Objective Tomatoes at the Fountainhead Cafe


Residents of what Ayn Rand thought was the greatest city on Earth, take note: an explicitly Objectivist cafe (vegetarian–not sure Ms. Rand would have approved) has opened on West 10th Street in Manhattan–the Fountainhead Cafe. The carrot and ginger juice is named for the orange-haired Howard Roark. Please make sure your orders are rational choices in accord with your nature, not mere free-floating whims of the moment.

[Hat tip: Michael Malice.]

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  1. Will they have a “second-hander” smoking section ?

  2. I presume that humor and independent thought will be banished. Perhaps the owners will check everyone’s iPods to ensure that they contain Rachmaninov and not that anti-life bastard Bach. Patrons will be required to smoke, and everyone will speak in excrutiating soliloquies.
    Chad Barton, the owner, couldn’t possibly have a more objectivist name.

  3. This could be a good spot if we have another NYC meet-up.

  4. Poor Number 6.
    So sad, so much angst.

    No humor in Rand? No independent thought?
    I’ll assume your first-hand experience with the author is limited to second-hand, sarcastic lefty blogs.
    Or maybe you just don’t get it.
    Or maybe you do get it and you’re really afraid. Good luck with that.

  5. Number 6,

    Uh oh. One of “them” is here.

  6. This follows in the fine tradition of non-traditional Objectivist items in NY, such as the Randian punk band called John Galt, the gay Objectivist dating service, and the still popular Sense of Life Objectivists (SOLO) group. I recall an Objectivist parody porn film being shot in NYC in the early 80s as well.

  7. ed: As an Objectivist, I’m embarrassed for you.

    Number 6: I hate Rachmaninoff. Nobody’s tossed me out yet.

  8. #6:

    that’s right – you only get info from leftie sites. we have another who makes Vizzini seem like a moron! wow! the intellectual prowess.

    do you think “ed” and “Bob” are one and the same? but, srsly, we should congratulate “ed” on finishing the most recent carnie school semester. he nearly passed!

    congrats, “ed”!

  9. Free WiFi? FREE?

    What kind of Objectivist gives aways value for nothing in return?

  10. No need for Rachmaninoff on the ipod, the restaurants own ambiant music system will be blaring out “tiddly wink music.”

  11. I am soooo making the July Reasonoid gathering location the Fountainhead Cafe.

  12. And at this announcement, Atlas Shrugged

  13. I await the opening of the Calvinist Cafe. There is no menu. You sit down and they bring you an entree, in accordance with predestination.

  14. I am soooo making the July Reasonoid gathering location the Fountainhead Cafe.

    Someone reliable should start arranging it soon. That excludes me.

  15. Ed- I went through a lengthy Rand stage. I read just about every word the woman wrote, and a great deal of what her predecessors wrote. But I eventually began studying Philosophy, and that led to my recovery.
    That is not to say that Rand didn’t have some good ideas. But she clearly suffered from a messiah complex of some sort, and more importantly, couldn’t read philosophy.
    As for the sense of humor thing: I’ll simply point to your post and say, “QED.”

  16. By predecessors, I meant followers. Need more caffine, STAT.

  17. Someday, Scientology and Objectivism will merge 🙂

  18. Someone reliable should start arranging it soon. That excludes me.


    I’ve already been working on it for weeks (I use the term “working” loosely). Email me (minus the .nospam part) for details.

  19. My SO was surprised to hear from me that many Reasonoids were not especially big fans of Rand and asked me why. Not that I don’t have any idea, but I found it difficult to summarize in a coherent and concise manner. Would anyone (#6?) like to take a stab at telling me what I should tell her? From some comments here, I might say that some find her absurdly overreaching and strict in her approvals and disapprovals. It’s also clear that some find her following to be cultish, though I don’t know if that would satisfy someone’s question as to what some libertoids’ philosphical differences with her are. Ditto for #6’s insinuation that she was ill informed.

  20. Fyodor-

    It’s because she was, well, nuts.

