It’s hard to argue against the relationship between coffee and gentrification. Sharon Zukin, for example, writes about ‘pacification by cappuccino‘ and my new neighbor Andrew Papachristos writes about the interrelationship between crime and coffee. I’ll just say this for now: The Blue Bottle’s Kyoto style cold-brewed chemistry set of a machine made me come back five times in four days. I groveled to get my last cup before I headed out of town.
Tangentially (although coffeeshop-related), there is something to be said for catching a good museum exhibit. In my case, coming early to the ASA, I made it to a Robert Frank exhibit at the SfMoMA. Four rooms were dedicated to the four sections of The Americans. (Read Anthony Lane’s writeup here.) It was an incredible experience, and the narrative became overwhelming, if a little forced by the placards. I use RF via Howard Becker’s Telling About Society for my Media and Technology class, as his work is clearly sociological. He writes:
Robert Frank’s (…) enormously influential The Americans is in ways reminiscent both of Tocqueville‘s analysis of American institutions and of the analysis of cultural themes by Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict. Frank presents photographs made in scattered places around the country, returning again and again to such themes as the flag, the automobile, race, restaurants—eventually turning those artifacts, by the weight of the associations in which he embeds them, into profound and meaningful symbols of American culture.
Update: A nice review of the 50 year anniversary of The Americans is here.