Tuesday, August 26, 2003

OBITUARY!!
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NYTimes.com > Opinion

David Margolick is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
The Seeds of a Summer Revolt
By DAVID MARGOLICK


AG HARBOR, N.Y. — Maybe it ran on the obituary page and I just missed it. But a notable death has apparently occurred, and has thus far gone unrecorded. The venerable watermelon — the one with seeds — has died, of entirely unnatural causes. It was at least 5,000 years old, and lived, well, fondly in our memories.

For a long time, watermelon as we have known and loved it has been an endangered species. Everywhere you look these days, whether in state-of-the-art supermarkets or those quaint "farm stands" whose fruit often comes out of the same crates from the same California conglomerates, all you see is the newfangled "seedless" variety. Where I live, only one store held out, and there I'd always go.

But the other day I learned, much to my horror, that it, too, had succumbed. On the shelf were nothing but those anemic, emaciated slices of pseudo-watermelon, with no black seeds in sight. No one wanted real watermelons anymore, the woman there told me matter-of-factly. Seeds, it seems, are inconvenient. What had already befallen oranges and grapefruit, with predictably disastrous, deflavorizing results, had spread.

And spread not to just any old fruit. Watermelon, at least as nature meant it to be, is one of those foods like raisins or olive oil or maple syrup that is very nearly perfect as is. It is tasty, sweet, crunchy, nutritious, and fun — cotton candy without the calories or cavities — which is why it has always been a summertime staple.

They were harvesting them 5,000 years ago in Egypt. The word has been in English dictionaries at least since 1615.

But watermelon had seeds, and until recently that never posed a problem. Suddenly, however, we have grown impatient with them. Seeds are a nuisance. They're messy. So you do away with them, and if the essence goes with it, who will care? Or even notice?

This is not yet another screed about genetically engineered food, but a matter of aesthetics. The new watermelons taste tasteless. They lack the texture and tang of the real thing. Even the crystallized inner core, whose whitened chunks break off so deliciously, is only a simulacrum. These newfangled strains have but one advantage: they can be consumed more quickly and easily.

It is also a matter of tradition, and history. What is summer without spitting out watermelon seeds, either on a plate, or on the ground — by August, some of them would inevitably sprout, even those spat out on sand — or at your brother, or an inch farther than anyone else? Or chewing on, or swallowing a few, by mistake, and worrying whether they'd take root in your stomach? The wimpy white seeds they've not yet managed to eliminate entirely — give them a few more years, and they surely will — have no throw weight at all.

Americans love not only to eat a lot, but to eat easily. And prettily. They would rather buy something that looks perfect than tastes perfect. Someday soon, I suppose, there will be apples without cores and peaches without pits. Eat up the old kind while the going's good.

Conventional watermelon will not disappear entirely, of course. A few farmers will still grow them, catering to the carriage trade. You will still be able to find them abroad. Perhaps Restoration Hardware will carry them, alongside the likes of Ovaltine and Ipana toothpaste. Or they will be featured in those tiny advertisements in the backs of glossy magazines, like Omaha steaks or Mackinaw fudge, available for overnight delivery.

But who among us will be able to afford the postage?
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SIGH.
I see something like this coming, in my own life, sports fans!!!!

I am applying to live in one of the local "towers", senior residences. There are at least two of these places, in this city.
These are places where everyone is over 62, and usually federal funded HUD-for-seniors.
one of the towers, in their brochure, says..."shuffleboard courts in the courtyard"!

Yesterday, i find that there is an aprtment at BOTH of them! at once!
One of the towers is real big. they have a monthly calandar of activities, every day is filled with something to do.

yes, suppose i live there? I will have to set up my apt, walk about, try the activities, talk with the people, get to know people. volenteer for helping seniors with their computers, walk in the city park, etc...etc..etc..etc..etc..etc...

What I am saying is that there might be some a real possibility that i will not have a single SECOND free to even LOOK at the internet!! all my day will be filled with" real life", and i may need 100 hours a day just to take advantage of the Richness of expereinces availible!! i may just let my yahoo mailbox fill up with "wicked screensaver" mails, at 150k per letter! not post anymore to my weblogs....just let all the paid subscriptions Expire...
why?

REAL LIFE could fill up my day, my weeks, my year!
One senior residence, will have a much larger series of programs than the other, and if i get living in that one, i may not have a moment of free time!
--coffee with one or 30 of the 150 seniors.
---laundry.
---programs.
...church.
....meetings.
----long long talks with other people.
----shuffleboard.
.................................i could fill twenty sheets of paper with what i could be doing in the next year!!


"just Connect eh, with your own phone in your own apartment"...you might tell me!
well.....

I do not have a phone. i do not have a internet connection, thusly, and phones and connections cost the earth, for someone who lives on a $700 a month disibility pension!!! thus i use the public library and to walk to one takes the whole moring, thus i need a whole morning free, just to use the internet! I *might* be able to get a senior phone discount, and connect at the senior center but then there is the problem of all the time time time time time that it can take to get an internet account activated!! can take days and days.

so i can well SEE how for many people, something has to give: NO SEEDS in their melon even if the melon tastes like mush! some people just tear off the hamburger that they bought at the drive-through, in their car, as they try to chew it down between cell phone calls!
taste is utterly irrelevant! so many of us really DO need a day of 100 hours long, each and every day!

ya gotta choose, then, what to give up! accepting one thing, will mean that another thing must go. only time for just so much.
I have very few aquatainces, let alone friends...as each and every minute of their day is

FILLED!

like my one good friend: he has five kids. an alzeimers father living with him and the wife. *each* kids goes to a different school. then there are the extra-school activities and my friend is a soccer coach. he manages five properties and is buying another.
"life is Maintance"...is something veryvery real, to him....why it akes 45 minutes per morning just to get papa into his wheelchair! my Friend *IS* busy, i see him about once every two weeks, and he has to carve out that time, letting go of something else!

thus...if i soon live in a senior center, i must accept that i may have to cease anything to do with the internet, except to do research upon something in my daily life, that pertains to what i need to live with, in the "real world"!!

so, if i all but cease to post, in my weblogs...I probably have not died, i have only just begun to live a "real life", in the world!!