Lucas Cranach the Elder depicted the Silver Age. Will any artist capture the Age of Pizza?
THE website Dash offers a brisk history of pizza in the United States, culminating in the Pizza Society, with 65,000 pizzerias (that’s an understatement; there are 65,000 pizzerias in my town alone) and 100 acres of pizzas consumed every year.
Dash points to the emergence of the artisanal, wood-fired pie in recent decades. It’s true, pizza at its best is one of the world’s most sublime foods. However, pizza in America is generally not at its best, not anymore. The elite dines on charred, organic pies while the common man, who no longer has a real family or a real home, feasts on greasy slabs of fiberglass covered with mock cheese, a substance that haunts his dreams and creates a leaden, ineffable awareness that something – something – is profoundly wrong.
Dash forgot to mention the children who carry cold slices in their school lunch day after day; the college students who gorge on pizza late at night, bewildered by the transition from normal life to a depersonalized, pagan subculture of binge drinking and serial hook-ups; the divorced fathers who can’t afford anything other than pizza for dinner and the empty cardboard pizza boxes piled in corporate offices, where employees sit at their desks struggling silently with Pizza Impasse Disorder, indigestion that comes in both acute and chronic forms.
The history of pizza is no longer cause for celebration. Only slick advertising can erase the truth. The Greek poet Hesiod identified five Ages of Man: the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, the Heroic Age and the Iron Age. We are immersed in something he could not have foreseen: the Pizza Age. Someday even our rivers will turn red with excreted tomato sauce. There will be so much pizza in our bloodstreams that doctors will have to open de-mozzarella-fication clinics. As people sit in reclining chairs, the cheese globules painstakingly extracted from their veins by sophisticated technology, they will see their internal horizons gradually expanded and restored. Their souls and bodies will return to a state of innocence they never knew existed.
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