Passion, purpose and coffee…REALLY???

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By Kenneth Justice

If the rent keeps going up I’m not sure what the future will hold” he said

I just returned from a whirlwind coffee house-blogging trip to Chicago. In less than 48 hours I met with fourteen different people. I had conversations with two different people that lasted 5 hours each, and conversations with another dozen people that varied from 20 minutes to 2 hours.

When I first came up with this concept of visiting 100 coffee houses throughout the Western World I had no idea what type of response to expect;

—) would strangers be interested in sitting with me over a cup of coffee and talking about life?
—) Do the relationships we build through social networking translate into real life?

—) It’s easy to spend hours-upon-hours lost in the world of the Internet commenting on Facebook and Twitter……but can we meet in real life and be just as interested in the conversation?

The answer so far is an emphatic “YES”. Now with Atlanta and Chicago under my belt the trend is becoming quite clear; the relationship’s we build via the Internet can and do translate into real life. On Saturday morning I hung out with TK who’s an Iowa transplant to the Chicago area. I’ve known from reading her blog that TK is a fairly passionate person, but meeting her face-to-face is even more impressive. Passion and energy for the things she believes in exudes from every fiber of her body.

People often ask me, “How the hell can you sit in a coffee shop and have a conversation that lasts five hours? Don’t you get bored?” But sitting there with TK for nearly five hours the time literally flew by. In fact, I hadn’t realized we’d been talking for so long and in that time I neglected to check my emails and blog; so I want to apologize to those people who I wasn’t able to alert about the schedule change between my two coffee house stops.

The simple fact of the matter is that much of the Western World is fluff. Turn on the television and you’ll notice a lot of the subject matter dealt with in Reality Shows and Sit-Com’s is typical fare; a whole lot of unimportant banter. To borrow the colloquialism, it’s much ado about nothing. And so there are a lot of disenfranchised people in the world; men and women who want to have serious discussions about the things that matter most. That’s the thrust behind my own blog; to write about important topics in a simple and straightforward manner….to write about the things that matter most.

And so it’s no surprise to me that TK and I connected via the blogging world. Two people who are interested in subjects that matter. Sure, we both have our hobbies (she has quite a few) but we don’t want our lives defined by the things we enjoy doing recreationally. We want our lives to matter, we want to contribute positively to discussion in the public forum.

Filter Café in Wicker Park was positively awesome. Jeff the owner is very much a people person so it’s no surprise why he got into the coffee shop business. As we sat there for a couple hours talking about Filter Café and how it came into existence, Jeff would say hello to various customers as they walked by the table. He must have known at least 30 or 40 different people by their first name; pretty impressive if you ask me……..and isn’t that the charm of an independently owned business? To be able to walk in, order a coffee, and sit down at a place ‘where everybody knows your name?’ It’s the whole ‘Third Place’ philosophy that I’ve written about before.

Sadly, the city of Chicago doesn’t appear to have any serious rent-control laws in place so Jeff and Filter Café are subject to steep increases in their lease each year. It’s a sad development we’ve seen all across Western Society; cool little independent businesses that struggle to keep up with the growing cost of rent.

Why aren’t more people outraged when we see more and more independent business’s closing because they can’t turn a profit due to out-of-control rent and leasing prices? I remember seeing a futuristic Sci-Fi moving from the 1990’s in which Taco Bell had bought out every single restaurant and in their dystopian future the only place to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner was Taco Bell.

Is that what our future holds? Wal-Mart and Taco Bell on every corner of every city? Perhaps that is an overstatement and things will eventually turn around. But just this past week it was announced that the Anchor store for the chain Barnes and Nobles is closing down here in my community, “We can’t compete with Amazon.com” the CEO said.

In some ways its poetic justice; with the rise of Barnes and Nobles during the 1990’s in my community, the overwhelming majority of independent bookstores were put out of business. And now nearly 20 years later, the Dot-Com’s are now putting Barnes and Noble out of business.

Where is Western Culture headed? What does our future hold for us? Those are the type of questions I ask myself as I continue this year long venture to visit 100 coffee shops….I hope to see you in Pittsburgh in two weeks!

