Monday, June 18, 2007

philip times column one

Where I live now in West Hollywood, just above Little Ethiopia, there is a Starbucks every two blocks it seems. They have reached such a saturation point that they will soon have to start opening Starbucks inside the toilets of the bigger Starbucks.

The other oddly ubiquitous business here is the psychic. “Walk ins welcome, Chakras Cleansed, Karma changed, fortunes told, career advice, loved ones returned.” There seem to be more psychics per square inch than anywhere else I have ever lived. I suppose it’s a reflection of the uncertainty of the business and the flakiness of the people.

My mother grew up in Rutherglen and they had a neighbour who would come in and read the tea leaves for them. You drank your tea then swirled around the dregs into some kind of shape that she could read.

I’m not sure how accurate she was but seemingly she always started off the reading the same way no matter who it was. She would look down into the cup and then into the face of the person and with all the solemenity of an Aztec priest would state , “Sometimes you’re happy and sometimes you’re no !” This would have whoever was getting the reading nodding furiously at her uncanny accuracy.

Like so many her job fell victim to new technology when the tea bag came along and did away with the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup. At first she hoped it was just a fad. Who saw that coming?

It reminds me of the story of the tabloid editor who called up the Mystic Meg on his newspaper, and told her, as you will no doubt have foreseen, your services are no longer required.

The Scots are hard to avoid in America, there is Carnegie, who came here with nothing, made a fortune in steel then gave most of it away, endowing, among other things Rutherglen library. Eleven presidents were of Scots ancestry, there are eight Edinburghs here but only seven Glasgows.

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