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Live Free or Die

From marriage to 1950s restaurants, what’s up?

One of my best friends got married this weekend.I flew home Thursday to watch a friend who is barely two years older than me walk down the aisle with a girl who’s only a year older than me. It’s really unnerving.

Alex has been one of my closest friends since I was a little kid. He lived down the street from me. His dog bit me on the butt when I knocked on the door. I remember swimming in his pool when it hadn’t been chlorinated for a month or so. The whole thing was green. It was disgusting.

I can associate a lot of good memories from my formative years with Alex. It’s been kind of sad that I haven’t seen him much in the past couple of years because he’s been up in Washington and Oregon battling forest fires during my vacation time.

You know you’re old when one of your friends ties the knot. He’s your friend, but damn, he’s married now. The guy that used to kick you in the shins and throw dirt clods at you is starting a family. That’s a definite reality check.

In three weeks, Alex is moving up north to start a permanent firefighting job. This past weekend was probably the last chance to see him for a long time. Goodbye, buddy. I’ll miss you.

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On a completely unrelated note, what’s the deal with all these nostalgia diners popping up in malls across America? It seems that to make a buck in the food service business, your restaurant has to look like it fell out of a ’50s time warp. There’s Johnny Rockets, In ‘N Out, Ed Debevic’s and now, Taxi.

While I was in San Jose, I saw the Taxi chain in a nearby mall. Apparently not ones for subtlety, the owners of the restaurant decorated the interior with loud yellow-and-black checker patterns plus neon everywhere. Parked outside of the restaurant was one of those ’50s-style taxis, with tail fins so big they’d make an Orca whale jealous.

Did good food die after 1959? Did the desire to purchase a chocolate shake and a BLT all but disappear until Johnny Rockets spread out like a bad weed? It’s not like the service is any better. At Ed Debevic’s, they pride themselves on bad service and call it part of the charm!

What is it about the 1950s, anyway? Is it because it’s just far enough away from the American zeitgeist that it feels so appealing? People yearning for a better, simpler time?

While the `50s had poodle skirts and Elvis Presley, it also had a little thing called the Red Scare. McCarthyism branding half of the national government as communists destroyed smaller independent parties. There was post-war recession and the Cold War was brewing. That’s not my idea of a good time.

Hey, I’ve got an idea, I’ll start up a 1930s nostalgia restaurant and serve bruised cabbage and stale bread. I’ll call it “Depression.” It’ll make a fortune!