Wednesday, December 31, 2008


It was out with the old and in with the new this morning at 7th and Montana as Manager Extraordinaire Gabe rang in the New Year by removing Starbucks' Ubiquitous Holiday Decorations. I must admit, while the Wreath (pictured above) made quite an impact on me, I'm not sorry to see it go. Then, again, we've all had our share of hits and misses in 2008. Here's my take on the year-in-review at 7th and Montana:
  1. In the world of Fashion, trends ranged from the Bizarre (including a woman wearing a NASA Space Blanket on May 31, a Unabomber on September 28 and an American Gladiator on February 9) to the Unreal (including a Half-Naked Granny on April 6; a Yankee Doodle Dandy on September 2 and a man wearing Pink Pantaloons on August 10). Honorable mentions go to the "Boy Named Sue," who made the scene wearing a pair of Perky Strap-on Breasts on September 24 and "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary" who grew a garden in her hair on February 3.
  2. In Celebrity News, a host of A-Listers made the scene, including Demi Moore (on March 7), Reese Witherspoon (on August 24), Courtney Cox (on October 28), and a pair of Arnolds, Tom and Schwarzenegger (on May 25). Actually, the Governator swings by on most Sundays on his way to church but only lingers when Sophia, the Australian Bearded Dragon, is around. An honorable mention goes to Harrison Ford, who reportedly refuses to wait even a minute for a cup of coffee. Let's hope he switches to decaff in '09.
  3. In Local News, a Veritable Asylum of Colorful Characters flocked to 7th and Montana this year, starting with the Jittery Nutcase, who terrorized the neighborhood in April and May, throwing hot chocolate at anyone who got in his way. Then there was the Bulgarian Vulgarian who spent much of July plotting to take over Our Favorite Starbucks (starting with the fruit display), right up until the moment the Police dragged her away. A new kind of Superhero, Captain Underpants, made the scene on August 1, performing Yoga on the sidewalk while wearing underpants on his head; and, on November 21, an All-Seeing Guru resembling the Ayatolla Khomeini announced that all the answers to life's most perplexing questions can be found in the lyrics of the Bee Gees. Honorable mentions go to the Crazy Cat Lady, a woman with a chip the size of a Tabby Cat on her shoulder, and the "Basket Case," a man who made the scene in July, throwing plastic baskets onto 7th Street while promoting his very own movie.
  4. Crime did not pay this year at 7th and Montana. Just ask the Notorious Neighborhood Newspaper Thief, who was caught in the act on numerous occasions. The Bank Robbery on May 10 was equally unsuccessful. Rumor has it that the Robber-in-Question -- apprehended moments after the "big heist" -- was only armed with a Smiley Face on a piece of paper, which he promptly handed over to Police.
  5. It was an eventful year in Barista-land. Robb -- an endless source of energy and information at 7th and Montana -- "retired" on October 4. Nada celebrated her 10th anniversary with Starbucks on September 30. Tyler was discovered in Goose Egg Park taking Martial Arts lessons with a Tai-Chi Champion on July 13th; and an unknown assailant hurled a chocolate cupcake at Julie on September 17.
  6. In the Animal Kingdom, shock waves rippled across 7th and Montana on June 3 as word spread that everyone's favorite Bichone Frise, Einstein, checked into rehab. Sophia, our favorite Australian Bearded Dragon, gave birth to a batch of Unfertilized Eggs on March 17th, fell ill on September 9 and rebounded, renewed and refreshed, on September 11. Toby, Our Favorite Cocker Spaniel, passed away after many happy years with Genevieve.
  7. Casa del Bozo -- the architectural monstrosity at the corner of 7th and San Vicente -- officially opened its doors on March 19th, complete with walls that twist and turn like funhouse mirrors and rust that dribbles down the Southwest facade.
  8. Kathy hit the jackpot on national television on August 13, winning $26,000 on the popular new game show, Catch 21.
  9. Charity began at home this year, with local efforts aimed at helping underprivileged school children in the L.A. area. On July 5th, Our Favorite Starbucks unveiled a Book Drive to help kids at the Miramonte Elementary School, a low-income school in South L.A. Even more impressive, Neighbor Mike, who founded the View Park Preparatory School, a public charter school for underprivileged kids in South Central L.A., saw his efforts rewarded with a heartwarming article on the front page of the Los Angeles Times on June 21.
  10. Obama Fever swept 7th and Montana on Election Day. Lines formed at the local voting booths at dawn, where everyone, it seemed, said "yes we can" to a new administration, followed by a free cup of coffee at Our Favorite Starbucks.

