Politico Magazine: Derek Robertson- ‘How Howard Schultz Created a Personality Cult at Starbucks’

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Source:Politico Magazine– Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

Source:The Daily Review 

I’m not interested in Howard Schultz’s so-called potential independent presidential run at least for this piece, but more interested in what he created not just with Starbucks, but the broader pop culture in America. Starbucks, really since the late 1990s or so is not just just a coffee house, but it’s a fashion statement and status update. Americans, especially yuppies and hipsters not just like Starbucks coffee, but feel the need to be seen liking that coffee and feel the need to have everyone know that they like that coffee and go to if not Starbucks on a regular basis, perhaps some other popular coffee house in their community.

Starbucks cups are not just coffee cups, but their fashion statements. Hipsters and yuppies feel the need to not just walk down the street holding their Starbucks cup or another coffee house cup, even if their cup is empty, but feel the need to be seen either on their phone or looking at their phone, even if they’re not actually speaking to anyone or don’t have any latest texts or voice mails that they haven’t seen or listen to yet, while holding their coffee house cup at the same time.

Coffee house coffee whether it’s Starbucks or any other coffee, is to America and American pop culture, what tobacco was in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s before Americans figured out how addicting and how bad tobacco was for you. Except coffee house coffee and coffee you get at your local bakery or on the street, is a helluva lot better for you than tobacco and alcohol even. So you have a lot of hipsters and yuppies in America who know it’s not only cool to drink and be seen with coffee house coffee, but it’s not nearly as bad for you as tobacco or alcohol.

Starbucks, is not just a coffee house, but like with new technology especially smart phones they’re ways of living. It’s a way of life for them and way for people to be popular. “Look at Joe and Mary, they not only have the latest smartphone that just came out an hour ago, but they’re in touch with the latest celebrity news stories and scandals, addicted to reality TV, and are addicted to Starbucks coffee and coffee houses as much as we are. Even know every single Starbucks drink by heart. They must be as awesome as we are.” Which is how Starbucks customers, hipsters, and yuppies want to be seen. And Howard Schultz, is a big reason for this coffee house culture that we’ve been living with in America for the last 20 years or so. Whether he deserves credit or blame for that, I’ll let be the judge.

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Source:60 Minutes: Scott Pelley- Howard Schultz: When He Was Starbuck’s Star– Howard Schultz, before he was a narcissistic wannabe politician
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The Atlantic: Derek Thompson- What Makes Things Cool?

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Source: The Atlantic Magazine– Hum, maybe the word should be awesome, now?

Source: The Daily Review

What makes things cool? A very good question especially since America is such a trendy what’s hot now and cool society where everyone who wants to be cool seems to follow whatever the latest trend is even if they look ridiculous, (like wearing cowboy boots and running shorts with a mink coat) talking or looking like that, or could feel like they’re dying when they try to drink the latest drink or eat the latest dish.

Americans by enlarge and there some exceptions of people who have a healthy degree of self-confidence and are very comfortable being themselves even if their best friends are following their favorite celebrities like cult followers follow their leaders. And even with some Americans who are simply cool, because they are themselves even if that makes them different, but by enlarge feel the need to be like everyone else who is considered cool at the time.

With Jim Morrison of The Doors from the late 1960s being a perfect example of an exception to this rule. Marilyn Monroe from the 1950s would be another great example of that. Sean Connery at any point of his career has always been Mr. Cool, or is that Steve McQueen, but both of these men were always themselves. With the personal attributes, looks, intelligence, charm, humor. These two men were always themselves and if anything drove other men to be like them. Instead of these two guys trying to be like some other hot celebrity of that time.

Pop culture and what’s seen as cool drives Americans more than just about anything else. We have a lot of Americans especially young Americans who rather be seen as stupid, instead of intelligent and willing to step out on the ledge (in pop culture, not in actuality) and risk not looking and sounding cool. And young adults and even teenagers if they’re into something, than people who are just older than them and even much older than them try to get into the same things. And what drives young people today in pop culture is new technology, because it makes their lives much easier and the ability to communicate so much easier than it was even more my Generation X when I was growing up in the 1980s and early 1990s. And the other thing being celebrity culture including talentless celebrities whose only ability has to do with cursing people out and expressing deep anger in public.

Derek Thompson in his video gives you the more scientific explanation of why things are cool and things become trends. But when it comes to Americans it’s about trends and faddism. What are the cool people doing meaning the popular people in pop culture and that is who people who are not famous, but perhaps want to be or just want to be part of the cool and party scene in their local community and where they work and so-forth.

And most pop culture today has to do with new technology and people feeling this need that they may die if they don’t get the latest iPhone the day that it comes out, watch the last episode of their favorite reality show or drama on cable, or what have you. And keeping up with the pop culture tends and having this feeling of coolness and being in is what drives the happiness of a lot of Americans. Way too many from my point of view.

The Atlantic: Derek Thompson- What Makes Things Cool?

POLITICO Magazine: Jesse Rifkin- Paul Ryan and The Long History of Political Beards

Paul Ryan

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review: POLITICO Magazine: Jesse Rifkin- Paul Ryan and The Long History of Political Beards

When I first saw new Speaker of The House Paul Ryan and his new beard I guess a week ago, I thought, ‘great, here’s another political faker wannabe. Someone who wants to fit in with the Millennial hipsters, or whoever else. And will follow whatever the current cool fad is.’ To be honest with you, I doubt he’s still wearing that beard a month from now. Sure! It will keep his face warm when he goes back to freezing Wisconsin and perhaps help him get through another disappointing Green Bay Packers playoff loss.

But he’s got to deal with both Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and to a certain extent House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, when she needs to him to bail him out on things like getting votes on things that the House Tea Party doesn’t believe in. Like paying for government, to use as an example. And paying our debts, which is really what the debt ceiling is about. Officially acknowledging that you have a government debt. He’s got to deal with people who are never afraid to crack a joke. Especially when they know that person can’t hurt them or fire them.

All of these leader’s all have quick-wits and sense of humors and he’s friendly with all of them. which could kill him with the Tea Party. The next handshake with President Obama, could cost Speaker Ryan his speakership. Senator Robert Bennet, who at the time at least was one of the most conservative members of Congress, lost his Senate seat in a Republican primary in 2010. Because he was caught shaking hands with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden. They’re all going to take shots at his beard, at least in private. And with Mitch McConnell, those shots might actually come from a gun. He’s from Guntucky after all.

I believe one of the things that Paul Ryan has going for him is that he comes off as real and as someone who Joe and Mary Average can relate to. He comes from an Midwestern Irish-Catholic background, who needed student loans to get through college. Whose had a government job most of his working life. This is not someone who comes off as being better than everyone else who feels he has something to prove. He’s someone who has worked very hard to get where he is, because he’s had to.

Unlike, gee I don’t know, just throwing out a name here, but try George W. Bush. Just to use as an example. And the Speaker’s beard to me as it does for a lot of guys who aren’t lumberjacks, or rednecks, or bikers, or cowboys, headbangers, football players, it just looks phony to me. And someone who looks like they want to be someone else. Paul Ryan, should be Paul Ryan. A very bright Irish-Catholic guy from Wisconsin whose gotten to the highest point in Congress by being Paul Ryan. Not by trying to convince people he’s someone other than Paul Ryan.