Monday, November 23, 2009

The world as explained by coffee.

I had breakfast with a young acolyte of mine (if you're looking for a talented and hard-working young writer, let me know) at a mid-town coffee shop this morning. It wasn't one of those Starbuck's-like places--it was one of the last of the real Greek coffee shops, with a menu as compendious as the Mumbai phone book and a Babel of waiters and waitresses.

As we sat there catching up and figuring out where my friend might potentially find a decent job in the industry, every thirty seconds--literally, someone came over and asked to fill our coffee cups.

It occurred to me that this was yet another example of the polarization of America. You see this all the time in The New York Times. Headlines about poverty and looming mass starvation on the front pages, followed by ads for $17,000 ear-rings and 6.54 million-dollar apartments a few pages in.

The world we live in now can be further divided between the "precious-ites" (those who pay $4.75 for a cup of coffee) and the "utilitarians" (those who drink their coffee without needing to add cream, sugar and bullshit to it.)

There's nothing wrong with savoring a cup of Joe. But what smugness prevents the precious-ites from recognizing is that there is a relationship between raw materials and final costs. They prefer to pay for attitude and purported elan. They think nothing of spending $1K or more for a vinyl handbag or $600 for a pair of ordinary shoes. In other words, the precious-ites buy into the subject-object split--cool is the measure of all things.

In short, the precious-ites are responsible for the abject collapse of our world. For a world of $72 canvas sneakers made by Coolie-labor for 37-cents. A world of $225 blue jeans, $68 t-shirts. A world where everything has a logo and logos are the measure of a man.

Oh, lighten up, George.

Yeah, I will in second. But let me just say this, I like good-old Greek diners. I miss being able to see a ball-game for less than the price of a mortgage payment. And I wish there were still Army-Navy stores. (Though the Army and the Navy I could live without.)


bob hoffman said...

I miss Army-Navy stores, too. As for living without an army or navy, our forebears tried that. Look what it got 'em.

george tannenbaum said...

Right again, Bob.