Updated October 28, 2005
First thing I noticed was that I'd been to the building before, the NewsCorp building at 1211 Avenue of the Americas. First time was back in '02 for a photo shoot for an article in the New York Post. Back then, I had had to show ID, but this time there was an added requirement, that the visitor's desk print me out a badge.
My growing number of media appearances finally led me to cross paths with a politician, New York Senator Charles Schumer, who appeared a few minutes before my segment on Fox & Friends.
During a teaser for the segment, one of the hosts said something like "...the cross-country adventure that's good to the last drop." I had to imagine somebody at Starbucks groaned at the association between them and some cheap brand of coffee (Maxwell House? Folger's).
Shortly before I went in, one of the segment producers told me that they were going to "toss me a reporter" or "toss to a reporter". What the...??? I asked her to explain, and it meant that they would be talking to a reporter down in Miami, and I would come in during the show instead of during a commercial like the other guests. But at the last minute they changed that, and I did come in during the show. I was to take one of the host's seat, but there was a little confusing, and I had to stand there for a bit while they sorted out whether he was going to do weather or not.
After the segment I took advantage of the fact that I was reimbursed for parking at a nearby garage, where I could leave my car for up to 12 hours. Rather than leaving and having to find parking, I went down to the Starbucks in Rockefeller Center to get online. I sat there for a while, and at one point some guy got up to leave, and as he passed me said "pretty interesting". My first thought was that he had seen me on Fox earlier, but he was actually just commenting on my mapping program, Streets & Trips.
baskertvall gall of fame
dawdle with the Hell's Angels in New Haven and then race to make Natick by 10:00, blowing through Windsor Locks and Chicopee, and then make Dedham and find out lobby at Norwood is open 'til 11:00
Had a meeting with somebody interested in pursuing a project based on my Starbucks quest. I should probably keep it a secret until it comes together.
On the way back from my Bayside tournament visited the first store in downtown Baltimore visible from the street. On the way I drove down Eastern Avenue and stopped for the first time at a restaurant in Historic Fell's Point.
After U2 I saw the classic Real Genius at the Sunshine and didn't get to sleep 'til nearly 2:00, so it wasn't until about 10:00 AM that I got rolling in the morning and finally photographed Allen & Delancy. Then I went up Allen and right on Houston, back to the bagel shop I had discovered a month earlier, Makkha. I turned right on Ludlow and out of the blue spotted a shop simply named "Creperie". "Crepes!" I thought. "I love crepes!" I pulled to the side and thought about it. Yes, I had a bagel sandwich, but I couldn't pass up the chance at crepes, which I had not had since Paris. The crepe was yummy, but large, and I ended up thoroughly stuffed.
It wasn't until I was on the NJ Turnpike heading south that I remembered that the night before I had pulled down a listing for a store in Secaucus. Oh, well, no point in checking to see if it was open--I wasn't going to backtrack. I did notice, however, another new Jersey store, near Trenton. Because of poorly-placed, poorly-written (abbreviation), and outright missing street signs, I could not find the store. The baristas I spoke to were most unhelpful, and in no small part because I had not had coffee in 48 hours I was rather irritable and decided to visit incognito. But as I took my photos a pair of baristas walked all the way out to the sidewalk to "accost" me. I had to be very clear that I was taking the photos for my web site, and that I don't work for Starbucks, to avoid any accusations of being an impostor.
Journalists and others occasionally ask if do anything else when I travel besides visit Starbucks. Well, a few years into my project, once the initial frenzy had worn off, I made a conscious decision to take time out for other things. Concerts, for example. So on Saturday night after my tournament, instead of heading back out to the end of Long Island to photograph the Southampton store and visit the new Riverhead store, I headed instead to Madison Square Garden to see if I could score a U2 ticket. Of course, the fact that it was raining all weekend affected my decision--I didn't have a strong motivation to drive 140 miles to get lousy photos that I would just want to reshoot another day.
Of course I made the right decision, because seeing a show in Madison Square Garden was on my life list, and what better way to check that off my list than with U2, perhaps the greatest rock band currently in existence.
When I went back to sleep for the second or third time I knew I was putting pressure on my schedule. Still, as I approached Nashville my sweet, sweet Nikon D50 called out to me. I pulled up my photos of Nashville-area stores to see which ones merited reshoots. Curses! I needed a daytime shot of one of the Franklin stores, and I had left Franklin about 10 miles back. I had been distracted by an NPR report on Wallace and Grommet.
I spent some time chatting at the new Brentwood store, dropped by Green Hills and remembered I had no good shot in the morning, and then spent more time chatting at the new West End store. Finally I went up to the other store on West End and waited some 5-10 minutes for some cars to move. The upshot is that by the time I got to the Pancake Pantry the line was around the corner. I had been looking to sit down for breakfast, but I didn't have that much time to waste. So I called in an order---couldn't even go inside to place it because parking was limited.
