Welcome to Issue #10 of CAFÉ ANNE!
Last week, I went out and asked ten NYC bodega workers what to expect in 2022. After all, who knows better than the folks behind the counter at the corner grocery? These guys talk to everybody. Please enjoy this issue’s feature, “Bodega Worker Predictions for 2022," below.
In other news, my campaign to get the marketing folks at Café Bustelo—the world’s greatest coffee—to sponsor CAFÉ ANNE may be making progress. I recently came home to find a mysterious, oversize box waiting at my door with an Orrville, Ohio return address. Inside was a card…
…and a giant gift basket! It included many Café Bustelo products including a box of instant Café Con Leche and a can of Café Bustelo Brazilian blend, which I did not know existed.
I texted the above photo to my friend Aharon and explained that I’d been sending fan email to Café Bustelo HQ.
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” he replied, “but u r a whore.”
In other news, a big THANK YOU to Scott in Coco Beach, Florida who called in to WNYC’s the Brian Lehrer show to promote CAFÉ ANNE on a “Best of Culture: Listener Edition” segment. The call produced a flurry of new visitors and subscribers.
I’m hoping everyone will be kind enough to share CAFÉ ANNE with others this week so that it keeps growing—and I can keep publishing. :)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE…
• One-Star Reviews: War and Peace
• Department of Innovations
• Feature: Bodega Worker Predictions for 2022
War and Peace
My idea of a good time: checking out the one-star reviews left online for mankind’s greatest works of art. It really is true: you can’t please everybody! In this issue’s edition of “One-Star Reviews,” please enjoy what discriminating readers have to say about Tolstoy’s 1200-page classic, War and Peace.
“I hope Tolstoy was as miserable upon the publication of this as I was while reading it.”
“It finally got to a point where I was praying for Napoleon to get to Russia and kill off these characters.”
“War and Peace? More like war and peace of shit, am I right?”
“It’s hard to calculate how much weight I could gain if i ate the book. 0/10. Horrible.”
-David Powers, Google reviews
“A waste of time. It sucks. As a book I mean. Not as a historical document. Because as a historical document it is, of course, invaluable. Especially if one were writing a history of books that suck.”
-Jacob van Berkel, Goodreads
“I hated this book so much. And during Epilogue 2, I wanted to invent a time machine to go back and kill baby Tolstoy.”
“Too much French”
“I SPIT ON THIS TRASH AND ANYONE WHO PRAISES IT.”
-Rob DeWhirst, Goodreads
DEPARTMENT OF INNOVATIONS
Yes, Cinnamon Bread with Marinara Sauce, available only in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Thanks to Aharon for this great find.
Have you spotted a fabulous new invention in your area, or online? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll feature it in a future issue. And, as always, your weird trash heap photos are also very welcome.
CAFÉ ANNE is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support this newsletter, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
NYC Bodega Guys Predict 2022
Good news everybody: Daniel Valencia, who works the counter at the Santa Grocery and Deli on Ave. B in Manhattan, says 2022 will be a better year. We’ve seen the worst of Covid, the stock market will keep climbing, and when it comes to fashion, anything goes. “People will be wearing whatever they want,” he says. “I see a lot of naked people on the street!”
Yes, forecasts are difficult. But if I had to rely on anyone, I’d trust the guy at the corner bodega. He talks to everyone, and has no illusions. Last week, I interviewed ten guys behind the counter at storefront groceries in Alphabet City, Brooklyn Heights and Crown Heights. I was happy to find almost everyone predicting a better 2022, mainly because they foresee see a gradual winding-down, if not an end, to Covid.
“It will be like a cold or flu. It’s going to stay in in our life, but it’s not going to be as bad as it is now,” says Dante Espinoza at Sunny Deli in Brooklyn Heights.
On the downside, no one sees an end to rising prices. “The inflation is going to go higher—ten percent,” warns Sergio Mora, manager of the Brooklyn Heights Deli. “Something that costs you one dollar now will cost you one dollar, ten cents.”
To stay ahead of the game, Mr. Mora recommends investing in coins.
“Like Bitcoin?” I asked
He looked at me like I was crazy. “No! Coins! Like buying gold.”
He also recommends investing with commodities, including the materials used to produce rechargeable batteries.
Aidaroos Alawi at Sal’s on Avenue B suggests real estate. “Properties are always a good investment,” he says. “You buy something, everything goes up. Commercial properties. In the city, of course.”
Danny Zandani, who works at his family’s NY Grill and Deli on Avenue A, had a different take on the issue. “You know what is a better investment? Health! I don’t care what investment you have. If you don't have your life, if you’re not healthy, what good is the money? If I become crippled, is money going to make me better?”
I asked Mr. Zandani to predict the next big food trend. His answer was surprisingly dark.
“You’re always going to want food. You're always going to need food. But what are they going to be eating? I dunno. Whatever they find! Haha! If there's no food, what are you going to eat? Even these healthy people, they’re eating healthy now. If there's no healthy food down the line, what are they going to eat? Are they going to say, ‘Don't eat?’ They're going to eat whatever they find!”
“Like squirrels!” I suggested.
“I’m telling you!”
What’s the next hot NYC neighborhood? Among those nominated were Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge—which is still relatively affordable, Midtown West in Manhattan and Long Island City in Queens. “It has luxury buildings for a good price,” says Mr. Espinoza.
Mr. Valencia at Santa Grocery suggests the next hot new York Neighborhood will be the Keystone State—Philadelphia in particular. “People like me are going to Pennsylvania,” he says. “It’s cheaper over there.”
I also asked the men to predict a positive trend for 2022. Like many of his peers, Nassar Salim, at Brothers Food Center in Crown Heights, said he was concerned about the decline in policing and resulting uptick in crime in his neighborhood, in the subway, and around the city. He expects better law enforcement under the new mayor.
“There’s a lot of shootings. They be robbing people for no reason,” he says. “Now the government is going to change. They will have more power. They will be more strict.”
Last but not least, I wanted to share my delightful interview with Amir Alawi at Brothers Candy & Grocery on Ave. B. I’ve titled it, “A Conversation With an Honest Man.” Please enjoy!
What will happen in 2022 with the coronavirus?
“I have no idea, no idea about that.”
What will happen with inflation?
“I don't know. I don't know about that.”
Do you have a prediction for what will happen with the stock market?
“The stock market? No.”
What will be a good investment?
“Investment? What's a good investment? Right now I don't know.”
What will be the next big fashion trend?
“I have no idea.”
What’s something good that might happen next year?
“I don't know what’s going to happen that’s good, but I feel like something good is going to happen.”
That’s great. Any advice for others?
“Keep yourself safe, that’s all I can say.”
Last thing: do you have a new year's resolution for yourself?