Worst. Op-Ed. Ev-var.

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Ron Rosenbaum deconstructs renowned deconstructionist Stanley Fish's really awful NY Times op-ed about this new curiosity called "Starbucks."

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  1. Ron Rosenbaum could have written a funny article in a single page. By the end, I almost feel sympathy for Professor Fish. Rosenbaum now has a problem with expecting service from companies we pay to serve us? Is it the word “serve” that bothers him?

    I can just see Rosenbaum seething in his office as he reads Fish’s Op-Ed in a Thurston Howell voice. What a colossal dickhead.

    By the way, Tom Robbins made fun of Starbucks and its faux sophistication way back in 1990 in Skinny Legs and All. Ha ha, you missed it Rosenbaum, you onerous prick, you missed it, ha ha ha ha ha. Stupid writer.

  2. Emphasis on the word “almost.”

  3. I enjoyed it. Simple vulgar self-indulgence, and a chance to wallow in the feeling superiority over someone more famous and highly paid than myself.

  4. (Reprint of my comment in the Slate’s Fray)

    It is “just one instance of the growing practice of shifting the burden of labor to the consumer-gas stations, grocery and drug stores, bagel shops (why should I put on my own cream cheese?), airline check-ins, parking lots.”

    When Congress or the States raise the minimum wage higher than the market rate for unskilled labor, another burden of labor is shifted to the consumer.

    Raising the minumum wage is what removed the “Service” from Service Stations (gas stations for those of you under 30.)
    Maybe you don’t mind pumping your own gas, checking your own oil, or even filling your own cup with ice and cola, but think about the pimply faced teenagers who have a harder time now finding their first entry-level job.

    This economic analysis is beyond the understanding of liberal professors like Fish. The world has changed and he doesn’t have a clue that he is part of the problem.

  5. “Raising the minumum wage is what removed the ‘Service’ from Service Stations”

    Nice try. Except in New Jersey, where they have the cheapest gas in the nation. Close refineries, sure, but your minimum wage argument isn’t helped when the station owner is also the main employee.

    There are several “full service” gas stations in Pinellas County, FL, that charge the same for service or self-service. I have never had those unskilled, pimply-faced idiots anywhere near my car. FWIW.

  6. Full service gas stations are for old people

  7. Minumum wage must’ve done in the barber shop quartet, too.

  8. Wow! That one was off the Snark-O-Meter! Is this guy an H&R regular? I wish all columns were written like that.

  9. It is comical how late this gentleman noticed Starbucks. I must add that I too prefer the diner atmosphere and don’t mind leaving a tip in exchange for having them bring me a coffee and some breakfast item. I don’t like going to Starbucks for similar reasons that he doesn’t like it… but it’s old news. Most of the time I’m getting my coffee and going elsewhere. Or if it’s mid-day, it’s rude to go into a diner and occupy a table just to drink coffee at it when the waitress could have a larger table of lunchers (though, I guess you could sit at the counter). And as for adding cream and sugar yourself, what I wouldn’t give for DuDo’s to have do-it-yourself creamer. Yes, I would like some coffee with my cream, thanks.

  10. The problem with the op-ed (not mentioned by Rosenbaum) is that it is baloney.

    If you want regular old coffee at starbucks, it’s less than $2 and you don’t need to bother with all the extra stuff. And it comes straightaway – the cashier pours it rather than having to wait for a barista. And the old-style coffee shops are still around if that’s what he really wants. And even at the old style places they don’t put in the cream and the sugar for you. And the reason they don’t (the same reason bagel places don’t put on the cream cheese) is because people like it the way they like it so its better to let them customize it themselves.

  11. “You may have one or two people in front of you who are ordering a drink with more parts than an internal combustion engine.”

    Yeah, that attitude annoys me. So I like iced mochas. So it does taste like a milkshake. Fuck off.

    Imagine, a man of his distinction, forced to “put on my own cream cheese.” Why is there no one to do it for him?

    If that Professor Fish is wearing cream cheese, then he has bigger problems than where to find someone to do it for him.

  12. “The problem with the op-ed (not mentioned by Rosenbaum)…”

    Rosenbaum doesn’t care about setting the old man straight. He just wants to up his readership by being a complete ass to an out-of-touch old man.

    Rosenbaum’s next article, “Hey Old Lady, Your So Slow, You Suck”

  13. Seems like the NYT and Slate are hard up for content.

  14. Okay, and H&R, too.

  15. Seems like the NYT and Slate are hard up for content.

    Some editor at the NYT had to be laughing his ass off when he read that. I can’t believe they published it.

