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DAVIS: Watching 'blanding' is about sizzle, not steak

January 16, 2013

By Brent Davis, editor of The Saline Courier

What’s new, shiny and found all over?
No, it’s not the new iPhone. What’s found everywhere is -- everything! I see the “blanding” of America every day. You do, too, but may not even realize it. Blanding is the homogenization of our society and what it looks like. I am not making reference to race or skin color. Let me explain.
It seems evident that as a society, we now value perception rather than reality. We want the sizzle but don’t really care about the steak. It has happened right before our very eyes, and, like a grain of sand added to the beach, we don’t recognize it until it is laid out in grand fashion.
For example, I recall watching television as a boy. I was, and still am, a big fan of the NFL. The Green Bay Packers were my team. Bart Starr was my favorite player. Back then, the league was filled with “characters.” Every coach had his own style. Tom Landry had his hat. Vince Lombardi had his overcoat. Hank Stram wore a suit and tie on the sideline. Players were unique for their style of play -- not their jewelry, their arrest record or their hair.
Can you imagine any of those old school coaches on the sidelines now? Current coaches wear coordinated NFL versions of “Garanimals for Guys.” They dress the same, they look the same. How boring is that? Granted, there may be variations according to each specific coaching position, but the other teams use the same variation. If you ask me, it is boring big-time. I still watch the games, but the teams look the same, just different colors. They have even taken the fear out of the Silver and Black of the Oakland Raiders.
Baseball isn’t any different. Perhaps my age is showing, but I don’t understand how fashion made its way into the uniform. When I played, no one wore full length pants as part of the uniform. They were hotter, and, more than that, a pain to run in. We didn’t have earrings, sweat bands on our wrists, batting gloves that required they be tightened after every pitch -- even if we didn’t swing at the ball. We didn’t have necklaces that dangle outside our jerseys, braided hair down our back, sunglasses attached to our caps that we never wore or black-out stripes under our eyes. But most of all, don’t get me started about the caps they wear and the flat bills on them. Suffice it to say, it’s just wrong!
Now think about automobiles. There was a time when I could tell what make of car was behind me at night in the placement of the headlights and blinkers I saw in my rearview mirror. Now, I think they all use the same computer program to design their cars with only slight differences. I ask you, which current car beyond a Corvette or other exotic vehicle will be showing up at collector auctions or hidden away as prized possessions? Think about that one for a while.
Finally, blanding is changing “our” towns into “every” town. I suppose on some level it is a good thing. When traveling, you can always rest assured that no matter where you go, a Big Mac is within reach. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
But what it creates is an atmosphere that prides the new and the shiny over the established, traditional, one-of-a-kind and unique. Think about what we would miss if sizzle overtook steak around here. We’d be getting doughnuts at Dunkin’s, not Dale’s. And what a colossal waste that would be.
So, as I see it, we need to scour our surroundings, looking at each grain of sand on our collective beach. Let’s keep the little grains because when we group them in with all our other new, shiny grains, our section of the beach looks amazing! Steak, not sizzle.

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