I was cycle commuting home from work the other day, a beautiful autumn afternoon with sun, multi-colored leaves, and pleasantly warm air.

As I pedaled, a nice silver colored sedan rolled by, heading in the other direction. At first it caught my eye, with its sleek lines and compact, powerful body. Then I realized that an otherwise beautiful car had tasteless matte black rims.

German sports cars now wear the same tacky rims matte black rims that you might see on a late-model, dented Ford Probe.

Successful, wealthy people now wear embroidered denim and gold-flecked t-shirts, as if this was a sign of their prestige. The only problem is that the same clothes are worn by the guy at the MMA fight.

The desire, or even ability, to speak eloquently is also dead, it would seem. Highly educated mothers now talk just like teenage girls. I’m sure we’ve all heard an appalling statement begin with something along the lines of, “I’m so not happy right now.”

The excellent historian Lawrence W. Levine wrote one of my favorite books, entitled Highbrow/Lowbrow, about the emergence of class and a cultural taste hierarchy. He looks mainly at the 19th century and tries to find if cultural moved up from the masses, or down from the elites.

From where I sit in my saddle, culture now seems to be one morass, where the talented, wealthy and successful people act, dress, and speak nearly the same as the indecipherable masses. We’re now one big middle class, and each day we all are losing grip on that rope that ties us to a ledge where decency, modesty, classiness, and respectability dwell.

Enjoy this song during our collective slip to the bottom!