Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch
cbertsch

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Straight Outta Caramel Macchiatos

I remember reading a story describing the "first urban Starbucks" back in the late 1990s with bemusement. As far as I could tell, there were already hundreds of urban locations. But this new store was in Harlem and therefore "urban" in a different sense.

I don't think that location was a collaborative venture between Starbucks and Magic Johnson's Johnson Development Corporation, but most subsequent "urban" stores have been. And now that partnership has come to the home of N.W.A.:
Mayor Eric Perrodin said the Starbucks ``was like a stamp of approval for the city of Compton'' and is symbolic of a new and prosperous time.
Fans of the green medallion from the days of its Pacific Northwest exclusivity or even when the sole location in the San Francisco Bay Area was at 51st and Broadway -- me, that is -- may tighten their sneers -- quantity almost always goes downhill with quantity -- but I think Alexis De Tocqueville would have regarded the mayor's statement as an accurate expression of American reality, even while not so secretly lamenting the demise of specialosity.

While I realize it may be stretching truth to the point of transparency to term Starbucks a "civic organization" in the sense of Democracy in American, there is something interesting about the way in which mainstream café culture reorganizes private "public" space. All those people sitting at their Wi-Fi laptops half-working in their office away from the office or, increasingly, their only office are engaged with other citizens in a way that people who don't work in public are not.
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