Frequently Asked Questions VIII

Links to FAQ I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII

How do you like the new space?
We like it.

Is that legal? 

What are we listening to?

Does the owner like White people? 
Why do you ask?

Why is he yelling at me?  
He’s not yelling at you.  He’s yelling above the sound of the blender.

Will owner teach a dance class?
Yes. He’ll teach Gangnam Style starting summer of 2016.

Christmas Gift Ideas
Which juicer should I get?

Why not the Green Star, the one you use?
Too hard to clean for most people. You’ll end up selling it to us for half the price you paid for it.

Which blender should I get?  

Why not the Vitamix, which is what you use?
Costs $150 more than the Blendtec.  The tamper that comes with Vitamix is important for commercial use, not so much for residential use. We’ll explain some other time.

Which cookbooks do you recommend?
On Food and Cooking: Science and Lore of the Kitchen.  No recipes or porn in this book, just the fundamentals you need to make your own recipes.

Speaking of porn, how’s the porn novel coming along?  
This question doesn’t belong in this section.

Future Plans
Any new projects planned?  
Yes.  Two bistros: Redneck Bistro and The Peasant and the Douchebag.

What will they serve?
Redneck Bistro will serve old school redneck cuisine: oxtail, pig’s feet, gizzards, moonshine, collard greens. We’re going to remind people that much of high end cuisine today has its roots in redneck culture.

The Peasant and the Douchebag will introduce diners to peasant food from around the world (eg. liver pate, congee) and contrast it with douchebag cuisine (eg. kobe beef burger).  We want Americans to think about their immigrant heritage.

When will they open?
Aiming to open one by January 2018. Need to stabilize the new businesses

Has owner considered a juice truck?
Yes, he expects one to be for sale within 2 years.  Not saying he’ll buy it.

If he were to buy it, where would it be located?
Near Premera Blue Cross campus in Mountlake Terrace Monday-Thursday, downtown Everett Fridays.

Can I complain about a bad experience with an employee?
Yes, but don’t embellish.  If you get caught making up shit, you’ll be placed on the shit list. If your story checks out, owner and employee apologize to you.

Has that ever happened?
Yes, many times.  Again, don’t embellish (and most people do).

Why won’t the owner return my call?
You didn’t identify yourself and the purpose of your call.  

Why did you fire her?  She’s so nice and sweet!
That’s your penis talking, not your head.

Why doesn’t anyone take my order?
You’re supposed to call out your order the moment you decide. Wait for confirmation, then relax.

Why does owner insist on doing it this way?  
It’s more efficient, saves on labor, keeps costs down. You can pay $1 if you want “better” (but slower) service.

When will the clothing store open?
Aiming for January 1st, 2016.  Still under construction.  Sorry sorry sorry…

Nyotaimori Dinner: “serving food on the female body”

Catered a 25 guest birthday party, serving the cold courses on a female body. Client wanted “dinner as transgressive art.” She proposed nyotaimori (serving food on female body).  My job was to decorate the body and feed mostly artsy guests with a memorable meal.



Not a mannequin. Chicken feet cover the nipples. Seaweed salad in savoy cabbage cup. Spicy black bean noodles in savoy cabbage cup. Clams litter the torso. Sprouted radish over genitalia.


Yellowtail sashimi on leg.

Nyomaitori Today
While Japanese in origin, Nyomaitori is most popular in Europe, rare in Japan, illegal in China, and growing in popularity in the US. Client didn’t know that Nyomaitori originated in Japan, she came up with idea on her own.  (So let’s not bring her into a discussion about Orientalism).


Cold courses:
Yellowtail sashimi w/wasabi soy dip
Noodles in spicy black bean sauce w/carrots, cucumber, and red caviar
Seaweed salad
Creminelli hand cured salami
Clams cooled in sesame and ginger broth
Burrata salad w/basil and tomato
Redneck juice drunken chicken liver pate.

Hot courses:
Beef tongue seared in olive oil and sea salt
Duck breast seared in mustard oil and sea salt
Mussels w/garlic, onion, tomato, and nearest bottle of booze marinara.  Olive baguette to dip.

Bacon milkshake w/red and black caviar sprinkles and bourbon.

Forgot to take photo of milkshake. Used flying fish roe.

Forgot to take photo of milkshake. Added above flying fish roe to milkshake for a hint of saltiness and snappy texture.

Guests cannot talk to the model/human platter as she needs to remain still so food doesn’t bounce up and down or off.  No poking and only those adept with chopsticks can take food off her body. No forks and knives.

Body temperature and the contours and taste of the body were considered while developing the menu and preparing and presenting the meal.For instance, the yellowtail sashimi was served colder than usual because the body temperature will heat it faster than usual. Sashimi was chosen because it drapes the legs nicely, won’t fall off easily.

A week prior to event, ph level of model’s sweat measured 5.2, which is mildly acidic. We wanted to infuse the sashimi with a certain flavor, so we had the model change her diet to increase ph level to around 7.0 and drink 12 oz. of whiskey each day to infuse the sashimi with a woody flavor.

After enough drinks, model was ready to be transformed into human platter. Didn’t want to overdecorate, kept it simple so food blended with body instead of overwhelming it.  The chicken feet fell off the breasts at first plating but managed to stay on (as garnish) when served because model was able to remain still. Everything else stayed on fine.  Guests were able to pick up sashimi with chopsticks without hurting the model.



Alive Juice Bar version 2.0

New space, new game, a lot more at stake.

Version 1.0 was a hole-in-a-wall and a story about survival. Version 2.0 was professionally built and is about exploring possibilities.  Here’s what customers can expect from 2.0.

*Better parking options
* More spacious, sensible, and comfortable customer environment
* Bar seating!
* Cleaner facilities
* Same big-city style service (in suburban location)
* Continued emphasis on space as “repression-free zone”tempered by Puritan discipline (moderation) and work ethic.  A home away from home.

