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[Thursday, May 08, 2003]


Nostalgia for the Carboniferous

Why it's been so long between posts. I am in Portland, Oregon, and it is wonderfully rich in ferns and mosses accessible by foot or public transit, but I have not brought a computer with a wireless card, so an Internet connection is a little hard to come by. Mostly I have been to busy conferencing to do much besides visiting Washington Park and seeing the local vegetation, running through Portland State University, and drooling in Powell's. More today, I hope.

Don Quixote de la Mack Daddy. As travel-reading I brought along Don Quixote. A couple of hundred pages in it yielded up the following astonishing bit of social policy:

"..the pimp's trade is no ordinary trade; it must be carried out by intelligent people and it is absolutely essential to any well-ordered society, and only the well-born should exercise it; and there should be an official inspector of pimps, as there is of other trades, and a maximum permitted number of them established and published, as is the case with stockbrokers... I should like to go on to give the reasons why it would be advisable to make a careful selection of those who do such a necessary job in society, but this is not the place."
-book 1, chapter 22, translation by John Rutherford

Much coffee. Though, as anticipated for the Pacific Northwest, Starbucks outlets abound -- though most of them seem to close at 8pm in time for the Rolling-Up of the Streets in Portland -- there is also a much more idiosyncratic and fun local chain called Coffee People. I first spotted them in the airport, with a stall promising "Great coffee, no backtalk" - really, this seemed like an odd way to distinguish themselves; I've never found Starbucks employees particularly insolent. (A great word which I will forever hear in the Dr. Evil voice - "I had the group liquidated. They were insolent.") The coffee is somewhere between Starbucks and Second Cup in quality (Tim Horton's partisans may disagree, but I've never really been sold on Tim's coffee), but printed on the cup is a delightfully absurd Bill of Rights:

  1. People of Coffee, you have certain rights. Among these are the Rights to Spring, the Right to Peace, Freedom and Coffee - in that order.

  2. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to become an attorney. If you cannot become an attorney, someone will become one for you.

  3. You have the right to wander, in your own way, the Garden of Hydraulics that is espresso.

  4. You have the right to form your own opinions. You may even have the right to address the nation tonight during the dinner hour. Check local listings.

  5. You have the right to expect freedom from backtalk. However, seen from outer space, much of the globe appears to be blue. Therefore, O Wanderer, speak softly to us. [Ed. Note: okay, this is mildly creepy for some reason.]

  6. Coffee isn't always the answer. Certainly not. But it remains a beautiful question we are inclined to ask. [Ed. Note: strictly speaking, people, this is not a right.]

And on that note, off to the tub, and more exploring.

posted 11:03 AM |