  21. I always imagined an Objectivist cafe would serve tankards of scalding buffalo blood amid really tall, uncomfortable furniture made of rough slabs of steel.

  22. she being Rand. Not your SO.

  23. fyodor: I think a lot of the libertarian hostility to Rand is explained by Rand’s hostility to libertarianism. She was not the sort of person who sought allies wherever she could find them–which is an unfortunate legacy for both libertarianism and Objectivism.

    As for philosophical differences, there are few of any substance. The one that comes to mind is that Rand saw her politics as only a small part of philosophy, somewhere in the hierarchy after metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Libertarianism is focused on the political arena, although the two aren’t, of course, entirely separate. Rand’s philosophy tends to focus on the moral reasons for selfishness as an underpinning of capitalism. Libertarians are more agnostic on selfishness as a virtue, preferring to look at it in the context of rational political/economic decisions. Another major area of difference seems to be foreign policy. Libertarians take a fairly limited view of national self-interest abroad; Objectivists would be in favor of a country protecting commercial interests abroad.

    Of course, my real answer to this question is that Objectivists and libertarians are so very similar–and so very distant from almost every other political philosophy–that these minor quibbles aren’t even worth, well, quibbling over, at this moment in time. Rand’s manner of expressing herself (and enforcing aesthetic conformity in her inner circle) was indeed a regrettable personality trait of an otherwise smart thinker and talented novelist, and one that the Ayn Rand Institute in particular has done very little to mitigate with their purges and various condemnations of libertarianism. But libertarianism has had its unfortunate moments and people, too.

    As you can probably tell, the entire point of this post is “can’t we all just get along?” spoken in appropriately supplicant tones.

  24. Fyodor — She was too bossy.

  25. Fyodor- Rand honestly believed that she had solved every significant philosophical puzzle, and that her system was complete. She was wrong on both counts. Her dictum “A is A” (She attributed that to Arisototle, but his use of it was very specific and nowhere near as far-reaching as hers) is useful in the same way that Occam’s Razor is, but like the razor, it’s not a complete answer. She simply refused to address some basic ontological issues.
    Her theory of aesthetics is silly.
    She simply could not read philosophy. I’m not going to write a treatise here, but I will say that she misinterpreted Aristotle, didn’t grasp Plato, and wasn’t even close on Kant. (her arch-nemisis.) It also irritates me that she would never acknowlege her debt to Nietzsche.
    The cultish nature of her circle is troubling, but doesn’t really have anything to do with her basic ideas, although it does suggest that she failed to live up to them.
    In a lot of ways, I still agree with her. I do believe that the fountainhead of creativity and progress resides in the individual, and that man must survive (primarily) by applying his reason to the world. I also implicityly distrust herds of human beings.
    That said, her divisions between prime movers and second-handers is absurdly overstated. That’s typical of her thought, though. Everything was grotesquely oversimplified.
    Really, if I went into any more detail, this would end up being a treatise, and I don’t think anyone wants to read that. Let’s just say that she had some good ideas, but was anything but a messiah, or a great philosopher.

  26. Rand’s distaste for Libertarians (not sure about small ‘l’ libertarians), who lacked the requisite willingness to sign on to her list of evils, probably spurred on the requited feelings.

    You know, she had some right-on ideas, but so did Jesus and Ross Perot. The definition of Fundamentalism is an unwillingness to temper one’s vigor for a certain worldview with any awareness of its primary promulgator’s/s’ fallibility.

    Gratuitous aside: The dude in the photo at the New Yorker website – if that is indeed the owner of the joint – could qualify as the Hottest Objectivist, though. And is that a black cape he’s wearing? Now that’s realness . . .

  27. the gay Objectivist dating service

    ?? link please 🙂

    I don’t get the vegetarian bit, either. Or the “organic restaurant” bit. I think this guy has his priorities confused.

  28. “It also irritates me that she would never acknowlege her debt to Nietzsche.”

    I second that irritation. I read Nietzsche well after I’d read (and liked) Rand, and was surprised at how much she had practically cribbed from him, with no acknowledgement.

