Funny-queer as a Five Dollar Bill

29 04 2008

It was during this time, when low waistlines and oblong spectacles became ubiquitous—when the housing market was referred to as a “bubble”—as if a soap-water whimsy enclosing the house and groomed lawn known as the “American Dream”—and fifty years of headlong spending were coming to a fateful end (for whom else did the rest of the world rely on to buy the fruits of their labors but eager Americans), that the currency itself became progressively, even surreptitiously, more cartoonish, as if money, no longer able to assume the almighty powers attributed to it, were caving in to irony and lampoon. A few years after imaginary super-heroes made their first appearances on stamps as symbols of a national heritage, famous newspaper caricaturists were invited to submit their interpretations of past presidents for banknotes on which denominations appeared, grotesquely enlarged for unambiguous legibility, in such garish inks as orange and purple, as if to admit, if not legitimize, the irresponsibility, the essential impunity, with which we had waved them hamfistedly around.