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.

29 replies on “The State of Baristaville”

  1. I don’t quite get the “bathroom = mausoleum” part, except for flushing the dead goldfish.
    /which is NOT a euphemism for something!

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

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

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

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

  12. I stand by “upbeat.” Problems? Sure, we’ve got ’em, but everything is relative, no? I am an incurable Pollyanna. Things could be worse. Simplistic? Maybe, but the alternative to being upbeat strikes me as defeatist. I’d rather work for change and hope for the best than wring my hands while wallowing in futility.

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