    Her cult-leader attitude turned me off too. She should have paid more attention to this remark from Zarathustra: “One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil.”

  29. My wife worked at a cafe called “the Fountainhead” when I first met her back in 1977. It also was in NYC, on 24th St. and 2nd Ave., and it also was named after the Ayn Rand novel. It was owned by 3 brothers, the youngest of whom was a Rand devote (the book inspired him to drop out of high school and start his own business). There was no overt reference to Rand or Objectivism in the restaurant or on the menu, however. The place closed in the mid-80s, I think.

  30. Question for NYC restaurant fans:

    I get the distinct impression that eating out in NYC is a very fluid kind of thing, with people always looking for something new and innovative. As a result, restaurants there tend to open and close quite frequently.

    Would this be a somewhat true statement, or no?

  31. Fyodor,
    Philosophic influence:
    Her rigor as a philosopher leaves much to be desired. One need only attack her reliance on the Aristotlian “A=A” to make her whole house of cards fall to the ground. Two examples demonstrate how easy this is done.

    1. Light. Is it a particle or is it a wave?
    Acording to A=A it can’t be both. According to physics it can.
    2. Certs. Is it a breath mint or a candy mint?

    Personality issues:
    Her handling of her break with Branden, showed her to be dishonest. At one time she upheld herself, Frank O’Conner, Barbara and Nathaniel Branden as living embodiments of the type of hero presented in her fiction. (This in response to a statment that people like that don’t exist outside of her fiction.)

    If there was nothing wrong or immoral about her adulterous affair with Branden, why did she keep it a secret? She seemed incapable of admitting the truth even to herself about the reason for her wrath against Branden. Her stated reasons for the break were spurious.

    Why does this matter? Because she held herself up as a paragon of the virtue of her own philosophy and the final arbiter of who was and was not an Objectivist. (At best, lessor beings could only refer to themselves as students of Objectivism.) If we take her at face value and accept that she lived her life in perfect agreement with her stated philosophy, we would have to conclude that Objectivism creates (or perhaps provides refuge for) petty tyrants who live the final 20 years of their lives casting out friends in pogroms, while being creatively bankrupt (this because of a long promised but never delivered fourth novel.)

    Is Objectivism a philosophy that can guide a life in a creative and satisfying existence? Or did Rand confuse and mix her philosphy with her own personal pecadilloes? The evidence is greater for the latter.

    My own view is that she was a good novelist who needed but never had a strong editor in order to be great. (I’d say something similar for Michener too.) She wrote as if she was paid by the word. Still, she plotted with the best of them.

    Branden was her best champion and spreader of the faith. Casting him out definately began to slow the spread of Objectivism. About the same time that her closed system began losing influence, the open philosophy of libertarianism began growing in influence. She could have taken much of the credit for this, but instead chose to take her ball and go home.

    So, there you have it, my long answer. However, upon reading the above posts I see that puddy’s response is more than adequate:

    Fyodor–she was too bossy.

  32. 1. Light. Is it a particle or is it a wave?
    Acording to A=A it can’t be both. According to physics it can.

    It would be more accurate to say it is neither. Light is some other “thing” for which there is no macroscopic equivalent. This “thing” is such that, depending on the kinds of observations made, can exhibit properties reminiscent of a particle, or properties reminiscent of a wave.

  33. NoStar:

    Sorry, but your examples (Light, and Certs) don’t violate the “A is A” principle. “A is A”, when applied to light, doesn’t require that either “light be a particle” or “light be a wave”. It simply requires that “light be light”. LIght is a unique, well defined phenomenon; a physicist can show you precisely what it is by showing you the equations that describe it and by demonstrating experimentally that the observed phenomenon we call ‘light’ follows the predictions of those equations. The fact that the nature of light does not fit easily into either of our notions of ‘particle’ or ‘wave’ does not mean the nature of light is ambiguous.

    Similarly, Certs are Certs, and I guess they have both ‘candy mint’ and ‘breath mint’ characteristics. That they have both characteristics doesn’t mean they’re not uniquely what they are.

