It’s troubling, yea, and annoying, when ordinary, practical items become “collectible” on your watch, you know, before you’re ready and without your consent. I realize this is natural enough, part of God’s plan. It’s called the aging process, or product cycles, or progress, or planned obsolescence. I’m just not buying enough, another transformation, part of the sub-set of the population who considers the growth of the economy not quite as significant as others.
Twenty years ago, to mention a particularly raw nerve, manual typewriters were just old typewriters, taking up space in thrift stores, often in working, even pristine, condition, $5 and $10, for the picking. I passed one today, coincidentally at the same sale where years ago I’d fallen hard for a manual, the redoubtable Silent-Super, with green Deco keys in its original case for $10. It yielded four or five manuscripts. It had matching stripes and it hummed. Today, a distant relative, a downtrodden Royal, sat forlornly. It was, of course, on a different table, across the room, not the office equipment table but the collectibles table, next to the Lionel trains. It was broken, $50. This was an annual charitable sale where prices are deliberately modest. Fifty was probably a bargain. It’d been $105 at an antique or upscale thrift store.
So, sure, moving on, I was chapped when the clipping appeared in the mail (imagine, inside an envelope delivered right to the mail box). It was from a magazine, Time Out New York (Oct.10-16). On a page entitled Food & Drink was an open bottle of an old standard, Fernet-Branca, a marvelous Italian curative. The bottle in my cabinet has lasted probably 15 years. It’s basically for emergencies. Italian markets have it, maybe better liquor stores, I don’t know. An aperitif, it can induce vomiting in the unsuspecting. I was introduced to it as an appetite stimulant, a bitter black liquor said, I thought to be made from artichokes.
The article “Spirited Away” mentions these following ingredients: “cardamom, rhubarb, and 25 other herbs, roots and flowers.” The venerable drink, was once, a “bartender favorite.” Now it’s moving, apparently, to the kitchen. My stepfather once prescribed it when I complained of a diffident appetite. The recommended dosage was a large shot chased by a glass of water. It pains me to think about it but New Yorkers are, according to Patty Lee, making root beer floats, ice cream sandwichs, and pate with Fernet.
You go, hipsters. This, too, I know will pass. And for the record I bear no grudge. Those with a balky stomach, suffering the effects of a hangover, blah, or just feeling in need of something Italian, have my blessing to enjoy it – even, Jesus, on an ice-cream sandwich.
(Thanks to tipster, Sally)