Archive for August, 2012
The media was abuzz today as Augusta National admitted its first two female members in the golf club’s seventy-nine year history. Women everywhere should take notice, but not of the achievement, rather the troubling duration of their exclusion by the private organization. Personally, if I’m not allowed into a place for nearly eight decades the only proper gesture upon my acceptance is a proudly erect middle finger. However high-profile women have been gracing ESPN throughout the day to discuss the greater implications of Augusta’s brave decision. I suspect from their language and inflated praise that they’re all eying future membership.
Augusta National Golf Club is a despicable group of wealthy men. I’m sure they’re mostly lovely people to talk to at a barbecue or a wedding, but as a whole the organization has fought to keep Augusta as pale and virile as possible. Its first black member was not admitted until 1990. No women had been invited until today. And like any prestigious community of one-percenters membership is by invitation only. Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore were today’s invitees, each an appropriate representation of the everyday woman.
So yes, let’s make this an issue about equality. We could look at it through the prism of gender, or race, yet social class seems to be the most appropriate considering the tenor of the times. Golf has always been a sport for those with greater means. A set of quality, adjusted clubs can cost as much as a used car. Initial fees for Membership at Augusta plus the annual due is equivalent to purchasing a brand new Cadillac. I presume there’s a life size portrait of Mitt Romney outside of the clubhouse with a sign that reads, “You must be this rich and important to join.”
We are used to these kinds of divides in this beautiful country of ours. Rich men build expensive golf courses and allow only other rich men to roam their fairways in pursuit of leisure. One might notice they’re all men. I happen to notice they’re all wealthy. Membership at Augusta is one of the rarest tokens of success; a social marker befitting an American king.
If you’re not a CEO or former Secretary of State, then according to the Augusta National Constitution, you’re only 3/5 of a person. Good luck getting a tee time at Pebble Beach, peasant.
Your mother has been telling you, “Your college years will be the best of your life,” ever since you can remember. Although she’s probably just expressing her own discontent with her life ever since, this little nugget happens to be a universal truth of the adolescent experience. You’ll meet interesting people, make great friends, and learn to see the world through the prism of newly formed maturity, so don’t be afraid to prove your mother right. If you’re preparing to embark as an undergraduate into the landscape of higher education, it’s important to first contemplate the things you will need to be successful in your social and academic life. Your experience as a student can be greatly enriched by arming yourself with the power of modern technology. Smartphones are essential in this age of connectivity, and these are five reasons I’d recommend a smartphone to any college-bound youth.
1. Playing games when Professor Whatever is going on about whatever
For four years you will listen to many intelligent professors astound you with their wealth of wisdom and knowledge. They will engage and confront you with the educated world, with the beauty of intellectualism and the growth and maturation that can happen when you’re open to new ideas. But even Tiger Woods has his bad rounds. On the days your professor rants and meanders off on tangents about his or her private life, find solace in a classic video game, which is easily downloadable on any smartphone. Is she seriously working her husband into a lecture about Palestine? Who cares! Grand Theft Auto III is only five bucks… Time to jack some rides.
2. It’s a camera, too
Not only does this wonderful piece of technology give you access to the internet at all times, everywhere, it also takes high quality photos that can be shared easily by many different means. Pictures are an integral part of socializing for college-aged adults, so a smartphone will serve several essential functions. Many potential partners will attempt to court you via sext, and because of the camera your smartphone will offer the best possible channel for such exchanges. So make sure to take lots of pics, and when your friend Rich is begging you not to upload that video you took of him doing karaoke at McDonald’s at 3 a.m. last night, remain steadfast and committed to sharing his rendition of Livin’ on a Prayer with the world. Gone forever are the days of having to carry multiple digital devices in order to have a good time. “Is that a camera AND a phone in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”
3. Finding grub
As an undergraduate, many nights will be spent intoxicated and hungry and roaming the streets of your college town. In past generations, young adults would have actually known the places to eat. Thanks to the new media revolution, your phone knows for you. There are applications that will literally pinpoint your location using the smartphone’s GPS and tell you the best places in your area for any kind of food at any price range you desire. Aren’t even sure what you want? Don’t worry, the app can decide for you. Rumor has it the next version of Urbanspoon will even be able to chew and swallow. I, however, won’t be impressed till my smartphone poops for me, too.