To everyone who has made 2008 so memorable, thank you. Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Heads were turning at 7th and Montana this morning as "Madame Tussaud," a local fashionista who resembles a cross between Anne Robinson, host of the television game show The Missing Link, and Lily Munster, unveiled a Bold, New Look. She's sporting a Crew Cut, complete with Patchwork Designs shaved onto the back of her head. "Tussaud" has always been something of a trendsetter but, if you ask me, her new 'do is a don't ...!

Monday, December 29, 2008


It was a quiet morning at 7th and Montana. So quiet, in fact, that I was at a loss for blog material. No "Jittery Nutcases" throwing hot chocolate at passersby; No "Superheroes" wearing underpants on their head; Not even an "Unfortunate Fashion Victim" wearing a funny hat. "Isn't this great?," said Robin, "It's just like old times: No long lines, no waiting around!" "Yes, great," I thought, "unless you're under pressure to come up with something Zany for the Internet." Barista Tyler tried to help. "Look," he shouted, parading by my table, "I didn't shave this morning ... I'm setting a new trend!" "Heaven help me," I thought, as I weighed the newsworthiness of five o'clock shadow at 8:00 a.m., "Have I sunk to this level?!?" Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. "I'm admitting defeat," I explained to Barista Veronica and her friend, "There's nothing blogworthy here today." And with that, I walked straight into a Christmas Wreath, the same one which fell on my head on December 1. This time, however, two of the decorative, plastic ornaments on it gave way with a resounding crunch. Veronica and her friend were gaping at me. "Oops," I explained, awkwardly, "There's something about this wreath ... I just keep walking right into it!" In retrospect, I wish I got a photo of the incident. It might have been Blogworthy ... !

Sunday, December 28, 2008


It was a Sign of the Times this morning at 7th and Montana as -- like every good retailer -- Our Favorite Starbucks turned up the heat on its annual After Christmas Sale. The merchandise, however, made me do a double-take. There, just above a sign suggesting that everything was "Going, Going, Going," was what looked like a Holiday Board Game called "Party Layoff." Given the state of the economy -- with unemployment at 6.7 percent according to the U.S. Department of Labor -- I couldn't help wondering whether it was all a Cruel Hoax. If Layoffs have become a game now, who wins ... the person with the biggest bailout package? Then I realized that the Starbucks display was slightly askew. They're really just selling a game called Party Playoff, the latest in the Cranium series, where players "compete in a battle royale of wits, with the goal of predicting the champion and having a freakin' good time." I'll take that over a Pink Slip Party anyday...!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Heads were turning at 7th and Montana this morning as an Adorable Young Family made the scene with a Beautiful Baby Girl. Beautiful Babies are a dime a dozen at Our Favorite Starbucks, but this one could really stop traffic ... and a good thing, too. Her parents decided it would be a Smart Idea to drag their table as close as possible to oncoming traffic in order to get more sun. They were practically sitting on 7th Street. I felt like yelling, "Hey, folks, there's a phone call for you ... It's Icarus on line one!" But I held my tongue. Who knows, maybe I'll get another chance later today. Rumor has it they're planning a picnic on Pacific Coast Highway ...!

