In my ex-girlfriend's neighbourhood in the west end of town used to be a little joint called Blueberry Hill. It was your classic mum and pops burger place where you could get food that not only was bad for you but actually had some substance and tasted awfully good. In the early days of our dating it was almost a ritual to go there, stuff our faces with grease and then go see a movie.
Until one day that Blueberry Hill was no more and was replaced by a corporate Pizza Pizza. I was disappointed that a unique pace like this would get replaced with something that I can find anywhere in the city. But unfortunately this seems to be the trend just about anywhere.
While the so called corporate food isn't bad, it isn't good either. Long are gone the days for places which had food to die for or that made taking a trip to that particular locale feel like something special. Now a days you either conform or you make it yourself. For now, Vesta Lunch is the grease spoon I travel to, but the nasty Greek owners are getting on with their age. I'm not sure how much time it will be left before no one there will growl at me in Greek while handing me my artery clogging food.
Starbucks is a fine example of this. It's everywhere. I even found one in Europe (heck, they even have BlockBusters). Their coffee isn't bad but it ain't anything worth writing home about either. When I want a good espresso I have to make a special trip to a specific part of town, otherwise I have to settle for the flavour-of-the-month, which tastes like dirty brown water with a hint of almonds and what not.
The most disturbing thing about all of this is that I can find this identical coffee everywhere in Canada, in stores that look almost alike, with the same music playing, the same gifts, the same corporate clones, the same propaganda.
Another thing that amazes my friend Peter Steen and myself is the type of people that seem to gravitate towards Starbucks. It almost seems these people come as part of the Franchise. We make it a point each time we stop for a cup of comformist coffee, to spot them:
The Laptop Person -- It never fails that there is some girl or a guy sitting there with a laptop doing god knows what as they seem to be more interested to stare at you than their screen. What, never seen someone buy a cup of coffee before? The machines they use are remarkable pieces of equipment that must've cost a fortune, meanwhile they are dressed worse than me (and I am, apparentely, a notorious slob). I can't help but wonder, what the hell do you people do there?
The artsy book worm -- This is the chap (or lass) that is sitting there gently sipping something while reading a book. The books never fail to be something awfully abstract on art or something so mind boggling that you wonder why, much like the laptop person, they are staring at you rather than concentrating on obviously a difficult artsy subject.
The student -- this is the person that must be finding a cure for cancer or something, judging by the insane amount of paper and books sprawled over the entire table they have conquered. On the bright side, so immersed they are in their work, they never look around.
Loud Obnoxious I know It Better Than Thou Prick -- usually a guy. They are talking to someone but all you can hear is their voice as they parade their awesome knowledge about something--usually art--for everyone to hear. He looks around also, perhaps in the hopes of applause. Or for someone to care.
The Lonely Nutcase -- because there is no better place to show off to the world what a wonderfully adjusted model citizen you are than with an exquisite gesticulating conversation with your immaginary pal while sipping a mochaccino.
The Girlfriends -- these are actually kinda fun to sit next to and listen. You will sit down knowing nothing about them and by the time you're done and you leave, you not only could call them by first name but know some pretty intimate details.
Our articles usually end with a lesson or a moral we're trying to pass on to our readership. Like in the case of "Pinocchio" it is to obey your Fascist leader and not to tell lies. The moral of "Snow White" is not to eat poisoned apples. The moral of World War II, is to never invade Poland.
But there is no moral for this article.