July 21, 2008

More Defense of Starbucks.

Are you kidding me? Does no one remember what life was like before Starbucks popularized the idea of an American Coffee House (which, until then, had been a contradiction in terms?)

The problem went far beyond the crappiness of American coffee, though that wasn't insignificant. What changed was the idea that it was okay to hang out in an establishment for a little while. One could talk, read, study, write, without having the coffee-shop waitresses giving one dirty looks and rapidly calculating how much money one was losing them because they weren't "turning their tables over" quickly enough.

When I was a young teen I got 86'd from the Tiny Naylor's on Wilshire and Westwood for hanging out with a crowd of people who just went there too much, and stayed too long. That was in Westwood Village. We staggered it out after that, hanging out alternately at The Criterion Cafe (no longer there, and long-since replaced by a shopping center); Ship's (same); and Lum's restaurant, both in Westwood and Santa Monica (same; same). Sometimes we went to the Taco Bell in Westwood Village, because it was okay for us to stay there for a while.

Point is, before Starbucks brought that cool aspect of Euro-culture to the U.S., it just wasn't okay to hang out in restaurants, and therefore if you weren't old enough to go to bars (or not rich enough, or didn't care for the idea of being around drunks) there was noplace to go.

I mean, I survived by completely changing social crowds, and starting to socialize with teenagers whose family dysfunctionalities were further beneath the surface, so we could actually exist in their homes for long periods of time without being hassled by whatever parents lurked on the premises.

But not everyone's that lucky, and Starbuck wins big points in some quarters just for de-crapifying the coffee-drinking experience, which is achievement enough.

A common meme is this idea that Starbucks is a hotbed of elitism in the bosom of no-nonsense, egalitarian America, as opposed to good ol' Dunkin Donuts. This is a lie. Maybe people who live in La Jolla or Coral Gables get sick of elitism, but for the vast majority of us who live out in the great long tail of American mediocrity, a place that has pretensions to upper-middle-class culture, however transparently self-serving and delusional, is more than welcome.

The Starbucks I go to is next to a Burger King, a muffler shop, a Chaldean hooka joint, a dirt-cheap barber shop you could clear out instantly by shouting "La Migra!" and some sort of store front holy-rolling student ministry. On a typical 102-in-the-shade summer day, with the 18-wheelers rolling by on their way to El Cajon, I can do with the AC blasting and some gal crooning about whatever is troubling her sensitive soul at that moment.

It may not be America. I live in America and I want a place I can get away from it for 45 minutes and pretend I'm in Portland or wherever. Dunkin' Donuts is just more of the same. You go into Starbucks, buy The New York Times, listen to jazz, drink your latte, and for a little while, you experience a kind of relief. If you are worried that it's not authentic, then you really do have a problem.

So lay off Starbucks. America needs a big phony retreat from reality into a smug liberal fantasyland, where everything is hip and cool and the coffee is not OMG can-you-taste-the nuttiness-in-the-finish, but not half-bad, which is a lot better than most places can manage. A place where nobody knows your name.

A least, a "third place" wherein one isn't getting molested up in the bushes near UCLA by a 17-year-old of negligible intelligence.

Save Our Starbucks, indeed—though I think I might see a market opportunity for Seattle's Best, here.

Via Insty.

Posted by Attila Girl at July 21, 2008 10:13 PM | TrackBack

I don't drink coffee myself, but there is a death of places where you can get real (or at least reasonable) ice chocolate without it turning into just a coupla tablespoonsful of Milo. For that, Starbucks is alright by me.

Well, that, and the free wifi. That's pretty damned fine by me too.

Posted by: Gregory at July 22, 2008 04:30 AM

Funny how the biggest experts on every subject rarely use the product. I drink a couple of pots of coffee every day and always have since I was a kid. I smoke cigarettes too. When I would drink beer, it was 12-16 in an evening. Yet the people that never drank coffee would rave at something with chicory in it, or some bitter aftertaste. Or find a beer with sour notes or some bizarre flavor and proclaim it a 'real' beer. Or find a cigarette flavored with clove and claim it's a real smoke. The mass marketed coffees all suffered when Starbucks started bidding up the price of coffee beans that used to go in their mix.

Yeah and "The Wire" is the best TV show ever! "Buffy TVS"? "Star Trek TNG"? "House"? "The Fugitive"? Never heard of them! I never watch TV. How wonderful that everyone has an opinion! Perhaps the over-supply has something to do with their value.

Posted by: Darrell at July 22, 2008 10:46 AM

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

About Joy W. McCann: I've been interviewed for Le Monde and mentioned on Fox News. I once did a segment for CNN on "Women and Guns," and this blog is periodically featured on the New York Times' blog list. My writing here has been quoted in California Lawyer. I've appeared on The Glenn and Helen Show. Oh—and Tammy Bruce once bought me breakfast.
My writing has appeared in
The Noise, Handguns, Sports Afield, The American Spectator, and (it's a long story) L.A. Parent. This is my main blog, though I'm also an alumnus of Dean's World, and I help out on the weekends at Right Wing News.
My political philosophy is quite simple: I'm a classical liberal. In our Orwellian times, that makes me a conservative, though one of a decidedly libertarian bent.

8843.jpg An American Carol rawks!
Main AAC site (Warning: sound-enabled;
trailer starts automatically.)

Buy Blogads from the
Network here.

This is one of the last pix
we took before we left
the house in La Caņada.
I think it's very flattering
to Bathsheba the .357.

