Sunday, September 30, 2007
Our Favorite Starbucks was a Beehive of Activity this morning as today's picture perfect weather brought folks to 7th and Montana in record numbers. Not only were the "regulars" out in full force, but we had more than our share of "occasional visitors" ranging from Officer Mike, the friendliest police officer in town, to California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, who zipped by in his Shiny Bentley Convertible. The highlight of the day, however, was the Return of "Ms. Mukluk." Known for trudging up and down 7th Street wearing Fur-Lined Boots in 80-degree weather, "Ms. Mukluk" has long been a source of local speculation. While some say she's rehearsing for a remake of "Ice Station Zebra," I think she's getting ready for the next Ice Age!
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Tension was in the air this morning at 7th and Montana as Our Friendly Neighborhood Antagonist treated the crowd to a noisy Conference Call by activating the "Speakerphone" function on his cell phone. While I doubt he realized that his call was both loud and annoying, several people -- including Richard (pictured above) -- tried unsuccessfully to quiet him down. Ironically, the incident occurred right in front of a sign that reads: "Quiet Area: Please Be Courteous to the Neighborhood Residents and Keep Noise to a Minimum ...!"
Friday, September 28, 2007
It was a Fond Farewell today for Meagan as she dished out her last Apple Fritter at 7th and Montana. The Perky Barista, known for smiling in the face of absurdity, is moving back home to Minnesota to spend more time with her family. Meanwhile, back at 7th and Montana, Manager Extraordinaire Gabe has started his search for fresh-faced, new talent. Perhaps he should consider Baby Helena, who just this morning took her first bold steps into a world of Sugar and Caffeine at Our Favorite Starbucks ...!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Quick, call "Ripley's Believe it or Not!" Genevieve's mysterious friend, "Mr. Alien," the man who claims to have been abducted by Aliens from a Distant Galaxy, suddenly reappeared yesterday at 7th and Montana after a long absence. Knowing how eager I was to "swap war stories" with him, Genevieve sent me a photo shortly after spotting him at Marmalade Cafe. I immediately rushed to the scene ... only to discover, to my horror, that the entire Cafe was empty. "Where did everyone go?" I asked the man behind the counter. "Who knows," he replied, "People come and go in waves around here ...!"
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
For months, locals have wondered about the so-called "Scribbler," the man who can be found at the crack of dawn sitting at a barstool at 7th and Montana writing furiously in his notebook. Like most people, I assumed he was an aspiring screenwriter or author. At last, however, the truth can be revealed: Inside sources report that he's an Actor. I guess when you're not "on location," 7th and Montana is as good a stage as anywhere else ...!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Head for the hills, folks! A Mysterious One-Eyed Bandit made the scene today at 7th and Montana and it looks like he's fixin' to take over this One-Horse Town. The fun began when the Bandit-in-Question -- a deranged cross between Billy the Kid and Captain Kidd -- strolled nonchalantly into Our Favorite Starbucks for a Decaf Espresso. While the crowd gaped in astonishment, the Bandit muttered to himself in increasingly agitated tones. "That's it," I said, knowing when to make an exit, "I'm getting the Hell out of Dodge!" Where's our Octogenarian Security Guard when we need him?!?
Monday, September 24, 2007
It was a Changing of the Guard this morning at 7th and Montana as Ace Photographer Kovar (pictured above) announced that he's heading to Maui this week on another Top Secret assignment. Meanwhile, Charlie just returned from an assignment of his own -- a "tour of duty" aboard a Russian Science Vessel in the Arctic where he was getting footage for his TV show. The experience, he said, taught him a new respect for Nature. While I'm sure few things could be more humbling than watching the Polar Ice Cap melt before your very eyes, I think I'll stick with the kind of Grande Drip they serve at Starbucks ...!
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Heads were turning at 7th and Montana this morning as an Anonymous Oaf placed an unusual pastry order. "I'd like a slice of Lemon Loaf," he said, "And can you make it Extra Dry?" After a brief, pregnant pause, the woman behind the counter replied, "Our Lemon Loaf is freshly baked and, unfortunately, it's moist. It doesn't come any other way." "Well," said the customer, unperturbed, "Perhaps you can take a hair dryer to it!" In the end, he settled for a slice of Semi-Dry Pumpkin Loaf. "What can I say," he explained, "I like my pastry Extra Flakey." I guess it's true what they say: You are What You Eat ...!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Our Friendly Neighborhood Antagonist was all wet this morning -- even before the rain chased the crowd from 7th and Montana -- after putting his curiously Friendly but Antagonistic moves on Genevieve. The fun began when Genevieve asked, innocently enough, "How are you?" to which the Friendly Antagonist responded, "I'll only tell you if you promise to let your friends know." "OK," Genevieve said, leaving herself wide open. "I'll let all my friends know. How are you?" "You can tell everyone I'm FANTASTIC," he joked. For her part, Genevieve shrugged the incident off. Afterall, she's had practice. Years ago, O.J. Simpson himself tried to hit on her (figuratively speaking) ...
