Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Speaking of locally-owned restaurants, the good part about being on the west side is that Dragon is between my office and my home. This means that when it is my turn to cook, we can have Chinese with minimal effort on my part. Mmmm...never underestimate the restorative powers of good Chinese food.
9:33 PM

I should really call this journal "A Never-Ending List of Things That Annoy Me." Today's culprit:

The division between town and gown in Bloomington really gets on my nerves. I am actually pretty happy to get away from the academic half of town (the east side) and get back to where the real people live and work. It used to just piss me off listening to professors and other academic employees talk about having to buy a new house in an east side neighborhood because they'd inadvertantly moved into one of the "bad" school systems when they arrived in Bloomington. By "bad" they mean "a school in which a kid who grew up in Indiana might be found." It's not like they're pulling their kids out of...oh, I don't know...Compton? or something like that. They're just making sure they don't come in contact with the locals. You'd think those of us who live on the west side of town carried some sort of intellectual plague or something.

This aversion to dealing with people on the wrong side of the tracks also relates to the way businesses are dispersed through town. Local businesses almost exclusively cater to the east side and leave the west side alone. There isn't a single bookstore or coffee shop on the west side, and today when I was out at lunch, I counted local restaurants. There are four: Dragon, Monroe County Pizza Department, La Torre, and another new Mexican restaurant whose name escapes me right now. Local restaurants are always closing down, and they always, always, *always* blame the influx of chain restaurants--Outback, O'Charley's, Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel, Texas Roadhouse, all the fast food franchises, etc. Well, let me say this--if you want me to eat at your restaurant, maybe you should put it somewhere I can get to it on my lunch hour. All the chain restaurants are five minutes from my house, five minutes from my new office. Your restaurant is a twenty minute drive. Do the math.

My point is this: when Starbucks put in a shop near campus, the local coffee shops had a fit, and did all this campaigning and advertising to encourage people to drink at the local coffee shops. (As an aside, Soma/Laughing Planet led the campaign, conveniently neglecting to leave out the fact that they, too, are a corporation looking to expand and have already placed restaurants in Florida and Oregon). I'm not a big coffee drinker, I hate all warm drinks, in fact, but during the summer, I like to have an occasional iced latte. When I took this new job, I lamented to Catherine that I would have to give up this habit long before cold weather arrived, because there wasn't a single coffee shop on the west side.

In this morning's newspaper, there was a blurb about Starbucks opening a second shop in town, on the westside. And you know, I'm going to stop there and get coffee, and I'm not going to feel bad about it. Because frankly, if Soma wanted me to drink their coffee, they would have opened a west side shop instead of trying to lure in all the college students and academics. I guess they don't think the real Hoosiers are cultured enough to buy coffee (or read, for that matter. What's up with that? Why can't I buy books on the west side? Huh?).

I guess I am one of the many Americans who puts convenience before principles. If I really hated corporate culture, I wouldn't drink at Starbucks. But damn, how can you expect me to make a 40-minute round trip just to get a cup of coffee?

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