A slice of McMericana

What’s so funny? They’re about the same age as Thurston Moore.

What’s so funny? They’re about the same age as Thurston Moore.

Life, liberty and the American cheese
I can’t help but feel a little rumble in my intestinal jungle every time I drive past that spaceship-looking McDonald’s on Mangrove Avenue and see the sign for the 44-ounce soda for 39 cents … mmm, nothing quenches a thirst like a big bucket of high-fructose corn syrup. I’d venture to say there’s enough sugar in there to kill a baby elephant.

And you’d think by now with all the McInfo out there that Americans would abstain from ordering from McMenus. It’s not even very cheap these days. Quick and easy? So is making a sandwich.

A recent study published in fast-food-industry rag QSR magazine showed that in the past month, more than half the country (57 percent to be exact) has eaten at McDonald’s. Also in the past month 37 percent of the population has eaten at Subway, 36 percent at Burger King, and 33 percent at Taco Bell.

The fast-food biz is healthy at least.

Not my bag
I’ve pretty much cut fast food out of my diet, although I am part of the 33 percent who have eaten at Taco Bell in the last month. The East Avenue location next to Tinseltown is a newer, sexier, two-window operation—pay at the first, pick up your food at the next.

It’s like every other Taco Bell … except for one thing …

During my first visit I ordered my food and went to the first window.

“Hot or mild sauce?” the kind woman asked.

“Hot, please.”

Now here’s where it gets a little freaky …

She tossed three sauce packets and a couple of napkins into an empty plastic bag and handed it to me, telling me my food would be at the next window. Slightly baffled, I went along assuming I’d roll up to window No. 2, where another employee would then drop my food into the bag.

I pulled up. The guy handed me my food … inside another plastic bag. I sat the bag holding my two bean burritos on the seat next to the one containing napkins and hot sauce. Now I was really baffled.

This happened a few times. Finally, on my last visit, I asked the woman at the second window why they hand out two bags. She said the district manager decided that’s how employees were to handle the food at that location. This was despite the fact that this woman and other employees had argued that it was a waste of bags. I agreed. She apologized. I told her I wasn’t mad, just curious.

I’ve decided to boycott the Taco Bell on East Avenue. Of course, if I were really smart, I’d just boycott fast food altogether. But, as the statistics show, that would be un-McMerican.

Goodness, minus the bag
Now I offer a musical value meal that is actually good for you. It includes three items:

The Shankers at Duffy’s Tavern. The rock-’n’-roll hellcats kick off a three-date jaunt out of smoky Chico tonight (Thurs., July 10) with local Ramones tribute band Pinhead. 10 p.m.

The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru. Compilation of Peruvian Chicha songs from the early ’70s, a hybrid of Colombian Cumbia music and American psychedelic. The first time Chicha has been available outside of Peru.

Young@Heart. A touching (yes, I just said “touching”) documentary about a group of senior citizens who make up the Young@Heart Chorus. At first blush, watching a group of 80-somethings perform songs by Sonic Youth and The Ramones might seem like some sort of cruel joke at their expense. But as the film unravels you realize the impact performing together has on not only the chorus, but chorus director Bob Cilman as well, as they deal with intense rehearsals and the loss of fellow chorus members. Touching.

Another McTouching column