For now, I think I’ll have my morning coffee

Kenneth



Categories: Culture & Society

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80 replies

  1. Bound to Be Read was the coolest locally owned bookstore in my town. It was not only a beautifully laid out place to find and sit and read books it was a community hub. My masseuse gave chair massages, musicians met and practiced and poets help readings. It is gone now like so many others. I am beginning to think we will need coops of people like me that NEED a bookstore. Thy once were a place where children enjoyed guest speakers to read to them and some of the best fresh coffee. I understand extinction well but I don’t have to like it. Are our libraries safe? They will always have real books, right?

    • Ellen, I might get slack for saying this but I believe libraries have less than a decade and a half to go before they are gone. The majority of libraries have gotten rid of a lot of books in favor of internet stations. But when I walk into a library and look at the people who use the computers and internet; its almost exclusively retired people and people who don’t own a computer. But in 15 years when everyone owns a tablet or home PC…there will be no need to go to the library to use the free computers. And are libraries really libraries if the majority of what they do revolves around the internet and not books?

    • There needs to always be real books. I will never jump on this ebook thing. My local bookstore stays alive by getting authors to visit every month and giving people tickets to the event when they buy that author’s book from their store. I don’t know how they do it, because they get a lot of big names.

      I heard it said that books are no more afraid of the Nook or Kindle than stairs are of escalators. While that may be true, no one said anything about the existences of bookstores and libraries. A part of my soul with die if we lose those.

    • “a part of my soul will die if we lose those”

      Dude, me too…… me too.

    • This interesting read (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trends_in_library_usage) says usage is strong for all ages, they are valued highly, technology has had a big impact, yet funding has suffered.

      I think they will stick around. I hope they do.

  2. You’re not the only person wondering where Western culture is heading, Kenneth.

    I certainly worry about books and publishing. I’m wondering if anyone is buying them any more, actually……books I mean. I can’t read fiction these days as it’s too tiring and I keep forgetting what I read the previous night (and too hard on my already overstrained eyesight), but if the day ever comes when I can’t pick up a glossy ‘coffee table’ book and flip through admiring the photography, well, that’ll be the end of life as we know it. If I can’t get out into the country any more, I like to think I can at least admire it in a book (with pages you can turn).

    Everyone seems to be glued to their computers, iPhones or iPads these days. Every bus or tram or train I get on is a symphony of conversations between a bit of hardware and a face/ear. Couples get on public transport and the first thing I see them do is, each open their phones to see what messages they’ve got and from whom.

    I saw someone on a tram reading a real book the other day. I got such a shock, I almost fell off my seat!

    • Vicki, you’re very right. The rate of reading is steadily decreasing.

      Study after study shows that people are reading books less. Sure, they are reading Facebook more…. but I don’t think that is really the same as reading a book.

      When you separate men and women then the differences are really sad; because men are reading at a FAR LOWER rate then they did……

      If it wasn’t for women reading books still, I think the book industry would literally be reduced to shambles

  3. How awesome to have met TK. I’m just getting to know her and she makes me smile.

    Yeah, I often have the same thoughts about the chain establishments. I have nothing to really add. Just that I agree and feel a huge disconnect overall.

    Glad the trip back to the old stomping grounds was a successful event. 🙂

    • And its not that I hate Chains, even the Owner of Filter Café said a few positive things about Starbucks, but when more and more chains put little independent companies out of business….. it just makes me sad

    • Yes, I’m a fan of Starbucks. The only convenient place to grab my coffee after I leave home. I grew up around mom and pop business. Its what I crave, although we frequent many chains locally owned and they know our family very well. Almost embarrassing. Lol

    • Yea, I think some of my readers and fellow bloggers think I’m an anti-chain person… but I’m not. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I shop at certain chains….. BUT I also frequent independent businesses. I regularly shop at our outdoor market and by vegetables and produce from local farmers, and I try to stop at indie-coffee shops as much as I can. Sadly, the chains are slowly taking over and in another decade or so I suspect we Americans are going to wake up on day and realize that we ruined our culture.

