Starbucks – your third place?

Starbucks, if you are my third place, kill me now – 

I can’t recall the exact day, but I missed Live 8, Bob Geldof’s second coming. One summer day in 2005, as the Boomtown Rats “cocked it up by singing I don’t like Mondays,   I, a college student, “crafted” lattes, cappuccinos, and those frappuccinos for Starbucks. Never the wiser that some seventeen years later, I would be back in the green apron under the Siren’s watchful gaze.

I, the graduate student, continued through a Bachelor’s and Masters’s degree into positions of responsibility and respect, appreciation and apprehension – until the prospect of professional paramount became too nauseating to pursue – resulting in alcoholism and delusions of reality, sickening positions.   

I always said, “If I could be a Barista and make a living…”

One day ground broke on a Starbucks within eyesight of the cell where I made my living. 

Ecstatic – as if a call from God or a Siren’s song – I put in my application – quickly returned with a job offer – an offer I should have considered with a bit more caution.   

To be back in the environment of third place- Awesome. The peace of an environment which allowed me to be who I am and share the love of coffee and kinship with all who entered – I was back in the green, ready to return to what I remembered before professional life attempted to kill me. 

Howard Shultz was returning to his position just as I was returning to mine. We both, presumably, took a reduction in pay to find the spark and connection to people that made us both want to take the time in our day to fuze with those around us, the partners and customers, the fellow Baristas, the smiles, and celebrations.

 I only assume that he felt the same reminiscence that I felt. At this point, I can only believe that Howard has found his Starbucks dead while relinquishing the reigns to the new CEO. The loyalty, appreciation, emotion, feel, coffee, mood, and the collection of all that was the third place are gone.  

For those Partners who have chosen to strike and speak up, I applaud you – the expectations of those who control you are unrealistic and utterly ridiculous. 

However, suppose Starbucks is your definition of a third place. In that case, the police should be called, CPS needs to be notified, and the meaning of love, understanding, and togetherness will have to be reevaluated in the Starbucks dictionary. 


Who is the better lyricist, Paul or John

Before there was John and Paul – there was Paul and John and those other guys – laying out those biblical love lyrics.

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know that John was like, “bigger than Jesus we are.”

I could see Yoda and John, in a bed-in, in that little cave in the Dagobah System – philosophizing – sorry – way off the topic.

John was jealous of Paul – not that Paul, but the Paul that wrote all those letters to those churches.
John might have believed he was more significant than Jesus – but as we see in the writing, John has to be humbled by Paul.

Let’s play a game of who wrote it, Paul or John – ready – you go first.

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another.”

Sound a bit like John, right – no it’s Paul.

Here’s one – “let us pursue the things making for peace and the things that are upbuilding to one another.”

It sounds like something John and Yoko would have written on a wall of some makeshift art installation – but No – Paul.

“There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male or female, for all of you are one.”

Well, this last piece sounds like something off the Imagine album, but no, it’s New Testament.

“Love is patient and kind” – John could have only wished.

Well, this could go on all day – but I think it proves who is the best lyricist.

And as for that other Paul, the only thing he ever did was Yesterday – hey, finally one by Paul.

What is worse than riding on an Amtrak train? Maybe confronting yourself.

Ahh, the romance of train travel. Reclined, relaxed, renewing oneself while gazing lazily at the world through the picture window.
The folds of landscape pass, naturally rise and fall, enveloping one into Mother Nature’s picture book – sometimes invaded by man’s dedication to himself. Like the scribble of an adolescent with a crayon – Homeosapians’ relentless progress influences artificial weathering and erosion while depositing his longing for remembrance in deep compaction of fifth and wealth – soon sending Mother Nature’s work to the discard pile.

Wait -what is wrong with me?

This is not true.


I am passing by a plethora of beauty—God’s creation. Only my picture window is stained with filth, distorting my view.
Perhaps it is my eyes that are stained? My perception?
Do I no longer see the wonderful world full of beauty? What is the cause of my perverted vision?

Man cannot be so powerful – my vision is perverted. My vision limits and causes me not to see the forest for the trees.

My spacious seat is surrounded by others who have set up little Banana Republics on this cross-country Amtrak journey. We carry our needs, our perceived needs, and each his own.

We are connected only by these walls of a train. We journey together, but each journey is ours. Perhaps society could learn from nature. Perhaps our arrogance and disconnect from our “natural” relationship have been our greatest sin.
To borrow an idea or two from Edward Abbey –
We reap what we do not sow – and plant things where they do not naturally grow.
Beyond this smeared window lays symbiotic relationships, biotic and abiotic kinships from microscopic to astronomical. Systemic truths developed out of a need to survive rather than to find purpose.

Perhaps that is where true beauty is found.

A spiritual kinship that cannot be screen-printed on a t-shirt or scribbled on a FAQ page.

A majestic peak is only majestic on the surface – under the surface is aggressive – pushing and pulling, destroying and creating – a natural war. I find it ironic that man feels superior when he climbs to the peak. I am more impressed by those who move the mountain.

Why did Thoreau sit and watch the forest burn? Could he have tamed it with water and a call for help? Would that have made Thoreau superior?

If destruction provides for new creation, then perhaps that fire is a form of conception/renewal. Would firefighting then be a form of nature abortion?

Was Thoreau a Right to Lifer?
Was Thoreau a voyeur?

The Amtrak roles on and the scenes beyond the distorted glass pass and the Amtrak roles on-

Wait! No, it does not. It stops—a lot.