Old Haunts

March 17, 2013

I’m going down the road feeling bad. Goin’ down the ro-oh’d feeling bad. I’m going down the road, (feeling bad) lawd lawd. Do’n wanna be treated this-a way.

Ahhh! Now I’m feeling better already. I survived my encounter with the GPS robot who wanted me to drive the rent-a-car right through a very large and heavily padlocked chain-link gate, and I am now safely ensconced within the Atlanta airport, waiting for my flight to Detroit. I’ve got my weak coffee (but who’s complaining) to my side and I have about forty five minutes to post the blog this morning.

I went to college in Atlanta, and I was here back in 1971 when a radical new pizza shop called Everybody’s opened up. I arrived here last week to learn that it is closing. Sad news, but ample opportunity to regale my friends and a few total strangers who were attending the Public Philosophy Network meeting at Emory University about how great it was to get beyond the saltine cracker crust with bland tomato paste toppings of the 1960s and have a tasty, fresh dough rising crust pizza with decent toppings from Everybody’s. I mean it’s also great to regale friends and total strangers at these conferences about how great it was to hear the Jefferson Airplane playing live at the University of Colorado field house back in the sixties, but if we were to be totally honest we would have to admit that not absolutely everything about the sixties was great. And one thing that was not so great was the pizza.

One of the locals was puncturing my stories, talking about how the pizza at Everybody’s wasn’t all that good. Well maybe not by the wood-fired artisanal organic crust pizzas of the present age, but in 1971 Everybody’s was a revelation, I tell you. Ahh! How soon we forget.

I was also able to regale people with stories about how I used to ride my bicycle to school every day, down one big hill and up another one. Since the conference center was at the top of one of those hills, I found many opportunities to reminisce about how I actually could not steam down one hill to build up momentum for the ascent (whichever way I was traveling) because the road is curvy and you can’t see very far in advance, and there was a railroad crossing dead center at the very bottom, and you needed to be prepared to stop. A great story that I’m sure everyone thought to be exceedingly amusing.

Except that when I drove down the hill on Clifton Road this morning, I discovered that there is no railroad crossing, nor is there any sign that there ever has been a railroad track at the bottom of the hill. There is a stop light, which would, in fact, entail much the same caution as a railroad track, but frankly it’s just not such a good story. And this my friends is just one more reason why you should suspect that not everything we read in the Thornapple Blog is true. Aside from the pizza thing, I’m not entirely sure what the food ethics connection in this blog is, so just chalk it up to your friendly blogger’s mental confusion and vexation at living in a world where only robots have reliable memories—so reliable that they are inflexible (it seems) when it comes to new entrance ramps for the Atlanta Rental Car center. As for the rest of us, how soon we forget.

Paul B. Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University

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