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January  31

The State of Baristaville

Baristanet has been asked to deliver its own State of the Union as part of a project going on today at Radio OpenSource. You'll get Bush's version tonight. Here's ours now. Feel free (as you always do) to add your own two cents.

UPDATE: The Barista was a guest on Radio OpenSource last night. Listen here.

We live in a pretty damn good place. We have big trees, which only fall and kill people once in a while, and nice old interesting houses. The houses may be expensive to maintain and may be taxed beyond the pale, but at least they're not aesthetically deadening, and many have welcoming front porches that foster a sense of community. We're surrounded, for the most part, by smart people (though not smart enough to stay off their cell phones while driving) and, as Baristanet and the front-yard flamingo flocks prove, by people with a sense of humor. For all these things -- but for the falling trees, the taxes and the distracted drivers -- we are blessed. And to top it off, we have something like eight sushi places, five Thai restaurants and one Vietnamese.

And yet. We have turned childhood into an arms race of playdates, traveling soccer teams, SAT prep classes, and have turned the very act of growing up into a matter of serious competition. We've turned our kitchens and bathrooms into mausoleums, our parks into plastic playing fields and our graduations into orgies of fundraising and overindulgence, where money flows as freely as the alcohol it is meant to replace.

We can do everything right ( pay our taxes, vote, serve jury duty, save for college, retirement and a rainy day, fix the leaking roof, volunteer to coach the local baseball team) and buy countertops and cars that could withstand earthquakes, yet still not be able to protect ourselves from the utter randomness of fate, which allows a grandmother with no known enemies to be murdered in her home or a couple walking on a public street to be held up at gunpoint. And these things, having happened recently, contribute to a growing sense of unease. And that unease grows even stronger when our attention wanders away from the neighborhood to pictures of a 28-year-old newspaper reporter weeping on a videotape and begging for her release.

An ordinary house in these parts costs three-quarters of a million dollars, which is good for those of us who bought them a long time ago, and not so good for those who haven't bought them yet. The economy is terrific for some, terrible for others. Yet we all live side by side in a fiction of equality, and the Smiths go deeper and deeper into debt to keep up with the Joneses.

But if anyone asks how it's going, we say "ok." That's part of the bargain too. We're Americans. We smile. The State of Baristaville is ok. Fine, great, terrific even. Let's do lunch. Soon. Seriously.

January 31, 2006 in Buzz | Permalink



Posted by: RadonMan | Jan 31, 2006 1:50:53 PM

I don't quite get the "bathroom = mausoleum" part, except for flushing the dead goldfish.

/which is NOT a euphemism for something!

Posted by: Appletony | Jan 31, 2006 2:23:20 PM

Made of marble and granite.

Posted by: The Barista | Jan 31, 2006 2:29:30 PM


Posted by: Appletony | Jan 31, 2006 2:32:24 PM

....and play dodgeball after lunch

Posted by: MyManMisterC | Jan 31, 2006 2:36:28 PM

Madam Barista,
luv your shoes, babe, no, seriously, have your people call my people, we'll do lunch.

Posted by: The Iceman (8T) | Jan 31, 2006 2:39:46 PM

Good writing. Thanks. The fact that we appear to have become the restaurant capital of NJ is also worth mentioning.

Posted by: Rick | Jan 31, 2006 2:44:10 PM

Oh. you did say something about that, didn't you. Right.

Posted by: Rick | Jan 31, 2006 2:45:19 PM

Much better writing than I know we'll hear tonight. And upbeat while still being realistic. Thanks for the good reading.

Posted by: glee | Jan 31, 2006 2:56:09 PM


Posted by: njholdem | Jan 31, 2006 3:26:30 PM

FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS! Quick, somebody telepathically tell Frank Sinatra's army buddy not to pull the trigger.

Posted by: clark | Jan 31, 2006 3:27:57 PM

it is highly unfortunate that Montclair is getting the urban plague of muggings and terrifying to the victims. Perhaps the police will now have a focus on serious crime and be somewhat deflected from sending out serious patrols to round up random teenagers.

Posted by: Raj | Jan 31, 2006 3:34:04 PM

I might have called it an Urbane Plague. Those guys are sure pick on the well dressed.

Posted by: clark | Jan 31, 2006 3:38:19 PM

Excellent article. Articulate, amusing, close to the bone.
Good job

Posted by: ba | Jan 31, 2006 4:31:52 PM

Pithy. Well written and on message. I know of no place that doesn't have some bad with the good; your piece shows a nice sense of balance. Our Fearless Leader who art in Washington would do well to have speechwriters so eloquent and truthful. (Of course he would never get elected to anything again if he had honest writers, so you would be doing the world a favor.)

And, after all those kudos, I think you should pick up the lunch tab. Honest. I'll have Ice's people call your people because my people don't answer. Or call me back.

Posted by: Conan the Grammarian | Jan 31, 2006 5:58:32 PM

Not bad. I might have liked it better if it had been signed at the end by "Candide," but not bad at all.

We also turn our attention to that 28-year-old reporter, however, and find that her captors instituted a particularly ghoulish touch there by forcing her into a hijab. Unease grows when we consider the extent of such fiendish dedication.

Posted by: cathar (8T) | Jan 31, 2006 6:14:20 PM

And not one nod to the nudist swim clubs of NJ...now was that a good thing or a bad thing?

Posted by: KrKap | Jan 31, 2006 6:32:02 PM

If there are nudist swim clubs in this state, KrKap, please do share their locations. I just hope they're a step up from Gunnison Beach at Sandy Hook.

Posted by: cathar (8T) | Jan 31, 2006 7:01:28 PM

A very nice SOB message, lacking only a reference to that memorable phrase, "flogging the plofker," to fix it forever as the quintessence of this particular moment.

Posted by: crank | Jan 31, 2006 8:33:58 PM

Excuse me..watch it lady....

Oh man, Sheehan just got arrested.

Posted by: lc | Jan 31, 2006 10:51:41 PM

We're surrounded... 'scuse me...I'M Surrounded...

We can do everything right (pay our taxes... due tomorrow...

Sorry...those we the two things I managed to hone in on though I can relate to everything written! And nicely so, Ms. Deb! Bravo!

Posted by: Surrounded | Jan 31, 2006 11:10:26 PM

and if I could type without typos, I might be a journalist (or at least a proof reader) some day!! :/

Posted by: Surrounded | Jan 31, 2006 11:12:38 PM

What we need are cops walking the beat, not sitting in their cars. This is, after all, a pedestrian friendly (sort of) town.

Posted by: Karen | Feb 1, 2006 12:45:00 AM

Funny, and very well written.

Posted by: art | Feb 1, 2006 12:46:58 AM

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· In Case You Don't Look at Our Announcement Box
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· Flatulent Friar
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· Open Space Call For Action
· Closed For Renovations?
· Thrill Seekers
· Heroic Dudes
· Making Montclair's History Demo-Proof

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