    • For sure. Praying we all wake up before that happens completely, Kenneth. We have the best outdoor markets/veggie farms here in south Houston. It helps a lot and many of them have a drop off service. It is fantastic. 🙂

  4. It’s depressing to know that so many companies/corporations/land development owners care only about profit and not about community. When making money becomes their sole interest, everyone else suffers. It isn’t just the small business owners who become squeezed out, employees feel used up and unappreciated and that translates to the customers too. No one is happy but people have no choice because they still need to procure goods and services. That is a huge part of why many people now utilize online shopping sites. Why drive somewhere to deal with surely staff and limited inventory with high mark-ups when you can shop at home and avoid all that hassel. The whole profit-driven concept only serves to drive people further apart. It’s good to know that the trend you’re seeing is that people can truly connect with other people online and translate that into a face to face connection as well. I believe the success of transitioning an online interaction to a physical conversation is largely due to the level of honesty established originally online. As long as people don’t have hidden agendas I think the opportunity to create a community online can be successful, maintain itself offline and benefit many people who feel like they don’t have a physical community to belong to. Great topic!

    • “Depressing” is a good word for it. While I had such a good time in Wicker Park over the weekend, I was noticing how much of Wicker Park is corporations and how few indie businesses are there. Its kinda sad, and I left with a mixture of excitement over the conversations I had, and a hollow feeling at how I wonder where our culture is headed…….

      “The whole profit-driven concept only serves to drive people further apart”

      I think it didn’t use to be that way, but now I think your right; small independent businesses were able to thrive in the 19th and 20th century because costs were relatively low, but now with so many costs getting to be outrageous…. the world is changing before our eyes

    • I hope that we get to meet in real life. Maybe the culturemonk can make that happen when he comes to the Twin Cities.

    • Lefreakshow,

      Looking forward to meeting you in Minneapolis!

    • Let’s plan to both meet at the same coffee house.

  5. As I sip my morning coffee wonder how many people you’ll met by the end of the year? How many of them will be stuck in your mind or in your heart?
    PPC ( your title ) my kind a day 😃

    Enjoy your morning!

    • PPC; ha ha good acronym!

      I try to keep my journal updated with all the people I meet, but there are so many sometimes it is tough….. the two women I met this past year who were both married via arranged marriages; I will never forget either of them, their stories really stand out to me 🙂

    • Great minds have always ideas and the best memory 😊

  6. Awesome!!! Sounds like everything is going even better than planned.

    “the relationship’s we build via the Internet can and do translate into real life.”
    Well, I could have told you that…I met Rick online…we lived on opposite coasts. We met via a dating forum and instantly started daily emails…while continuing to be active in the forum. Two months later we met IRL (date #1), three months later we had date #2 (which we are still) as we decided to live together…after a few years we tied the knot…it’s been seven years now and we are still that stupid giddy couple that people get envious about.

    I think life is most interesting when you have purpose and passion. Having done my share of that, I am happy to live the relaxing life of leisure. I can enjoy the slower pace now…and when it’s helpful and wanted, I’ll share my experience and knowledge to those who are out there paving the newer frontiers.

    As far as the future for Western Culture…I can’t help but always go back to the movie The Matrix. We need some more Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishbourne types.

    • The Matrix is such a good metaphor; because so many of us for so long have simply gone along with everything and not questioned the path that our culture is taking…….. at some point we need to stand up and object and say ‘hey, I don’t like this and I don’t like where we are going’

    • The Wachowskis did not come up with that metaphor by themselves, of course; they were heavily influenced by Joseph Campbell and his writings. Of course the first movie focuses very heavily on the Monomyth (The Hero’s Journey) as per The Hero With A Thousand Faces (George Lucas said he was influenced by that book, and Christopher Vogler wrote a memo when he worked for Disney explaining it)… the other two, I learned, go into his other material.

  7. The comments below today’s words remind me of “cycles”. That one word is missing throughout. Everything very “now”. Each of us too temporary in this world to see a cycle start, rise, fall and be replaced by another cycle, and another.

    And everyone I know will go where the prices are keenest and the variety offers everything now. Doesn’t mean it’s all good. Just means we get one frame of a film.

    • Paul, I hope you are right; maybe all of this is just a cycle, and eventually we will move on to a new cycle that improves on the current one…… at least I hope so .

  8. I think that coffee shops are one of the few remaining business models that can work for independent owners against the larger chains and corporations. There are plenty in Pittsburgh (glad you’re coming by the way – wear your Blackhawks jersey so we can know you or at least identify your body later) but that depends on what part of Pittsburgh you’re in. I think that the independent models allow for more personal expression of the owner which then lets people identify with that expression.

  9. I hate to think where we are going with our corporate minds.

    The film you are referring to is Demolition man LOL But a better film to show where brand or corporates hold the world is “Hardwired’ . And that one I think is scary to have advertising on even a Taj Mahal.

