The dark side of vintage life

Pay Phone Graveyard

Some time ago, I wondered what had become of all the public pay phones that used to dominate the landscape back in the day. It quickly became obvious to me that such a query possessed the kind of antiquated heft to which anyone born after the year 2000 could not relate.

I was able to come up with a location for these antique stragglers of a time before cell phones. There existed a pay phone graveyard along Queens Boulevard, in the shadows of the Manhattan skyline. The pictures were depressing as fuck; one pay phone piled on the other in rows of obsolescence. It was the same for every city, as I would come to learn. I surmised that city politics prevailed after the excavation of these vintage methods of communication. So for every lucky buyer who was able to procure one to use as a conversation piece in their basement, there were droves that were left to the elements. Progress wasn’t kind to the payphone.

Newspaper Boxes

Newspaper vending machines were gifted a slightly kinder fate. A little more than twenty years ago (The technological equivalent is 500 years), almost half of all newspaper sales came out of those clunky newspaper boxes. Less than twenty years later, sales had dwindled to less than twenty percent; mostly thanks to densely populated areas where the boxes still possessed an efficacy for on the go peeps. Add to that the fight many papers wage against the removal of these newspaper boxes in those urban centers, the clever re-purposing utilized by libraries and the robust secondary market for ‘decommissioned’ boxes on auction sites like eBay and the picture is slightly brighter for these vintage pieces.

The point of this post isn’t to provide a history lesson. Hells nah. It’s my way of belaboring the point I really wanted to make since I’ve got a slight case of writers block and rambling tends to help.

Here’s my real point: Don’t look now, but ATM machines are going away too.

ATM

Oh, they’re still plenty prevalent enough if you’re motivated to find ’em. But they’re dwindling in numbers nonetheless. Because cash isn’t worth our time, excepting for when we go to flea markets or yard sales where cigar boxes and basic math still happen. Outside of that, we use plastic . . for everything. And what’s most curious about this fact, is that we never mind the breaches. Don’t get me wrong, we care about our personal information being passed around like a porn princess in an orgy scene . . but we tend to look at it as the price we have to pay. We ain’t gonna let those mysterious third party arbiters who are conducting private inquisitions on our shit harsh our mellow. Especially when companies are so good at apologizing to us and swearing it will never happen again inside those kitschy thirty second commercial spots.

Maybe I shouldn’t take it so seriously. I mean, I get painfully meticulous in what I share, because I realize that what I share has consequences. And that sounds so batshit crazy, I know. But I simply ain’t down with a society that does pay phones like that. It makes me want to tuck myself away in a cabin deep inside a forest, disconnected from the madness; where the only transactions I abide by come in the form of the four essential elements of Western culture. That . . is some Zen shit . . sans the big brother tentacles.

Maybe I’ll bring one of those payphones along, in case of emergency.

The Twinkies Post (Fat Free, Sticky Sweet!)

Twinkies

In an uncertain world, where Starbucks coffee comes with cancer warning labels and bottled water is hazardous to your health, it’s nice to know that some things never change. Eat enough Twinkies, you’re gonna die. Same as it’s ever been. Why do you think Tallahassee crushed so hard on them in the movie Zombieland? Because he knew he had nothing to lose. It’s quite simple, really. When you come to the end of the sidewalk, choose the thing that will kill you and at least you’ll die happy.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank a few WordPress peeps before sharing my Easter night festivities. Tails Around the Ranch supported the idea of a peanut butter and honey drizzle Twinkie, to which I tried my hand at. A Frank Angle inspired me with tales of Twinkie-ology at the Iowa State Fair. And A Dalectable Life was so repulsed by the thought of a Twinkie, that I had to share my exploits with her. She could (and should) have her own cooking show, and as such, can be . . . how do I say this politely? A bit of a food snob . .

So on Easter night, me and my daughter decided to provide a reboot to the Twinkies franchise. Because if Spider Man and The Hulk can come up with another forgettable flick every twelve minutes . . why not bring our smack take to the golden snack cake?

Zombieland

We were well aware of the risks. After all, the re-writing of history is a tempestuous undertaking, rife with pitfalls and purists, critics and crooks. And Twinkies, well . . they have a history with us Americans. First produced in an Illinois bakery in 1930 as a means of using shortbread pans that had become obsolete, the snack cake was an instant hit. Interestingly, the original filling for Twinkies was banana creme but during World War II, banana imports dried up, so the company moved to vanilla filling and never looked back- save for the occasional tinker and trial every now and again.

Now, I’m not a huge Twinkies fan, excepting for a momentary lapse of reason several years back when Hostess pulled them from the shelves and I found myself wanting back into a relationship I never was totally committed to in the first place.

When Twinkies came back less than a year later, I was in love. For about thirty seven seconds- which is the average amount of time it takes to eat one of these spongy snack treats. I dropped them for good after that, but every now and again . . I get the craving.

We transformed a handful of the creamy yellow drumsticks into a comedic fusion of sweet entanglements. Good thing for us that pimping Twinkies happens to be a legal enterprise in all fifty states (It’s actually mandatory in Oregon and Colorado . . for some . . reason).

Completely Different

We re-purposed three Twinkies, and the results? Not horrible.

Peanut Butter and Jelly: Admittedly, not the most inspired of choices. But here’s the thing, PB&J in a sponge cake sounds pretty good. And it was tasty . . enough. But it did fall short of my expectations, which were much too lofty to begin with. I mean . . it’s a fucking Twinkie!

Peanut Butter with Honey Drizzle: The peanut butter was just, good. The honey drizzle was tasty because honey drizzled on just about anything is gonna be tasty. It was another okay combination.

Dark Chocolate: We stuffed Twinkies with some dark chocolate we purchased at a local candy maker. This was the tastiest of the cake test dummies. The dark chocolate really made the sponge cake worth it; sort of the way Cher once made Sonny look halfway cool back in the day.

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So of the three transformations, the dark chocolate stuffed Twinkies won the night. If this would have been an Olympic sport, the American judge would’ve given the dark chocolate Twinkies a 9, the Swedish judge a 7.5 and the Russian judge would’ve withheld his vote until we paid him.

But Wait, There's More!

Wait . . you thought I was gonna leave you with that? Nah. There’s no way I was putting “The Twinkies Post” in lights unless I had a closing shot that proved worthy. Because I never would have been able to forgive myself; not as a second rate baker and most certainly not as a proud ‘Murican.

For our last entry, we went and did it. We deep fried a couple of these fuckers and that’s when things went Amadeus. Because a deep fried Twinkie is not a Twinkie . . whatsoever. Something magical happens when the hot oil bathes these battered beauties and changes the molecular structure. It’s a funky baptismal effect that transforms the snack cake from a just okay midnight snack to five star cuisine. And maybe I’m adding a couple tablespoons of hyperbole here, but I ain’t lying either.

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So dark chocolate Twinkies won the battle of the alternate fillings while the deep fried won Best in Show. And I didn’t wake up on Monday morning feeling like an anchor nestled at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Which is called a win in my book. I buried the rest of the Twinkies in the backyard and I made the kids swear an oath that if they felt the craving for deep fried Twinkies again anytime soon, that they would consider drugs instead.

Of course . . this doesn’t mean there won’t be a Twinkies sequel at some future point in time. Because I’m thinking about marrying a few of my favorite candy bars to the spongy cream filled snacks and seeing how that works out.

I like to think Tallahassee would have been proud of us for exercising our God given right to shameless indulgences. Because why wait for the end of the world to partake when Urgent Care is available at three in the morning?

Enjoy the little things . . .