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Jewish World Review
May 9, 2008
/ 4 Iyar 5768
Only in Los Angeles, the official capital of overindulgence, ostentation, and superficiality, would you find an article in the front page business section of the paper bemoaning the fact that the economy is so bad that Southern Californians have been forced to cut back on their five dollar cups of boutique coffee. Oh, boohoo. "Learning to cope with the growing pain of costly coffee" the L.A. Times headline cried out.
The article goes on to say that more and more people have had to go to McDonald's instead of Starbucks for their morning coffee, or even, (heaven forbid!) make it at home for themselves. Can you imagine? Man, we must really be into a bad recession if folks have to actually make their own coffee at home.
Let me tell you something, personally I never understood the whole $5 cup of coffee thing. It never made any sense to me why people would pay exorbitant prices for what costs pennies to make. Many years ago when the Starbucks fad first took off, I avoided it. Then one time I found myself at an airport with time to kill and wanting a cup of coffee. The only place to get coffee in the immediate vicinity of my gate was a Starbucks. I broke down and bought a cup of coffee. Not only was it expensive, I didn't think it was very good. That was my one and only Starbucks adventure.
And another thing, what's the deal with purposely not using those common, ordinary English terms, "small, medium and large" to describe the size of coffee cups at Starbucks? Using foreign words and obscure phrases is just another way of jerking around the stupid public to think they're getting something exotic and special. Well, guess what? They're not getting anything exotic or special - they're getting a really overpriced cup of lousy coffee, that's all.
I've drunk coffee for most of my life and I know good from watery, from bitter, from mediocre. I buy good quality coffee beans from the supermarket, grind them at home each morning and brew a pot of coffee that's as good as or better than anywhere in town. I'm not saying I'm some kind of coffee wizard, I'm saying that making a decent, rich tasting cup of coffee isn't rocket science.
Yes, I know the Starbucks experience is much more than just coffee. It's all about being with the right crowd, a place to see and be seen. Hanging around, pretending to read a newspaper, going on-line with your laptop, and being oh, so cool - all this is part of the whole boutique coffee thing. I get it. But I don't want it. It's phony. It's shallow. And it is soooo LA it makes me want to throw up.
So it's not as "cool" to buy a cup of coffee at the 7/11 as it is to spend big bucks at the fancy designer coffee joints? It's much more chic to buy pretentious grande caramel triple latte with extra foam from the pimply-faced kid with the phony job description of "baristas," right? First of all, call them what they are - coffee jerks. Kids that poured sodas were called soda jerks, these kids pour coffee, they're coffee jerks. Baristas? You know what? GET OVER YOURSELVES! GROW UP!
A lackluster economy affects different people differently. So while ordinary people in other parts of the country have lost their factory jobs because of overseas manufacturing, and lost their homes due to over extending themselves with loans, and mortgaged their futures by getting further and further into debt, the poor, poor Hollywood elites have had to cut back on their mocha lattes, double espressos, and decaffeinated cappuccinos. Oh, boohoo. Double boohoo, with extra foam on top!
What's next? If the economy gets any worse Hollywood honchos may be forced to drive their own cars. The Beverly Hills crowd may have to let their live-in personal trainers and aromatherapists go. Movie stars might have to get by with only a half dozen estrogen injections a year and no more than one or two elective cosmetic/surgical procedures. The recreational drug market in tinsel town might experience a slump, or at least a bit of a dip. Tattoo parlor visits might have to be cut back to once a week. I tell you, we live in desperate times for the beautiful people.
Unless the economy turns around soon Rob Reiner may be down to only 6 or 7 meals a day. Richard Gere will certainly starve without his rice deliveries. Lindsay Lohan might have to make a choice between cocaine OR alcohol. And Barbra Streisand may have to auction off more collectables from yet another Malibu beach front estate. Boy oh boy. It's rough out here folks. Rough.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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