The more professional look will attract a wider range of customers.  Which means there’ll be even more instances of culture clash that will hopefully result in both sides adapting to, rather than antagonizing (as was often the case when “wrong” person wandered into old location) each other.  It’s time for us to grow up, to transition out of the “enfant terrible” phase to building a more established stature.  I’ll know we’ve succeeded in doing so when I get hate-mail accusing me of selling-out.

Another notable feature of 2.0 is that it shares space with a dance studio and a clothing store.  The advantage of combining three businesses in one space is that it saves money: the larger the space, the less the cost per sf.  For instance, a 700 sf space in same complex costs 27/sf; the 3400 sf space we occupy costs 21/sf. To those concerned that nicer space means higher prices: we moved to this space to keep costs down.

This “mini-mall” approach also allows the 3 businesses the grow symbiotically. Let’s imagine the dance studio bringing in 100 students per day who would otherwise not step into the juice bar.  What if 20 of them purchase from the juice bar?  This is a similar set-up to what Century Ballroom and Tin Table have going: dance and then eat and drink, all in one space.

We’re excited about how 2.0 will turn out (always a work in progress).  The possibilities are inexhaustible!

Ordering Guidelines

To keep costs down. To prevent ridiculous and time-consuming Seattle style “no you go, no you go” arguments.


This sets the tone and gets a lot of Facebook shares. Well worth $200.

Lounge ARea

Better lighting, more spacious and comfortable.

Funny people

Are those smiles for real?

Buffet Station

Self-serve area.

Dance Studio

Dance studio.



Thirty More Rules I’ve Learned About Running a Business

Revised.  First 30 rules here.

31. Apologize quickly.  Apologies disarm. They don’t give people a chance to wonder if they were intentionally wronged. Apologies prevent disappointment from lingering or growing into anger.

32. Arguments don’t accomplish anything, they’re just used for venting. In arguments, it doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, most people don’t listen to each other.  That’s why arguments rarely end with someone changing their mind. Arguments end only when one or both parties are exhausted, not because they’ve reached an agreement. Don’t get into arguments with customers about the efficacy of this or that. It’s a waste of time to do so.

33. You deserve what you get.  When things aren’t going well, you deserve it. Never forget your total depravity, your Original Sin, and the sins of your ancestors.

34.  When things are going well, you got lucky.  Check your ego and narcissism at the door. Never ignore God’s grace.

35. Never mistake adulation for love. Love is earned, rarely given. The adulation will end the moment you’re not of use to anyone. “Those bastards can take everything away at anytime.”

35. Most people don’t read. (People like to pretend they do though).  Be succinct and use images when communicating with customers.

36. The wordier a person is, the less trustworthy and competent they are, and the more likely they’re full of shit and hiding something. The most competent people rarely use softeners when communicating.

37. There’s a lot of self-deception out there.  Don’t try to change it, just work around it.

38. Don’t fire employees, make them quit.  Less paperwork, less chance of lawsuit.  Don’t give the Ex a reason to be vindictive.

39. In matters of life and business, follow the heuristic: pick the answer that you think most people won’t pick. Put your faith in the Classics of social and political thought, not in cliches and banalities that come and go.

40. You wont’ survive if you don’t recognize and work with human nature.    The Classics are what they are because their take on human nature has been time tested.

41. Think of your business as a school and your employees as students. You’re responsible for your employee’s futures. Expel employees who don’t understand that work is time to learn and grow, not simply time to make money.  Focus on placing employees at top businesses, similar to how best schools aim to place their graduates at top colleges or graduate programs.  It’ll ultimately help you attract talent you need to make your business work.

42. Ideas are worthless. That’s why it’s ok to let others steal them. Back in the late 80s, analysts thought Starbucks was a dumb idea.  Analysts were wrong because they didn’t realize that the idea is irrelevant, it’s the force of character — Howard Schultz — behind an idea that matters. Invest in character, not in ideas.

43. The character necessary to make an idea worth something is based on a deep sense of insecurity AND superiority.  That combination makes confidence.

44. Choose a reality that will encourage you to not be lazy, envious, complacent, or arrogant. If a regular customer stops patronizing your business, don’t think it’s because they moved away.  Assume it’s because you did something to ruin the relationship, you didn’t meet their standards. I watched a restaurant I invested in collapse because owners chose the wrong reality.  They heard that some questioned their taste, so they attempted fine dining to prove them wrong.  It was a disaster.  It takes extraordinary effort and skill to pull off fine dining.  After collapse, they blamed Seattle for failure, claiming that “Seattle wasn’t ready for this kind of sophisticated dining, that it would work if it were in New York City.”  Bullshit, Seattle dining scene is very sophisticated.  The problem was that they weren’t sophisticated enough for Seattle.  Everyone saw that but them. They chose a reality that allowed them to blame others for their failure.  Which means they’ll never learn from their mistakes.

45. Don’t take investor money unless you’re certain they’ll make money. Be responsible and patient.

46.  Your competitor is not your enemy.  You need them for brand differentiation.  Without them, your customers will always wonder if there’s something better and take you for granted.  That’s why we encourage our customers to try other juice bars.

47. Your employees should fear you.  Otherwise they’ll take short cuts.

48. Your customers should fear you.  Otherwise they’ll take advantage of you.

49.  Most teachers in the humanities and soft sciences aren’t paid to have business sense or to recognize reality.  They mostly produce unemployable, bitter people who are dumb enough to believe that the owners of Walmart are willing to pay their CEO millions to do nothing.

50. Make friends with business owners.  They share your reality.  You’ll speak the same language.  Not only will hanging out with them be emotionally comforting, they’ll teach you something about human nature.

51. It’s ok to make generalizations about socially constructed groups. It’s important to recognize patterns of behavior among groups of people. It’s not ok to reduce an individual to a social identity. That’s dehumanizing.

