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Back Buzz - April 24, 1998

pumping heart Torrefazione Italia, 320 Occidental Avenue South, Pioneer Square

One thing you can always count on at the Pioneer Square Torrefazione is that a real live Italian will prepare your drink, which I consider to be a very good omen. This location features the same wonderful cup and table designs as the Torrefazione on Olive Way. It's a friendly, pleasant, sunny cafe with a large patio stretching languidly onto Occidental Square, with art galleries as neighbors and a brewpub, also with a patio, directly next door. (The brewpub, which is now Rock Pasta And Brewery, was until recently the Pacific Northwest Brewing Company, a spot I always appreciated because they served each of their beers at the proper temperature. But I digress; you can check out my highly-opinionated beer rantings in my brand new column, Pint Pleasures.)

My double short dry cappuccino was quite good. The presentation has always rated an A+. But has Torrefazione improved, both in their coffee itself and in their cappuccino preparation? Or am I changing, drawn more toward the traditional Italian and away from the trendy Seattalian? If so, I consider it to be a change for the better. After all, so many things I love originated in Europe, including my own genetic lines. How could the 21st-century unisex polyglot neo-trendé USA cultural evolutions created by the marriage of CNN, MTV, and high bandwidth possibly improve on what was already perfection?

So call me sentimental; just don't call me a Luddite. I love the late 1990s, the Internet, e-mail, the hallucinogenic reality of computer animation, the multicultural cuisines of ultracosmopolitan megalopolises, and the wild new esthetic boundaries crossed by post-modern and chaotic architecture. What I don't like is the commercialization of "hipness", the Nordstrom/Gap-ization of "cool". Don't the marketing people realize you can't commercialize "cool"? Once everyone tries to look and act "cool" the definition of the word changes. Just look at fashions: aren't the coolest-looking individuals the ones who choose and successfully create their own style as a protest of the commercialization of "cool"? I mean, it's a tough job, but somebody's got to keep the public challenged and guessing.

All I can say is you'll never find me in a Nike jacket or a nose ring like every second person on the planet -- at least not in the next few years. Green fingernails, perhaps, or anything black or asymmetrical -- but I've been drawn to black fashion since I was 11 years old, long before MTV was even a twinkle in its mommy's or daddy's eye.

And thinking of those ridiculous oversized fashions reminds me of an e-mail exchange from a few months ago with my Bay Area friend:

Last Friday, as part of Employee Appreciation Day, cream colored denim shirts with the multi-colored company logo were distributed to all employees. The shirts look as if they were sized for gangsta rappers. Even though I picked a Small, the thing droops over my shoulders, and there's room inside for a cat or two. I was able to fill it out quite nicely by inserting a pillow, which led me to realize the shirt would serve well as maternity wear.

Today we were required to wear the thing to work for a photo shoot. Walking into the office I had this strange feeling of being in a factory or academy, so I put on my F*** OFF & DIE! button to set me apart. I should have thought to wear a Zippy the Pinhead outfit or something.

Yes, this XXXXXXXXXL syndrome is getting ridiculous. Even SanMar, JC Max's t-shirt source, now sells shirts in S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL, and now XXXXL! Where is it going to stop? I've read that 30 to 35 percent of Americans are now overweight, but what about the rest of us? Do you realize how hard it is to find t-shirts in Small? I mean, a Medium is too big for me if I want to tuck the thing into jeans; I always end up feeling like there's someone else in my jeans with me. And if I want to wear a long baggy t-shirt over my leggings, a Medium isn't long enough and a Large makes me feel like I'm wearing a four-man tent! So why do people like me have to hunt so hard to find special clothes that fit, while all those overweight people can buy their clothes anywhere, even at the grocery store? Is this a case of fat favoritism? Some rightwing folks in this country seem to think the United States is a Christian country, and others think it's a White country. Is it also assumed to be a Chunky country? I can see a revised version of that old slogan (was it from the John Birch Society?): "America: Keep it white, Christian, and corpulent."