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Happy National Coffee Day! If you haven’t had your coffee yet, it’s time to grab some (check out these places for a free cup) and sit down to read the Smart Set. To pair with your espresso: An article about the Italian origins of Starbucks and why there are none in Italy.

The invention of Mr. Coffee in the 1970s was an enormous leap for American coffee drinkers: Before then, most coffee was boiled in percolators at home or prepared inexpensively in industrial-scale drips to be consumed at diners. The result was mostly terrible — there’s a reason that coffee ruined by wives and secretaries was a running gag in midcentury sitcoms. •

Read It: Counter Culture by Sara Davis

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The Pope is in the house. As the Smart Set closes its doors for his visit to our fair city, we leave you with beers, dogs, and traffic schedules all influenced by the Holy Father’s visit, along with a history of the less pope-ular Vicars of Jesus Christ.

Fellow priests put one of the first popes, Sixtus III (432-40), on trial for seducing a nun. He was acquitted after quoting from Christ in his defense: “Let you who are without sin cast the first stone.” In the centuries to follow, political skullduggery and a corrupt election process thrust one improbable candidate after another into the position as god-fearing believers looked on in impotent horror. In fact, so many Vicars of Christ have been denounced as the “Worst Pope Ever” that we have to settle for a Top Ten list. •

Read It: Vatican Hall of Shame by Tony Perrottet

Get in touch with The Smart Set at editor@thesmartset.com.
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A former hedge fund manager’s recent decision to increase the price of a pill from $18 to $750 has sparked interest in prescription drug pricing and sales. This drug isn’t optional: It’s the standard treatment for taxoplasmosis, an illness that mainly affects those with compromised immune systems due to HIV or cancer. But when it comes to non-lifesaving pharmaceuticals, companies rely on advertising to get the word out. In article from our archives, Greg Beato discusses how the restrictions on drug advertising may be helping out the advertisers in the long run.

Critics of prescription drug ads contend that one reason they’re so effective is because they’re so misleading. But while it’s true that few prescription drug ads, if any, go out of their way to call attention to the shortcomings of their products, there’s an alternate explanation for their success: Prescription drug ads are amongst the most honest content that appears on TV. •

Read It: Drug Deals by Greg Beato

Get in touch with The Smart Set at editor@thesmartset.com.
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In the midst of Volkswagen’s latest scandal, we take a look back on the love bug’s long drive from a Nazi creation to a children’s television character, and how Hitler’s dream of “The People’s Car” was realized in an unexpected way over 70 years later — in India.

It was Hitler who said “the people” must have a car they can buy for next to nothing. Ideology created the demand and then gathered the forces necessary to fulfill it. The outcome was so damn good and clever and lovable that it outlived the crazy and terrible ideology that had created it. It was Hitler who said “the people” must have a car they can buy for next to nothing. Ideology created the demand and then gathered the forces necessary to fulfill it. The outcome was so damn good and clever and lovable that it outlived the crazy and terrible ideology that had created it.•

Read it: VW Recall by Morgan Meis »

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Nelson Shanks, acclaimed American realist painter of celebrities and officials ranging from Pope John Paul II and Princess Diana to Bill Clinton and the first four female U.S. Supreme Court justices, died late last week. Shanks studied art and architecture throughout the country and world, before eventually founding Studio Incamminati School for Contemporary Realist Art in Philadelphia. Most recently, his controversial claims about his portrait of Bill Clinton and a mysterious shadow resurrected the Lewinsky scandal, to the chagrin of his wife’s presidential campaign.

More… “Nelson Shanks (1937-2015)”

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Grant Hart is a songwriter and musician best known as a former member of the 80s hardcore punk band Hüsker Dü. Hart’s most recent album The Argument is an extended musical reworking of John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost.

This interview was conducted by students in the Honors course “Writing About Rock Music” at Drexel University with guidance from Smart Set editor Richard Abowitz. The conversation was constantly interrupted with laughter spurred by Hart’s infectious humor and sharp wit.

TSS: So I read that when you were growing up, you liked more of the 50s and 60s music…

GH: Well I considered what my peers were listening to and I thought, “God if these people are listening to this stuff, this stuff has to be stupid.” I was making an association that was false and there was a lot of stuff I had to go back and learn to appreciate, things that I skipped over before. Early 50s, the people that came from, let’s say poverty, and were exploited as songwriters but could make a hit record without any instrumentation short of their vocal sounds — that was really intriguing to me.
More… “Change of Hart”

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John Hughes, best known for directing a string of 1980s hit movies, died on Thursday. He was 59. For those who came of age during that era, Hughes’ films — such as The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off— left an indelible mark. Many of us have watched these films over and over, memorized scenes and lines (“Dong, where is my…auto-mobile?” “Auto-mobile?!”), fallen in and out of love with his characters. With that in mind, several of Smart Set writers offer their thoughts on Hughes’ ouerve.

The Breakfast Club (1985) By Greg Beato

The first rule of Breakfast Club is that you totally talk about Breakfast Club. And then you shout some about Breakfast Club, and do some truly awful dancing about Breakfast Club, and then you cry.

But mostly you talk. In 1985, when The Breakfast Club was originally released, this was a… More…

For a long time the cultural war over evolution was relegated to courtrooms and classrooms. But increasingly the battle is being waged on an unexpected front — the natural history museum. Traditional museums continue with their business of explaining evolution, but have become a bit more explicit in their support of the theory than in the past. After putting its Darwin exhibit on the road to Boston, New York’s American Museum of Natural History opened a new Hall of Human Origins in April. The Texas Memorial Museum will soon be the latest home of the traveling “Explore Evolution” exhibit. And in Chicago, the Field Museum’s “Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries” runs through September, “Darwin” until January. Meanwhile, this year also saw the opening of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. Among other claims, the museum proffers that the Earth is just 6,000 years old, and that dinosaurs walked with humans.

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