"Starbucks Versus the Traveler": a photo-audio essay on the ubiquity of the green mermaid


I visited one in Paris. I loved the local cafe au lait, but while traveling it was nice to get one good, large cup of brewed coffee. In France it was always espresso or cafe au lait, and especially when running a little on empty due to time change and all the activity, plus dealing with the emotional challenge of traveling with my mom, I found a decent cup of joe a nice comfort. Now, I did NOT once eat a hamburger or any other American food. Let’s be clear on that.

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Many years ago, I was in Scotland. One of the places I visited was Stromness, in the Orkneys.
It’s an old town where some the streets are very narrow; you can touch both buildings on each side of the streets at the same time.

In such a small town, there really was no need for large business signs, everyone knew what/where everything was. So businesses would announce themselves by painting a small, simple, handpainted sign as part of the door frame’s header - say: Mr. Chas Cruickshank, Furniture Repair and Restoration.

“Wonderful!”, I thought to myself, “I’ve never seen this anywhere else.” Then I turned a corner, and there it was, gaudy, red, and plastic, sticking out of the side of a building, squeaking in wind, a rusty Coke sign.

Goddamn bastards, can’t they leave anything alone?


Meh. If I travel I’d prefer better coffee.
This is a start in the U.S.: www.cremaguru.com

Was it coverd in McDonalds’?

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More to the point, for people who love travel and love our differences, what does this mean? Will Starbucks and other global businesses eventually stamp out local culture, as some fear?

Didn’t we already cover this with McDonalds?

Not a mermaid, actually, but a melusine - the former has a single tail, the latter has two in place of legs.


I will say I appreciate the multitude of them in NYC when traveling there. At least you know there’s a restroom close… :smile:

Rusty plastic?

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Starbucks insiders tell me she’s a Sheela Na Gig - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheela_na_gig - not a mermaid. My background is Irish, though, and I’ve never seen a Sheela that looks like the Starbuck’s logo.

She’s a siren (2 tails) the original logo was copied from a 15th century Norse woodcut. http://www.examiner.com/article/starbucks-101-what-is-the-story-behind-the-siren-logo

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Covered in Wimpy Burgers, actually. And Bay City Rollers.

/…and a few MacDonalds.

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Hey! My eye is down there!

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