Friday, September 21, 2007
Ever wonder how they get Superstar Celebrities to appear on Schlocky TV shows? Our Friendly Neighborhood Titans of Tinseltown Rob and Mark have the answer. Evidently, producers all over town scour the supermarket tabloids every week in an effort to find celebrities whose marriages are on the rocks. The higher the alimony payments, the more "receptive" an actor will be to appearing on just about anything. If this week's "National Enquirer" is any indication, we're in for a real treat. Apparently, both Cooking Whiz Rachael Ray and TV Host Dr. Phil are headed for Divorce Court. I, for one, would love to see the two of them team-up professionally. How about a TV series: "The New Adventures of Bonnie and Clyde ...?"
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Cheers erupted at 7th and Montana this morning as word spread that Manager Extraordinaire Gabe returned to Starbucks after a brief absence. It seems that Gabe was recently in the hospital for knee surgery. I hope he wasn't injured while changing a Lightbulb. Welcome Back, Gabe ... we missed you!
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
It was "Stars and Stripes Forever" at 7th and Montana as an Unfortunate Fashion Victim arrived on the scene, wearing a pair of tasteless pants inspired by Uncle Sam. The pants-in-question -- based on the familiar Red, White and Blue American Flag design -- feature stripes on one leg and stars on the other, creating an overall look that would make even Betsy Ross nauseous. "Maybe we should fly him at half mast," said one observer. I guess sometimes there's a fine line between Patriotic and Idiotic ...!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Hold your water, folks: New evidence suggests that you shouldn't buy bottled water at Starbucks. According to Kathy F., Starbucks uses a state-of-the-art water filtering system for its coffee. In other words, a free cup of water from your friendly, neighborhood Barista will probably taste just as good as the expensive bottled water they sell separately. For my part, I've always wondered why people would pay so much for the fancy water at Starbucks to begin with. What next, an hourly charge for the air we breathe?
Monday, September 17, 2007
Ever since the Boston Tea Party, Americans have made it clear that we prefer coffee over tea. I guess the message has finally taken root here in London, where Starbucks is quietly staging a revolution of its own. It seems like everywhere you turn in this city there's another Starbucks -- even one right next door to Fortnum & Mason where -- let's face it -- they know a thing or two about High Tea. For their part, the British seem unphased by it all. For example, at the Starbucks near my hotel at the corner of Goodge and Charlotte, a sign by the door reads, "Did You Know ... Frederick the Great Enjoyed His Coffee with Champagne and Mustard ...!" While the British prefer a menu of their own -- including a "Chickpea Filafel Flatbread" that makes the Apple Fritters at 7th and Montana look downright appealing -- a Grande Drip is a Grande Drip wherever you go ...!
Sunday, September 16, 2007
As I winged my way to London this morning I couldn't help marveling at what a small world it is. Right there with me on United Flight #394 to Heathrow were two 7th and Montana regulars: My friend Cathy L. -- who is on her way to Oxford to shoot a documentary before joining her husband, J.P., on his book tour -- and a Certain Mystery Woman. I don't know the Mystery Woman but she looks like one of the "Regulars-in-a-Rush" at 7th and Montana (see photo for further evidence). Speaking of "rush," London is one of my favorite cities but I'm only here for a day. I squeezed in a quick trip to the British Museum to take another look at the Rosetta Stone and, as long as I was there, I couldn't resist visiting the controversial Parthenon Friezes which the Earl of Elgin so deftly scraped off the side of the Parthenon and shipped to Britain 200 years ago. On my way out, I passed a smiling Ramses the Great, a scowling refugee from Easter Island and more Mummies than you can shake a stick at. I then walked around London's "media neighborhood" where I'm staying, down Oxford Street, through Soho Square and beyond until my iPod, my cell phone and I all ran out of juice. Now I'm weighing my options for dinner. Nearby restaurants include "Jerk City" (a man standing near Oxford Circus holding a "Jerk City" sign tried his best to convince me that the restaurant is not filled with jerks) and the ever-popular "Bite Me," a snack bar for people with obvious bad taste. On second thought, maybe I'll order something from Room Service ...!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
It was a Happy Homecoming at 7th and Montana this morning as Howard and Cathy made the scene after spending several months at their Summer digs in Colorado. Not only were they welcomed back with open arms by the "regular" crowd, but a deluge of friends -- including Barbara, Mark, Phil and Barry -- rolled in to celebrate the occasion. Welcome Home, Howard and Cathy. 7th and Montana wasn't the same without you!
