelling "Fuck Hitler!" enthusiastically, which apparently delighted Churchill to no end.

Right about now I'd wager poor Guillermo Reyes is probably wishing his own parrot had simply kept it's beak shut when he got pulled over by the cops in Mexico City at the DUI checkpoint.

See if Guillermo had had a cat in the backseat when those cops stopped him, he'd have been in the clear - no cat would be dumb enough to narc out the hand that feeds them and changes the litter. Besides, a cat would most likely have simply napped through the whole affair.

What Guillermo was doing getting his drink on and cruising around Mexico City with his parrot in the back seat of the car in the first place is another story.


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