October 22, 2006


Tall Short Non Fat Double Whipped

I had a doctor once who used to regale me with stories of his shopping trips to Yorkville, a land of shops that might as well have have been in Oz to my teenaged sensibilities. The venue to spot famous people, the place to drop $2,000 on a purse, the land of leisurely lunches that cost my entire month's food budget.

He could afford it; I had no bitter with that. But one day he commented that whenever he went into a certain music store there, he always, always bought whatever they had wafting through the store speakers. He then casually mentioned that he rarely played it once he owned it. I remember feeling a little let down that this man I admired was a kind of lemming with a stethoscope around his neck.

It's not that I hadn't experienced the same pull; I'm not immune to the forces of advertising - in fact, I'm totally cognisant of the fact that far more energy is invested into making me want something than I have invested in avoiding it. I just wanted to believe that in the end, smarts and self-discipline could prevail.

I was buzzing through this story on how Starbucks is co-opting our lust for lattes by flogging everything from music to movies now. I'd noticed. I hadn't much cared. I grab a latte once in awhile, and stand amidst a bunch of people that look a little self-satisfied to my un-Yorkvilled eyes. I like book stores, mostly, and most Starbucks used to be attached to one I rather liked. Then they took out the chairs, and I stopped spending as much time, and money, in the bookstores.

I'm not happy when I'm being manipulated. Apparently, there are many of us who aren't happy unless we are. We want to be told that if this is the coffee we drink, then this is the music we should also like, and these are the movies and books that will appeal to us. What a bunch of crap. I can picture Ted Bundy with a frappacino, purchasing the newest nerdy word game while he laughs in a fake way with some other guy he's spent all afternoon loudly arguing the fundamental merits of existentialism with.

And Ted Bundy was a serial killer. See, anyone can fit in here.

I'll confess a secret lust I have to smack upside the head anyone who stands there ordering anything with more than 4 words in it. You sound like a dork. Shut up and order a coffee. Coffee shouldn't have whipped cream in it. Hot chocolate may, but it better be for your 6-year-old.

My brain has been too crowded this weekend with a million articles and stories I want to write about. It's rendered me pretty much speechless (stop cheering), and so I've picked on Starbucks. Actually, I'm picking on people that can't make up their own minds. No wonder our governments, all of them, are comprised of Pipers that pick the right tune at the right time.

We don't trust our own instincts anymore. We can't even decide if something tastes good unless someone tells us it does. What the hell? How about dialling back all the rhetoric, scraping off all the toppings and getting to the nut of the whole thing?

Quality over quantity; substance over style; fact over fiction. We need to quit being so lazy, and dig for our own answers. Don't just read one newspaper. Don't just listen to one voice. Learn something new - that thing you're reading this on isn't just to play games on, or babble with your friends. Though, admittedly, it's fun for that too. Just, don't sell yourself short on the ability to make up your own mind.

And of course, don't listen to me.

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