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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

“A Venti of Fucking What?”

Posted by on September 12 at 11:01 AM

I spent last weekend in Vancouver, attending its fringe festival and staying in the cheap, conveniently located, and charmingly bizarre Shaughnessy Village, which was like staying on a boat. The rooms are tiny, like cabins, and the place is decked in nautical kitsch, from the model boats to the non-functional portholes everywhere to the shuffleboard (shuffleboard) to the, uh, uncircumcised sculptures.

Folks in Vancouver were maddeningly polite, except for a refreshingly cranky—and vulgar—cafe owner who had posted this sign on his espresso machine:

cafe sign.jpg

(The smaller note at the top says: “Unrully [sic] or unsupervised children may be given a free double espresso.”)

“You like that sign?” the owner asked. My friend and I said yes, that we were from Seattle, that we thought it was funny. “The coffee industry is fucking bullshit,” he growled. “It so fucking pretentious. I mean, venti, in Italian, means twenty. So you go over there and ask for a venti and they’ll ask: ‘A venti of fucking what?’ It’s ridiculous. You know what I mean?” We said we did.

But the most memorable thing in Vancouver—more striking than the socialist architecture, the procedural politeness, and the over-the-counter codeine in the drug stores—was this tag, which we saw in several places:

never forget.jpg

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wow. i'm totally ripping that tag off and screening myself a tshirt.

What was your favorite otc codeine location? They have been a bit iffy lately.

Global cooling dude. It killed off the dinosaurs.

Go to the Elbow Room Cafe for Breakfast. There, they are scrupulously rude.

LOL, the dino thing is hilarious!

BR: Some drug store on Granville—just the first one I came to. Or, rather, that my friend came to. I'm a bit of a chicken about those kinds of things so she did the asking, but they didn't give her any trouble.

Oh, I just clued in - you said people in Vancouver were "maddeningly polite". See, I try to explain that here in Seattle we're polite, but not very friendly. There, they're polite and they're very friendly.

Some neighborhoods in Seattle are both, of course, but not many.

heh heh, I honestly love it when baristas and coffeehouse managers get defensive about ANY usage of Starbucks lingo in their cafes. It's only because I feel the same way.

Think about it this way: is it appropriate to walk into a random, smaller time burger restaurant and ask for a Big Mac with Super Size Fries?

Yeah, I own a real t-shirt with that never forget slogan on it.

On the coffee-nazi, I wonder if these bitchy coffee boutique types ever think to themselves, "Gee, I wonder what my business would be like if Starbucks hadn't created a world-wide market for a $4 cup of coffee and steamed milk"? How convenient it would be to think of myself as mutually exclusive from the things I loathe.

depends on what kind of coffee boutique you're talking about...having worked at the last exit and the allegro way back when, the rise of starbucks meant an equal decline in customer intelligence.

Starbucks did not yield an increase in income, but it did yield a dramatic rise in hazelnut mochas (do you have any idea what a coffeemaker does to one of those? [burn the hell out of the milk!]). Most real coffeehouses never had flavors let alone 20 oz. cups prior to Sbux.

now if you're talking about a drive thru stand on Aurora, point taken.

Fringe festival: Was there anything worth seeing? I'm heading up this weekend...

Dear A:

Yes. The Pajama Men, from Chicago by way of Albuquerque, are fantastic, but they sell out quickly so get tickets straightaway. Zombies, from Ontario, is terrible. I wanted to see LegoLand, which I heard was great, but didn't get the chance. Our homegrown folks are doing well: The Excursionists, from Seattle, is a good show, as is Colossus by the Cody Rivers Show (who are also getting a lot of press love at the Vancouver festival). Drumheller wasn't so good (despite the hype) and Audible was fair to middling. Good luck! And let me know what you see and love and hate. I'm curious about some of those other shows...

Personally, I HATE the "grande/venti" thing.

I might vote for someone based solely on the fact that they would legislate "Small. Medium. Large."

Personally, I support the death penalty for Hazelnut Mochas, or any other kind of flavoring besides coffee flavoring. Unless it comes out of a bottle of booze.

Thanks, Brendan.

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