52. Read about the lives and motivations of those at the pinnacle of your profession.  (Not saying you need to aim for that pinnacle).  They’re your mentors, follow their advice on how to manage staff and customers.

53. Be sure standards are set at level appropriate to your leadership skills and labor pool.  Don’ t try to be Thomas Keller if you’re not willing to put in effort to develop a staff that meets his standards.

54. Customer’s perception is your reality. Doesn’t matter if the perception is wrong.  That’s the reality you work with.

55. Sometimes the customer is wrong.  Don’t let them hurt themselves.

56. The product is secondary.  It’s more important to control perception of and expectations for the product.  For instance, Laughing Ladies Cafe closed because people were turned off by the owner, who has been described on Yelp as an “angry lesbian.”  Owner didn’t need to change her personality to make it work.  She just needed to change expectations by renaming cafe “Angry Ladies Cafe.”  It would’ve worked, just as Grouchy Chef, run by a grouchy chef, works.

57.  You can get away with being an asshole if you do everything else extremely well.  People are willing to put up with difficult personalities if they think they’re getting a great deal.  Like the Soup Nazi of NYC.  Or the Sushi Nazi of Nashville.  Or Grouchy Chef of Seattle. NONE of them act as they do because they think they can get away with it.  For instance, the Soup Nazi acts as he does out of care and responsibility — he understands that many of his customers have 30 minutes for lunch so he needs the line to move as quickly as possible.

58.  Fear, respect, love. In that order. Avoid spending time with those who don’t see it this way because they’ll fuck you over with their self-deception.

59. Create space and products that are both ahead of and behind its time.  People rarely live in the present, they live in the future and past because the present is often painful to them.  Give customers innocence and hope.  Create products that will remind them of childhood — simpler times — yet allow them to maintain their adulthood. For instance, our avocado milkshake tastes like a milkshake.  But it’s green in color, lactose free, and contains kale and collards.  It allows the customer to feel like a child and an adult.

60. Make people believe you’re crazy and capable of anything, including murder.  Have employees spread rumors about you once being charged with murder. Do something crazy but innocuous that gets the police involved.  Embellished version of story will travel fast.


Five Years Old

We’ve somehow made it to 5 years. Thanks to those who helped the business make it this far. I can’t believe some of you have put up with me for this long.  Thank you.

The Alive Juice Bar brand — its reputation, message, and style — is becoming better understood. But there’s still a lot of work to do.  We’re moving to a more spacious and sensible location. We’re continuing to evangelize the brand by adding two new businesses that will open this summer, a dance studio and a vintage clothing store.

The move and the two new businesses will mean some initial hardship, financially and emotionally.  My leadership skills will be tested and the financial stability of the businesses may be rocky at first. If we can get it done right, we can build a lifestyle company that’ll help us live more fulfilling and meaningful lives.

New projects for 2016 have been considered.  If all goes well, we can pursue them.  In the meantime, I ask for your prayers and patience as we begin new ventures.




Job Application for Manager vs. 1.0

Alive Juice Bar is expanding, moving to a new location and adding a dance studio and a vintage clothing store. Seeking lead manager — for the juice bar business — who understands human nature, can set tone and contexts, and change people’s attitudes and behaviors. Someone who sees the world for what it is, and not as what he or she prefers it to be. Put simply, someone who isn’t delusional. Help make us better as we adapt to a new environment.

This is America, so most people are delusional, it’s the new normal. Every FBI agent knows this to be true.   Some clues that you might be delusional:

* You enjoy sentimental and contrived novels like “Art of Racing in the Rain,” films like “Good Will Hunting.”

* You start sentences with, “I’m NOT angry,” “I’m NOT jealous,” “I’m NOT _____”.

* You frontload on social media, posting to convince yourself that nobody knows the miserable truths about your life that you’d rather not confront and fix.

* You realize that the more you post those fake smiles, the more people see the cracks.  But it’s like being addicted to heroin, you can’t stop.

* You mistake your kid’s need for your affirmation as love.

* You think of yourself as a loving person because you feel so much love for everyone

* You stop reading any material that challenges your beliefs and sense of self.

* You love reading anything that affirms and legitimizes your beliefs and sense of self.

* You attend church because you’re insecure and/or frontloading, not because you recognize your own depravity and seek a community that will help you resist temptations.

* You’ve tried to convince people that you love someone you can’t stand.

It’s ok if you’ve committed any of the above. Life is about learning from our mistakes. To apply, take our psychological assessment and social skills test.


Earthquake during math class! Big enough to topple bookshelves. Nobody is hurt, everyone is okay, just jittery. What do you, as teacher, do?
a) Stop class, act jittery and anxious because that’s how you feel.
b) Have students clean up mess and continue class as if nothing happened. Assign double amount of homework and quizzes for rest of the week.
c) Stop class, bring in school psychologist to discuss how everyone is handling the event and “post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Your kid brings home a B on a math test. What do you do?
a) congratulate him for the B
b) bitch slap him for getting a B because B is for Bitch
c) act quietly disappointed

What makes people change?
a) Fear
b) Love
c) Hate

Why don’t people change?
a) Fear
b) Love
c) Hate

Efficiency or creativity?
a) Efficiency
b) Creativity
c) Can I pick both?

What do you do when a customer’s kid is throwing things at other customers?
a) Nicely ask customer to stop.
b) Tell customer to get the fuck out
c) Ask customer if she has a big dick as you pour coffee on her crotch.

Some dude is pissed off about something. What should you do to calm him down?
a) Gently and sweetly ask him if there’s anything you can do for him to make him feel better.
b) Act just as pissed off when asking him what the fuck happened. Act even more pissed off after he tells you.
c) Show him your tits if you have some fun ones. If you don’t, make a funny face and tell him a joke.

Fight between a couple. He calls her lazy. How should she respond?
a) I’m not lazy. I do all these things you never see or acknowledge.
b) Why do you think I’m lazy?
c) You’re the one who is lazy. Takes one to know one, asshole.