    Now We can be scared when it comes to standing up to the steep incline of rent. We can an we do step up when we see a small business get over run. But just a small block of locals who know the store wont mean much against a giant, or country known corporation.
    We should consider whether we want a personal touch or just a fast paced in a hurry shops.
    maybe it is just us not able to enjoy quality relaxing time any more.

    I prefer the first. But they are disappearing. .And let us face it. It is not just the coffee shops. it is the clothing industry as well. Or specialised shops.

    Cheers on the coffee

    • “and let us face it, It is not just the coffee shops. It is the clothing industry as well. Or specialized shops”

      Your totally right ranting crow. I’m really concerned about all this and at times I feel powerless to do anything 😦

    • As long as they make money they will control it to.

      That is the corporate way.

    • I fear you are right;

      They are too obsessed with increasing profits rather than just be happy with the profits they currently have. Thus; there is that drive behind corporate philosophy to continue to grow and grow and grow….. whereas independent businesses tend to be happy with staying where they are at; and sadly that means they soon become overshadowed 😦

    • The really scary thing is that I remember Taco Bell being *full on* with the product placement– they had Demolition Man tie-ins in their advertising at the time.

  10. My hope is that the internet stores will drown out the mega-super stores, and make room for smaller, more personalized or individualized stores to take up physical capital instead. Let smaller, used book stores and cafes come back to life in the wake of Barnes and Noble and Borders closing down. People will shop at Amazon when they have a specific need, but head out to the specialty shops for the experience and guidance they can’t get online. I don’t know if it’ll come to pass, but I’m hopeful that the rise of the highly curated little store is on the horizon as target and the like give way to places like amazon and zappos.

    • Michelle, dude that is a VERY real possibility, and in many ways I hope that is what happens, because it would seem to be the only way to save independent businesses.

  11. I like Michelle’s idea, and I think it could happen. But I disagree with you about public libraries. Where I live there is a very vibrant library sytem, and it’s heavily used by people other than those you identify as “retired and those who don’t own a computer.” I much prefer holding a real book in my hands when I read, and I know others who do as well. I think that, just as real sound aficionados have gone back to vinyl, many readers will return to books–or never leave them in the first place.

    I could certainly be wrong, of course, but I hope not. If the libraries disappear, it will be yet another way to disenfranchise the poor. We have enough of that already.

    • Mrs Slocum,

      There are a lot of articles out there about libraries closing… its really sad 😦 I definitely am not saying I want this to happen, but statistically its a growing trend that is fast becoming a reality.

      And you’re totally right; if the libraries all close, then it is yet another way that the poor is disenfranchised.

    • Not just vinyl, Mrs. Slocum… a lot of musicians have gone back to older versions of instruments. Vince Clarke still uses analog synthesizers, Sting delved into material by a particular Renaissance composer and recorded with a Russian lutist, and all this as some musicians are eschewing traditional studios for mixing, recording, and publishing right off their laptops– a different direction, if you will.

      Media is being pulled in all sorts of directions as people embrace or distance themselves from the latest technology; a sort of yin and yang response, as it were.

  12. I’m happy you enjoyed our conversation and would like to profusely apologize for making you late to the next place. I hope you got to eat a little something for lunch eventually.

    I need to find more independent places. All those chains are so easy to access, you sometimes have to do some research to find the independent stores in an area. There is one place in my town I will always cherish because they brought my favorite author to town. In fact, I think they bring and handful of writers in every month. They usually try to require people buy the author’s book from their store in order to attend, which is how they survive the Barnes and Nobel just down the street.

    Books are another story, though. I’m pretty sure the only reason Barnes and Nobel didn’t got the way of Borders is because of their Nook. It’s sad, because I could spend hours in a book store.

    Growing up, the nearest large grocery store was a half hour drive away. As such, my parents often took me with. I always asked to be dropped off at the book store. They leave me there to wonder the shelves for an hour or so and I was never ready to leave when they finally came to get me. I still love to do that. We can’t lose the bookstores!

  13. Last week our dishwasher, the mechanical one, crapped out after 12 yrs. We went to the Lowes a mile away to see what they had. After all the figuring, it would be at least 3 weeks and $700 before we might get one. Might is the key word.