Random nature photo to see what this baby can do.
While I waited for my order I went downtown to the only store there, at 5th and Church. Unfortunately there was construction, but I shot a bunch of frames anyway while a cop (there because of the Titans game) stood nearby one the corner. I could feel his gaze burning into my back.
Just before I picked up my pancakes I got a call back from Olga, a massage therapist I had spoken to one at least one or two earlier occasions. She had never had an immediate appointment, and I had always been in a hurry, but this time she was able to see me right away, after I got my pancakes. I was able to clean up in her bathroom, and afterwards I showed her how to post an ad on Craig's List.
I noticed that my memory card was almost full, only 40-odd frames left (at max resolution, fine quality). I had shot over 300!!! The D50 was so was that I was able to shoot a at various combinations of zoom and framing without having to wait.
Over in Knoxville, the first new store I encountered was similar in design to several of the new stores I had seen in GA, AL, and TN. It was kind of disappointing, really.
At that store, a not-uncute girl asked me if I had visited Cedar Bluff, and a few more questions about the project. But that's where she left it--no e-mail address, phone number, nothing.
close call natuiral brudge wreck on 81 five miles up see car backing up, do the same, take us 11
At 7:48 I felt like I still needed sleep, but I calculated that I had slept for almost 11 hours and that I was probably just feeling some caffeine withdrawal, so I went ahead and headed over to the Starbucks, which, to my surprise, had T-Mobile, only three months (July, August, September) after opening. I thought it usually took longer.
I hung out at the store taking care of some things that had been pushed off because of work, e-mails, planning my route and such, but mostly hoping for the reddish Nissan truck to move. Finally, after all but one of the customers who had been in the store when I arrived cleared out, I asked a gentleman if it was his truck. It was, and I was reminded of why I don't like to ask, because he asked me a ton of rapid-fire questions about my project.
Obligatory stop at the Flying Biscuit Cafe (Candler Park) on the way to the airport to switch cars. They lost my order, so I went out to my car to wait and avoid a ticket. I turned it on to keep power to my computer, and after a minute or two something strange happened. I heard a rumbling, which I assumed to be a train or truck passing by (though there are no train tracks), and then the car suddenly died. What the...???
On the way back to the interstate along Monroe, I noticed a new development, the Edgewood Retail District. It seemed out of place in the underserved community--nevertheless, I wondered how long it would be before a Starbucks opened up there.
I headed back to the airport to return the Alamo car and rent a one-way from Hertz. They did not have XM, but rather Sirius, and I request an upgrade (just $3, that the company would pick up). But when I got out to the car I couldn't get the Sirius to work. I fiddled with it for a while, and just when I was about to go back into the office some guy came up and said that was his car, that he had a contract, and pointed to a tag with his (somebody's name). Of course I didn't know this guy from Adam, so I called over to a Hertz representative. I waved for her to hurry, and she said for me to hang on, but I just waved more emphatically. As she neared the car she said the man had a contract, and that she would have to get me another car. We went into a smaller office, and I asked her if she was sure that car belong to that guy, and if he would have to present ID before leaving. I didn't want him to turn out to be a thief and for me to be left on the hook for the car.
Back at the other store...
File sizes beteen 2.5 and 3 MB, about 4-5 times the size of the photos I was shooting with the Coolpix. The 1 GHz P3 in my laptop was struggling, and slow to view even one image in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. The images actually opened more quickly in the app I wrote, but it was customized for 1600 x 1200, and so the images were cropped.
cop good 4 once pull over car riding me close
decide to do nashvile morning so tour of clubs Silver Dollar all on University Visions SHowcase Showgirls, adult video has used mags poypropyline
Finally snuck away from the car wash site and visited the Cumming store, about 10 miles up the freeway.
Things got crazy at Sam's as the midnight deadline loomed and problems continued to appear. By 2:00 it was apparent that I would not be able to keep my invitation pay a visit to a 7th-grade class in Decatur to talk about my project.
To make matters worse, the Wal-Mart people were not allowing us to test the changes I had made on the Portal out in the field--they insisted on testing back at the lab, which slowed things down. Finally, close to 6:00, word came that Sam's was not going to allow anybody to install updated software anymore that weekend, out of fear of a problem taking the system down. So that was it. We were done, until Monday, with the weekend to hope that this didn't kill the deal.
But on the bright side, I was able to get out of Alpharetta and first meet up with my cousin who happened to be nearby around Perimeter Pointe. Then I went over to Snellville, rocking to old-school hip-hop on XM all the way, and I decided that there was no point in picking up the more-expensive one-way rental car from Hertz that night, since I was exhausted and wasn't going to drive very far. So I changed the reservation to 8:00 AM, making it a 2-day instead of 3-day rental, reducing the amount of the deposit on my card, and I found the Wal-Mart Supercenter Snellville (or Lawrenceville), bought a pillow, still $2.92, a blanket, still $4.88, and camped out for about 11 hours.
