The speed at which almost everything in the modern world becomes grist for the all consuming mill of the mass culture can be both alarming and depressing. Okay so Marshall McLuhan predicted it as “the speed-up”, but there are seemingly little or no limits to this capacity for the media to absorb anything that comes to its notice. Take the instance of absinthe. Just a few short years ago, the deep green alcohol-based hallucinogen was a minority preserve of Bohemian degeneracy, with alluring resonances of Lautrec, Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley. No longer. Last week on the British evening TV mega-soap Eastenders, a dubious character called Derek Branning was selling contraband bottles of absinthe around the fictional Albert Square, and it was being covertly quaffed in the Queen Vic without a lace cuff or limp wrist in sight. This is, however, England. I doubt the wicked green fairy will penetrate US network prudery any time soon or find its way into the sterile corridors of General Hospital. That maybe another reason I came home.
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The secret word is Wormwood