Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Coffee closes, T opens

It might take a lot to stun everyone in Hobart on a day that we found out one of the Veronicas is gay, but the impending closure of our Starbucks is causing quite the concern among the inner circle of Hobart. Today of all days, just as the Mercury launched the new section in the local paper, "T", which is apparently going to be like the Confidential section in the Herald Sun, but with less recognisable faces - think less film premieres, more people sipping wine at someones 21st - our social elite getting their own section in the paper is cause for celebration nonetheless. I've been trying to think if, when we lived in Penguin, we counted as local identities. Maybe in some way, but probably not, because my mother wasn't into that sort of thing, but we really could have been. My problem, and the reason I'll never be in "T" is twofold (I was really close to making a T for twofold joke...didn't quite work). Firstly, I'm never sure where the happening events are. No one tells me, and I certainly don't get invited to them. Secondly, I don't do well at pretensious events. I'm not good at dressing up - the boss before the boss we had now, who I hated, like, even more than I hate Brian McFadden, was always trying to better us and he took us for one function to the royal tennis club. It was really horrible, watching gay men play royal tennis, but it was palatable for the free wine and cheese. However, later that night I was royally sick on a mixture of cough medicine, rum and wine. Let me hold the pose, I think I hear the photographers from T coming...

I'd imagine that people who drink coffee end up in T, and I hate coffee. There's an excellent Starbucks in Melbourne, a really good one that does fantastic Ham and Cheese toasted sandwiches, but the one in Hobart I can honestly say I've never been into. This is for a number of reasons - mostly, I'm not a fan of the mall, in case the big black girl who used to run it tries to steal my wallet again. Actually, it's all about location. I'm not comfortable in the location of it, because it's where Red Herring (the surf store) used to be once upon a yonder. Red Herring never made me feel comfortable, because it was the first place I ever really felt old in my life. And that was when I was 19. There was something impossibly youthful about the people who worked there - you know that joke in the Simpsons where the MTV VJ has a watch on that counts down until she turns 21 then she gets fired? Was that the Simpsons? Anyway, I think Red Herring was like that. I was always served by impossibly perky 10 year old surfer dudes, and there's just no way I can convincingly pass myself off as a "dude" in those situations. The whole building had this weird cosmic energy that made it impossible for anyone over the age of fifteen to shop there, and I don't think if I went into Starbucks, even with a copy of No Logo by Naomi Klein under my arm to try and look trendy (do the kids still read that?), I could shake that energy off.

I always fancied being a writer though, and I think I could easily pass my days in a Starbucks style environment - although this would get in the way of my plans to find a local pub, and drink myself to death while calling the barmaids darl all day long. The Starbucks in Hobart, as I said I've never been in, but I hope it was like the ones in Melbourne that sold co-branded CDs by funky African artists or Miles Davis or something. I'm hardly Naomi Klein (this is more publicity than she's had in a while) but I'm always a bit uncomfortable seeing the funkiest, coolest Nigerian trumpet player of the 50s having their work sold in a multi national conglomerate dedicated to shutting down mum and dad coffee shops. Maybe they don't do that in Hobart. I know at the one in Melbourne they sell little coffee satchels so when you get home, you can re-create Starbucks in your own home...actually, that's not a smart idea. I actually found the one in Melbourne, at least at first, to be really achingly trendy. I knew I was in the wrong when the book I chose to read while I was eating my foccacia - that really average book Matt Hardy (not the wrestler) wrote about supporting St Kilda which was basically "Chapter 1, footy cards, remember them!" and son on - was pretty much not in keeping with the left wing vibe, the funky Nigerian trumpet playing, and obviously buying something called "a foccacia". In a Hobart context, it was like reading FHM at the Republic Bar - not a good idea.

So if Starbucks is closing, where will the artists, left wingers and trendies go for coffee - same place as always, the Uni. I haven't been up to the uni since my, er, lapse in study concentration. Anyway, again, I wasn't cut out for coffee shop life at the uni. One day I was wearing my gold liver bird motif Liverpool away top (you know the one, the one John Barnes scored at the Dell in?) when I decided that a hard day of playing E-Fed wrestling on the computer deserved a tasty sandwich. Sadly, I wandered into a circle of social hell, ie, the trendy uni coffee shop. I heard a girl with glasses mutter something really darkly about my top, and the sponsor in particular, Carlsberg, saying that it was wrong to walk around promoting alcohol sales especially if children saw it. I looked around and saw people in berets, Camus discussions, and felt really, really awkward, especially as I had my Liverpool top on and was carrying a copy of Fair Game, the Cindy Crawford movie. Still, I had to strike back just a little bit, so I yelled "John Howard rules!" and ran away, leaving much disgusted muttering, beret throwing and the sound of coffee being spat out, double take style. What can I say - they just weren't my kind of people.

So farewell Hobart Starbucks...maybe you'll come back one day...hope to see you in T...maybe Kasia Z can re-open you...

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