Too classic to be true?

By David Grima | May 02, 2019

Turkey hunting season opened on Monday in Maine, so look out, all you turkeys!

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We were driving through the interior of the country April 14 when we found ourselves in far-off Lincolnville Center. Outside the village store were a couple of boys and a table, with a sign advertising “Driks.”

It’s a classic scene, I suppose. A couple of kids with a pitcher of lemonade on a spring afternoon. But what about the sign? Was it just a little too classic to be true?

In this post-modern and savvy, but ever-so-suspicious America (which I presume it is, as everyone says so), a specific kind of question arises. Was the sign simply misspelled because it was written by a couple of kids eager to make a buck, or was it deliberately misspelled in order to provoke passersby into conjuring up an image of youthful innocence?

Which is to say, was the word misspelled on purpose as a strategic marketing ploy?

Look what we have come to, quibbling over a dropped letter and trying to associate it with some grand commercial plan. I almost feel ashamed of myself for raising the idea. Of course, the idea more or less raises itself. I am helpless in the face of an idea about contemporary America.

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When I say that “we” were driving through the interior, I am not using “we” in that weird editorial or royal sense, in which a single voice assumes the plural pronoun in order to sound ever-so-very-important. I really mean there were more than one of us.

For example, when I talk about “we” suffering something absurd up here in the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live, I usually mean the Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse and myself. We are plural.

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Speaking of dates in April, on the 23rd I found myself on business in St. George. This is only slightly worth mentioning, because April 23 is St. George’s Day. However, I tested out this piece of trivia on several people, and nobody I met that morning in St. George knew it was St. George’s Day.

There is nothing particularly noteworthy about that, I suppose. But once you notice a coincidence, you cannot help noticing all the others attached to it in a neat and tidy row.

For example, George is actually a Greek name which means “farmer.” The first three letters of the name give it away, and after noticing that, it is no great leap of imagination to see how the name connects directly to the idea of somebody who works the earth.

Furthermore, the gentleman I was in town to listen to was called George, which is another mere coincidence, and so is the fact that he is of Greek ancestry and still carries the Greek family name with him.

The next coincidence is that once upon a time in the 1970s this Greek-American chap called George produced a magazine in Maine about farming.

That is as far as I could stretch the coincidences, but it was an interesting start to the day to realize how much it was all about George.

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I see that the PDQ store at the eastern end of Main Street is closing up the photography side of its business this week. Another chapter comes to an end. Well, photography ain’t what it used to be, baby.

Most of us now alive grew up with the notion that you needed film to make photographs, and that unless you were the sort of amateur with your own darkroom setup, the film had to be sent somewhere or given to someone to develop. Then you would pick up the developed film and look at the prints, which were all on paper.

Then the prints would be put into an album or a shoe box, and when the relatives came around at holidays the albums and shoe boxes would all come out and auntie would make sarcastic comments about them, or we would all laugh at how 3-year-old Billy fell off his tricycle into the mud that day when the picture was taken around 25 years ago.

Unless there is anybody who is willing to prove me wrong, I would guess this particular aspect of our culture is now largely lost and gone.

In its place, people are incessantly showing you photos of babies, weddings, vacations and Silly Billy by shoving their telephones in your face or requiring us to use other equipment to see them remotely. These photos, which are not photos in the sense that photos used to be photos, are often unobtainable a few years after being taken. There are no longer any albums, no shoe boxes, and no easy way to retrieve photos that were taken a decade ago.

It’s all about the photo now; never the photo in 30 years.

Every so-called photo now only exists in an intangible electronic form, and can only be stored using more technology. But technology changes, and photos often get lost in the changes. Even when we can persuade them to follow us (not that irritating sort of “follow us,” but an honest-to-goodness kind of “follow us”) through the years, we often lose track of them.

They die and go to limbo.

We still have photographs of the Civil War. Snapshots taken in the new electronic manner only last year might already be gone forever, lost, out of mind, trapped behind a forgotten password or in a crashed hard drive, downloaded or dumped in the grave of some social media platform (which is neither social nor any kind of platform), or simply ignored and forgotten, washed away in the endless torrent of new photos that rush on evermore.

So many photos, and yet so few will ever make it.

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Speaking of stores on Main Street, I hear the Grasshopper Shop donated about 4,500 plastic bags to the Area Interfaith Outreach food pantry in the wake of the city’s ban on single-use plastic bags' being used in retail.

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Speaking of the past, this Sunday’s drive took us out into the wilds of Somerville, where two buggies driven by several small Amish girls in 19th-century clothing passed us on the open road. (They were going the other way, not that they passed us in the same direction, you understand.)

When I was small, horses were still used to some extent in transportation. The bread man drove a horse-drawn wagon, for example. But now he is gone, just like real photographs.

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Enjoying the new traffic arrangements in the South End yet? And did you watch City Council on TV last week ordering the Public Works Department to draw up a plan to repair half a dozen of our fair city’s totally busted roads every year in a well thought-out program of desperately needed reconstruction?

No, neither did I.

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