The Parliament of the People

Starbucks isn’t just a nasty and overpriced coffee shop – it is rapidly becoming a place where people buy music. Musicians fight hard to get their CDs picked for sale at the counter. Minor New York City-based musician Davido had what he thought was a surefire Starbucks-compatible tune, the Java Jitter. Starbucks didn’t like it so much, so they rejected him.

And not only rejected him from Starbucks HQ, but from every store he tried to film and play in. The Starbucks Rejection Tour Video, embedded above for your pleasure, captures this in all its toe-curling glory.

For those looking to read below the fold, there’s a dark side to this story. In the 19th century cafes were, in Balzac’s words, the Parliament of the People. Particularly in France, cafe society has always been about creating a quasi-public space, a zone between work and home in which people, particularly working people, could sit, meet and hang. As Davido’s little caper shows, the modern coffee shop, while looking a little like its predecessor, is a far more private, policed and middle class space – sanitised of the trappings of the public.

I imagine that I’d be fairly annoyed if Davido turned up and started doing his thing in my local coffee shop – the excellent Thinkers Cafe– but at least there, he could sing his painful song without having the cops kick his arse.

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