Maybe it was a last minute favor. Stanley Fish, a professor of law at Florida International University, filled in as a guest columnist on the New York Times’ Op-Ed page this past August 5. The piece he contributed, "Getting Coffee Is Hard To Do," was a meditation on the modern difficulties of designer coffee, from the ambiance ("As you walk in, everything is saying, 'This is very sophisticated and you'd better be up to it.' ") to the accessories ("a staggering array" of "things you put in, on and around your coffee").
It has been roundly lampooned as one of the worst Op-Ed pieces ever. Yesterday Slate’s Ron Rosenbaum picked at Fish’s musings in a takedown headlined, “The Worst Op-Ed Ever Written? A professor makes you feel sorry for Starbucks.” (Clearly no mean feat.)
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Have you heard about these new coffee places? Professor Fish's column made it seem as though they had never been noticed or discussed before.
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At the very least, Fish's column showcases what happens when certain academics descend from the ivory tower to offer us their special insights on popular culture.
We emailed Dr. Fish to see if he had any interest in responding to the critics. No reply yet -- but stay tuned: We just might have suggested another column topic: “Writing Letters With a ‘Computer’ Is Hard To Do.” --Frank Houston