    Next day, we went across town to the local store that’s been here for years. The sales person gave us the sale price from a recently expired sale, looked up a rebate for our old model from an old issue it had, got the energy savings coupon for the electric company, and arranged for installation the next day. We saved $100 and got a better machine with local service if it is ever needed.

    Shop locally if you can. They work hard to compete.

    • Jim,

      Great story! I try SO hard to shop locally… sadly there are some things that I’m simply unable to get at independent companies 😦

    • I can still remember going to a local hobby shop that has since closed its doors looking for kiting supplies and the owner told me with a rather grumpy frown that it was better to look online.

      At least he was honest, I guess.

    • Operating a local business is a great challenge these days. The competition is no longer from another local. It is from suppliers you can even see out in the ether. You really need something special and unique in order to make it. Or, you need to offer service and support like this local store we went to.

  14. Demolition Man is one of my favorite movies.

  15. The internet giveth and taketh away. It allows everyone to get in to the ring and have a fighting chance, but it also takes away weight classifications and allows heavy weights to pummel light weights. (Props on my metaphor, and that was right off the top of my head!) I suppose we’re in a second, technological gilded age in a way. Just like them, everything has a pretty, golden sheen, but eventually we’ll see what’s quality and what isn’t – I’m just worried about those who tank before it’s all over, and I’m hoping the businesses that rely on the personal touch aren’t the ones who go first.

    • “heavy weights to pummel light weights”

      I second the props to your metaphor! SO annoying that you came up with it before me but you’re the literature/English whiz so I guess I should expect you to be a few steps ahead of me on those things 😉

      “I’m just worried about those who tank before its all over….”
      Exactly 😦

  16. Well Taco Bell did just start offering the breakfast menu this month so… In all honesty, in some regards superstores can be good, i.e. I do buy certain things at places like Walmart, when it comes to books personally I like the actual book as opposed to an e-reader, tablet etc- perhaps it is from growing up with them that just the feel and comfort of having a book and “getting away” from modern society and escaping into an actual book is quite nice. The biggest thing is the prices people want to pay for said items i.e. books are cheaper on Amazon then going to a store, etc. However when I do stumble upon them (was actually at one a little over a week ago), I do enjoy going into independent book stores which have older used books. Just the look and the smell when you walk in (and i like the “rustic-ness” of an older book and the binding- hence the copy of War and Peace I decided to buy).

    Glad your adventure has been going well thus far. Your blog is quite refreshing as your insight and subject matter are of great interest (in my opinion) and the light you shed on many “societal” issues and how we are as humans and where things are headed is a nice change as opposed to the normal topics people tend to talk about or debate.

    • Chad, yea, if I were to say that I never shop at the big box stores or online then I’d be lying; I do. Its just really sad that it appears they are slowly putting out of business a lot of the independent companies 😦

  17. You should see Lisbon, Portugal. In every corner we have a Chinese shop. Our libraries close, become empty spaces. Our little shops and little business close because there are no customers. It’s almost like watching the end of an era.
    Very nice post, as usual. 🙂

  18. I decided some time ago, (after living quite a few decades), that it’s easier to make the future than to predict it. (Though making it isn’t any easier, either.) But I do enjoy speculations.
    I have to say, I love the way I can find a note about some topic on the internet, or a book, and look it up on Amazon, and have it mailed to me in a couple days very inexpensively. Some very good books are not widely read and yet published by little publishers with no marketing budget. So I don’t see how a bricks and mortar store could handle this sort of market except by doing what I do when I go to Amazon.

    • Yea, I’m trying hard not to criticize Amazon, after all I’ve purchased books from there….. but the growing reality is that they are helping to destroy the local bookstore market and I’m not sure how I feel about that 😦

    • I think Amazon has done this with music, too. How many record stores actually exist anymore? Even the mighty Apple has bowed to the pressure; it seems they can command a high price for their hardware, but as for the data… not so much.

  19. I like what you wrote about connecting with people. This is critical. While social media are not a bad addition to our lives, they have a way of taking over.
    Real connections matter

  20. I met with a fellow wanting to start a farmers market in our suburban town. Its against the law here to sell outdoors. We met with the mayor, he cited supermarkets who pay high taxes as not supporting the competition.
    The little market in a neighbouring borrough is going slow and steady, but without more venues, the cost of opening a small business is not viable.
    Its sad that small businesses are not recognized for the economic and just as importantly social contributions they make. Places where you really can meet the owner/producer

    • Yea, there is such a different feel when you get to know the owner of a small grocer or hardware store. I realize there are negatives and positives to box stores/versus independent stores, actually there’s a great episode of The Wonder Years on this very topic, and it kinda shows why independent businesses are not always the best either…. but ultimately, I’m just sad that the world isn’t perfect and I realize that is a very idealistic view of mine.

