Sophisticated Whoppers


Last month my neighborhood Burger King underwent a cosmopolitan rhytidectomy, in accordance with mandates to transform such troughs into elegant gastronomy. McDonald’s has emerged in recent years from an extended postpsychedelic adolescence to embrace the Library of Alexandria aesthetic, while Jack in the Box, under direct orders from draconian CEO “Jack,” has jettisoned its staple blues and reds for a soothing Humidor Autumn. The desired effect, according to corporate literature, is contemplative chi, as opposed to “Holy God, this Applewood Bacon Cheese Fist is wrapping itself around my heart.”

Having never patronized a chic Burger King, I decided this morning to have it my way. On foot I passed the phantom of its children’s playset — the industry no longer caters to plebes. In its place stood a scale replica of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon complete with tanzanite wall, over which flowed a talkative Chianti stream. Occupying its drive-thru lane were sleek fleets of Google cars activated by smartphone apps. Four impeccably attired valets monitored the parking lot, sending any vehicle older than 2008 to a “VIP lane” seven blocks away.

The building’s exterior could best be described as futuristic neoclassical. Its sanctum, inspired by the parlor in Don and Betty Draper’s Ossining home, wallows resplendent in oaks and comfortable beiges. Posted advertisements no longer boast of “flame-broiled” or “flame-grilled” meats; they’re now “artisan-crowdsourced.” Six overhead flatscreens broadcast “Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia,” with a corner space nearby to discuss the film with the shift manager, a former Harper’s editor-at-large. Wafting through the restaurant: Herb Alpert’s “Fandango,” on 180-gram vinyl.

I immediately recognized my counter garcon’s uniform as Yves St. Laurent. “Yes,” she confirmed. “They outfit us all.” “But what about grease stains?” I asked. “Those,” she said, “are flown in from Vienna.” She then apologized for the store’s wine steward, whose flight was delayed in Milan. “That’s fine,” I replied, and ordered the venison curly fries with a 32-ounce growler to go.

Because of the restaurant’s new decibel regulation, I saw only one other “broseph,” as BK calls us nonemployees: an older gentleman pecking at a laptop while seducing a mimosa. Sans prompt, he told me, “It’s a Dogme-esque novel about a man who’s smarter than everyone else but is too humble to share his rare gift, so he hangs out at Burger King, tormented in self-imposed silence, until a beautiful cashier who recognizes his shyness as intellectual superiority offers him her soul. I liken its tone to a Ferrari 458 speeding recklessly past the intersection of Huxley and Terry Southern, and crashing into an abandoned storefront that once sold steampunk fetish wear.”

Alas, I left before the BK book club convened in the alcove, but I’ll be back for the Appalachian dulcimer jam this evening. If you’re not too busy with the Taco Bell barrel tour, feel free to bro by. Bring your Konghou — and plenty of antacids.


Soothsayin’ Daddy Cold Tells Like What It Is

Everybody’s rappin’ about the future like the shit’s already here. But we know that ain’t right. Y’all remember when Nintendo used to huffpuff that jibjab about “The future is now”? Fuck, mang, compared to the crunk we smoke in the Nine, them graphics in the wayback sucked the freckles off an Irishman’s bro-mounds and the gameplay was stiffer (all whitebread Kenny G bip-bop-bipzipple-zwiddlyoof) than the same cat after his last gulp o’ Guinness flattened him Frankenstein.

See, the future wasn’t then, man; the future then was now. But the future now ain’t now; it’s somewhere else, baby. See, future’s a tee-hee motherfucker, a spoiled sprite playing a mucked-up version of hide-and-seek where it’s never your turn.

Aha, but, you say, the future is tomorrow, is it not? (Fuck you think you are, Adrian Monk?) Aha, but, I retort, tomorrow is just today with a 24-hour extension, and that goes for all our today-tomorrows linked to tomorrow-todays, and on and on and on. It’s a string of reprieves from a ridiculously sympathetic landlord.

So when does the future get here? I mean, does it call ahead? Will it be wearing a nametag? Is it shtupping Aunt Martie? Does it like onions in meat loaf? All perfectly legitimate questions. Like my man at the corner used to say: lucky for you, I got the shit.

People I agree with say I’ve got vision. Well, I don’t know if I’d go quite that far. I’m more of a prophet for a daring new age in communication innovation revolution revelation. But I’ve always been that way. One time when I was a kid, a klatsch of my homeboys flapped into my rumpus yapping about a road trip to Woodstock to catch Janis and Joan. “Off the jock, slick!” I snapped. “I’m learning WordPress.”

That’s me, daddy: forever looking forward. My car don’t go in reverse; the street flips over. When I stop at Little Caesars for fatty comestibles, sometimes I read right through the menu into the pharmacy across the street. In fact, I’m so future I posted this in 1974, but your eyes couldn’t handle it till now. I’m so future I’m dead. If you call my number, a recording says, “Move on.”

And movin’ on’s hard to do, especially for the troglodytes in the media and pretty much anyone who’s never been inside my house. Now, hey, like, man, I used to dig the paper trip too, right? But that shit’s tired, Lambada tired. If you’ve got atoms anywhere near your aura, you should probably just blow your brains the fuck out now. There’s no place for you in the future. Eject that noise right out of your life. Burn everything that sucks.


Teach others to let go too. When you’re out massaging kumquats and feeling up the Cheerios, if you see someone jackbooting down the aisles with a physical shopping list, with ruled lines and ink and human-looking script, snatch that jazz toute quick and throw it away. There’s an app for that, you dumb fucking bitch.

Walk into your local newspaper office and seize the first unoccupied desk you find. Should someone gob off with monosyllabic stupid like “Who are you?” clock him in the offending trench. Shit, these people call themselves reporters, asking questions like that? You’re a breath of fresh Fourth Estate air, that’s who you are. Tweet the local scuttlebutt, fire everyone who still keeps pens in their drawers, then measure the staff conference room for a bed and flat-screen (i.e., the stuff you won’t burn), and a shelf for all your Pulitzers — that is, if we even have Pulitzers, for I have foreseen in their stead a bounty of Burger King gift cards and a cheek-peck from the Target-sponsored Chris Anderson Hologram. If you’ve loftier aspirations, barricade Conde Nast from the inside and blog as James Wolcott until Graydon Carter’s too drunk to care.

Of course, none of this shit’s gonna matter once the unicorns return. You may chortle now at the idea of a fantastical equine struggling with the safety on a Glock 21, but you won’t be able to tweet your amusement fast enough to grok your fatal mistake.