Friday, September 14, 2007
The Monstrosity Under Construction at 7th and San Vicente cemented its place in neighborhood history today with the addition of layer after layer of Stucco. As feared, the home -- known to insiders as "Casa del Bozo" for its zig-zagging walls, triangular windows and sharp, unsightly angles -- is fast becoming a local eyesore. "What the Hell are they thinking?" asked one spectator. "I don't know," I replied, "but look on the bright side. All that Stucco makes the Mottled Metal on top look good ...!"
Thursday, September 13, 2007
It was out with the old and in with the new at 7th and Montana this week as word spread that "Pokey," the Octogenarian Security Guard who could barely hoist a cup of coffee let alone a firearm, has been replaced with a Zealous Newcomer. While Pokey protected the crowd at Starbucks from a distance -- by circling the block endlessly in his "Select Patrol" truck -- his replacement seems to take a much more hands-on approach. I don't know what makes me more nervous, an Octogenarian-with-a-Gun or a Power Hungry Rent-a-Cop with what looks like an Itchy Trigger Finger ...!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Excitement was in the air at 7th and Montana this morning as Kathy discovered a new neighbor in our midst. "Meet Marcel, he's moving into the neighborhood next week," said Kathy. "He's a Sound Engineer." I introduced myself briefly and then joined Kathy in welcoming Marcel to town. "We're a friendly bunch around here," I said, gesturing to the crowd in general. "This is one of those places where everyone knows everyone." With that, I left Marcel in Kathy's capable hands. Indeed, Kathy is the Perfect Ambassador for 7th and Montana. Prior to pursuing a career in Hollywood, she was a Clinical Psychologist specializing in Multiple Personality Disorder ...!
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
It was "Many Happy Returns" today at 7th and Montana as I celebrated my Birthday in high style. Not only did both Richard and Kathy vie for the opportunity to get me a "Grande Half Caff," but Barista Extraordinaire Rob -- never one to Fritter away an opportunity -- later presented me with a rare treat, indeed: the last of the Mysterious Apple Fritters. Thanks, everyone, for the "Big Doo!"
Monday, September 10, 2007
It was a sad day at 7th and Montana as word spread that Starbucks has quietly removed the infamous Triple Berry Cobbler Muffins from its menu. Known for their tragic resemblance to Elephant Man Joseph Merrick, the muffins left an indelible impression among consumers nationwide. Indeed, they left a nearly permanent stain on the fingers of anyone who touched them. "I don't know what to say," said one observer. "I'm blue, but then, again, I'm not!" Inside sources say that the controversial muffins have been replaced by a new line-up of seasonal pastries ranging from Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins to Apple Fritters. Unfortunately, the prognosis for the Fritters (pictured here) is not good. They seem to be suffering from an even more advanced case of Elephantiasis than Joseph Merrick, himself ...!
Sunday, September 9, 2007
All Hell broke loose this morning at 7th and Montana as a mysterious newcomer -- known among insiders as "Ms. Hazelnut" -- arrived on the scene intent on Raising a Ruckus. The fun began when she shoved a dirty mug at Barista Rob and told him to clean it for her. When he politely asked whether she might want it filled with anything, she evidently exploded -- throwing an irrational temper tantrum for all to hear -- before finally ordering a frilly Hazelnut concoction. The incident bothers me on a number of levels ... not only because the last thing Ms. Hazelnut needed was more caffeine, but -- more importantly -- because she disrupted the sense of Community at 7th and Montana. Our Favorite Starbucks is like a real-life "Cheers," a place where "everyone knows your name" and people generally try to treat one another with mutual respect. Fortunately, Ms. Hazelnut is not a "regular" customer. Then, again, maybe that's her problem: Perhaps she's "irregular."
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Genevieve brought her new friend, Phil, to 7th and Montana this morning for a "friendly cappuccino," which is -- of course -- to say that he was subjected to the kind of subtle, neighborhood scrutiny usually reserved for what FBI officials like to call a "person of interest." Was he hiding some deep, dark secret? Is he "on the lam?" Has he ever been abducted by aliens from a Distant Galaxy? I'm pleased to report that Phil passed inspection with flying colors. Not only can he zip his way through The New York Times crossword puzzle, but he didn't even wince when Genevieve said that she likes her cappuccino wet ...!
