My Oil Addiction

Odd thing happened last night. I was at a play here in the city, and we got there early. Some people we knew were involved in the production of the play, and we were chatting. We decided to nip out for a hot cup of coffee while we waited for the curtain to rise.

I asked where the nearest cup might be found. Starbucks was proposed, and I politely asked for another suggestion. (I am ambivalent about Starbucks. I think that their policy of extending benefits to part-time employees amounts to a private-sector solution to the problem of masses of artists, musicians, writers, choreographers and other creative persons with no health insurance. On the other hand, I find their coffee a little expensive to be so mediocre and their empire vaguely frightening.)

I was mulling over Kalle Lasn’s reality when someone suggested the Caribou Coffee down the corner. Just as quickly, someone else said “Oh, I don’t know about Caribou. I heard that they support Hamas.” My own personal feelings about the civil war in the West Bank notwithstanding, I thought that was the most sublimely ridiculous thing that I had heard in quite some time. Before I could stop myself, I blurted, “Well, for that matter, so does anyone that drives a car.”

Silence. Lots of it.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and at the time, my mouth was entirely empty, perhaps craving my foot, perhaps not. So I charged ahead and said “I mean, if Iraq’s primary export was broccoli, we’d never know Saddam Hussein’s name.” (This is a paraphrase of a letter to Harper’s Magazine from a Mr. Chris Ronk of Brooklyn, NY.) “You want to know who pays for flight school for Al Quaeda operatives? We did. To be more precise, the money we spent on crude oil did. SO, how many of you took the bus to be here? Anybody ride a bike? Walk?”

Of course everyone had driven their cars there. We’re Americans, ferchrissakes, we drive EVERYWHERE.

But this did not endear me to present company. And I felt foolish for having had the bad taste to indiscreetly turn someone’s pointed finger back on themselves. I don’t think that I am going to be invited to their next cocktail party…

But I stand by my point. I saw someone putting a sticker on the back of someone else’s Hummer the last time I was in NYC, and the sticker said “My Addiction to Oil Funds Middle East Terror.”

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