Friday, November 12, 2004

Star Coffee Wars

Starbucks vs local coffee houses

Today I visited what has been called the Evil Empire or more exactly that "blood sucking corporation" I'm still not sure why it is called it that. OK, I sorta get it. Anyhow, it was busy as it usually is on days like today. I looked for Darth Vader, but he was nowhere in sight. I didn't want to stand in line; so I went up the street to the local coffee shop.

The locals usually get to the Empire earlier or they start at the local shop. Actually there are five places here where you can get a caffeine fix like the one I needed today. I prefer the cappuccinos from the Evil Empire. Their coffee though sucks. That goes for their tea as well.

At the local, I saw Darth Vader sipping on chamomile and jasmine tea. He had his mask off so he looked human. I had to laugh. He was just lounging.

There is an economic philosophy, economies of agglomeration, that says business increases by opening stores that sell the same products within a certain radius. All five coffee shops do a great business. I think the evil empire really hasn't harmed business for anyone. Actually it kinda dumbs it down for the tourists and locals alike. They go into the store name they remember and, overwhelmed by the line, move to one of the other four caffeine shops, all locally owned. They may even get a better cup of joe or discover the world outside of coffee.

Hmmm... Soothing tea, hot chocolate, root beer floats; remember them? I think I fall in love with floats every year. It's like remembering what it's like to be child again.

So is Darth Vader the father of Skywalker? I guess it's kinda how you look at it; the chicken or egg argument. Do you believe Darth kicked off the trend of coffee shops? If so, then the local ones wouldn't exist? Is Vader helping young Skywalker by increasing business in local or small towns like mine? Or does Vader really try to ruin the young Jedi by taking all the business away? Is Vader corrupting the Jedi's allies or Skywalker himself by tempting him to sell out?

The bad news is the Empire has a plan to triple the numbers of stores they have and add some stores with drive-thrus. Yes, I said triple, encouraging an already lazy nation to become even lazier. The Empire grows more dominant.

Here's what's good about the Empire: consumers can buy Fair Trade and shade grown, read less bitter, coffee in the same, if not better, percentages that they can buy it at their local grocery. Local coffee houses don't know shade grown and fair trade coffee from a hamburger.

Does this mean Skywalker has no chance? Have faith young Jedi. The coffee house is an institution that goes back to the 1500s where ideas, arts; enlightenment have been exchanged. That will not stop.

The battle will be long, fierce and silent, where consumers hold all the power over the outcome.


Thursday, November 11, 2004

FCC and Saving Private Ryan

I am settling down to watch a good movie that seems appropriate to the times we live in. It's Veterans Day, and I'm a little worn out. Watching a movie seems like a good idea. I turn the TV on and get a message that the FCC has deemed, what is one of the better war movies, 'too harsh to be shown in primetime while children might be watching'.

Should children see it? No. Children need their own world. The best world. A child's world of imagination and possibility. I thought that is what parents were for. Aren't parents responsible for their children? When did TV networks or the Federal government become responsible for our children and our lives? Maybe Howard Stern is right (may I be forgiven, 'cause I don't agree with the man's methods much). Satellite and cable are becoming the options in which people will retreat to in order to numb out or experience art. (when did I start calling TV art? Doesn't matter movies can be art.)

Now I'm fundamentally against war. Not a real good idea if you like the idea of living. But, humans have been at it, war, for far too long to have the radical idea of 'live and let live' become a part of the genetic make-up just yet.

For those of us who will never go to war, movies sometimes give us a glimpse, a sliver, of what it is we are not experiencing. Saving Private Ryan is such a movie. A better adaptation than many other movies to show war and how humans interact in one.

Maybe the FCC is practicing yoga because it somehow gained the flexibility to effectively screw itself with this new position.