When you’re angry, what sort of music makes you feel better?
a) Loud angry music
b) Soft, soothing music
c) Funny funky music.

a) Love, Goose, Love
b) Love, Respect, Love
c) Fear, Respect, Love

When was the last time someone called you a bitch or asshole?
a) Last 5 days
b) Past month
c) Never

How do you feel when someone calls you stupid/lazy/bitch/asshole?
a) Hurt
b) Happy
c) Indifferent

How do you feel when someone compliments you?
a) Happy
b) Confused, uncomfortable, and bewildered
c) Indifferent

Send resume and cover letter with responses to questions. Boldface response, example:

What’s the best way to get rid of an employee?
a) Fire him
b) Make employee miserable so she quits
c) Trip employee so she breaks her legs.

Perks: Free drinks and food, free dance classes, and a lot of good looking customers.
Shift: 10-6, negotiable
Compensation: Full health benefits after 60 days; 40k-50k per year, when salary plus tips are combined.  Salary review every 6 months.

Thirty Rules I’ve Learned About Building an Unbranded Business

List revised.

1. It’s not fun.  Nobody, nothing cooperates.  Things break, people are whimsical, weird shit happens all the time.

2. It’s a lot of fun. It’s fun when you figure out how to cooperate with an unpredictable world.   You’ll realize the fun is the chase, and the work is in maintaining the relationship.

3. You’re a stupid useless cunt every time you fuck up an order.  Doesn’t matter if this is true or not.  You have to believe it’s true.

4.  Don’t hire when you start.  I learned this one the hard way and it nearly left me destitute and homeless.  It takes time to build a competent army.  Hire because you’ve found the right person, not because you want a break.

5. People don’t change, they just become clearer versions of who they really are.    Don’t expect to change the person you hire into the person you want them to be, even if they want to be that. Our habits are addictions, we relapse when we think we can get away with it.

6. People change only when there’s enough peer pressure to do so.  That’s why she won’t lose weight until the flow of compliments about her appearance ends.  Until then, she’ll see what she can get away with.

7. Never say “no” to a customer.  It creates a communication barrier, such that they tune out everything else you say to them.  Create a place where customers don’t have to hear “no.”  They already hear “no” all day long, from their boss, their kids, spouse, bureaucrats.

8. If you have to say “no” to a customer, say it without saying “no.”  For instance, say “Fuck Off.”  Much more effective than “no.”

9. Never make excuses to a customer.  Assume that the customer doesn’t care if you’re late opening the store because your grandmother slipped and broke her hip and you had to take her to the hospital.  Just apologize for being late and continue work.

10. Never play victim. Once you start blaming the world for your problems is when it’ll soon be over. It’s especially important to blame yourself when it’s not your fault.  Learn to blame yourself when it’s not your fault. Only then will you figure out why IT IS your fault.

11. Don’t allow employees to play victim.  Once they do, it will become a part of the work culture.  Making excuses and playing victim are contagious behaviors.   We have a policy — three excuses per month and you’re fired.  Employees can make up for each excuse by writing an essay on why excuse was made, what will be done to ensure it’s never made again, and how making excuses prevents one from learning.

12. “If you are going to kill, kill 20, not just one,” someone once told Bandit Queen, Phoolan Devi. “If you kill 20 your fame will spread; if you kill only one, they will hang you.” And that’s exactly what she did — massacred 22 upper-caste villagers — and that’s exactly what happened — pardoned of all crimes after 11 years in jail, elected to office, and immortalized in books and film as a lower-caste gang leader.  Don’t just piss off a few people.  That’s going to happen, unintentionally, anyway.  Piss off a lot of people, INTENTIONALLY.  Don’t piss people off for the sake of pissing them off.  That’s just douchebag behavior.  Piss people off because you truly believe that there’s no other option, that they need to be pissed off, that they need a good shake to wake up.

13. It’s ok to fail.  Most of life is failure.  Failure is good as long as you learn from it, take responsibility for your failure. I fail several times a day.

14. Follow the Pareto principle, the 80-20 rule.  I had never heard of it until someone mentioned it after noticing that I kept describing the world in 80/20 ratios. This ratio seems to be found throughout nature.  Like 20 percent of people own 80 percent of wealth.  Or 80 percent of people use 20 percent of software features, while 20 percent use 80 percent of them; 20 percent of agricultural land produces 80 percent of bounty, 20 percent of employees produce 80 percent of value. Fascinating.

15. Hang out with your customers and employees.  They’re the most important people in your life, they support you even though you’re a stupid, useless, cunt.  Treat them like family, know them better than anyone else in their life.  Don’t waste time on those  who can’t help you reach your goal.  There’s no time to hang out with college drinking buddies and reminisce about the time the two of you had sex with twins in a bathroom stall while…GROW UP!

16. Operate your business as stereotypical East Asian family operates.  If you have no idea what goes on in many East Asian families, read Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  It’s an extreme example, but it captures the essence of Asian identity and worldview AND how visionaries like Steve Jobs ran their businesses. While I disagree with her on some points, she provides general framework on how to run a business and treat employees.  I’ve tried the standard middle-class White American way of parenting and it doesn’t work.  It’s like they’re in competition to see who can be nicer to their kids and assume their kids are narcissistic, manipulative, and have strong sense of entitlement because they weren’t nice enough to them.  It’s fucking madness!

17. Don’t waste time.  Use off hours to identify all the mistakes you made during the day and figure out how to correct them.  The mistake could be a posture, choice of words, failure to spot a detail, possibilities are endless.  Spend leisure time only on activities related to business.  Don’t spend time talking to those who don’t add value to your life and business.  Again, don’t waste time. So obvious, but difficult to follow.

18. Be grateful.  Thank your customers for putting up with you being a stupid, useless, cunt, for actually paying money for your products and services.  Thank your employees for tolerating you. Treat them to lunch and dinner.

