Jewish World Review August 14, 2002 / 6 Elul, 5762

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Law and Disorder --- and Starbucks | Not far from where I live there is a Starbucks. Shocking, I know, but true. If you leave that Starbucks and walk into the mall across the street, you will find another Starbucks. And if you walk to the other side of the mall, you will find a third Starbucks, three Starbucks within a hundred feet of each other.

Now, I have nothing against Starbucks. I order caffeinated beverages from baristas quite often, frequently even skipping the Venti and going right for the Grande. Or is that the other way around? Anyway, that's the kind of guy I am. But it does baffle me how Starbucks has the reproductive ability of a rabbit. And what happened to big medium, and small, anyway?

This unnatural Starbucks fertility seems to have suddenly struck LAW AND ORDER. For years, it just chugged along. Prosecutors and police would change, but the formula remained the same, as reassuring as murdered adulterous realtors in a Perry Mason rerun. The faces change, but the victims remain the same.

Then along came LAW AND ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, and LAW AND ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT. Reruns and instant replays of the above began to pop up on every basic cable station known to man.

This spring a new one popped out of the tube, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, LAW AND ORDER, only reality-based, chronicling real cases in San Diego via special hidden cameras. It is called a "dramamentary," as opposed to a "docudrama," which I guess is way seventies, back from the days when you had to go to a coffee shop to get coffee. Remember that?

The proliferation of STARBUCKS and LAW AND ORDER are capitalist miracles, especially in today's economy. I mean, coffee? You can get coffee anywhere. Why Starbucks? Why now? There is no natural explanation.

And why LAW AND ORDER? I can see STAR TREK. Fans get to dress up like Klingons and pretend to put their imaginary phasers on stun. What do fans of LAW AND ORDER get to pretend to be? Crusty guys and bitter women in business attire? Phasers are never fired. Certainly, much coffee is consumed, but that's about the only connection I can see.

Now CSI, my new favorite show, is starting to multiply. CSI: MIAMI will be premiering this fall. And where will it end? CSI: FARGO? CSI: DES MOINES? LAW AND ORDER: SMALL CLAIMS COURT? I have an idea for a series: a well-known coffee house chain wants to take action against nuisance suits. They face ruin. They hire a forensic private eye firm: CRIME STARBUCKS INVESTIGATORS: BURN FRAUD UNIT. It's interactive. Prove that you watched it and you get a free soy latte. Bring your coupon, show your phaser. And, as always, kids ride free.

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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


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06/17/02: Happy cows are really miserable?
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06/05/02: Of Humice and Men
05/30/02: Pooches in sharkskin suits and the end of dog tags
05/22/02: We baby boomers used to rule the roost
05/20/02: The Files now Ex
05/14/02: Entangled in Spider-Man's web!?
05/02/02: April Showers May Come Our Yadda Yadda
04/24/02: From child murderer to milk hawker
04/10/02: New realities
03/21/02: You did it your way? I have to kill you now!
03/12/02: Life in the warehouse
01/28/02: Shoes and food
01/24/02: Suspension of disbelief has nothing to do with whether we accept something as real or not
01/22/02: Save the Grand Ole Opry?
12/15/01: If you truly want to appeal to the lowest common denominator
12/11/01: KNITTING!
12/07/01: Conspiracy by the 'fat suit' lobby?
12/04/01: The future of comic books
11/15/01: Literary tips in a jar
11/12/01: The ectoplasm of a ghost economy
11/05/01: Sumner Redstone's passions
10/31/01: My irony
10/29/01: Even in wartime, America can still bring it home
10/25/01: Ad memories
10/17/01: Pathetic me
10/08/01: War time lite
10/01/01: Confessions of a sarcastic scribe
09/11/01: The end of Mom
09/07/01: Boy Loses Girl, Boy Bites Girl, Boy Gets Girl
09/05/01: Virtual elegance?
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08/23/01: Radio workout
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08/15/01: A wild and crazy world!
08/10/01: When the future was "as real as a dime"
08/08/01: Garage Dearth!
08/06/01: That Big Clock
08/02/01: Stop the pop!
07/31/01: Catchphrase history of the world
07/26/01: The Bride of Science
07/23/01: That java jive
07/17/01: Homogenized hegemony
07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
07/10/01: The dumb and the dead

© 2001, Ian Shoales