Friday, December 26, 2008


The Holiday Celebration continued this morning at 7th and Montana as Barista Samantha surprised me with a Christmas Gift Bag filled with several kinds of Gourmet Chocolate, Biscotti and a High-Capacity Coffee Mug. Best of all was her handmade card which depicted my usual order -- a Grande Half Caff and the Los Angeles Times -- and included a personal note. "Happy Holidays," Samantha wrote, "It took me a long time to get your order right, but thanks to you and your perfect change I got it in good time. Thank you for being a great customer!" She had similar gifts for Bob and Joyce, too. In this day and age, where too few people take the time to show they care, it does a body good to know there are people like Samantha on the job. Speaking of bodies, a genuine Police Cadaver Dog made the scene today at 7th and Montana. "His name is Tommy and he sniffs out corpses," said the Officer who was accompanying him. While the Officer insisted that Tommy was "off duty," I couldn't help noticing that he lingered suspiciously near the Pastry Display Case. The dog and master were last seen jumping into an unmarked van (Calif. License: HEIR PT), heading due North, towards Casa del Bozo ...!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Bells were ringing at 7th and Montana today as friends and neighbors celebrated the holidays in high style. Actually, the festivities began last night with a party at Kathy's house, where a group of friends joined Kathy and her family in a pull-out-all-the-stops Christmas Eve Extravaganza. The menu was five-star -- including Salmon with Lime-Dill Sauce, Asparagus, Roasted Potatoes and a Dazzling Array of Desserts -- but it was the dinner conversation that provided the real food for thought. Somehow, a heated discussion erupted over the best way to dispose of a murder victim. Some said "chop the body up into little pieces and hide them all over town," while others preferred a cleaner approach. It was Kathy herself, however, who cooked-up the most ingenious solution. "I've got it!," she said while serving dessert, "Make the corpse into a Jell-O Ring!" All I can say is, thank God Kathy's not a Career Criminal. Speaking of which, the Notorious Neighborhood Newspaper Thief was back on the scene this morning, stealing newspapers from Our Favorite Starbucks on Christmas Day. This time, however, his theft was balanced out. Moments after he fled the scene, an Unfortunate Nincompoop lost a fistful of change in a malfunctioning newspaper machine. Happy Holidays, one and all ...!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Our Favorite Starbucks just became "Homier for the Holidays," thanks to our very own Ghost of Christmas Past, Barista Tyler. Starting today, Tyler is asking customers to revisit their roots by signing a special World Atlas he is keeping by the Espresso Bar. The concept is simple: Just turn to the page where your home town is located and sign it, indicating where you are from. My own walk down memory lane took me back to Scituate, Massachusetts, the small town in Plymouth County where I grew up, just South of Boston on Cape Cod Bay. Two other customers -- Liz and Aaron -- had already signed the same page. I knew that Liz grew up nearby but I've never met Aaron. Interestingly, the page marked Alcatraz is still blank but, then again, rumor has it that our Notorious Neighborhood Newspaper Thief is away for the holidays ...!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Twas two days before Christmas and all through the house, not a Barista was stirring, but I didn't grouse. Indeed, the line of folks waiting to get into Our Favorite Starbucks reached record proportions this morning but, fortunately, I was prepared. Earlybird Liz had warned me to expect a long wait. "Heads-up," she said as I passed her on 7th Street, "They're training some new Baristas today!" I'll say one thing, the latest crop of Newbies has impeccable timing. The crew at 7th and Montana -- Gabriel, Heather, Tyler, Sammy, David, Veronica, Neil, Kenisha, Anthony, Nada, Gabe D., Amanda, Joel and Jacey -- all hung stockings by the Condiments Bar today. As for me, I'm still busy making my list ... and checking it twice!

Monday, December 22, 2008


Tongues were wagging at 7th and Montana this morning as a Mysterious Loner -- a man in his early 60's with shocking blond/white hair and a crazy glint in his eyes -- proved that he didn't have enough sense to come in from the rain. Not only was he sitting outside in the middle of a rain shower, but he was typing-up a storm on his laptop, to boot. "Look at that imbecile," I said to no one in particular, "He's just asking to be electrocuted." In the end, however, I'm the one who got a shock. The Loner stepped inside to get a refill and I couldn't help noticing that it was Rutger Hauer.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Typhoid Tillie. Tillie raised a ruckus this morning at 7th and Montana when -- as she paid for her cappuccino -- she warned Barista Kenisha, "Be careful, research shows that the average dollar bill has 1,014 germs on it." "I'm sorry," I chimed-in, "What did you say?" "Oh," she chirped, "I just heard on the radio that the average dollar bill is infested with germs." With that, she accepted her change from Kenisha and made an accidental grab for my coffee cup. Realizing her mistake, she passed me my cup. I looked at the cup, then at her hand -- which was still clutching several dollar bills -- and couldn't help wondering if there was a hidden camera somewhere shooting a Purell commercial. As Tillie walked out the door, I couldn't resist calling out to her: "Be careful with that door handle ... research shows you might as well soak your hand in a Petri Dish ...!"