19. Don’t let customers control the business.  It’s your business, not theirs.  Don’t be scared of them.  The moment you let them run your business is when you lose passion for whatever it is you want to do.

20. Burn all business textbooks.  Some of the stuff you find in textbooks may work for Fortune 500 companies, but not for a start-up. Rely on street-smarts, not books that’ll be out of date within 10 years of publication.

21. Ignore consultants.  They’re mostly talking business textbooks.  Their advice is either obvious, asinine, or impractical at the moment.  Most of them don’t know your motivations.  You can learn a lot more from industry veterans.

22. Listen to Tupac, let him guide you, because you will be shot by someone five times and you better “take it and smile.”  When you recover, find the motherfucker who shot you and destroy him and everyone associated with him. It’s better to be feared than loved.

23. Always compare yourself to the best.  Not saying you need to aim to be the best.  You don’t need to be ambitious (I’m not).  But you need to grade yourself fairly.  (You need to recognize reality).  If you don’t like being compared — and we’re always being compared, like it or not — find a low stress, low profile, low standards job where comparisons will be implicit, not explicit.

24. Don’t get greedy.  Realize expansion is a slow process.  I’ve been by tempted to accept free rent to open a second store here and there even though I can barely run one store.  A lot of people lose everything when they open a second store or expand.  I remember Asteroid Cafe, a little hole in wall in Wallingford, owner was passionate about politics.  Great reviews, good prices, successful operation for nearly a decade, bursting at seams.  Decided to expand, moved to a fancy location in Fremont, tripling seating.  Lasted less than two years.  Owner crushed, has never recovered.  Sad story.

25. Don’t be lazy.  This is obvious, but it’s so tempting to slip up.  It’s Friday 7pm and you want to go home so you do a sloppy job of interviewing an applicant, cut it short.  Her incompetence ends up costing you thousands.  Or I once lost a bid for a large catering event because I didn’t respond to an e-mail a day earlier. (And even if my late response isn’t the reason for rejection, I have to believe that it is.  Create a reality that will encourage you to not be lazy).

26. Ignore focus groups.  Steve Jobs ignored them.  Focus groups are methodologically problematic and people don’t know what they want when they’re in a contextless environment. They also give you yet another excuse when something doesn’t sell.  Good sellers can sell anything, even bottled fart.  Ann Wigamore convinced people to pay a lot of money for something as useless as wheatgrass.

27. Exercise.  You need to be healthy to maximize productivity.  You can find the time for it.

28.  Don’t try to save the world. If your product sounds too good to be true — spirulina, wheatgrass, ionized water — then you are a liar.  Stay away from anyone who tells you buying their product will save the world (empower the peasants, save them from greedy capitalists!) and instantly bring you eternal life (wheatgrass).  There’s no such thing as an elixir.  Living well requires hard work.  Even then, shit happens.  We’re no longer in the Garden of Eden.

29. Believe in Original Sin.  Especially the Calvinist/Puritan version, where we are born responsible for and tainted by the sins of our ancestors.  If you don’t believe you’re depraved and deserve to burn in Hell, you’ll never be truly grateful for life and whatever else you have.  You’ll feel entitled to a place in the Kingdom of Heaven.  You won’t have the drive to keep going during the tough times.  You won’t be able to survive a day where you lose money despite working 16 hours. You have to see the tough days as penance for your sins, not as unfair.

30. Flattery is the sound of the Devil’s laughter. Flattery distorts reality, makes us blind to our total depravity.   Ignore salespeople who flatter you, they’re like the men who flatter women so they can fuck them.  Addiction to flattery feeds our narcissism and lowers standards.  That’s why those at the top rarely praise themselves and other people.  Flattery has ruined many promising careers and businesses. Low caliber people work for praise. High caliber people work for achievement.

Frequently Asked Questions VII

Links to Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI,


When are you moving to new location?
Aiming for June 1st.  Depends on construction.

Why don’t you offer coffee and sandwiches?  
Lease restrictions placed by  Starbucks and Subway prevent us from doing so.

Why don’t you hire that person who works next door? 
We try to maintain good relations with our neighbors. Poaching creates problems.  Best to not fuck the neighbor’s daughter.

Will there be new menu items when you move to new space?

What would you offer?
We’d like to expand our baked goods offerings, adding, for instance, vegan gluten-free brownies (made from black beans, so very protein and fiber dense). Random daily specials, similar to what’s offered in our to-go meals.  Example: salmon masala w/rice and beans and 3 veggies.  We’re considering self-serve cereal.  And maybe something that’s not quite a sandwich.  Suggestions are welcome.

What if Subway catches you making something similar to a sandwich?  
It’s not ok to fuck the neighbor’s wife, but it’s ok to fuck someone who looks like her.


Why does the owner look pissed all the time?
Would you rather he not look angry when employee puts an unwashed mango that could be contaminated with E Coli on a cutting board?

Fine, but why does he have to get on their case for little things, like fishing for a compliment? 
Flattery is the sound of the Devil’s laughter.  It leads people to do stupid shit like contaminate a cutting board or get knocked up by someone she’s embarrassed to marry.  Poor character is not acceptable.

How’s the porn novel coming along?
Working on chapter where she tattoos her name on his penis.  Seeking someone with tattoo on penis to help with details.

Can I add marijuana to the drink?

Do you take orders over the phone? 
Yes, and be concise when placing it.  Don’t ask how we’re doing, just get it done. You don’t know what’s happening on our end.

New Businesses

When did owner come up with idea for dance studio and vintage clothing store?
Been planning vintage clothing store for 2 years.  Dance studio was unplanned, wasn’t expecting twins.  Tried to put it up for adoption but no takers.

Which dance genres and vintage clothes will be offered?
Click here for dance.  Here for clothes.

Does owner take investment money?
Not yet.  Let’s work on his leadership skills and improve his character before letting  him play with other people’s money.

