Friday, January 25, 2013

Operation Coffee House V

Because of my tight schedule today I had to forgo the regular hipster area of Minneapolis to find my fifth coffee shop and instead settle on one located near one of my free wood supply depots as I'm running short this year on heating wood.  Unfortunately, the closest wood supply depot is in the suburbs which means I'm at a chain coffee store.  Let's just say it starts with an "S" and ends with "arbucks."

However, even though it is cookie cutter coffee I believe visiting at least one of these chains provides me with a control group to compare and contrast against the heavily imbued hipster, uptown, koffee kulture.

First thing is parking.

One of these days the major cities will realize that if they want people to come to the city and spend their money then they should jettison their stupid parking laws and making parking free.  they should also do away with meter maids and make their city (gasp) WELCOMING.  You ever see a "meter maid" in the suburbs?  No, of course not.  This is (in part) why every major metro area in the US is essentially a donut - production, progress and high standards of living surrounding an empty hole of nothing as capital, workers, and innovators escape outwards from the city.  Regardless, I sit here now without the annoying concern in the back of my mind

"Did I read that parking sign right?  What if they write tickets on even number days?  Are there snow emergency restrictions?  What if I get a false ticket (which I have before, Minneapolis will do that when particularly desperate for money).  Is it worth going downtown to argue for $30?"

I can just focus on this fine branch of a monster coffee conglomerate.

Second, the people are obviously better dressed, but they aren't trying.  There is no "theme" to their clothing or fashion.  ONe guy is in a suit and is working furoiusly.  There is a 43 year old woman who was no doubt beautiful in her youth in a sweater and jeans.  Two women dressed for the weather are sharing a conversation, and a high school kid with a letter jacket just walked in.  Even though it is the suburbs, there is no homogeneity, everybody is doing their own thing, have their own personalities, and have their own lives.  But think about that statement.  I'm in the suburbs.  The most compliant, boring, cookie cutter, SWPL culture in western civilization.  And these people STILL have more diversity and non-conformity than their "koffee kulture hipster" counterparts as they aren't trying to "rebel," they're merely living their lives.  Alas, I should perhaps refer to the cool uptown coffee drinkers as "koffee kulture conformists" for that is what they are.

Music has probably been chosen by some marketing genius at Starbuck's HQ as a means to replicate as closely as possible to the underground music played in the city coffee houses.  It sounds similar, but faked.  Then again, I can't tell one touchy feely song sang by an emasculated man from another.  Who knows, maybe the musician I'm listening to right now was one of those underground, local musicians who swore he would never go corporate until Starbucks offered him enough money that he gladly shed the faux-independent musician schtick and took the money. 

The music actually just doesn't fit the people here.  I remember listening to the Tom Leykis archives and he was just REAMING the likes of Starbucks and Caribou about how they overcharge for coffee.  His rant was so effective he got somebody from Starbucks to call him and discuss why they charge so much.  She literally said it was so people could have the "Starbucks Experience."

It just doesn't jibe. 

The inner city coffee houses have a "culture."  The suburbanite chain store doesn't.  It's is merely like the people - functional.  It's a place to stop by, get coffee, work, maybe even socialize, but then inevitably go about their day.  Whatever "experience" Starbucks thinks it's offering doesn't exist.  People came here for a purpose, not to mediate.  This is now confirmed in that half the people who were here no more than 20 minutes ago have left.  Contrast that with the cool koffee kulture, I think there's less than a 10% turnover and I've spent 2 hours at some places.  Those people go there to GO THERE.  They have nothing else to do...though of course, the same could be said of me.

I didn't get the coffee.  I got a diet Coke. 

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