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the Swiss Family Obnoxious, the latest in a long line of tourists to bring their own brand of anarchy with them to 7th and Montana. The parents -- a young couple in their mid-to-late twenties -- simply couldn't be bothered to supervise their two young children who treated Our Favorite Starbucks like their own, private playground. The son, a brash six-year-old, spent the morning zipping up and down 7th Street on a scooter, weaving around pedestrians and dodging oncoming traffic. His younger sister, meanwhile, toddled right up to a strange dog and shoved her hands into its mouth. The parents did nothing. All I can say is, watch out, folks, in 15-years these Brats will be on the freeway ...!

Friday, December 19, 2008


It was a stakeout at 7th and Montana this morning as "Trigger," the Ace Security Guard who protects Our Favorite Starbucks from all sorts of crime, arrived on the scene like a Man on a Mission. He entered the premises at approximately 8:11 a.m. -- charging through the door facing 7th Street -- and wasted no time getting right down to business. By 8:12, he had ensconced himself in the men's room. He emerged at 8:29, renewed, refreshed and ready for action. Unfortunately, while he was doing his business, so was the Notorious Neighborhood Newspaper Thief. I'm the first to admit that back on September 13, 2007 -- the day Trigger took the reigns from his Octogenarian Predecessor -- I had high hopes. Granted, he seemed a bit "zealous," perhaps a bit too full of himself, but I was certain he'd be tough on crime. Now I just wonder whether he should be relieved of doody ...!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


More and more people, it seems, are whipping out their camera phones to take pictures at Starbucks. Why? I guess we can thank Our Favorite City Councilman, Bobby Shriver, who cooked-up a promotion between his charity, (RED), and the Starbucks Corporation. From now through January 2, every time you purchase a special (Red) Beverage -- an Espresso Truffle, a Gingersnap Latte or a Peppermint Mocha Twist -- Starbucks will donate 5 cents to (Red) and its efforts to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa. As part of the promotion, Starbucks is also encouraging its customers to have their photo taken in front of a (Red) holiday backdrop for inclusion on the Starbucks website. You can even search the website to see how many people from your neighborhood have submitted their photos. Of the 8,704 people who have submitted photos so far, a grand total of 2 come from 7th and Montana. I guess the concept of having their picture taken at Starbucks has some folks seeing (Red) ...!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


You'll be pleased to know that neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail can keep our Notorious Neighborhood Newspaper Thief from making his appointed rounds at 7th and Montana. Despite today's pouring rain, the Thief was in high spirits this morning, no doubt because he has a new trick up his sleeve. First he grabs a free, local newspaper from one of the machines on 7th Street, then he buries his head in it, pretending to read, while making a beeline for the newspaper stand inside Our Favorite Starbucks. When he thinks no one is looking, he slips a copy of The New York Times behind his free newspaper and runs out the door. Maybe it's time for another "Wanted: Dead or Alive" poster ...?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Hayley, the Adorable Niece of Adorable Barista Veronica. Hayley made the scene at 7th and Montana this morning to learn the ins and outs of life at Our Favorite Starbucks and I must say, I was impressed by her behavior. Then, again, maybe it has something to do with a certain gift from her Aunt Veronica. If you look closely, you'll notice that the "binkie" in Hayley's mouth is actually a "mute button." Let's hope Veronica has some more of those "binkies" to go around ...!