  16. Smugly mocking the smug mockings of a pretentious old man is just dandy. Turnabout is fair play.

    It reminds me of a chat I had with an elderly Brahmin man in the Kolkata airport. He shifted the discussion to the Caste System (as I a guest I’d have never brought it up), and after making it clear that he thought it was awful, he said something incredibly telling:

    Well, the origins of the caste system make sense, really. Back in those days, with the poor sanitation, you wouldn’t want the people who cook your food to be cleaning your toilets, too.

    The telling thing is the assumption that someone should always be making his food and cleaning his toilets. People like Fish have a remarkably similar outlook.

  17. Rosenbaum doesn’t care about setting the old man straight. He just wants to up his readership by being a complete ass to an out-of-touch old man.

    Rosenbaum’s next article, “Hey Old Lady, Your So Slow, You Suck”

    Careful Lamar. I’d probably read that one too. And like it.

  18. By the way, Tom Robbins made fun of Starbucks and its faux sophistication way back in 1990 in Skinny Legs and All. Ha ha, you missed it Rosenbaum, you onerous prick, you missed it, ha ha ha ha ha. Stupid writer.

    That’s kind of the point. It’s one thing to make fun of Starbucks’ faux sophistication back when it was relatively new. 1990 was almost two decades ago. Part of what Rosenbaum is making fun of is how out of touch he sounds. It would be like somebody writing a story saying, “What’s with this internet thing and why does it make a screeching noise on my phone?” or “What is with these people with mobile phones the size of a cinder block?”

  19. smacky,

    You’re in denial. It is a milkshake. My wife found out that the blackberry green-tea frappuccino has a whopping 800 calories in it. That’s worse that a milkshake. I like the “green tea” part–makes it look healthy.

  20. Mo –
    Did you know that people now have email accounts that they can access from ANY computer?
    😉

  21. Pro Libertate,

    No, I’m not in denial — it is worse than a milkshake in many ways. No coffee drink could ever be better than ice cream.

  22. My wife found out that the blackberry green-tea frappuccino has a whopping 800 calories in it.

    Are you sure? A double-quarter pounder with cheese has 800 calories. Wait – never mind – I looked it up and a large Tazo Green Tea Frappuccino has 650 calories so that’s close enough.

    While in downtown Seattle I saw a punchline to a joke in real life: a Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks. You don’t even have to bother with the mild annoyance of crosswalks to get your coffee in Seattle.

  23. Heathens, the lot of ye, to mock a warning from one of our great elders. Wherein an ancient Professor meeteth three Gallants bidden to a coffee-shop, and detaineth one.

    It is an ancient Professor,
    And he stoppeth one of three.
    ‘By thy long beard and glittering eye,
    Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?

    The Starbucks’ doors are opened wide,
    And I am next in lin;
    The java’s hot, the scones are not:
    May’st hear the merry din.’

  24. Lamar, why are you defending an elitist prick like Fish? He’d be the first person to have the government regulate your non-elite ass.

    I think the bigger question, however, is who the fuck at the NYT thought this was a good op-ed to print? It can’t be that they are just as out of touch as Fish. Can it?

  25. Lamar, you do realize that the reason NJ has the cheapest gas in the nation is almost entirely due to its low gas taxes, right? And that the reason all NJ gas stations are full serve is not because of the munificence of the station owners, but that self-serve is prohibited by state law?

  26. Rosenbaum doesn’t care about setting the old man straight. He just wants to up his readership by being a complete ass to an out-of-touch old man.

    Aaaawww. Poor out of touch old man! So powerless! He’s forced to write for the New York Times to support his career!

    Lighten up, Lamar. Stanley Fish deserved the smack down. Plus, an ass or not, Rosenbaum was hilarious.

  27. While in downtown Seattle I saw a punchline to a joke in real life: a Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks.

    Same here in Houston, inspiration for Louis Black’s infamous rant.

  28. “Lamar, why are you defending an elitist prick like Fish? He’d be the first person to have the government regulate your non-elite ass.”

    Who are you calling non-elite? I’m so overeducated, my books take valium.

    cgee: Uh, yeah. (1) I know the law in NJ requires full service, (2) which in itself is kind of a tax, and (3) they have low gas prices because they have low taxes (but not the lowest) and are closer to refineries. So, when you say that it has the lowest prices due to the low taxes and yet it doesn’t have the lowest taxes, there is a disconnect. The point, unrefuted yet, is that full service didn’t go away because of minimum wage. It went away because it is stupid and wasteful unless you’re old.

    I didn’t really mean to defend Fish, I usually just pass such stupid articles by. However, Rosenbaum, in some triple-reverse-pseudo-faux irony, was an out of touch asshole about an out of touch asshole. In the end, it was just mean. I’m glad you all got some schadenfreude from it.

    I just thought (words to live by folks): Being an asshole to an asshole doesn’t make one not an asshole.

