The Enduring, Ephemeral Beauty of the ‘Donkey Kong Country’ Soundtrack
The Popeyes Chicken Sandwich Is a Masterpiece
'Kid A' Will Be Relevant as Long as the World Is a Terrifying Mess
Snack Foods Are Not Crack, and It's Not Cute to Compare Them
An Ode to ‘On the Beach,’ Neil Young’s Most Beautiful (and Most Depressing) Album
Artists have been exploring this cruel and beautiful ephemerality for centuries, even millennia. (Dali's The Persistence of Memory may be a work of surrealism, but with its languid, melted clocks and golden-hour light, it unmistakably inhabits the vibe of fall.) It is the central theme of one of Robert Frost's finest poems, "Nothing Gold Can Stay," as well as the root feeling of several words in different languages that have no direct translation in English. There is a Japanese term, mono no aware, that denotes a pathos for the inevitable loss that comes with life, a recognition of the bittersweetness of how things cannot last, no matter how beautiful. In Portuguese, there is the word saudade, which could be roughly equated with nostalgia but refers to a more specific feeling: the state of missing someone tenderly, or longing for something that is lost in some capacity.
As we watch the leaves turn and realize that the end of the year is approaching, this is the signature emotion of fall. And many of the mental images that we have come to associate with the season—in modern times, those teen angst flashbacks; the pursuit of hygge; the tingle of a middle-school crush; memories of driving through the quiet streets of your hometown with a favorite CD in the stereo—all these things only become all the more indulgent, more potent, by listening to shoegaze. There is a pervasive but unsubstantiated myth that drinking orange juice when taking LSD will make you trip harder; if autumn is the LSD, shoegaze is the orange juice, or vice versa. It probably has something to do with shoegaze's distinctively tactile quality, its experiments in production that paint abstract, ethereal images, from guitars as fuzzy as an old wool blanket to vocals that sound like whispers in an empty hallway.
Describing food as “addictive” is not totally unfair. Anyone who has ever promised themselves that they absolutely, most definitely will not eat 900 calories worth of Buffalo Bleu chips in one sitting, only to shake the crumbs from the bottom of the foil bag minutes later, can attest that there are times when we eat more of things than we know that we should, especially when those things are extremely delicious. For many, overeating is truly compulsive; it’s no secret that millions of people—in America especially—struggle to control their relationship with food. But let’s be honest: Cookies and cakes and toffee and crackers and chips are not crack. They are not even really like crack.
In enclaves that are not faced with the wreckage of widespread addiction, “crack” has become a cute euphemism for anything ya just can’t get enough of. But it’s no secret that crack has a long history as a tool of systemic racism. In powder form, cocaine has long enjoyed a glamorous image as the little secret of supermodels, hedge fund bros, and pretty much every band that looks back fondly on the glory days of the Sunset Strip. Crack is cocaine, and yet while cocaine is regarded as a casual party drug, crack users are seen as far more erratic, or even pathetic; as out-of-it, homeless, toothless, and desperate. Crackheads are widely mocked in popular media—look no further than Tyrone Biggums from The Chappelle Show. Comparing peanut butter M&Ms to cocaine or weed or even oxycontin would not induce the same giggles of naughtiness as comparing them to crack. The people whose lives have been ravaged by America’s crack epidemic remain part of the punchline.