  21. On another note, my guess would be that Starbucks has done more to popularize the coffee shop than to eliminate it. I remember the founder saying that when he first began Starbucks it was to realize the coffee shop experience he had had in Italy, in an American venue.

  22. It is a vicious cycle. The economy is poor; everyone wants their dollars to stretch. The big companies swallow up the little ones because they have the money and political clout to protect themselves. Of course, the average guy can’t afford to pay more so he can’t subsidize the small businesses and the big businesses keep getter bigger.

    • “the average guy can’t afford to pay more so he can’t subsidize the small businesses and the big businesses keep getting bigger”

      Barbara, exactly. Sometimes it costs so much to shop at an independent store that the average person simply can’t afford it 😦

  23. I think the movie you’re referring to might be Demolition Man, where it was mentioned that Taco Bell won the fast food wars and now every restaurant was a Taco Bell. That’s when I realized that the future really could be less than awesome, because I’m a huge fan of small greasy-spoon diners and ethnic foods, as well as those places we might go to for a home style breakfast.

    I suppose the dotcoms can’t get us a decent hot, fresh-cooked meal in the mail, but if they ever figure it out then we might as well hang up the towel.

    • Howdy Rob 🙂 We’ve been talking about Demolition Man in some other comment threads and I believe you are spot on. Do you remember the ads Taco Bell ran to promote the movie? I think that was the really horrifying part– that of course, Yum Foods (the parent company) was absolutely using the movie to promote their business despite the setting.

      Then again, I’ve been told that most product placements are VERY deliberate– I can remember some TV shows that modified or covered up labels to avoid such advertising entanglements, I guess. Ironically, I remember listening to the commentary for Austin Powers Man of Mystery and hearing Mike Myers saying they really didn’t have a deal with Starbucks even though it was mentioned in the movie (the joke about Starbucks being part of the world domination plans).

    • Wow, thank you WordPress! I just lost my whole response to that.

      Hey Jak. 🙂

      So I said something like, I think there’s a legal difference between using a company’s images, logos, and visual aesthetic vs. using their name in a dialogue context; where the former involves the use of trademarked properties, the latter falls more into a “fair use” category that supports free speech – or in this case, artistic license. That’s probably why if we didn’t actually see Starbucks in Austin Powers, it might stand to reason that they didn’t really have to deal with them.

      On the other hand, we have in Demolition Man the use of images, logos, signs, the sort of “visual look” (now that’s questionable) inside that fine-dining establishment of the future, and that definitely requires them to secure rights to those items – because it wouldn’t be Taco Bell if it didn’t look like it, right? But I’m not surprised that they pulled this tongue-in-cheek ad campaign alongside the movie; I’m sure that when a movie studio comes to a corporate enterprise and say they’re making a film placing your product in a context where all other products have lost and fallen off the face of the planet (presumably to some superiority of quality and just a soupçon of crack cocaine) that the next step is to find themselves instantly wading through a sea of gold coins a-la Scrooge McDuck.

      Think about it: you say “despite the setting” Yum foods used the movie to sell the business, which you know is how they all do it, but consider the context in which the company is placed in the movie: the top-dog restaurant chain with no competitors in an apparently utopian society – it fits in because both are suspiciously unattainable, but it also makes Taco Bell look good to the knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers they think they cater to – not to mention the movie has nothing to do with the partisan politics and all the gazingabillions of dollars Yum Foods poured into the project to cryogenically freeze Wesley Snipes and then wake him up a hundred or so years in the future to cause widescale murder-death-kills.

      Disclaimer: any intimation of an actual opinion is solely the product and property of the reader’s imagination. No fast-food was harmed in the writing of this reply.

    • Good answer, Rob! (Did you study copyright law in school, then? You seem to have a really good understanding!)