  29. And now Max Roach is dead. Maybe Rosenbaum can write an article about how jazz drummers are the worst people in the world.

  30. But the car insurance in New Jersey…my goodness!

  31. The point, unrefuted yet, is that full service didn’t go away because of minimum wage. It went away because it is stupid and wasteful unless you’re old.

    There’s probably an analogy to be drawn here to airlines. When airlines were regulated, they provided lavish service because (1) only the very well-off could afford to fly and (2) the extra service helped “justify” the artificially high ticket prices. After deregulation, prices came down, and vastly more people could afford to fly, and did. The incentives for all of that extra service and larger seating spaces disappeared.

    Somewhat similarly, as automobiles became more and more ubiquitous, and not just something the more well-off could afford, full service gas stations started to disappear. Lower middle class and poor people just aren’t going to pay for it, either through higher prices for full service by itself or higher prices in general at gas stations that don’t charge more for full service.

  32. smacky,

    No doubt. We bought an ice cream maker a few weeks ago, and it’s awesome. One of these days, I plan to attempt Emeril’s Drunken Monkey ice cream (banana ice cream with rum), which was fantastic when I had it at his restaurant in Orlando. It looks a bit challenging, so we’ll have to practice on lesser ice creams until then.

  33. “Rosenbaum doesn’t care about setting the old man straight. He just wants to up his readership by being a complete ass to an out-of-touch old man.

    Rosenbaum’s next article, “Hey Old Lady, Your So Slow, You Suck”

    Talk about an overreaction; please spare us the faux indignation. And I highly doubt Mr. Rosenbaum would write an article in which the title has an incorrect spelling of the word you’re.

  34. jazz drummers aren’t the worst people in the world?

    man i miss all the good memos.

    “No coffee drink could ever be better than ice cream.”

    bah
    dunkin
    donuts
    turbo
    ice
    for
    the
    win

    holy shit if you’re like me and view caffine as a recreational drug of tremendous heft and awesome legality, rather than something people drink in the morning, then the turbo ice is your fucking jam.

    plus it’s only like 180 calories for a big one, though you will need some sugar since it is basically jet fuel with ice in it. which is a small price to pay to see through the lie of unidimensional time, frankly.

    it’s enough to forgive using they might be giants as the theme music (not so sure about rachel ray, despite the banging mommy ass she’s sporting these days…)

  35. The Times will run prettymuch anything identifying some hot new trend, regardless of whether in fact the trend is new, hot, or actually a trend. Witness their article on “the freegan movement“, where a couple of interviews and a “freegan” website prove it’s newsworthy that a bunch of people only eat free food.

  36. Lincoln–

    What’s even funnier is that, here in Seattle, the locals generally don’t go to Starbucks. Each of has his own favorite local espresso place, and each of us is convinced that ours is the best in town.

  37. My wife found out that the blackberry green-tea frappuccino has a whopping 800 calories in it. That’s worse that a milkshake.

    Only wimpy milkshakes. Good ones have more! 😀

  38. I’ve never understood the yankee inability to put their own cream and sugar in their own goddam coffee.

  39. Eric the .5b,

    True. See the recipe that I linked to above. It’s got to have one brazilian calories, and that’s without the whole milk and chocolate syrup tossed in.

  40. I thought that the real driver of the death of full-service gas stations is turnover.

    It’s simply faster to have the customer pump their own gas. It’s faster to have them swipe their own card, too, rather than bringing it to the cashier.

    The giant “superstation” that sells gas at 15 pumps and has an attached convenience store and Dunkin’ Donuts just really isn’t a very efficient setup if it’s a full service station.

  41. “Talk about an overreaction”

    Bopo: My comments or Rosenbaum’s article? It could apply to both. And mine isn’t faux indignation. Our society lives off of the failure of others. It’s disgusting, but all too pervasive.

    “I’ve never understood the yankee inability to put their own cream and sugar in their own goddam coffee.”

    Milk. Never cream. I moved back down south and I’d forgotten how disgusting cream is. Still, can’t answer why we never put our own milk and sugar in coffee.

    Fluffy: excellent point. I hadn’t thought of that.

  42. I should don my professorial air and write a column about getting a burrito at Chipotle or Qdoba.

    “When I was a kid, I went to Taco Bell, and you just ordered a burrito from a list: Bean or beef. Now, they assemble it in front of you. What is ‘pico de gallo’? Is it Gallic? And I have to ponder whether cheese will go well with the pork. It’s so confusing. And I’m in this line with other people getting their burritos assembled, and I realize that we’re sharing this communal experience of watching a process that used to be discretely kept in a kitchen, while the customers could stand and chat as we waited for our food to be brought to the counter.”

    Now I just need a tweed jacket.

