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Friday, September 21, 2007

Grateful Starbucks

I used to laugh at people who go to Starbucks, but recently I have become one of them. It started out with an iced coffee one morning. I was early for an MRI appointment and so I decided, what the heck, I probably won't die if I get an iced coffee at Starbucks. Anyway, soon after that I began a temp job at a certain Ivy League institution on the Upper West Side. Everyday on my way to work I would pass a Starbucks and every now and then I would decide I wanted an iced coffee, and so I would go in and purchase one.

Sometime later I was bold and ordered an iced latte, and I must say it was delicious. And so I began purchasing one each morning on my walk to work (it's only a 12 minute walk). The price is $4.06. I was getting one every weekday morning. If I were to do that all year I would spend about $1,000 on lattes. That seems ridiculous, especially since I'm not making what I used to make as a NYC public school teacher.

So I've been prudent and have cut down my intake. I may get one or two a week. I've noticed they've been playing 'American Beauty' quite often, a Grateful Dead album. I used to be really into the Dead when I was 13 or so, and even went to a concert in Pittsburgh, which turned out to be their 4th or 3rd to last concert before Jerry Garcia died.

An unlikely but adorable pair
Hearing the Grateful Dead prompted me to listen to a couple of Dead songs I have on my iPod, one of which is called Black Peter. It's about this guy, Peter, who is dying. Anyway, there's this really great line that goes, 'See here how everything, leads up to this day, and it's just like any other day that's ever been.' How true. It reminds me of a line from Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar I've been thinking about a lot. It's spoken by someone after Ceasar has been killed. He's lying dead on the senate floor, and someone says:
O mighty Ceasar, dost thou lie so low? Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils, shrunk to this little measure?
Now, the Dead and Shakespeare lines are very much connected, they both speak to the anti-climactic, mundane nature of a person's death. Whether it be Peter, some silly guy who lives out in the woods, or Ceasar, who ruled the mightiest empire in the world, everything just ends for that person but the world doesn't care so much and moves on.
Anyway, this is why it's nice to drink lattes from Starbucks. It's good to enjoy simple pleasures and forget about the predicaments of human experience. So I really think Starbucks should refrain from playing music that makes you think about death. (Note: Starbucks was not playing Black Peter, the song referenced here. However, American Beauty does not shy away from speaking of the frailties and impending doom of life)