The city of Somerville, as its own spiritual entity, seems to hate cars. Seems to hate my car, at least. Since moving in April I've had headlights smashed, a front end crunched up, a front axle broken; I've nearly been phantom-ticketed out of operation and one time I think some kids pointed and laughed at the parked car as they walked down the street. Truly soul-sucking.
But at some point between Saturday and this evening someone pried open my gas tank cover (not very hard to accomplish, really) and stole my gas cap. The car then sat through at least two periods of torrential downpour, and the upshot of it is now I seem to have a tank of a fine water/gasoline concoction that I like to call "shit". The car hates the rain anyway, especially when driving on wet roads and the water gets up in the undercarriage, but tonight, man, was a whole new level of non-functional. I stalled out many times at red lights because the poor little engine couldn't give itself enough gas. This is, as they say, suboptimal. C'mon, guys, cut me a break at least once while I'm here. The apartment is nice and the view is wonderful but a fellow can't park legally on the street without running into serious shit.
Fit the Second
While at the supermarket I came across one of the more brilliant pieces of propaganda I've encountered in a while, and that includes the WWII-era poster that James Lileks found of "the Nazi Family" with the hulking Hun of a dad, dour frau mom/grandma, simpering Nazi Youth son and Helga the Horrible daughter. (I'd link it to you right now but unfortunately lileks.com had a nasty drive wipe; hope James gets backups going soon.)
The magazine I saw was one of those throwaway "Collector's Item" publications that some publishing houses are fond of pumping out; one-shot publications usually affiliated with no magazine whatsoever but destined to sit in the impulse racks at the checkout, waiting for the discriminating collector to pick it up, take it home, and go "Finally! My collection, whatever the hell it is, is complete!" Usually they're to commemorate some meaningless celebrity wedding or remembering the life of some now-dead famous person (there's a few out now for Bob Hope, of course, and they were prepared a long time ago.)
The cover read something like "IN TWO YEARS, AMERICA COMES BACK" (I forget the actual title, but that's the gist) and the subtitle was "FROM TERRORIST TARGET TO FREEDOM SUPERPOWER" (I remember the subtitle clearly cause that's what hit me first.) Right there we get the pity angle, we get the fabulous 9th inning comeback angle, and we get the Hall Monitor of the World angle. Nice.
The cover is, of course, decorated with all the jingoistic images you'd expect -- His Dubyaness giving the thumbs-up on the flight deck of whatever aircraft carrier he was on, an American flag backlit by the sun, American soldiers benevolently looking down upon cherubic Iraqi youths with upraised hands, the Washington Monument with fireworks around it, puppies, kittens, Jesus smiling and also giving a thumbs-up, you know. That sort of thing. And, yes, it was being touted as a collector's item. You can just see it now, in someone's den twenty years down the road, discovered by their grandchild. The kid picks it up and thumbs through it and suddenly, for them, history has been written.
It's a shame that this country's informationsmiths so abhor the word "propaganda" because, honestly, we do it so damn well.
Fit the Third
The new laundromat extravaganza on Cambridge Street across from the Car Wash? A Starbucks is going in one of the empty storefronts there. I realize in the grand scheme of things it's not the worst thing that could happen, and frankly I don't "vehemently despise" Starbucks as much as I just don't bother to patronize them, but still, it provokes a rolling of the eyes and a grudging acknowledgement that gentrification spreads far and deep these days. At least the welcome relief the denizens of Cambridge Street must feel, knowing that now they don't have to schlep allll the way to Davis to get their Starbucks Coffee, must be immense and gratifying.