Jingle Jangled

Here’s the Educated, Middle-Aged Concerned Citizen, seeing another country and its troubled, yet pleasant people. What is he thinking as he walks along the crowded streets? How does he correlate what he sees with his experience of the so-called “developed world”, and the perspective gained through his study of education, human psychology, literature and yet more sacred texts? What’s on his mind? Let’s listen in!

Early in the mornin’, come along!
Listen to the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes song!
Catch a bowl of sunshine, here’s how you do it,
Whistle up an appetite and hop right to it!
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes
[insert faux bird whistling here],                                      Golden goodness of the corn!
How do you know? A little robin told me so!

When I try to counsel the young, I often want to warn them — and yet how can a Certified Old Fart speak of the mighty visual forces that compel youthful attention, without making them seem even more desirable? — well, I cock my head a little and mutter, Be careful what you put in there, ’cause it’s not so easy to get it OUT later. Somewhere in the 1960s, the cereal giant advertised its “golden goodness” with this cheery jingle and a cartoon bird that could whistle the way certain men once could, in those days of aw, shucks sincerity. For a good part of early January, 2012, I could not stop this vacuous little ditty from bouncing around the apparently abandoned corners of my brain.

 There was, however, a small consolation: the little robin knocked The Monkees’ novelty song “Auntie Grizelda” (1968), from its perch as my personal Number One Nostalgic-Even-Though-I-Never-Especially-Liked-It Braincell Wasters. Oh, no, don’t look at me like Auntie Grizelda / Or just like her you’ll have to make it alone / You look just like her, you do! / I know by lookin’ at you / That you’ve been listenin’ to your Auntie Grizelda… Memory is a funny thing. I likely hadn’t thought of that more-than-usually ridiculous pop song in 30 years, but there were the flat singing and grunts and barks and bronx cheers of the floppy-mopped Peter Tork, right in the middle of my head. And I think of Neil Postman’s superb Amusing Ourselves to Death, and my recent re-reading of Ray Bradbury’s TV-apocalyptic novel Fahrenheit 451, and say a quiet prayer for my brain.

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