Target is ditching the junk food in some aisles, because you have no impulse control and your arm shoots out like Peter Sellers at the end of “Dr. Strangelove” when you see a bag of something sweet and salty. More on this in Friday’s column, but I will say this: I’d rather see sacks of food I won’t buy than covers of magazines that range from “Glossy Ninnies in Break-up Drama” to “428 ways to have a hot butt in four minutes” to Cosmo’s tips for being a sexbot. Just saying. And by “just saying” I mean “I’m phrasing something in which I have a strenuous opinion in a non-committal way to blunt any objections.
Netflix’s series “Narcos” is a perfect example of a limited series done well - a ten-ep story on the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar. Scarface + Miami Vice + Goodfellas, brisk and snappy without being melodramatic hagiography. Escobar was a monster, and the series doesn’t paint him otherwise. It also reminds you what the cocaine users of the 80s were funding. World’s Best Ever has rounded up a huge collection - sorry, it’s Trump debate night, a yuuuuuge collection of cocaine paraphernalia ads.
Like everyone else with a Netflix subscription, we’ve been bingeing on Narcos. And while watching crazy Pablo Escobar pile up and bury money in Colombia is great entertainment, we got pretty curious about where that money was ultimately coming from. In 1979, with one in ten adults using drugs on a regular basis, the American consumer was on fire, pumping an estimated $420 Million per week into Pablo’s pockets.
By the way, if you’re watching the show, avoid checking Wikipedia when new characters are introduced. There are no spoiler warnings.
THIS AGAIN Are you thinking it’s been at least a month since you read a long, morose article about the decline of McDonald’s? Here you go. This time it’s Bloomberg.
For the first time in at least three decades, McDonald’s this year will close more restaurants in the U.S. than it opens, for a net loss of 59 locations. Same-store sales in the U.S., where McDonald’s gets 30 percent of its revenue, have declined in eight of the past 10 quarters.
Of course, that’s 59 down from 100,485,945. Or something like that. The future of the chain probably rests on robotics, both in the kitchen and up front. It’s not an entirely happy thought - half the customers looking up at the menu, the other half looking down at their apps to order, one bored clerk, mechanical arms extending out the window to hand you your bag. But it’s hard to see how they fix their biggest problem: a huge segment of their market decamped for the fast-casual joints, which, in “There Will Be Blood” terms, have eaten their burgers and drunk their milkshakes. There would seem to be a niche for smaller burgers that can be consumed in quantity, like the old Henry's chain. The term "slider" has gotten some respect recently, as long as the people selling it aren't White Castle.
MOVIES Out of nowhere, someone decided to praise the “Ferry Scene” in “War of the Worlds.” It’s worth it. The movie flags a bit in Tim Robbins’ basement, and yes, the ending feels as if it was tailored to keep you from leaving the theater without your heart completely minced into red slurry. But it’s an incredible film, brutal and relentless. I still think the aliens would have figured out the microbe problem ahead of time, but it’s a small beef. The sequence in which the first tripod reveals itself and makes that sound is terrifying, and I still remember sitting in an empty theater in the middle of the afternoon feeling sick.
That's it; hope you get outside this afternoon. This is one of the best autumns ever, so far.