4. Cramming for an exam ten minutes before it’s given
Sure, you were going to prepare for your English lit exam weeks ago. You were going to pick up Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and read every word of it. You were going to make notes and reread chapters, go to the library and digest scholarly articles discussing the novel’s subtext and its greater implications for the modern canon. But then you started dating this guy with curly hair, and then you went with a group of friends to Six Flags and there was absolutely no way you were going to miss football over the weekend, and so you simply decided that you were going to cram the night before using SparkNotes. And there you are, cramming. You’ve made it three chapters into the book when you suddenly realize that you’ve actually fallen asleep, and you didn’t set an alarm before passing out. You wake from your sleep abruptly. Class is starting in thirty minutes; panic takes over. You throw on your Uggs and sprint across campus to the lecture hall. You bump into an elderly woman and knock a stack of papers from her hands. You scream your apologies to her from a distance: there’s no time to help her gather her things and make sure she’s okay. You fail to brush your teeth or comb your hair, which allows you to make it to your seat with ten minutes to spare. If you’re a sucker that’s stuck living at the turn of the century, you pull out your book and start blowing past pages, attempting to grab hold of some brief passage that might help you BS your way through this thing—God, if you’re listening, give me the strength and inspiration to muster a B+ on this exam and I’ll read every book from now on, I swear! I’ll even read The Bible—If you have a smart phone, getting to SparkNotes or Wikipedia is easily done in under twenty seconds. Even faster if you’ve already downloaded the apps. When time is of the essence, a smart phone will allow you start gobbling up those plot points and characters and turning them into well crafted arguments about how the fate of the Satis House represents the old ruins of the imperial, British Empire. Cramming so close before an exam has never been easier with the worldwide web in the palm of your hand, and unlike your computer, a smart phone doesn’t take three minutes to boot up. When you only have ten minutes to read one of the great works in English literature, who has time to wait for the hourglass icon to go away?
5. Fitting in
The important thing to remember about having the best college experience is you have to appear to be the kind of person with whom people want to hang out. Unless you’ve found that niche group on campus of struggling artists that see modern technology as a form of oppression, this usually means having something expensive and cool to show the world, like a small, pocket-sized, electronic representation of your personality and flare. Of course you didn’t design or invent the smartphone, you merely picked out the color. But when you have nice things people think you are, in fact, a nice thing. So when Sandra from your physics class goes to punch her number into your slick smartphone, don’t make her second guess when you instead whip out your unlocked Nokia that you bought for less than you spent on fast food last month. It’s time for an upgrade.
Even in America, I’ve never seen a drive-thru line wrap around the building twice. Tonight I went to Chick-fil-A with a couple of friends for a post-basketball calorie intake. Not for any reason in particular. We were just in the mood, so we drove the extra mile to enjoy a couple nuggets and a sandwich, only to find that the fast food joint had suddenly become the epicenter of a culture battle. Apparently gay America is fighting for the right to get married, and God-loving, straight people are fighting to stop this from happening: This is all news to me.
I’ve always been a big fan of Chick-fil-A. You know a good business when you see one, and the growing chain is one of the more admirable practices around. The young adults and managers behind the counter seem happy enough, and the food is well worth the higher price. Sure, I could get more chow at Burger King for a little less money. But I’ve had enough BK employees stand on my lettuce over the years to know that there’s something wrong in the kingdom of grease ball burgers and stale onion rings. Chick-fil-A is the antithesis of these dying brands, and I gladly welcome the changing tides of fast food America.
It’s common knowledge to those areas of the country familiar with Chick-fil-A that the chain has strong ties to the Christian faith, and thus any attentive student of American culture should be able to guess the beliefs of those that have molded the restaurant into a regional icon. I, for one, have never cared what CEO, White-Guy McBaldy thinks about Gay rights. He runs a good company and makes a lot of money, good for him. He can give that money to anyone he pleases, this is an American tradition. And so is snickering at him when you read his self-aggrandizing quotes plastered in your newspaper. His opinions are worth about as much as his chicken sandwiches when you’re finished eating them.
Like most people, the last thing on my mind when enjoying a sandwich is politics. Although I don’t consider gay marriage to be a political issue (civil rights have always transcended such things), I understand that people in this country don’t agree with me. I am also not a gay American; I can only acknowledge the paramount nature of their struggle from a third-party perspective. Perhaps if I was, the chain’s affiliation with anti-gay marriage advocates would bother me more. I’ve always felt strongly about gay equality, but I just don’t want to think about real, tangible, impactful issues when I’m looking to score grub. Partisanship has its limits. After all, we need to be able to agree on something.
The crowd at Chick-fil-A tonight was not as quiet or complacent during dinner as I was. Patrons gladly gloated that they in fact agreed with the CEO’s stance, and that’s precisely why they were there tonight, to support his anti-gay marriage stance and rally against gay America’s misguided approach of vilifying such a respected brand. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the American people, it’s that you never attack their favorite foods. You can hurt their wallet, take away their home, even kill their son in a war, but damn’t you better keep your hands off their artery-destroying cravings. More people ordered a number-four with a sweet tea tonight than attended any protest against government spending, Wall Street, or the wars in the Middle East. This was Real America’s Woodstock.
I felt dirty visiting my nearest Chick-fil-A location tonight. I appreciate the brand, but really? We’re going to flock and throw our money at the place because some idiot with a big checkbook wants to make this battle his own? People showed up in record numbers to stuff their faces in protest, and many seemed downright pleased to oppose the civil rights of their fellow Americans. It seemed to me to be just another one of the many nights that someday in the near future, will live in infamy in the conscience of our beautiful country. I presume there are many places in our nation that don’t care. But in Maryland, at the center of a red county in the middle of a blue state where Chick-fil-A’s are plentiful, I witnessed the front lines of a culture war that still shows no signs of ending, and suddenly this war is being fought in the drive-thru lines of our fast food restaurants—how distinctly American.