I got preggers from guy who was supposed to be a fling, I wasn’t planning on marrying him.Now my parents want me to marry him so I don’t seem like a low class slut to their friends. Should I?
No, people don’t change.  The baby won’t change him.  And there will be disaster when you and your parents try to change him.  Better to get through this alone. Americans are forgiving.  Prove yourself and you’ll be fine.

But it’s wrong to raise a baby without his father!
First, that sounds reactionary for someone who supposedly supports gay rights.  Second, no father is better than a shitty father.


Moving to New Location

Same complex, five doors down, sometime in June (hopefully).  There’ll be three businesses in the location: Alive Juice Bar, a vintage clothing store The Privileged Poor, and a dance studio, tentatively named Yuliya’s Dance.

The new location will enhance store visibility, expand customer parking options, and improve efficiency of juice bar operations.  The interior will be more spacious and sensible in design.  There will be bar seating.  There will still be graffiti in the bathrooms (two). The build-out will be done by professionals, not by me, so expect a more professional look.  The customized infrastructure will allow the juice bar to expand menu offerings and to provide better service.

The motif that ties together the three businesses: the struggle to reclaim American immigrant heritages. The relative youthfulness of the American nation is the origin of its strength, ingenuity, and resilience. It is also America’s most troubling source of weakness, tempting its citizens to become arrogant, ignorant, and complacent. The search for immigrant heritages will provide the checks — time tested wisdom — against the excesses and short-mindedness typical of a young nation.

We’ll keep you updated on the progress of the build-out.

For more information on the vintage clothing store, check out The Privileged Poor blog.  And the blog for Yuliya’s Dance.

How Americans Became Picky Eaters

“You have to know the Past to understand the Present” – Carl Sagan

Thorstein Veblen publishes Theory of the Leisure Class: an Economic Study of Institutions in 1899. He’s trying to figure out what makes people act like douchebags by studying their consumption habits. Like why Sara buys clothes at this store; Marty drives that car; Vivian drinks obscure coffee. Pre-test:

1. Who owns a Corvette?
a) Vascular Surgeon
b) The commercial plumber
c) The tenured college professor

2. Who owns most amount of clothes?
a) White trash girl living in trailer park
b) Old money girl attending exclusive boarding school
c) Middle-class girl living in middle-class cul-de-sac

3. What does middle-class woman eat on her birthday?
a) Surf and turf
b) Sushi and tempura
c) Raw oysters and beef tongue

4. What is upper-class woman eating Friday evening?
a) Cocktail shrimp and beef tenderloin steak
b) Acai bowl with quinoa, kale chips on side
c) Grilled beef tongue and fried shrimp heads

5. Who is most likely to have read a violent pornographic novel (eg. Georges Bataille, Pauline Reage, Marquis de Sade)
a) Upper-class woman, undergrad from Wellesley and PhD in Comparative Literature
b) Middle-class home economics teacher
c) White trash woman with boyfriend who beats the shit out of her.

1. b
2. c
3. a
4. c
5. a

Surprised? Oblique explanations in main text.

Why People Act Like Poseurs and Douchebags

For our purposes here, the only thing we need to take from Theory of Leisure Class is that imitation is the driving force of American capitalist consumerism. In Feudalism, social mobility is limited by birth and the serf works for subsistence, not social mobility. Capitalism, promising unprecedented (upward and downward) social mobility, makes imitation possible, accessible, and encouraged by the logic of economic growth.  “Keeping up,” as Americans put it.  The capitalist “Leisure Class” signifies not only Old and New Money, but anyone with discretionary income, or at least anyone with a credit card.

Whom do people imitate?  Those they *perceive* as just above them.  What do people imitate? The *imagined* sensibilities and habits of those they *perceive* as just above them. Pay attention to the choice of words: “perceive” and “imagined” because people from all social classes tend to have trouble at not only figuring out what those outside their social circles are thinking and doing, but also a person’s social status. That’s why the not-quite-middle-class teen thinks the woman with a deep tan and a tit job is high society. The Old Money woman thinks the young tow truck driver is being ironic when he’s not. The woman who reads The New Yorker has no idea who Jimmie Johnson is. The guy with collection of Jimmie Johnson autographs can’t imagine an Ivy League college professor who listens to Outkast and has tickets to Venus in Furs and The Vagina Monologues, both of which the Time and Oprah magazine reading home economics teacher with tickets to The Nutcracker Suite finds dirty and offensive.  Which is why all this imitation looks more like self-parody than “faking it till you make it.”

History of American Cuisine: Colonial Era


6. What’s most likely on the menu at a two year old casual fine dining restaurant in New York City that just won its first Micheline star?
a) Lobster alfredo with chantrelle mushrooms
b) Bone marrow with jerk spiced duck hearts
c) Wagyu tenderloin served with roasted rosemary potatoes

7. Who sucked the most dick by age 18?
a) Working middle-class Tina who attended Catholic school
b) Upper-middle class Siobhan who attended exclusive boarding school
c) Working middle-class Anthony who attended public school

8. Which family is most likely to own Emily Post books on etiquette and send children to etiquette school?
a) Conservative middle-class family, mom is homemaker, dad is bank manager.
b) Old Money family, mom is art curator, dad is opera singer.
c) New Money Google millionaires, Mom and Dad are executives

9. Who sucked the most dick by age 28?
a) Working middle-class Tina who attended Catholic school
b) Upper-middle class Siobhan who attended exclusive boarding school
c) Old Money Sarah who attended public school

10. What vehicle does single Korean man who runs with his parents an established Teriyaki store drive?
a) Toyota Camry
b) Ford Mustang
c) Porsche Cayenne

6. b
7. a
8. a
9. b
10. c

Seventeenth century, White Europeans from varied backgrounds started moving to The New World. The English soon became dominant, assimilating the Dutch and the Swedes after kicking their asses, but they couldn’t reach a deal with the French (Acadians in Nova Scotia) so the English told them to fuck off, relocating some of them to Louisiana where they begin Cajun culture. Point is, American cuisine began as variant of British cuisine, and in contrast to the French, who adopted Native American hunting and cooking methods and incorporated indigeneous ingredients into their diet, the Americans used Old World Methods to prepare New World ingredients and tried to grow Old World ingredients in New World climate, with mixed results.  Where reliable trade with British Empire was established, Old World ingredients were imported, making American (New England especially) cuisine intentionally British.

