I've now seen Lawrence Durrell's Tree of Idleness in Northern Cyprus,
and DH Lawrence's epic Tree in Taos, NM.
Modernist trees I have known.
Bitter lemons and creosote. Blasted landscapes.
The fires in the surrounding hills creep closer, curling over the lip of the bowl and flooding the valley with smoke. Something has changed -- it's not just dead trees burning, but trash, detritus, and, soon, our homes. There was an unmanned fire engine parked down the street, couchant.
I woke up this morning and stepped outside and it smelled like winter in Afghanistan, when all the poor furiously burn anything at hand to stave off dry, freezing, winter winds that rip through and kill people where they huddle.
This feels like a metaphor; it doesn't have to be. This feel likes a portent; it doesn't have to be.
On NPR's Marketplace this morning, there was an interview with Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz. He was explaining how the megacorporation was moving laterally into media and content production. What was missing, out of the gate of this interview, was the fact that Schultz pushed hard (way back when I worked for Starbucks myself) to create Joe Magazine, dedicated to coffee and talking point. And he seems to forget that he once pushed baristas to have uncomfortable conversations with customers about race. So Schultz doesn't have a great track record of "starting conversations," as he claims his new media outlet will do.
Nobody remembers Joe magazine. For good reason. It was glossy and relatively contentless. It was linked to the brand, even as the company insisted it was quasi-autonomous.
But what does it mean, that Starbucks is pushing (back) into content production? Schultz stresses that the new magazine will be largely digital (because Web whatever-point-whatever) and not linked to the brand in any explicit ways. It is to be full of "inspirational" stories of "ordinary Americans." (So it isn't any different from hosts of similar media making similar claims.) So why would Starbucks do it?