It’s not easy being an objectivist in the city. Ayn Rand lived here for 40 years and set her major novels in Manhattan, a place chockablock with misunderstood geniuses of the sort she celebrated. Nonetheless, their lives are often as bumpy as The Fountainhead’s Howard Roark’s, while brownnosers like his archenemy Peter Keating get ahead.
You see, objectivists have no need to schmooze. Except with each other, which they now can do over vegetarian food at the Fountainhead Café, on West 10th Street. “Objectivists enjoy getting together and talking about ideas,” says Jay Friedenberg, Manhattan College associate professor of psychology and host of the NYC Objectivist Discussion Group. “But the main problem has been location.” (His group meets, inconveniently, in Riverdale.)
Then along came Chad Brandon, 29, a Montana native who moved to New York after stints as a greenhouse builder and real-estate broker. He’s prone to sentences like, “I’ve never thought of myself as an objectivist, but it is my objective every day to be as objective as possible.” The slogan over the café door: EAT OBJECTIVELY, LIVE RICH. Brandon serves juice (“The Howard Roark” is carrot and ginger) and “Full of Thought” salads and will offer free Wi-Fi and a full collection of Rand’s works. He’s also going to stencil Rand quotes on the walls.
Brandon says, “This really is a fountainhead for me,” from which his other projects (including a plan to “revolutionize real estate”) will flow. And maybe we’re having a Rand moment: There’s an Atlas Shrugged movie in the works (possibly starring Brangelina). Brandon is planning to open an organic restaurant and after-hours club upstairs. It won’t serve alcohol. “There are a lot of interesting people who drink,” he says. “But if you watch people as they drink, you’ll see that they get progressively less objective.”