Word has it that when someone confronted New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg about the city’s dearth of public restrooms, Bloomberg said the city’s tourists are more than welcome to dive into any nearby Starbucks for quick relief. After all, there are so damned many of them. And what’s going to get you into a Starbucks restroom faster than the diuretic properties of coffee? It’s a vicious, profitable cycle.
& ull; If you think there are a lot of Starbucks stores and kiosks now, be patient. A recent cover story by reporter Rick Anderson in the Seattle Weekly revealed that the caffeine behemoth has plans to redefine the catchphrase “world domination.” Currently it’s estimated that the coffee chain has 6,458 stores. It hopes to have 15,000 stores by 2005 and perhaps even 25,000 in a decade. Anderson noted that a mere 40 paces separated him from two Starbucks near Seattle’s 108th Avenue Northeast. When he asked a company spokesperson about the short distance, he got this chilly—and ominous—response: “Because we are part of our customers’ daily routine, often crossing a street could interrupt that routine.” Perhaps the LDS Church should shift gears from warning people about pornography and worry more about the coming coffee onslaught. The article also noted that detractors worried about the loss of independent coffee stores with lighter roasts have dubbed the chain “Charbucks.”
& ull; Aside from public sector employees, no one gets accused of jerking off more than writers. In his book Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation, history professor Thomas W. Laqueur studies the demarcating cultural and historical line that suddenly turned “solo numbers” into “self abuse.” Laqueur, who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley (natch), traces this line back to 1700, the dawn of the Enlightenment. Laqueur’s climactic thesis is that masturbation got attached to the more decadent, anxiety-laden idea of individual autonomy at a time when people felt uneasy about the new Enlightenment notions. Curiously, heavyweight figures Voltaire and Rousseau spoke out against the practice. If all this sounds like intellectual beard-stroking, it at least leaves masturbation’s maverick elements intact. Rebellion is, at heart, a quest for some kind of pleasure. Or is that the other way around?
& ull; Financial advisors have long sung the praises of real estate as an investment. The houses of rock stars, both dead and alive, are a bit trickier. Prince’s “Purple House,” where Purple Rain and 1999 were recorded, was demolished in March. Bob Dylan’s childhood home in Duluth, Minn., recently sold for a mere $94,000. A steal! Across the pond in Macclesfield, near Manchester, deceased Joy Division singer Ian Curtis’ modest home went on the market this year for Â£64,950 British pounds (about $95,000). Curtis hanged himself in the kitchen 23 years ago. Returning full circle to Seattle, Jimi Hendrix’s boyhood home went on eBay in August, 2001, for $69,500. The buyer could not leave it at its Central Area address, however, or it would have been torn down to make way for a 16-unit condominium development.