David Brooks is senior editor of The Weekly Standard and author of Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There (Simon & Schuster).
Who are the Bobos?
The Bobos are the people who have these humongous new kitchens with Viking ranges that send up heat like a space shuttle rocket turned upside down. They're the people with the sub-zero refrigerators because zero just wouldn't be cold enough.
They are like half hippies/half yuppies. They've got sort of the spirituality of the hippies but the moneymaking of the yuppies, and they merged these two opposite styles together.
Where does the word Bobo come from?
The hippies, who are Bohemian, and the yuppies, who are Bourgeois. And if you take Bourgeois and Bohemian and jam them together you get Bobo.
When did you realize that we've merged capitalism with being a hippie?
I was in Europe for the first half of the '90s and I came back to the town where my parents live outside of Philadelphia. Suddenly it had six gourmet coffee shops. And they've got one of these Great Harvest Bread Companies, which sell a piece of bread for $4.75. It had one of these organic food markets where you can get your vegetarian dog biscuits and your all-natural hair coloring, because if you're going to artificially color your hair, you want it to be all-natural.
So there was this whole overlay of Berkeley from the 1960s in this republican place. And I thought, America has changed.
What are we learning about Bobos in regard to understanding affluence and consumption?
Well, we're learning a lot. Bobos turn everything into education. So you can't just buy a receiver or toothpaste, you have to get a Ph.D. in toothpasteology. You learn all about it before you go out and buy Tom's of Maine.
But then the ...1