rough notes

rant – Bella et Sebastièn at The Coffee Shop

Now he’s playing discus at Palm Springs High School. Stars of track and field are beautiful people.

Sitting down in a multi-national conglomerate Coffee Shop™ gives on the opportunity to develop slow, mundane rants that are highjacked by large shots of caffeine, turning the entire thoughts into an incomprehensible mess. This one seems to feature consumerism fix of an inauthentic sense of communtiy to battle any sense of solitude that may have developed in our iPod culture. The iPod, and its earbuds, have liberated the people. No longer must we sit down with our mocha java lattes (venti please) with soy and listen to others who speak of their lives when we can ignore said lives, and our own , with our aesthetically pleasing earbuds and iodized, metallic, personally engraved data machines. (Lest the denizens can’t figure out what to call themselves anymore, Apple will be happy to engrave their favoriate brand name or coporate entity on the back instead.)

The Coffee Shop™ that serves the isolated individuals is determined to export kulture to their clients/customers/consumers/market. Walking in to the small enclosed space of warm lights, soft browns and bristled greys (all accented by deep green hues, of course), one is immediately assaulted by the smells and spaces of the supposed “third space”. The Coffee Shop™ originally promoted itself as the third space, the place in between work and home, where the elite and middle-rungs of the community could meet to talk and converse with, and entertain one another’s company, all at $3.29 for a venti supercharged nonfat frap. It goes without saying (for it has been said far too many times already) that The Coffee Shop™ has effectively commodified living spaces. The former non-profit meeting place has gone corporate; no longer does one meet for a simply coffee, but now meets for Starbucks or Second Cup or Timothy’s or Grabbajabba or Tims or Dunkin’ et cetera ad infinitum. The Coffee Shop has successfully marketed to the individual the absolute need to pay a surcharge to meet with their friends and family.

The third space is inviting. As previously mentioned, it has a fairly warm, if not bland décor. The service is friendly-full-of-smiles. The drinks are standard, and the foodstuffs will make do until one can finally make it back to grandma’s for the real thing. It is reasonable to assume that two friends could have an enlightened conversation within its walls. Those conversations are surrounded, however, by product to be purchased, commodities to be consumed. To the left of the entrance are the drinks, and to the right is the side-stand on which The Coffee Company™ can sell all the necessary items, indisposable to Third Space Living, to those in need. Even in the sitting area, on the other side of this sidestand, is a space that ought to be reserved for the company of strangers and acquaintances, can one still be reminded of the need to purchase the commodities by its glass backing, or the need to purchase more drinks, by the heaps of pre-packaged, pre-roasted, pre-ground, pre-prepared, pre-happy pre-comfortable pre-life-is-good-as-you-know-it-don’t-change-a-thing coffee beans. It may not be fair trade, but at least you get a fair cup each and every time.

The third living space is not immune, however, to the ipod kulture. Denizens enter prepared to hear the good times, but turn away from the music that The Coffee Shop™ produces from the air in favour of the music in their mp3 players. But The Coffee Shop™ is ready to fight back, by playing faux-World Music and faux-Folk Music and faux-Americana to the consumer, hoping that they will not feel they are not being preached to by Korporate Kulture PLC. The sounds, when in the air, are sometimes palatable, but often are not, until they are sold at the counter to the same consumers willing to take the sixty minutes of Sounds From Somewhere Else, declare a personal connection and call it their own. The process is completed only when the consumer takes the acoustic sounds (inspired from different places and different times, when electricity wasn’t prevalent and we were all a little more innocent, presumably) which have been turned into zeroes and ones for their compact discs and rips them into re-encoded data for their own mp3s players. The isolated individual is no longer isolated, but instead welcomed into a branded community of World Muzak and faux-Italian names for the same old coffee. The isolated individual once standing alone, still stands alone, but can now drink their venti-sized cafés while listening to rare tracks by Neil Young or Roots Manuva who have not sold out, but simply bought in. It is an immersion of commodification on several different layers.

You are commodified.

Written by mitchellirons

April 19, 2007 at 3:27 pm

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