The steady, as opposed to occasional looking-for-weekly-specials, clientele of Whole Foods can be roughly divided between the earnestly healthy (who buy those pills and magic potions promising health with just a hint of everlasting life) and the connoisseurs of taste. For the latter, those who drink coffee have taken quite a shine, anecdotal evidence suggests, to Ill, rather than Lavazza. There is no discernible difference in taste. The key to Illy’s victory was price. Not, as free market fundamentalists might have it, (ignoring what might be called the suprasegmental features of advertising), the coffee that is cheapest but, rather, the coffee that is most expensive has won: Illy costs nearly twice as much, in the United States, as Lavazza. This is a major part of its whole-foods-faddish appeal.
In a world where there is so little certainty, where many would be disoriented if it turned out, for example, that the “best colleges” were no better than many of the un-best colleges, it’s important to be able to rely on lists. I don’t mean the honest lists of Consumers Reports, that tells you about toasters and car repair, of the Best Program in Art History, and the Best Chocolate Truffles, and the Best Recording Of The B-Minor Mass, and the Best New Conceptual Artist, and The Best This and The Best That. And so often, what else do we have to go on but money, the impressive size of the endowment of this school, the cost of that chocolate, the latest auction records for that painter?
In the Parthenopean impoverished penthouse depicted here, was ravishing Sophia Loren using Illy, Lavazz, or some just-roasted coffee beans, no-name in name, at the local market, perhaps known only to people in her neighborhood? And what if that coffee she, Sophia Loren, has made in that fijm clip is better than anything you might be able to buy, even if you are a hedge-fund manager in Connecticut, or George Clooney lazily lying on that private beach he outrageously created on the Lago di Como or, for that matter, some professor, with a four-hour work week (as long as those graduate students keep composing those lectures for you, and the teaching assistants do all the grading), say self-satisfied Homi Bhabha, shopping at the Fresh Pond Whole Foods, and wanting to make sure that he carefully chooses only the best, for only the best, you see, for such a person, will do.
Good God, where might it all end, if you had to judge for yourself, and you realized you could no longer assume that the cost of colleges and men and even websites and coffee was a guarantee of their value, their worth.
This website, for which you can, if you choose, pay nothing, costs you nothing. But it is of value. You know this perfectly well, for if you did not know it, you would be a fool, and fools tend not to visit this site, at least not more than once or twice. Right now this website is still in its eleemosynary mode. Keep in mind that it is a 501©(3), and that contributions are tax-deductible. If you never give to anything, and don’t intend to start now, that is maddening but not nearly as infuriating as would be your giving to other, far less worthy causes, with their cunning appeals, and the absurd sums people get away with paying themselves at some of these – let’s be charitable – quite profitable not-for-profit organizations. In the spirit of James James Morison Morison Weatherby George Dupree telling his mother that you must never go down to the end of the town if you don’t go down with me, don’t you dare give money to others, if you don’t give money to me. And by “me” I mean, of course, and not only royally, “us.” We of NER and the Never Never.
Meanwhile, by way of extra inducement, and to bring the supreme theme back to coffee and to Naples:
Happy Christmas to you, happy Christmas to you!
A modest donation from *my* household (all thanks to my beautiful and generous husband who was easily persuaded that this website is necessary to his wife's entertainment, education and sanity, and to his own instruction as well, at times) has duly been sent on its electronic way.