Sunday, November 28, 2004

Starbucks, Kinky Friedman, and the Quote of the Day

Reading today's New York Times Book Review, I came across this gem in Kinky Friedman's review of Jimmy Buffet's new novel:

"Yet even Melville couldn't have predicted that his character Starbuck would lend his name to a giant corporate necklace that would one day seek to strangle America."

Please, Kinky. The plebeians ain't buying it, well in fact they are -- by the gallons. This anti-Starbucks mentality is a real pet peeve. Starbucks was a small business that became a success, provides decent wages and benefits, something unusual in jobs like these, and has provided work, caffeine, and a place to hang out for countless wanna-be bohemians, would-be radicals, and starving musicians. Starbucks has provided gourmet coffee to many American who before the invasion of the green aprons thought a good cup of joe was pre-ground Folgers. In addition, it has opened up a whole market that was once limited to a few urban enclaves--I guess the Sartre imitators don't want to share with the soccer moms. Many small and medium markets now have mom-and-pop coffee shops, and most cities also have independently owned coffee houses and chains, businesses that wouldn't have existed in the pre-Starbucks world. I am all for supporting small, independently owned business, but Starbucks was once just that and they made good by providing folks something they want. I guess for Kinky and friends it is better to wallow in obscurity than be successful.

The ironic thing is that Kinky's quote is buried in a review that praises Buffet's book and Treasure Island because they are entertainment that appeals to the masses. I guess it's OK for his coke-snorting buddy (yes, this is referenced in the review) to succeed by repeating a tired formula of dumbed-down pop music, but not for a company that works hard and provides a superior product to a large number of people. I guess this is "what comes of too much pills and liquor." Besides, Kinky, there is always 7-11.

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