5 Reasons The Classic American Summer Is Totally Dead
It's almost August, folks. Has the summer of 2014 felt a little bit off to you? Not quite as good as summers past? Turns out it's not just your complete inability to enjoy anything or experience true happiness -- we've found statistical evidence that proves this summer is the worst one since "Margaritaville" was unleashed on the world.
So, just in case your summer plans weren't ruined already, let us help you expedite that process through the magic of cold, hard facts:
The Teenage Summer Job Is a Thing of the Past
Remember the first summer your parents made you get a job? Sure, you thought flipping burgers at the burger-flipping factory sucked at the time, but in the end you probably appreciated the structure. The summer job is practically a rite of passage. Or, if you're a parent, it's a convenient way to get your teens out of the house for a few hours and have some loud adult fun.
"Finally. If had to watch that wiener we wrought screw up this level one more time ..."
Except not anymore, because today's shitty economy means the only job most teenagers can easily find isn't legal until they turn 18 and won't exactly be endorsed by their parents. (It's fucking for money. We mean fucking for money.) The teen unemployment rate is 27.3 percent, an all-time high that's staggering compared to the national American rate of 6 percent. We are officially going through the Muppet Babies reboot of the Great Depression.
How is this possible? Are there no fast food meals that need to be spit in? No amusement park rides to be run by carnies too tore up for safety regulations? No grocery stores that need all of their cans stocked haphazardly? We're afraid those jobs are held by adults now -- just like that baby boomer who got comfortable and refuses to leave his office job, there's now a Gen Xer that won't hang his Ben & Jerry's apron. Meanwhile, summer jobs for teens are going the way of other vanished teen staples, like bitchin' muscle cars and high school educations.
Well, at least your kids will have more time to share with the family at barbecues and stuff. Or not, because ...
Summer Grilling Is Getting Stupidly Expensive
Have you noticed that you're getting invited to fewer barbecues this summer? The good news is that people don't hate you, probably. The bad news is that BBQ staples like beef and cheese are skyrocketing in price at such a ridiculous pace that everyone should hate you. Because you probably had something to do with it. We just know it.
Since May 2013, the cost of ground beef is up 12 percent, while the cost of American cheese (aka the only kind used at barbecues) is up 11.1 percent. Tomatoes, lettuce, and even lemonade are all up by somewhere between 7.5 and 12 percent, and God have mercy on your soul if you want bacon on your burger -- pork is up a frankly scandalous 19 percent.
" Did you hear that thing about local lost pets being up 20 percent?"
"Yeah, weird. Another hot do- uh, bratwurst?"
At least it's not Big Pork conspiring against you: It's nature's doing. The combination of drought, viral outbreak, and increased demand from China is stretching supplies of produce and meat to their limit, one of the reasons given being a "porcine epidemic diarrhea virus" that just killed all of our appetite anyway. It's a metaphorical perfect storm clouding the backyard cookout you can no longer afford to have. Hell, it's probably only a matter of time until ice cream prices go up, too. If there's anyone left selling it, that is ...
Thousands of People Want to Ban Ice Cream Truck Jingles
As a kid, hearing the ice cream truck jingle was like a religious experience. But most kids grow up to be bitter and jaded adults, and adults make stuff like this happen:
But Skrillex is still allowed to be a thing.
Yep, people in New York are seeking restraining orders against the giant jangling trucks they once loved. There have been over 7,000 official complaints about the loud music of ice cream trucks in New York City over the last four years, prompting both police officers and specialized agents -- who specialize in putting a stop to joy and happiness -- to hit the streets and address these noise violations. Fines for spreading the good news of ice cream can be anywhere from $50 to $7,000, which is enough to send Popsicle Pete into a world-killing rage.
Meanwhile, the city council in Long Beach has been working to ban ice cream truck music since last year due to the growing complaints.
Next target: taco truck music.
On one hand, complaints about loud trucks driving by at 10:00 p.m., making kids who are trying to fall asleep get up and ask for ice cream, do sound reasonable. On the other hand, this is summer in the United States of goddamn America. What's next, complaining that Super Soakers make you too wet? Complaining that your beer is too cold? Or that your freedom is too free?
On the upside, you can put all the money you saved from not buying your children ice cream toward a vacation ... you also probably can't afford. Which is why ...
Fewer Americans Are Going on Vacation
Not-fun fact: Only 15 percent of Americans planned a 2014 summer vacation, with 33 percent of survey respondents saying they can't afford one and another 30 percent saying they're too busy working (which implies they also can't afford one, because the choice between office and poolside is usually not a terribly difficult one). To be fair, another 22 percent do plan to sneak away for a weekend, but since in the summer that usually means driving to a rundown Super 8 Motel to look at a boring landmark, we're not going to count it.
Now you can have the experience of being bored in four states at once!
What you do with your summer is your business, of course, but we'd just like to mention that not taking a summer vacation is objectively unpatriotic. Not only are summer road trips a great American tradition, but the hotel and restaurant industry hired 21,000 fewer employees in 2014 than it did in 2013 in anticipation of a slow season. That's right, Mr. and Ms. "I'm going to take a staycation this year!" All those unemployed, dangerously idle teens are your fault. The least you could do now is make a large donation to Planned Parenthood.
But, getting back on topic, maybe you don't have to go somewhere else on vacation, because there's a nice beach right where you live. In that case, good news: You might not be able to go there either! (We lied about the "good" part.) And the reason for that is ...
American Beaches Are Horribly, Horribly Polluted
You don't need thousands of dollars and a week off work to hit the beach if you live on the coast. What you might need, however, are a ton of antibiotics, because a study has found that 1 out of every 10 beaches in the United States isn't fit for swimming.
The shopping cart family is content with just sunbathing, though.
The study looked at 3,485 American beaches along both coasts and among the Great Lakes, which means that around 348.5 potential vacation spots are as likely to give you or your loved ones a terrible disease as they are treasured summer memories. The water at these beaches is full of sewage, contaminated runoff, and "urban slobber," and while we're not entirely sure what that last one is, we're absolutely sure that we don't want to know.
"Calling it 'urban diarrhea' raised too many questions."
But hey, 9 in 10 odds isn't that bad, right? So grab your family's unemployed teens and overworked adults and hit the beach. At least if anyone gets sick you'll know exactly what caused it, because there was no ice cream or grilled hamburgers consumed this year. USA! USA!
You can read more from Mark at his website.