Thursday, January 17, 2008

When grocery stores and Presidential politics collide

Yesterday was a big day in little old Napa. We had the long-awaited opening of Whole Foods, and Bill Clinton was in town. I made the scene at both events, and personally speaking, the former was more exciting than the latter.

It's Whole Foods 25th store in California, and it's been a long time coming. For years there have been stores in towns 25, 30, 40 miles away, and Napa had yet to feel the love and was developing an inferiority complex. (For those who aren't acquainted, Whole Foods is like a Wal Mart Super Center for patchouli-soaked people who wear Birkenstocks AND for tennis-playing second wives who drive a Lexus. Kind of a big deal.) So apparently we finally got the hippie-yuppie balance just right now, enough to bring the WF circus to town, and a foodie frenzy is underway. This new store is gigantic - a combination drug store, grocery store, wine shop, bakery, cafe, deli, coffee shop, even a music section. There's probably some aisle in there that has medicinal marijuana, sexual aids, and laser surgery while you wait. Not exactly a category killer, but that giant sucking sound you hear is money flying out of the pockets of two dozen other Napa stores. It will be interesting to see what competitors close first.

Meanwhile, old Bubba Clinton made a stop at the Napa Valley Opera House to rally the local Dems. I had to see what the crowd was like, and see if there were any protesters and what not, so I ankled on over there in a semi-work mode. I got the lowdown from the cops as to where the motorcade would go, and found a good spot to stand. After the suspect exited the vehicle and started working the crowd, I found myself face to face with him and he extended his hand. With the thought "Probably shouldn't touch that, you don't know where it's been," we shook. It was a dry, calm handshake, not what I would call firm, but no dead fish. The handshake of a man who has had millions of opportunities to perfect his technique. He looked fit but tired, and has that becoming-transparent skin that old people get.

The crowd was flat out enraptured by Bill. (In the photo you can see four Secret Service guys, protecting him from excessive adulation.) I have never seen in him what others have seen. Yes, he's smart, he's sorta hip in an old guy way now, he's a communicator - but for me he was always about doing whatever it takes to get elected, and I don't really know what he did with that power that changed my life for the better. Yes, the economy was good in the 90s, but President's don't really have all that much to do with what happens in the economy, as much as they would like to make you think they do. I do know that today Clinton looks like Churchill in comparison with Bush, even for those who did not like Bill in office. It's like the Clinton Presidency was annoying; a splinter in your finger and a hint of infection - but the Bush Presidency has been a calamity; shoots of bamboo shoved up under every nail.

With our primary on Feb. 5, California actually matters this time around, so we will probably see a lot of stumping for the next 3 weeks.

Oh, and the protesters? Didn't really see any, but there were 3 or 4 guys walking around in complete silence holding up "Ron Paul" placards. They all had looks of smug superiority. I guess that's the look you get when your guy is destined to come in 8th place in every contest? The whole Ron Paul thing needs some further examination. More later. Got to go stock up on organic something-or-other and farm-fresh locally-grown this-and-that.


DodgerScott said...

What is going on with that guy's shirt? Are they quails? You have got to be kidding me. Hahahaha!

Does this mean you're done with Trader Joe's?

Barry Martin said...

Why, yes, I believe that man is wearing a shirt covered in some sort of colorful quail design. How charming. And if he were a Republican, they would be...dead quails? Dan Quayles?

No, I will never lose my love for TJ's. They are still tops for affordability. But WF makes me want to be a better man.