    • Thanks; no, but I was one of those crazy kid who mailed himself his own artwork thinking that someone was trying to steal it! Somewhere along the way I picked up a bit of IP law . . . 😀

  24. Coming from a blogger this is quite interesting. If people weren’t on twitter, FB, wordpress etc they would not now this blog exsists and wouldn’t have the priviledge to read your words of wisdom 🙂 Plus, when you get sad about paper books dying think of all the trees we no longer have to cut down. As for large corporations killing small businesses, that issues is very valid and definitely not knew. All you can do is choose to support local businesses where you live and travel. Glad yo see you are not going to like a Sturbucks (God forbid!!) while on your tour.

    • Homeless Jesus,

      Everything you say is very true; without modern technology I wouldn’t even be publishing this blog! But there’s a give and take; because even though I’m not a writer; I’m not trying to destroy the book industry. If anything, my platform of blogging actually encourages people to read because if they like philosophical elements of my writing then they would love reading books by people like Neil Postman and Jane Jacobs 🙂

  25. One of the most important lessons that I learned in business school is that channel value, like matter, cannot be created or destroyed. What we get (or do not get) is a result of what we are willing to either pay for or create for ourselves. Personally, I love my reader. I can carry my books everywhere I go, including all of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. My Riverside edition, while a treasure, weighs as much as a small animal.

    What I do miss is the experience of shopping for a book – finding something unusual, not on the bestseller list, with an interesting cover or a description that strikes me at that moment. Would most people pay a premium for that–compensating the independent store to reap the channel cost of curating selections through a premium price so that they don’t have to cull through Amazon and Goodreads reviews (or kiss a lot of literary frogs) to find something out of the ordinary? That’s the greater question.

    Maybe Momaiku and I will have to come meet you when you’re in D.C.

    • I found SO many books that I eventually bought because I would spend hours browsing bookshelves. While I occasionally browse amazon, its not nearly the same amount of time I used to spend in bookstores.

      I’d love to meet you in D.C. 🙂

  26. I know I do love my recreation but some of it is a passion – such as my love of music. It really is something I could go on for hours about and my dad and I have done just that – talking about how certain songs and genres will move us in ways nothing else can. I do feel very passionate about more political or serious topics or volunteering or whatever also. I agree those things are what make life worthwhile. You’ve certainly written on topics that have gotten me going lol. I cannot lie. Life would be boring without passion…even for the more recreational items. I don’t think for life to be real or good that it has to be passion for just the more serious because those things, like music, help more than it would appear. It’s like you write about Kenneth – it’s a way of connecting to people and that enriches peoples’ lives. I agree it’s important to be passionate ALSO about more important topics but it’s about having both not just one or the other. Maybe that’s just me. 🙂 Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  27. I run a store and own the building. I rent portions of the building to others. Property taxes are a bitch. Rent has to go up to pay the property taxes that pay for the new public school football stadium and the new college library and the new city building and the community garden that no one gardens in. Sorry. I’m a little annoyed at the city…

    However, I’m also a small business competing against large chains and I’ve found that being small can be a huge advantage if you decide to use it that way. I know every single client and what they need. I can answer billing questions at the push of a button. I am willing to do special ordering and special shopping for clients. I can approve purchases that the chain outlets can’t because there is no way to get ahold of the big kahuna and get that approval through before the little guy, me, gets it through. I’m the face they see, the person with the answers and I’m available. In the past 2 years I have grown a ton and finally brought the business back from the dead. But you have to care and you can’t leave your place to employees that aren’t personally invested in your business. I never take vacation and I’m the one that runs the front office and answers the phone. I’m no wizard behind the curtain. – the wifey

  28. Thanks for this I agree I get undoubtedly teary eyed when small businesses shut down bc someone’s dream shut down in the process.

  29. Now with all of the great conversations you are having, I’m kinda hating I’m not on your tour stop! I love that it is working out so well for you!

  30. kj-I love yer blog and feel a lot like Kate above lol though I’m sure ol’ South Dakota is far down on yer list. If ya ever do get to the frozen north I would really enjoy conversatin with ya over a cup o coffee.
    Like so much of where we’ve gotten to in our culture it’s hard to see how we could ever put these pandoras back into the box.
    I can only speak fer me…I only use Amazon to fufill my far away families Christmas wish list n I am luck to live in a small enough town that shopping on Main St. is still quite popular-Though so is the Walmart so…
    Anyway over the past year I’ve successfully broken my addiction to WM even fer groceries so I’m feelin pretty big fer my britches.
    Now if we could jes get a used record store where I live…

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