  34. I’m a vegetarian with Objectivist leanings.

    Simply put, I’m a vegetarian because I have reason to believe it will help me avoid my mom’s young death from breast cancer and my father’s heart and blood pressure problems. When people ask me why I don’t eat meat, I sometimes tell them it’s for selfish reasons, lol.

    I don’t miss the meat, but I’m not a complete fanatic about avoiding it, either. I will never pull my nose up at my grandmother’s special pot roast she always makes for me for when I fly into town to visit. I’m much more sentimental about people than about livestock.

    I also, as I’ve said here before, couldn’t possibly care less what filth you cram down your own cakehole so long as you do it voluntarily.

    This cafe sounds like a heck of a lot of fun, actually, and just the place I’d love to go if I ever get to New York. 🙂

  35. Son of a, and Marky,
    Exactly! But the way Objectivists, excuse me, students of Objectivism, proclaim “A is A” they take it to mean that a thing is what they say it is is, end of discussion. Your refutation of my examples is precisely the way to refute an obstinate Objectivist saying A is A.

    (As you might have guessed, I was being a bit tongue in cheek with my examples of light and certs.)

    Funny thing, it was from Rand I learned that giving a name to something was not the same as understanding it. Saying a thing is what it is does nothing to illuminate what the thing is.

    Likewise, Calling someone a “witch doctor” and then proceding to cut witch doctors down to size is not the same thing as actually attacking the original target. I bemoan the fact that Rand didn’t use her gifted brain to attack enemies other than her strawmen.

  36. Jeff P
    RE: “…Calvinist Cafe. There is no menu. You sit down and they bring you an entree, in accordance with predestination.”

    These exist in abundance in most inner city skid road areas. Look for them under the name “Mission Soup and Bread Kitchens.”

    Best of all, it’s free! Unless you consider listening to a sermon as too high a price to pay.

  37. Yeah, Rand’s reliance on strawmen is her biggest problem for me. Also see Become an Objectivist in 10 Easy Steps for a well-done satirical account of Objectivism and its tactics.

  38. By the way, is the food any good?

  39. I love the though of Perigo and others having a heart attack as they read about a veggie/organic o’ist cafe over a large steak and a moderate 6 bottles of wine per night…

  40. Objectivist waiter:

    “May I spend the next three hours telling you about our specials?”

  41. I get the distinct impression that eating out in NYC is a very fluid kind of thing, with people always looking for something new and innovative. As a result, restaurants there tend to open and close quite frequently.

    Yes and no. It is true that there is a great deal of turnover in the restaurant business as a whole. The trendier sorts of places, in particular, do turn over particularly rapidly. The odds of a new restaurant making it are also pretty small. But we also have a lot of restaurants that last 10, 20 years or more. If you’re good, and have a decent landlord who doesn’t decide to suddenly quintuple your rent, you can have a long run.

    BTW, there are just too damn many possible jokes to make about an Objectivist restaurant.

  42. And is that a black cape he’s wearing? Now that’s realness . . .

    GM, that’s a hooded sweatshirt. This unseasonably cold weather here in NY has been good cape weather though.

  43. Huh. I fear two possible outcomes in an Objectivist restaurant:

    1) Objectivist food will be like Objectivist architecture, or

    2) Objectivist food will be like Objectivist sex.

    I’d say extremely long speeches by the waiters are a given, either way.

  44. He stood naked at the edge of the table. The sundae lay far below him. A frozen explosion of ice cream burst in flight to the sky over the motionless hot fudge. The fudge seemed motionless. The ice cream — flowing. The whipped cream had the stillness of one brief moment in battle, when thrust meets thrust and currents are held in a pause more dynamic than action. The cherry glowed, wet with sunrays.

  45. Five bucks says Piekoff sues this guy.

  46. “Objectivist tomatoes”

    For short “Big O tomatoes”?

  47. lunchstealer, you looter, a whipped cream facade is a travesty in the art of sundae making. A purely functional and ethical sundae needs no such ornamentation.

    Aristotle addressed this issue in his Sundae, Bloody Sundae.

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