Friday, September 21, 2007

Smell of Burnt Cheese

Starbucks now apparently has its own XM radio station used for their increasing efforts at becoming an entertainment powerhouse. This morning, on New Montgomery and Jessie streets, they are playing something sort of urban contemporary plus old Motown. Our morning radio brands it "Old School and Today's R&B".

Most importantly there is the powerful smell of burnt cheese in here. I don't mean that figuratively. It really smells like goop on the broiler coils. I stopped in here today because I didn't want to go into work yet and because this is an inviting location: Big windows, great light, people passing. For this pleasure I pay, not just by the price of a vaguely sour cup of coffee, but by being made to consume tired hits from another era and the airborne residue of industrial food products.

At times like this I feel very much like a bug in a huge machine. I take my place in line, I consume, I put up with. I could choose to sit outside, say on a bench, or on the steps by the Montgomery BART station. Then, I can be a part of the on-going "fuck you" battles between the bike messengers and the indigent and socially abandoned. Because I'm a suburban kid, I choose to dwell in the chewing mouth parts, rather than the lower intestine of Semi-Capitalist 21st Century San Francisco.

Here is a theory: businesses such as Starbucks, which charge rent for the use of space, have a vested interest in the Homeless Population of a city like S.F. Why? Because an inhospitable cityscape provides a need for clean commercial space to whence visitors and the better-to-do can escape. I propose that Starbucks in some way, secretly, through insidious and conspiratorial means, promotes elements of urban blight and through policies of apparent altruism, helps to fill cities with a permanent underclass so as to drive traffic to their retail locations.

I'm not clear how they do that, but the burnt cheese has to be part of it.

Sent from my iPhone

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