Sunday, January 11, 2009

The new economy

Reading the Sunday paper at a local coffee spot is a much-anticipated weekend activity. We don't always get to do it, but when we do, it's such a lazy luxury. Every once in awhile I peek over the edge of my section and catch the wine goddess' eyes and share some little random bit of news. Recently my report goes like this: "Holy hell, listen to this, blah blah blah's restaurant just closed!" We shake our heads and silently mourn the latest victim of our new economy. April, the wine goddess' other, less descriptive, name reads liberally from the local section, sharing tidbits of truly hideous crimes and I duck my head back into what used to be the food section to replace the image of the latest murder with a recipe for oyster stew.

Each day the paper seems to get smaller and smaller; newspaper room cutbacks are a piece of this new economic reality. I imagine that suddenly Seattle-ites are oversleeping, the familiar thunk of the paper hitting the door gone; the gentle swoosh of the newspaper pamphlet lulling subscribers back to sleep.

Reading the paper is becoming less and less a relaxing way to pass the time. This week's headlines were dominated by the flood waters and extensive damage, massive evacuations, people's lives destroyed overnight. Today's Times discusses how Seattle will most certainly be losing the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the other city paper, in operation for 146 years.

I like to be kept abreast of the news, but when the paper, radio and tv are constantly sharing bad news it grows increasingly hard to muster the intestinal fortitude to stay current. The new economy is making me dive into an alternate reality and until our media starts reporting on the good news, and healthy perspectives that surround us (much good can come out of reprioritizing our spending habits and simplifying in general) I'm content to keep one ear listening to the news and my eyes and heart on escapist literature and food t.v.

Today we met up with an old friend at one of my favorite coffee spots. El Diablo makes fantastically smooth coffees, in the Cuban style. They won my heart the day I realized that their so-called Yanqui drink was pronounced "Yankee" as in (you silly gringa) an Americano. Of course, I asked what it was, cluelessly putting what I thought was an authentic Spanish accent on the made-up word. I might as well have screamed, "HI I'M WHITE!"

"Hard Times Fruit Cocktail"

On a gray Seattle winter day, stepping into El Diablo is therapeutic. The warm gold to orange tones and colorful walls replete with whimsical murals are transporting. The sandwiches are excellent and their batidos (tropical fruit smoothies with complementary mini-umbrella) in the summer are fabulous. However, even perpetually cheery El Diablo can't avoid the affect of the downturn in the economy; my ham and cheese sandwich came with a fruit salad I nicknamed "Hard Times Fruit Cocktail". One quarter of a strawberry, one singular 1/2" by 1/2" cube of mango.

Instead of reading the paper, we chat, catch up, sip on our coffees and laugh at the intense food-cost management that led to the decision to put that lonely quarter of a strawberry on the plate. To distract us further from these realities, we slip into the adjacent bookstore and lose ourselves in the aisles; my head tucks between the pages of the latest cookbooks, April gets lost in the wine section. I leave with the book "What Einstein told his cook" by Robert L. Wolke. Just 7 years after Einstein won the Nobel Prize in physics, the world slid into the Great Depression. Sounds like timely reading, no?


Jesse said...

A beautiful moment of your imagining sleeping Seattle without the heft of print media to wake them. A ghost town ensues. Wave quietly to your sleepwalking friends.

Chris said...

Meanwhile, you scared the crap out of me. I was convinced this post was going to say that Diablo was closing... I need to inject some cash into the economy and buy a Mexican Mocha.

Becky said...

Sorry, man... I can totally see how you thought I was going there. Thank goodness - the place was jam packed with people. Love, love, love their mochas.


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