Friday, September 7, 2007
Divination was in the cards last night as I stumbled across "Thakiti the Card Reader" while waiting for some colleagues to join me for dinner. Thakiti spends his days sitting at a card table on 16th Street in Denver, plotting people's futures with a deck of cards and a laptop computer. For a small donation, he'll plot your birthchart and present you with a confusing printout that will only make sense if you purchase his book for $19.99. Anyway, I had some time to kill, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. "Welcome," said Thakiti. "The future is not as mysterious as you might think." He went on to explain that everyone has a "birth card" based on their birthdate. The suit of your card -- hearts, clubs, diamonds or spades -- also reveals your strong suit as a person. Hearts are emotional; Clubs are mental; Diamonds are financial; and Spades are spiritual. I gave Thakiti my birthdate and he entered it in his computer. "Ahhhhhhh," he said after several minutes. "Very interesting ...!" At that point, my phone rang. My colleagues were looking for me. "Sorry, Thakiti, but I have to run," I said. "Can you just give me a quick overview?" "Well," he said ominously, "You are the King of Clubs. That means you are the most intelligent man in the deck. You have quite an interesting year ahead!" He then handed me a printout of my future which looked a lot like a messy hand of poker and tried to sell me a decoder book that would bring it all into focus. "Thakiti," I said, handing him a modest donation, "You've just told me that I'm the smartest man in the deck. I think I'll take a pass on the book ...!"
Thursday, September 6, 2007
It was an exciting day here in Denver at the CEDIA EXPO, a convention bringing together high-end technology installers (the professionals who install expensive audio-video networks in people's homes) with technology companies and movie studios. It's a big playground for anyone who likes fancy gizmos ranging from 100-inch flat screen televisions to remote controls that connect practically every electrical appliance in your home. While I'm here for a board meeting of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group and for some other events, the real highlight of my trip so far was last night when an A-list movie director asked me and some colleagues at other companies if we could scrape together $4.2 Billion to upgrade movie theaters throughout the U.S. If anyone has some spare change, I'm accepting donations ...!
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
"What's that stench?" That was the question hundreds of travelers were asking this morning as they boarded United Flight #394 to Denver. Indeed, an aroma combining the worst qualities of Diesel Fuel and Bilge Water seemed to permeate the cabin before takeoff. "Something really stinks," I said to the woman sitting next to me. "Just so you know, it's not me." "You're right," she sniffed. "Maybe it's coming from the Galley!" To be safe, neither of us ate the complimentary "Trail Mix!"
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Leave it to my sister, Karen, to take Labor Day Weekend literally. She went into Labor on Saturday morning and by mid-afternoon my nephew, Jackson Martin Quintal was born. Here is one of the first pictures of Jackson, courtesy of his proud father, my Brother-in-Law, Doug. For many months now, throughout Karen's pregnancy, Doug has been whispering the following words of encouragement to Jackson: "Hurry up and come out, Jackson, I've got yard work waiting for you!" For his part, Jackson seemed responsive, kicking and moving at the sound of Doug's voice as if to say either "I love yard work and can't wait to see you" or "Feet, do your stuff ...!" Now that Jackson is born, however, the truth can be revealed. Doug's first words to Jackson were about the yardwork and, in response, Jackson grasped his father's fingers, looked deeply into his eyes and smiled as if to say "I love you." Indeed, from now on, Labor Day Weekend will be a Labor of Love for the Gordons and Quintals ... even if Jackson ends up getting stuck with all the yardwork!
Monday, September 3, 2007
Tongues were wagging this morning at 7th and Montana as word spread that Our Favorite Starbucks is testing a new recipe for Blueberry Muffins. Could it be that the so-called "Merrick Muffins" -- named for world famous "Elephant Man" Joseph Merrick -- have been quietly retired? I would have asked the New Barista on duty today, but -- according to one witness -- she took an instant dislike to me. "She's really mad at you," said my neighbor Greg, who was standing behind me in line. "She's upset that you were taking pictures of the muffins." After listening to Greg's description of her behavior, I can only conclude that this New Barista needs a New Recipe for customer service. Stay tuned for continuing reports on her progress ...!
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Heads were turning at 7th and Montana this morning as a Toy Poodle named Napoleon made the scene wearing a restraint mask that would make Hannibal Lecter proud. The doggie "mouth guard" -- pictured here -- prevents the adorable pooch from doing harm to himself or others while he makes the rounds at Starbucks and beyond. Evidently, like his namesake, Little Napoleon has a nasty habit of biting off more than he can chew. Rumor has it he nearly met his Waterloo some months ago when he tried to swallow a large plastic object on 7th Street ...!
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Good news, friends! While I was busy making my way back to the U.S. today, my nephew, Jackson Martin Quintal, was busy making his way into the world. Jackson was born this afternoon, three weeks early but healthy, happy and cute as a button, weighing-in at just over five pounds. The whole family is thrilled, especially Proud Parents Karen and Doug. My parents recently gave me a candle to light when Jackson was born. The message on the candle reads, "Here's a candle for you to light, Once the stork has made his flight, With a flicker of the Flame, Please send good thoughts in Jackson's name." Welcome to the World, Jackson! I'm sending good thoughts your way from 7th and Montana ...!