Not Enough Five-Star Bricks-and-Mortar

In the November issue of Harper's, the title story, "Final Edition," by Richard Rodriguez, is about "the twilight of the American newspaper."  He makes a touching and saddening case that we are truly losing something important to our social fabric with the recent closure of so much daily print media in this country.  He is persuasive in arguing that a lot of the fault lies with the newspaper industry itself and the greedy corporate entities that run it.

However, one of the most compelling points is a paragraph toward the end of the article:

Something funny I have noticed, perhaps you
have noticed it, too. You know what futurists and
online-ists and cut-out-the-middle-man-ists and
Davos-ists and deconstructionists of every stripe
want for themselves? They want exactly what
they tell you you no longer need, you pathetic,
overweight, disembodied Kindle reader. They
want white linen tablecloths on trestle tables in
the middle of vineyards on soft blowy afternoons.
(You can click your bottle of wine online. Cheap-
er.) They want to go shopping on Saturday after-
noons on the Avenue Victor Hugo; they want
the pages of their New York Times all kind of
greasy from croissant crumbs and butter at a café
table in Aspen; they want to see their names in
hard copy in the “New Establishment” issue of
Vanity Fair; they want a nineteenth-century
bookshop; they want to see the plays in London,
they want to float down the Nile in a felucca;
they want five-star bricks and mortar and do not
disturb signs and views of the park. And in or-
der to reserve these things for themselves they
will plug up your eyes and your ears and your
mouth, and if they can figure out a way to pump
episodes of The Simpsons through the darkening
corridors of your brain as you expire (add to
shopping cart), they will do it.

Being someone who enjoys, when I can find them, the sort of little visceral luxuries of life that Rodriguez refers to here, the views of the park and the cafes and the sitting in a comfortable chair reading, yes, Harper's while drinking a latte and eating a scone, and being someone who in one corner of my brain rues the ever-increasing time I spend sitting in front of a computer screen, this resonates powerfully and it makes total sense. There aren't enough operahouses and french cafes in the world to entertain everyone, so the trick is to convince almost everyone that they would be better off hooked in and nursing from the electronic nipple, while the ruling class continues to enjoy their traditional "good life".