United States

I was in my early twenties when I moved halfway around the world, naively thinking I could start over and integrate myself quickly since I was raised on American television, sang Britney Spears songs and ate my share of Trix (because Jerry Seinfeld said it was his favorite). I believed I was young, educated and smitten enough to make things happen…

Maybe you’ve heard, Osama bin Laden was killed yesterday. The People of Twitter told me so. Or at least, told me I should step away from my computer and sit back down in front of my television to watch a press conference. But the press conference didn’t air when they said it would, so I started losing interest and flipping channels, distracted long enough to miss half the President’s address. Though I knew the gist: Jihadist #1 was dead.

Food, especially in conversations like this, is often compared with sex–and rightfully so. Like sex, it is something that ties us together as humans and is a collective itch we all must scratch. We take immense pleasure from these things because, if done right, they not only fill their base requirements but stimulate the very colors of life itself.

Now, don’t get yourself in a tizzy (I’ve never written that word before: tizzy. I like it). Greenpeace might very well be a fine organization doing a world of good. I have no idea. Nor, really, do I care. What interests me is that this encounter was such a familiar encounter: it was consumerist.

Herein begins one of the most controversial sections of the song: The rap. Featuring an African American man in his mid 30s, audiences expect this lyrical maestro to hop on the flow and “break it down.” He evokes the muses by calling for “R-B,” but what follows can only be described as gibberish.

There was a time when the arrival of a check-cashing shop signaled the death of a neighborhood. It meant your community had strayed as far as it could get from the halcyon days, that its own financial institutions either no longer existed or were unable to serve a growing percentage of its citizens. But that was before the bottom dropped out of the economy time and again, before no-questions-asked check cashing became the norm in so many communities.