Austin Outer Limits

Been out of town for a few days . . . we were down in Austin, TX for a wedding. A wonderful time, great friends, a really fun town.

One of the things we did during our off-hours was visit the Whole Foods Market there in Austin. I understand that it is a mongo-big chain, but that the original was the one we visited. Now I am going to give a mixed review here. On the positive side, this was a grocery store on stilts and steroids. You name it, and if it wasn’t Diet Pepsi and Doritos, it was probably there, and three times as expensive. This was a really impressive store. I had the same kind of sensation that a hobo would have had wandering into a Lexus dealership. Wandering through that store, it was undeniable that Americans are filthy, stinking rich. The place was decadent, Babylonian, up-scale, a pandemonium of really expensive stuff. But it wasn’t the same ethos of rich that you find in the cigar magazines, or in the luxury car market.

No, and here comes the only criticism I would have of this place. This was a store for rich people who are in denial. They are unwilling to admit that they are rich. They buy free-range chicken, not because they are self-consciously imitating Marie Antoinette, or the CEO of Enron, but because they actually think they are showing solidarity with third world peasants. But poor people, to the extent that they get chicken at all, are likely to get it at KFC.

All those independent whole food coops for rich people out there — here is the bad news. Corporate America is coming to get you. The good news is that once your operation is assimilated, the pretense of authentic organicity is allowed to remain. You can park your Lexus in the parking garage below the store, and go upstairs to parcel out some injustice-free coffee beans for yourself, as many as you want. But don’t forget your platinum card.

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