There were lots of regional variations that cut across socio-economic lines — American cuisine has never been monolithic —  with, for instance, upland Southern Rednecks eating possums and squirrels with cabbage and potatoes, and African and Caribbean ingredients and cooking methods influencing the pork based lowland Southern diet.  Pennsylvania Germans brought sausages, sauerkraut, and beer from the Old World. But colonial British mercantilist policies that limited American trade to within the Empire ensured that British traditions would dominate until the Brits began taxing alcohol starting with the Molasses Act of 1733 and the Sugar Act of 1760, and then luxury goods with the Quartering Act of 1763 and tea with the Tea Act of 1773.

The Brits soon learned that when you fuck with people’s alcohol and caffeine supply, there’s going to be a revolution. Americans began boycotting British goods and finally went native out of frustration with British laws. Whiskey had been looked down on by American high society types, who preferred Old World British goods and habits. Now Northern whiskey, made of rye (non-native European ingredient), was becoming fashionable, and Southern whiskey was considered patriotic due to its use of corn, an indigenous ingredient. Rum was out, as it was seen as a symbol of British power.

Another significant change was the shift from tea to coffee.  John Adams wrote to his wife in 1773: “Tea must be universally renounced and I must be weaned, and the sooner the better.” When word got out that a group of housewives in Massachusetts united to serve — as a fuck you to the Brits — only coffee, many were inspired to do the same.

It’s been said that you can tell a lot about a person by what he or she eats.  We can probably tell a lot about a nation by what its people eat.  Shifts in eating habits aren’t accidents and they’re an index of what’s to come politically. You can smell a revolution that’s waiting to happen.

Independence – Immigration Act of 1924

Independence achieved, Americans stopped shitting on French cuisine, which they had disdained during the seemingly never ending conflict between the British and the French. Before the War, cookbook writer Hannah Glasse, wrote in Art of Cookery: “the blind folly of this age that would rather be imposed on by a French booby, than give encouragement to a good English cook!” On French recipes: “an odd jumble of trash.” Those insults disappeared in the first *American* post-war edition of her cookbook, probably because the French had helped with American war effort. The French-American alliance also led to French chefs migrating to the States during the French Revolution, which would’ve been unthinkable during British rule.

Free from the constraints of British mercantilism, American cooks gained wider access to foreign goods.  As an expanding industrializing nation requiring more White people (1790 Act limited citizenship to White people) to populate conquered lands and to work in expanding factories, the US began to accept more and a wider range of White immigrants — now including many from Eastern and Southern Europe — who further diversified American culinary habits. By 1924, Americans are eating all kinds of peasant-redneck-soul food — pig’s ears, raw oysters, raw beef, possums, ram testicles, squirrels, chicken gizzards, cow brains, pig’s feet, and blood pudding.

I use year 1924 as a bookend because it marks the end of liberal immigration policies and the beginning of the modern kitchen.  Growing concern about the “Whiteness” of some European immigrants — Italians, Slavs, and Eastern European Jews — the Immigration Act of 1924 limited the annual number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the US. It was a way to ensure that the US remain a White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (WASP) nation, not overrun by Irish and Italian Catholics, Jews, Slavs, and other undesirable not-quite-White European “races.”  And by severing the flow of people and cultural habits from undesirable parts of Europe to ethnic US neighborhoods, the not-quite-White people of the US would finally lose their immigrant heritage and assimilate to become fully White and American.

And it was around 1924 that modern refrigeration was becoming common in middle-class America, which led to the rise to mass produced industrialized foods such as frozen meals.  Refrigeration in rail cars meant farms no longer had to be located near population centers and more land could be farmed, resulting in lower prices of prestige items such as beef.

The Federal government and academia were also getting involved in what Americans ate.  Nutritionists and home economics professors introduced a scientific approach to nutrition and eating. They began telling Americans which meals and cooking methods are safe and proper.

Modern American Cuisine

Why did some American ethnic and regional foods become popular nationally, while others remained marginalized or disappeared?

Test break!

11. Who sucked the most dick by age 45?
a) Working middle-class Tina who attended Catholic school
b) Upper-middle class Siobhan who attended exclusive boarding school
c) Old Money Sarah who attended public school

12. It’s 1973, in some middle to upper middle class suburb. What do the Johnson’s have in their kitchen?
a) A dead body, cut up, probably neighbor’s daughter
b) White Wonder bread, margarine, and Tang.
c) Pickled beets, sauerkraut, and offals.

13. Where has Old Money Sarah never eaten?
a) McDonald’s
b) Harold’s Chicken Shack
c) Red Lobster

14. Who lost a toe while on vacation?
a) Upper middle-class Ginger
b) Lower-middle class Tiffany
c) Upper-class Wes

15. Who spends the most on nails and tan?
a) Old Money Sarah
b) Upper middle-class Jimmy
c) Lower-middle class Tiffany

11. a
12. b
13. c
14. c
15. c

By 1965, the year immigration was liberalized, the US had finally developed a national cuisine and palate. Coca Cola, orange juice, hamburgers, fortune cookies, peanut butter, apple pie, fried chicken, hot dog, steak, pizza, french fries, spaghetti…these are some regional foods that went national (a few, like Coca Cola, went international).  Why not mutton, smoked salmon, collard greens, pig trotters, fried gizzards, baklava, gyros, Philly Cheesesteaks, and knishes?

