Take the D Train

While scholars puzzle over the decline of American culture, my cousin Gus can pinpoint the precise moment the process began. Gus sells hot dogs from a cart in New York City’s pastoral Central Park. Gus is an avid reader and is preparing for an uptick in sales in front of the upcoming Republican nominating convention.

I interviewed Gus this weekend from a working pay phone.

Gus? What’s up?

“I’ll tell ya…my peddler’s license is current, all right?”

All right. Any tips for visiting Republicans?

“Yeah, exact change means exact change. Leave your fifty dollars bills in Dallas or wherever. New York is all about exact change.”

Can you see the statue of Balto from your cart?

“Nice try.”

Gus, when did American culture slip into decline?

“Miami, 1972. Up With People sang songs for Nixon. Then they cut loose about three million hot air balloons that damaged the ozone layer.”

The ozone layer?


And that was it?

“Pretty much. I had Up With People nightmares for months. On top of that, I got no ozone.”

Last time we spoke you were worried about globalization.

“They got a call center over in Bangalore, okay? That’s in India. You call and order your hot dog and they Fedex it to your door.”


“Yeah, wow. People on the Westside never leave their apartments.”

How’s Dubya shaping up?

“He spent the week throwing curves and sliders. They all want to go ice skating. It’s August around here.”

And Kerry?

“He threw a belt high fast ball right past a reporter the other day. Turns out the guy’s French, for crying out loud. Le Soir or something. He needs to deck a few American reporters.”

What are you reading?

“All the classics. Pam Anderson right now.”

How’s Pam’s prose style?

“It’s very sharp. You could poke an eye out, it’s so sharp.”

Just like Mom warned…

“Exactly. Wait a minute…there goes a Fedex truck.”

Globalization strikes again?

“Don’t even ask about onions on that dog.”

Enjoy the convention.

“Tell everybody I need fives, okay? Tens maybe. Exact change, okay? And take the D train. It’s faster.”

Thanks Gus.