Monday, December 15, 2008


Heads were turning at 7th and Montana this morning thanks to Barista Tyler, who seemed intent on exposing my hidden-camera shenanigans by providing loud color commentary on my every move. "Here comes Marty with his Grande Half Caff," he began. "He's grabbing the newspaper, he's walking towards a table ... no wait, he's pulling out his camera phone. Watch out, folks, unless you want to be on the Internet ...!" I tried to ignore him, but finally couldn't take it anymore. "Listen, Tyler, you dog: One of these days I'm going to throw a shoe at you!" "I don't mind," Tyler responded, cheerfully, "As long as it's a size 10." Thank God I didn't have any Weapons of Mass Destruction handy. Tyler's antics almost caused me to miss getting a photo of the Fashion Plate pictured below: An Anonymous Ne'er-do-Well who made the scene this morning wearing a plastic garbage bag and a pair of orange boxer shorts on his head.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Suspicion ran high this morning at 7th and Montana as an Anonymous Interloper made the scene with a camera. Every few minutes, he would look around, as if to make sure the coast was clear, and take a few candid shots of passersby. The nerve of some people! I felt like yelling -- "Hey, bub, this is my corner ... go ply your trade at Peet's!" -- but I kept my mouth shut. Afterall, revenge is a dish best served cold. If he shows up tomorrow, I'll dump an Iced Coffee on him ...!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


The crowd at 7th and Montana was abuzz this morning on reports that a swarm of Killer Bees has taken up residence at the Community Garden in Mar Vista, home to Bob and Joyce's bumper crop of assorted vegetables. Gardener Extraordinaire Selwyn (pictured above) made a beeline to the garden today to join a team of experts who have been hired to handle the problem. Killer Bees -- also known as Africanized Honey Bees -- were first introduced to our hemisphere in 1957 when an unwitting bee keeper accidentally released 26 Tanzanian Queen Bees in Brazil. The result should be obvious to anyone familiar with the birds and the bees: the Queens mated with local drones to create swarms of ultra-aggressive bees that have been gradually migrating their way North, killing 14 people along the way. "I'm not going to be doing any weeding for a while," said Joyce, wisely. And who can blame her? I, for one, get hives just thinking about it ...!

Friday, December 12, 2008


It was "like a bridge over troubled waters" today in Miyazaki as I decided to venture out of my hotel and see something of this fascinating city believed in Japanese mythology to be the birthplace of the Gods. Miyazaki is about as far south as you can get in Japan. It's on the Southernmost tip of Kyushu, the Southernmost of Japan's four major islands. The locals call it "tropical" but, if you ask me, that's just wishful thinking. Then, again, who am I to criticize the climate? I've spent most of the week holed-up in a meeting room. To rectify the situation, I hopped in a taxi and said to the driver, "I have an hour-and-a-half. Can you take me to the best sites in Miyazaki?" "Yes, yes," said the driver, exercising the full extent of his English. As we drove through increasingly remote areas, I began to fear he was going to leave me in a rice paddy or at one of the island's numerous active volcanoes. Instead, he took me to the Aya Teruha Suspension Bridge, a pedestrian bridge towering 465 feet over the Aya Minami River leading to what is called the shoyojurin, one of the "best virgin forests in the Orient." Through an elaborate system of hand-gestures, the driver explained that I only had time to walk across the bridge and back. I was happy to oblige. I had heard of this bridge, that it was considered a feat of Japanese engineering, but I couldn't remember why. I was midway across when it suddenly occurred to me: There's nothing connecting this bridge to the ground ... it's held aloft by several cables running between two mountain peaks. Miyazaki, like most of Japan, is also known for its seismic activity. I quickened my pace and made it back to the cab just in time to set off for my next meeting.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Eyes were popping here in Miyazaki last night as I joined my colleagues for dinner at Warashibe, one of the nicest restaurants in town. For the most part, the dinner was great: Course after course of dishes so exquisite they looked like works of art. Then came something that made me think twice: A plate of what looked like lemon meringue sitting on a mysterious gelatinous substance, topped with Roe or fish eggs. I knew something was up. My Japanese companions grew silent and even my colleague from China -- the one who eats bugs soaked in wine sauce for lunch -- looked at it suspiciously. Everyone was watching me out of the corner of their eyes, just waiting for me to dig in so they could, as usual, astonish me with the answer after I had taken my first bite. I held my ground. Finally, I heard someone whisper: "Male Organs of the Codfish." "What?!?," I exclaimed loudly, "Did I just hear you say this is a Fish Penis?" "Yes, Marty," said one of my colleagues, "But we're trying to think of the exact translation." I later learned that the dish is called Shirako and that it is an "acquired taste" even among the Japanese. It's made from "male fish sperm sacs" and is best served as a "tsunami" or snack. Needless to say, I took a pass. Later, when one of my Japanese colleagues asked how I enjoyed the evening, I said, "It was great, thanks ... I had a Ball!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Bells were ringing in my hotel room here in Miyazaki this morning as I made the mistake of picking-up the mysterious "Emergency Phone" hanging over my toilet. O.K., I'll admit it, for three days now I've been wondering, "Why does my toilet come with an Emergency Phone?" Japanese toilets tend to be extremely high-tech and the one in my hotel room is no exception. The seats are heated, various buttons shoot streams of water in different directions and, every time you sit down, birds chirp. But, in all my travels throughout Japan, this is the first time I've ever seen a toilet that comes with its own, private "Batphone." I had to pick it up, just to see if Commissioner Gordon was on the other end. He wasn't. Instead, after several seconds, the phone started screeching uncontrollably. I knew it was just a matter of time before men in white lab coats came to take me away. Thinking quickly, I called the front desk. "Hello," I said, "I'm sorry to bother you but I accidentally set off an alarm in my room. Could you turn it off?" "Is everything OK?," asked the concierge. "Everything's fine," I said, "Nothing a little Kaopectate can't handle ...!"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Eureka! I finally discovered the local equivalent of Starbucks here at the Seagaia Resort complex where I'm staying in Miyazaki. It's called the Ninigi Bakery & Cafe and -- while it's not exactly 7th and Montana -- the food doesn't make nasty faces at you or wiggle away when you jab it with a fork. Best of all, the coffee is fresh. Each cup is individually brewed using beans that are ground right in front of you. The "Baristas" don't speak a word of English but ordering is easy: You just point at a picture of what you want and grunt. For example, I ordered a Grande Drip yesterday by simply holding up a picture of a High-Octane Scowling Face. The pastries range from traditional Japanese buns made from rice powder, melons and other local ingredients to standard, international fare like cookies, muffins and scones. The only thing that gave me the creeps was a box of Angry Prunes.