  43. When Congress or the States raise the minimum wage higher than the market rate for unskilled labor, another burden of labor is shifted to the consumer.

    Raising the minumum wage is what removed the “Service” from Service Stations (gas stations for those of you under 30.)
    Maybe you don’t mind pumping your own gas, checking your own oil, or even filling your own cup with ice and cola, but think about the pimply faced teenagers who have a harder time now finding their first entry-level job.

    This economic analysis is beyond the understanding of liberal professors like Fish. The world has changed and he doesn’t have a clue that he is part of the problem.
    Oh for God’s sake, the goverment isn’t to blame for every problem in your life. Talking like this is why everybody thinks that liberterians are insane.

    Of course, we know that professor Fish is being ironic here. Some might say condescendingly so
    In high school, me and my friends thought up of a villian called “the tripple irony killer” who kills people who uses more than three levels of irony. I’m just saying you better watch yourself, Rosenbaum.

  44. As an ignorant academic who never leaves my office, I had always wondered about those Starbucks places. Now that I know it’s a trend, I can go back to ignoring them.

    Thanks New York Times!

  45. Haint we been dere, done dat?

  46. Talking like this is why everybody thinks that liberterians are insane.

    It’s a crazy world where speaking simple truths get you branded as insane.

  47. So I wouldn’t sound like a jackass if I where to say that punk music is dead because of the federal reserve, and that the reason nobody opens doors for ladies anymore is because of price ceilings?
    Old systems and ways of selling things change, it’s not the goverment’s fault.

  48. Jonathan,

    It is denying that a correlation can be shown between the 109.38% rise in the Fed Min ($1.60 to $3.35, from 1973 to 1982) and the loss of service station attendant job during that same time frame, that makes you sound like a jackass.

    In my own state of Washington in the last decade, I saw soda pouring jobs in restaurants disappear as the minimum wage rose over 50% (from $5.15 to $7.63.)

    Look around, there are numerous examples.

  49. Now I just need a tweed jacket.

    You don’t already have one?

  50. NoStar: Your theory doesn’t even jibe with the subject of the article: Starbucks. They make coffee and they are flourishing. People change. They don’t want soda jerkers, they want baristas.

    Moreover, today’s cars are both more reliable, dissimilar and complex. As such, you don’t have to check your oil at every fillup, and god forbid some pimply faced teen tops it off with the wrong fluids. By contrast, the Jiffy Lubes of the world have taken over where your service station attendant used to provide service. I’m not letting Johnny Minimum Wage anywhere near my G35.

    Plus, it’s more profitable to run a convenience store attached to a gas station.

    You don’t see many auto mechanics attached to gas stations either, but nobody argues that it is because of minimum wage. Simply put, changing times have made that business model obsolete.

  51. Pro Libertate,

    I saw your Drunken Monkey ice cream recipe over at Urkobold…oh yes, I recognize it all right. The recipe is food porn if I ever saw it.

  52. Lamar,
    Fish, as an aside, commented on the do-it-yourself level of service and that is what got me started.

    It is not changing times that make business models obsolete. It is changes in conditions over time. One of the major changes is a legally mandated minimum wage.

    As the changes occur, some are hurt and some benefit. Those that like free refills on their carbonated flavored sugar water benefit from Taco Bell handing their customers a cup and pointing them to the soda dispenser. But there is now one less job for an entry level worker for every shift, at every store.

  53. While in downtown Seattle I saw a punchline to a joke in real life: a Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks. You don’t even have to bother with the mild annoyance of crosswalks to get your coffee in Seattle.

    That is not even high density in Seattle.
    My office at the UW is on an intersection with a starbucks, a cafe, a coffee shop, “Seattle’s original espresso stand, and on the alley a high end barista establishment, a gyro shop with Arabic coffee… all within a block of more of the same. If you have to walk an entire block for coffee in Seattle, you are a chump.

  54. “One of the major changes is a legally mandated minimum wage.”

    And some of the other changes are:

    Cars don’t require such service anymore,
    Convenience stores are more profitable,
    Liability argues against fiddling with people’s cars,
    Cars aren’t as simple or similar to each other any more,
    People want lowest possible cost and an employee, even subminimum wage, adds to cost.

    I could go on, but you’ve made up your mind.

  55. Lamar,
    Those things you mention are true, although cars requiring less maintainance didn’t occur until after the 1980’s. Scheduled services were pretty much the same for my 57 Fairlaine and my 1973 Pinto.

    I’ve haven’t argued that a minimum wage that double in 7 years was the ONLY factor in losing gas pumper jobs, only that it was a major factor.

  56. Ain’t it strange tho? People gladly put a dollar or two into the cup of a barrista who mixes milk, sugar and coffee. Why won’t we tip a guy a buck for filling up our tank and checking our oil?

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