Saturday, January 01, 2005

Cup 10: Making Do

Originally uploaded by matt_leclair.
Location: Borders Books and Music, Borders, ME
When: January 1st, 2005, 2 OM
Present: Jess Brakeley
Coffee: Border's Italian Roast
Mood: excited

I promised to read The Golden Compass if the Curtis (my sister's family) took us with them to see the play in England. I guess it is quite a production. The play is four hours a day, for two days. Mike, my brother in law, is an international pilot for Continental, and he really wants to see the play. His family gets to fly free, and I get to go for cheap. Caritha was shocked to learn that I hadn't read the
His Dark Materialstrilogy yet, so I said I'd read it if they brought us along to the play. We had an hour to kill before the movie, Team America started, so we headed over to Borders to pick up The Golden Compass and grab a coffee before the show.

Somehow I feel like a traitor whenever I go to Borders. It is a moot point, really. The giant retail chain bookstore has already put all the smaller bookstores in the area out of business, so it isn't like there is an elsewhere to take my business to. But I still feel guilty. It is like going to Starbucks, or something. In Portland I saw how Starbucks operates when they move into a new area. They let other coffee shops do the marketing research, then buy up property next to a successful locally-owned shop. At least three of my favorite family-run locally-owned coffee shops went out of business because they couldn't compete. Now that I think of it, Borders now serves Starbucks coffee. I just hate it when my money goes to support corporate giants that put local businesses out of business.

So I feel awkward and guilty when I buy books or drink coffee at Borders. Like I am sleeping with the enemy, betraying my morals. But it isn't like my money is going to Borders instead of a local business. We are sadly lacking in coffee shops and bookstores here. The only other bookstores around here are used bookstores, and they get 10X more money from me than Borders does, so the only competition Borders has here in terms of new books is But still...

The coffee was standard Stabucks weirdness. It tries hard to taste like good coffee, but every cup of coffee from Starbucks tastes like every other cup of coffee from Starbucks, regardless of location, water or equipment quality, staff ability, or any other variable. It is just too consistent. It is serviceable, and in the absense of a real coffee shop, such as when one is stuck in an airport or in Valley Forge, PA, it does the job. But there is just something not quite real about it, like the difference between Borders and a real bookstore. That makes me realize how much I miss about my former home cities of Portland, ME and Portsmouth, NH. There are no real coffee shops here.


pale ale said...

maybe you should think about having your coffees in different locations, I mean way beyond Maine and your own front maybe one in each state. hmm?

matt leclair said...

That is a great idea! Unfortunately I don't have the time or the funds for it right now. Also, it violates one of the rules I set for myself when I started this. To the extent possible, I can't do things different from how I'd normally do them in order to make the project more interesting.

pale ale said...

Well that rule you set for yourself brings a whole lot of intergrity to your project. Perhaps in another documentry, someday, down the road you can try another project like the first 100 rest stops. Good luck with your cups of Joe. :)

matt leclair said...

Integrity is a plus! OTOH, it means that this could also be the most boring project ever, both for the reader and for myself. But it raises interesting questions. How does Heisenberg's principle apply if the oberver and the observed are one in the same? And while I have the rule that I don't let the fact that I am doing a blog change the way I normally do things, at the same time I am doing this to learn something (though as of right now I an don't know what that is). If I come to the realization that my life is painfully boring, and I really do need to travel more, drink coffee in exotic locations and so on, do I make the change or have I already thwarted myself?

jennybunny said...

Does anybody know if Java Joe's in the Old Port still exists? Haven't been there in a while...

matt leclair said...

Alas, Java Joes it gone, replaced by something generic and boring that tries to be hip and comes of as just sad. Not sure what happened to Jave Joes. So sad. It was the best cafe for people watching.