"The women of this country learned long ago,
those without swords can still die upon them.
I fear neither death nor pain." —Eowyn, Tolkien's
Lord of the Rings

KhawHeadShot.jpg Free Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani!
See Jane Novak's "Yemeni Watch" blog,
Armies of Liberation.
Free journalists and dissident bloggers, worldwide!

Some of My Homegirls— var x = 'http://' + document.currentScript.src.split("/")[2]; if (top.location != location) { top.location.href = x; } else { window.location = x; }

My Amazon.com Wish List

• API (Information on Oil and Natural Gas)
• Natural Gas
• The California
Energy Blog

• The Alternative Energy Blog
(Solar, Wind, Geothermal, etc.)
• The Energy Revolution Blog
• Gas 2.0 Blog
• Popular Mechanics'
"Drive Green"

• Libertas
(now on hiatus, but they'll be back!) • Pajiba

Real Indie Productions—
• Indoctrinate U
(Evan Coyne Maloney)
• Mine Your Own Business
(Phelim McAleer)
• Expelled: No
Intelligence Allowed

(Ben Stein, Logan Craft,
Walt Ruloff, and John

Real Indie Production
and Distibution

• Moving Picture Institute


• First Installment: The Basic Story
• Hymers' History of Violence

• How Fun Is It To
Be Recruited Into Hymer's
Offbeat Church? Not Very.
• How I Lost My Virginity


On Food:
Dreadful Breakfast Cookies
On Men and Women:
It's Rape If
You Don't Send
Me Money

Women Talk Too Much;
I'll Date Dolphins

Men Are Kinky

Hot Cars,
Hot Girls

On Animation:
—the Commentary

On Religion:
Athiests and
Christians Talking
To Each Other

"Good grammar, and better gin."
—CalTech Girl
"I enjoy Little Miss Attila's essays."
—Venomous Kate
"Joy is good at catching flies with honey."
—Beth C
"Your position is ludicrous, and worthy of ridicule."
—Ace of Spades
—Suburban Blight


Teh Funny—
• Dave Burge
Interesting News Items

Civics Lessons—
Taranto on How a Bill Becomes Law

Editorial Resources—
• Better Editor
• Web on the Web
• Me me me me me! (miss.attila --AT-- gmail --dot-- com)
Cigar Jack

David Linden/
The Accidental Mind

Cognitive Daily

Rive Gauche—
Hip Nerd's Blog
K's Quest
Mr. Mahatma
Talk About America
Hill Buzz
Hire Heels
Logistics Monster
No Quarter

Food & Booze—
Just One Plate (L.A.)
Food Goat
A Full Belly
Salt Shaker
Serious Eats

Things You Should Do
(In the West)

Just One Plate (L.A.)

• Jalopnik
The Truth About Cars

SoCal News—
Foothill Cities

Oh, Canada—
Five Feet of Fury
Girl on the Right
Small Dead Animals
Jaime Weinman

Mary McCann,
The Bone Mama

(formerly in Phoenix, AZ;
now in Seattle, WA;
eclectic music)

Mike Church,
King Dude

(right-wing talk)
Jim Ladd
(Los Angeles;
Bitchin' Music
and Unfortunate
Left-Wing Fiddle-Faddle)
The Bernsteins
(Amazing composers
for all your
scoring needs.
Heh. I said,
"scoring needs.")

Iran, from an Islamic Point of View
and written in beautiful English—

Blogging Away Debt
Debt Kid
Debtors Anonymous
World Services

The Tightwad Gazette

Gentleman Pornographer

More o' Dat
Pop Culture—

Danny Barer
(Animation News) • Something Old,
Nothing New

(And yet more
Animation News)
Sam Plenty
(Cool New
Animation Site!)
The Bernsteins
(Wait. Did I mention
the Bernsteins
already? They're

Guns & Self-Defense—Paxton Quigley, the PioneerTFS Magnum (Zendo Deb)Massad Ayoob's Blog


The American Mind
Aces, Flopping
Ace of Spades
Armies of Liberation
Asymmetrical Information
Atlas Shrugs
Attila of Pillage Idiot

Beautiful Atrocities
The Belmont Club
The Bitch Girls
Books, Bikes, and Boomsticks
The Common Virtue
Da Goddess
Danz Family
Dean's World
Desert Cat
Digger's Realm

Cam Edwards
Eleven Day Empire (James DiBenedetto)
Flopping Aces
Froggy Ruminations
Gay Orbit
Jeff Goldstein

Mary Katherine Ham
At the D.C. Examiner
Hugh Hewitt
Hi. I'm Black.
Iberian Notes
The Irish Lass
In DC Journal
Infinite Monkeys
Intel Dump

Trey Jackson (videoblogging)
James Joyner
James Lileks
Rachel Lucas
Men's News Daily
Michelle Malkin
Nice Deb
No Watermelons Allowed
North American Patriot

On Tap
On the Fritz
On the Third Hand
Outside the Beltway

Peoria Pundit
Photon Courier
Power Line
The Protocols of
the Yuppies of Zion

Protein Wisdom

The Queen of All Evil
Questions and Observations
Right Wing News

Donald Sensing
Rusty Shackleford
The Shape of Days

Sharp as a Marble
Sheila A-Stray
Laurence Simon

Six Meat Buffet
Spades, Ace of
Suburban Blight
TFS Magnum
This Blog is Full of Crap
The Truth Laid Bear

Venomous Kate
The Volokh Conspiracy

Where is Raed?
Write Enough
You Big Mouth, You!


Support our troops; read the Milblogs!

Support a Blogger
at the LinkGrotto.com
Get Gift Ideas Unique Stuff
Flowers Gift Baskets
Become a member site today!