"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 4 May 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Wake-up Call


[fluffy dog so nice and sweet]

What started as a great way to

effect cosmopolitan swagger

without losing working-guy cred

has become too much of a

national, maybe even

generational, cause for

celebration. It wasn't so long

ago that industrialists were

forcing laborers to mainline

coffee to increase productivity;

suddenly, hypertension is a

national pastime. The boutique

drinks are bad and the jokes

about their names are worse.

It's not only the uppity South

American slaves taking it in the

kidneys for beans, either: As we

worship this diuretic potion

today, so shall we find

ourselves hugging the colostomy

bag at about age 40.


The cup's cachet really went

into arrears around tax time,

when the IRS site posted a cute

little pic of a coffee cup with

an invitation to sit back and

relax. Is this federally funded

art? Presidential slouch

notwithstanding, there is very

little about the federal

government that calls for cheery

camaraderie, especially at the

front end of a frustration

machine containing 40,000 tax

forms in no particular order,

the goal of which is to make

most of us poorer.


[sitting at your owner's feet]

On April 15th, though, jazzed

Starbucks workers jogged the

steps of the General Post

Office, dispensing

congratulatory cups from

50-gallon backpacks. Go ahead,

pour your heart into it. By now,

"coffee" has become a quaint

non-specific variant of what is

commonly referred to as

Starbucks, whose decorative

green cornershops are the

Woolworths lunch counters of our

maudlin era. Proper usage: "Do

you have a Kleenex? I spilled

some Starbucks on the Xerox."

The perky rep at the National

Coffee Association denies that

there is a trend toward calling

coffee "Starbucks." He offers as

evidence: "I haven't even seen

or heard its use here in New

York City" - a town known more

popularly now as Disneyland II.


The NCA also denies distributing

clip art, but coffee is the

crème de la crème of HTML

homily, the meter of the

medium-resolution webmaster.

"Make yourself a cup of coffee

and relax" might as well be a

FrontPage macro. Presumably

signifying the thrilling charge

of looking at a Web page, coffee

cups are instead a reminder of

emptiness in the guise of a

salutation. There's a rich,

congratulatory aroma that's

hilariously at odds with the

neurotic neediness of the

Internet. However much a fan you

might be of meaningless

gestures, who enjoys mixing

caffeine and chronic 20-second

lag times? There's a reason they

don't distribute crystal meth at

the DMV.


[what will make you happy now]

It's not just the undoubtedly

sweat-and-urination-crazy city

of New Brighton, Minnesota.

Every bean bar from here to

Bellingham wants you to "pour

yourself a cup of coffee and

relax." About the only

coffee-clean site is Microsoft,

under court orders to get off

Java's little brown nuts.


In Eudora itself, a steaming

peach-colored cup, perched

perfectly atop its saucer, is

the icon for "Getting Started"

in Settings. It's the unofficial

symbol of Internet activity,

with a cute little circular

handle just waiting for Ernie

Bushmiller's Nancy to come along

and sniff its two ascending

ropes of fresh steam. The "J.

Doe" icon underneath, where your

cherished identity goes? That's

just Qualcomm's way of admitting

it doesn't really give a fuck.


[perhaps a dried up piece of cow?]

Ultimately, coffee is our

correct substitute reward for

tobacco, as it goes against

today's brave new ethos to say:

"Chain-smoke Virginia Slims

while waiting for this page to

load." (There are no emoticons

for "I'm on my third pack.")

Even marketers for that most

heinously vogue of affectations,

the cigar, want to suck up some

caffeinated cool. In that light,

I guess coffee is pretty

sophisticated: It requires plant

cultivation, disciplined labor,

a temperate climate, delicate

roasting, careful sorting, wily

smuggling, just-so grinding, and

a scientific percolation process

- all for the sake of a

high-power enema. Could anyone

be surprised that it makes a

swell logo for children's

clothing, vaporware, and mutual

funds, too?

courtesy of DJ Abraham Lincoln