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.