Monday, December 8, 2008


A funny thing happened yesterday on my way to Bali. I went to Miyazaki, a small, resort on the island of Kyushu in Japan, instead. Let me explain: I was supposed to attend a meeting in Bali this week but we changed locations at the last minute, based on security concerns resulting from last month's execution of three Indonesian Militants. So, now I'm at the Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort in Miyazaki ... and boy do I feel safer. "Feast your eyes on the Pacific Ocean from every guest room," says the hotel brochure. Unfortunately, that's where the feast ends. I just returned from breakfast where I was surprised to see that the buffet includes "Salted Fish Guts" and "Dried Flying Fish from Nichinan." Bon Appetit!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Audrey Tatt00, the latest celebrity in our midst at 7th and Montana. From the moment I saw her yesterday, I knew she belonged on a movie set. Unfortunately, the movie-in-question is "The Wizard of Oz" and her big break came when a house fell on her head. Her Gothic Outfit, Red and White striped Knee Sox and Pointy, Red Shoes practically screamed Wicked Witch of the East. But her most striking feature, by far, was her skin. She's covered in tattoos, starting with an enormous red spider web that runs up and down the length of her arms and legs. Caught within her web are a series of creatures straight out of Munchkinland: Black cats, spiders, skulls, bats -- you name name it. If it goes bump in the night, she's wearing it. That's what I like about 7th and Montana. You never know what you'll find next. Or, as Frank L. Baum put it, "There's no place like home ...!"

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Lox was running out this morning at 7th and Montana for anyone -- like me -- who had the misfortune of standing in line behind an Attractive Young Woman known among insiders as "Betty Bagel." Betty specializes in ordering bagels at Starbucks but, rather than stepping aside to let others place their order when she's done, she insists on slowly and deliberately slicing and adding cream cheese to her bagel while everyone else waits in line behind her. "Wow," said Barista Tyler, "You really have your Bagel strategy down to a science." "Yes," Betty laughed, "I'll do anything to save a few minutes!" "Sure," I chimed-in, "As long as they're your minutes, right?" Betty chuckled nervously while Barista Tyler warned her that she was coming dangerously close to ending up on the Internet. Still, I might have excused the incident had she not proceeded to sit at the Handicapped Table. I tell you, some people think they're holier than their bagels ...!