Some food became less had because eating them was a sign of low status.  Offals (organs) and possum, for instance.  Perhaps fried chicken made the cut because it was special occasion food for the poor, and fried gizzards didn’t because that’s what the poor ate everyday.  Those who grew up poor traded liver, horse meat, and beef intestines for ground beef when they finally could.

Some food became more popular because they represented modernity and science. The middle-class household in 1970 drank space-age Tang to be modern, used margarine instead of butter to be health conscious, and ate canned soup to be family-on-the-move efficient. Now Tang is one step above kool-aid, margarine is for out-of-touch geriatrics relying on out-of-date info, and canned soup is for the lazy.

Other food and preparation methods became rare because of warnings from government agencies.  “You shouldn’t consume raw seafood or meat of any kind,” warns the FDA. So most stopped doing so, even as steak tartare was served throughout Europe, as it had for centuries, and sashimi throughout Japan, as it had for centuries.  You’re supposed to drink cow milk and eat cereal and bread and cheese…everyday “we’re told by USDA food pyramid. So we did, even though 70 percent of the people in the world are lactose intolerant.  “Cook poultry at 350 degrees,” taught the home economics teacher.  We did and learned to make dry meat palatable by adding to it extra extra gravy.  “White meat is healthier than dark meat,” announced the nutritionist.  So we became one of the few nations in the world to prefer white over dark, even though dark is more flavorful and moister.  (And then we make white meat better tasting by frying it or drenching it in gravy, making it even more calorie dense than its dark counterpart). Americans were being taught to distrust their immigrant heritage, to become more modern (American) and less ethnic (backward). American cuisine was narrowing palates and limiting the range of cooking methods. American cuisine was becoming a disaster.

Thesis: government meddling and the loss of immigrant heritage fucked up American cuisine.

Postmodern American Cuisine

If Modernity is about living as one imagines one would in the future, Postmodernity is about living as one imagines someone had in the past.


The Japanese, not Julia Child, saved American cuisine.

It’s the 1980s and the Japanese are on a roll. Americans are starting to think the Japanese are going to take over the world.  They show up in Manhattan to buy all sorts of vanity properties, their cars run better than American ones, and they make Americans feel lazy, and stupid. One could smell the power shift when business between Japanese and Americans was conducted not at Peter Lugar steakhouse, but in a basement level izakaya.

The growing popularity of Japanese cuisine in the US during the 80s and 90s gave Americans an opportunity to reconsider everything they’d been taught about proper cooking and proper meals.  Sure sure, there were American servicemen who loved Japanese cuisine before the preppy douchebags got to try it, but these were working class types everyone ignored, not the preppies middle-class kids emulated during the materialistic Eighties. The preppies made Japanese food cool and eating it became a sign of sophistication and high social status.

Soon Americans are watching Iron Chef! Eating raw fish! Now they’re trying eel and loving it! A few even develop a taste for natto and live sea urchin.  Everything Americans were told not to do they were doing when they were eating Japanese food. For some, it was exhilarating.  Trying “weird” food became a legitimate hobby, and a new brand of foodie emerged.

By the start of the 21st century, Japanese cuisine had gone mainstream and Japanese cooking shows like Iron Chef inspired American versions of them, transforming chefs into rock stars, Ivy League graduates into line cooks working to become chefs, and cooking into a hobby instead of a chore. Sushi was no longer for Wall Street pricks and Californian champagne socialists, you were not middle-class if you didn’t eat and like sushi (even though sushi is a small portion of Japanese cuisine, and not had very often in Japan). Soon we had Japanese food for the masses: conveyer belt sushi, all you can eat sushi, even Chinese people serving (disgusting) sushi.  And as Japanese food ceased to be the new in thing, White Americans, now accustomed to trying “weird shit,” became interested in rediscovering their European roots because being White wasn’t cool anymore.  More restaurants started serving dishes that would’ve been unthinkable in the mainstream 70s, from raw oysters to bone marrow, duck hearts to steak tartare; using cooking methods, such as sous vide, that freaked out health inspectors. Underground dinner parties served beef tongue and shrimp head. Eating such dishes became a sign of sophistication and American cuisine was becoming not just an archetype of postmodern nostalgia, but also vibrant and challenging. For the first time in a long time, American palates and culinary repertoire were expanding and a new generation of American chefs wanted to show the world that there’s more to American food than McDonald’s.

Why We Eat What We Eat

Some think that the standard middle-class American cuisine is based primarily on proper nutrition (as determined by government agencies) and ethical behavior (as determined by soft science academics).  It is not.  If it were, we’d be eating crickets instead of beef for protein and we wouldn’t let ourselves get suckered by the latest health fad that confers an ingredient undeserved powers and fucks up another nation’s ecology.  Some of us would like to believe our cuisine is *proper* because it justifies our personal preferences (built on habit) and confirms our sense of self as belonging to a righteous nation. Those unhappy with status quo want to make American cuisine *proper* — nutritious and ethical (eg. localvore movement) — so we can feel like we belong to a righteous nation.

If American cuisine is, as argued earlier, built on political intrigue, social maneuvering, and economic brinksmanship, then there’s a good chance that its present is an expression of our competing political beliefs and anxiety about our socio-economic future.  Reading the food we eat as such makes it possible for us to see ourselves as tools when we drink orange juice every morning for its Vitamin C content, douchebags when we order kobe burgers for the prized fat that’s cooked off, cranks when we promote acai berries as ethical superfood, and human when we binge on McDonald’s fries.

Perhaps in the end — weary of reading all those conflicting articles about what’s healthiest and what’s more ethical and what’s better for the economy and environment — eating well has less to do with what we eat than how we explore what’s possible to eat. If only God can determine the righteousness of a nation and its citizens, the best we can do is build a spirited cuisine that challenges and expands, rather than accepts and limits, our palates and imagination.









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