business news in context, analysis with attitude

Regarding my two-part interview with Benjamin Lorr about his book, "The Secret Life of Groceries," one MNB reader wrote:

Fascinating interview, just ordered a copy of the book.

I got a number of such emails last week, which makes me happy.

And for those of you who may have missed it … the two-part interview ran last Thursday and Friday, and you can get the book from Amazon, or from one of the nation's best independent booksellers, Powell's, or at a bookstore near you.

One MNB reader responded to something I wrote on Friday:

You are correct that companies need to diversify. It amazes me that it has taken this long and still needs work, however your statement about whites being the minority by 2045 is misleading. They will be less than 50% of the TOTAL population but will still be the largest group and by a significant margin with hispanics the next largest at 29%.

Absolutely correct.  I fixed the sentence as soon as I got your email.  Thanks.

Another reader had a different reaction to the piece:

Seems that we can’t train management to just hire the best people.  I have concern about what amounts to reverse racism.  I just wish people hearts were right so that we didn’t need this.  50 years I was in business it always worked for me, treat people equally and you will be better off as a persons a business.  If I considered candidates equal I always opted for the minority.

I experienced an episode that might have caused some to be racist.  When I graduated from graduate school, I applied for the management program at a large retailer.  I had worked for the retailer part time in two different cities while attending college and the management at those stores encouraged me to take the management exam, which I did.  A couple of weeks after I took the exam I got a call to come to their headquarters.  Thinking I was going to be offered a job I was excited.  When I got their the manager told me that I had made the highest score on the test but they couldn’t hire me that hiring cycle because they had to hire minorities because of quotas.  I know how that feels.....I just wish we could get our hearts right.  No one should have to feel that way.

A lot of peoples' hearts are not right.  That's why we need companies to address systemic racism, and why government needs to make sure that bias is not institutionalized.

Which, I grant you, is a lot easier said than done.  Gotta start somewhere.

One MNB reader expressed a certain cynicism about Kroger's strong quarter:

Yes, while they are making off the wall profits, their essential workers gain nothing-except a better chance of getting COVID-19!!!

I mentioned on Friday that I'd been listening to the new Bruce Springsteen song, "Letter To You," part of a new album scheduled to be released next month.  It is a terrific song, with classic E Street Band energy, and the Hollywood Reporter wrote that "the album includes nine songs recently written by Springsteen, and three new versions of previously unreleased tracks from the 1970s: 'Janey Needs a Shooter,' 'If I Was the Priest' and 'Song for Orphans'."

One MNB reader wrote:

Ditto on your brief review of Bruce Springsteen’s “Letter To You”, a beautifully written tune with enjoyable background studio clips that demonstrate the commitment he still gets from his E-Street band members. And your review, whether you knew it or not, comes nearly precisely on the 8th anniversary of your favorite Wrigley Field concert, Sept 10th, 2012.

It was the best concert experience of my life.  No question.

The mention prompted MNB reader Thomas Gordon to write:

Thanks for the FYI on the Springsteen song.

I wanted to call out that Janey Needs a Shooter, which was never released, was performed in front of Warren Zevon, who loved the title.  Springsteen told him to run with it, so Zevon wrote Jeannie Needs a Shooter, and gave Springsteen a writer’s credit.

I’ve always loved the Zevon version, which shares a little of chorus of Springsteen’s song, but is more high-energy.

Thought you might want to see the other version from a great musician and one of the best songwriters in modern history.

Forgot to mention, Springsteen was a friend of Warren, and played on his last album (which was recorded while Zevon declined chemo so he could record the album), singing on Disorder in the House, and then right after he died, Springsteen and the E Street Band covered Warren’s “My Ride’s Here” in Toronto, calling him a great American songwriter.

If you haven’t gone deep on Warren Zevon, you should check out some of his songs, he is a terrific writer, and I have loved his music for years.

I love Warren Zevon.  Thanks for all the references.

From another reader, on another subject:

Great interview with Mike Lupica.  A couple of things jumped out to me as I listened and watched two people who are great at their craft.

You both are great listeners.  I loved how you would ask the question and then get out of the way.  And he really listened to your questions before jumping in with a response.  The newspaper industry has really trained you both well.

I was in awe of Mike Lupica’s humbleness.  He has accomplished so much, yet is very humble and still has the inquisitiveness of a cub reporter.  It is easy to tell you both love what you do.  Thank you for bringing him to your audience and I look forward to many more great interviews.