Friday, December 5, 2008


Eyes were popping at 7th and Montana this morning as local Singer/Actress/Entrepreneur Susan shared a deep, dark secret. "I see Orbs," she said. As Susan explained it, Orbs are essentially wheel-shaped balls of energy -- spiritual presences -- which hover over our heads, sometimes protecting us, sometimes not. "Tell me," I whispered, casting a sideways glance towards a lone Apple Fritter in the pastry display case, "Are there any Orbs here now?" "Not really," Susan explained, "There's one flying around the ceiling but that's about it." I have to admit, there's something frankly appealing about the notion of bouncing balls of energy that look out for mankind. Just think of the possibilities. The Auto Industry needs a bailout? No problem. Tell the manufacturers to check with the Orbs. Shortage of troops in Afghanistan? Not to worry. Send in the Orbs. Perhaps the best idea came from Susan, herself: She suggested that the two of us co-host a cable news show featuring interviews with Orbs and other Paranormal Entities from a table at 7th and Montana ...!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Change was in the air yesterday at 7th and Montana as an Anonymous Mover and Shaker made the scene with one goal in mind: To reorganize Our Favorite Starbucks. I knew something was up when a man dressed in the Ubiquitous Starbucks Management black shirt and khaki slacks started walking around with a clipboard, making suggestions to Manager Extraordinaire Gabe who, in turn, listened intently. At one point, the Mover and Shaker asked a customer for advice. "Is this holiday display in your way?," he asked. "Yes," said the customer, "Maybe you could move it a bit further away from my table." Moments later, a Workerbee slid the display-in-question a few inches to the East. I waited patiently, but the Mover and Shaker never asked me for my opinion (despite my obvious efforts to get his attention). Had he asked, I would have said: "Take a sledgehammer to the wall separating us from the now-defunct surf shop next door. You barely have enough room for coffee beans let alone customers. Go ahead, Break on Through to the Other Side ...!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "Helen of Soy," the face that launched a thousand quips this morning at 7th and Montana when she ordered a drink so bizarre it left the Baristas stumped. "I'll have a Hot Soy Milk, but fill it halfway with water, please," she asked, politely. Barista Veronica looked surprised. "You know," Helen explained, "A half-and-half." "Ahh," said Veronica, "You want a Half Caff?" "No," said Helen, repeatedly, "Soy Milk and Water." I left before she could order a Tofu Fritter ...!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


It was all work and no play for a couple of Worker Bees who set up shop at 7th and Montana this morning, intent on treating Starbucks like their own "private" office. First-up was a woman I call "Cathy Crisis." Why? Because she chose to work on her company's "Confidential Crisis
Preparedness Plan" from a seat near the Starbucks bathroom. Perhaps she was
waiting for a Natural Disaster.
Then came "Andy the Accountant," long known for crunching numbers over cappuccino. Today he was hunched over a series of client files and a rather large checkbook. It must be nice, I thought, as I grabbed my coffee and hit the road. But, if you ask me, the only people who can really get away with using Starbucks as their office are Baristas, Screen Writers and Monavie Salespersons, in that order ...!

Monday, December 1, 2008


It was a case of Divine Intervention this morning at 7th and Montana as an Anonymous Biblical Scholar made the scene, intent on preaching the Good Word to anyone who would listen. He wasted no time cozying-up to the same sweet but somewhat unstable elderly woman who occasionally arrives at Starbucks in various states of undress. Naturally, I worried. Were they discussing "the Greatest Story Ever Told" or was he selling her on something else, altogether? He looked unkempt, like he just came from a sermon at the Dumpster between 7th and Lincoln. And, while I know it's unfair to judge a book by its cover, I couldn't help wondering what was really going on between the pages of his Bible. Just as I was debating whether or not this woman was in any potential danger, something strange happened. A Christmas Wreath -- part of the Starbucks' holiday display -- hit me on the head. I took it as a sign from above: "Mind your own Business!"