AARRGHH!!! I flew into Atlanta on a business trip with the hopes of taking the weekend to visit some new stores in the southeast. But I forgot my camera!!! AARRGHH!!! At the first opportunity I searched Craig's List for used cameras and dispatched many messages. The only reply I had received as of Wednesday night was from a lady who had a cheap Polaroid digital camera with a resolution of only 640 x 480, much less than the 1600x1200 that I'd been shooting with. I didn't want to drive around to all those stores only to have to shoot them again later, so I passed and hoped someone else would call before I finished up at the car wash site.
had to stay everything working midnight fri, coordinate with kim at airport, polaroid didn't work, $40 no change, fayetteville, best buy, d50, rush to stockbridge, construction, closed highway, miss extended stay by minutes, la quinta, XM radio is cool, excitement
Yay! My first Google AdSense payment, of $250.79 for several months of ads!!!
I left Silver Spring just after 8:00 AM thinking I had plenty of time to visit three Starbucks outside Philadelphia before the noon start of a Scrabble tournament. In an unusual occurrence, I forgot to gas up before leaving, and so when I approached the Delaware service plaza and noticed the gauge lower than it should have been, I decided to make a pit stop and call my parents at the same time, to see how they were holding up in Houston after several days without power, with stores closed, and with limited mobility due to gas supplies. I didn't call from the car because my father dislikes driving and talking on the phone and complains when I do it. The gas pump gave me trouble, and the conversation ran long, and I didn't go into the restroom while talking because it's a yucky thing to do, and all told I probably lost 10-15 minutes.
The next delay was in finding the Court at King of Prussia Mall. It wasn't, as I had imagined the food court to the mall, but rather a separate mall across a street from the original King of Prussia Mall, dubbed "The Plaza". A snippy barista explained where the mall was, but I didn't understand her directions and ended up parking way on the other side of the mall from where the Starbucks is.
Next was an apparent problem with my camera that I discovered during the drive. I had driven down into DC on Tuesday to buy the camera from a guy who posted an ad on Craig's List, and I had had the guy take a photo of me to prove it worked. Everything appeared fine, and I paid him $125 cash for the Nikon Coolpix 990. Before I left he asked for his 64 MB CompactFlash card back, and since it hadn't been listed in the ad, I had no problem giving it back. So during the drive to PA, I popped in my 1 GB card, and the camera reported an error. I popped in a 64 MB card and an 8 MB card, but neither worked. I tried formatting the card, but apparently I didn't use the controls correctly, and that failed. Doom and gloom ran through my mind, as I suspected I had been scammed, but I couldn't figure out how, since the guy had in fact taken a photo of me and I had viewed it.
Well, there was nothing to do but visit the Starbucks--I needed my morning coffee anyway. I had spotted a Best Buy from the freeway, and so after getting my coffee I headed over there to try out a brand new card and see if there was a problem with all three of mine (unlikely). I first ask one of the employees, Chad, in the digital camera section if he had an open one that I could try. He looked, but couldn't find out. He was a decent chap and, upon learning of my plight, suggested I buy the cheapest card. Then he asked to see my camera, and he fiddled with the menu and managed to get it to format. He tried taking a photo--it worked! What a genius! I myself felt silly for not having been able to format the card. But I guess the most significant thing about that moment is that it was the first time in recorded history a guy that a person named Chad ever did something useful.
I went back into the mall to get the photo, and as luck would have it both security guards, the decided to make chit-chat with a girl manning some mobile phone service kiosk across from the Starbucks. I killed some time by buying a Starbucks card, but they didn't move. Some guy could have been getting mugged on the other side of the mall, and these guys were taking a good long break. I walked across the hallway and hung out at the Brooks Brothers, pretending to be interested and trying not to be noticed by any salespeople. Still the security guards lollied, while I wanted to gag. Finally I decided to get sneaky and take the photo from the doorway, just out of sight of security (but not from the salespeople). But right then the foot guard walked off, and I had to wait for him to pass. The other one, on the Segway, remained, so I still had to hide in the doorway, and then I rushed off in case the saleslady had become suspicious.
So I got my photo of that store, but I lost so much time that I couldn't possibly make it to the Montgomery Mall and Feasterville stores and still reach the tournament by noon. In fact, because of traffic on I-76 that always seems to be heavy into Philly, I missed my first game. Grrr...
Even though I was camera-less, I figured I'd visit the new Allen and Delancey store anyway. I stopped at a bagel shop on Houston, and while I was waiting for my sandwich I made chit-chat with a woman sitting at a stool with a lot of luggage. Turned out she was a singer from Australias, Jude Elliot
, in America to perform some gigs for a few months. My almost immediately thought of Kasey Chambers, the only other Australian singer/songwriter I could think of, and one of my favorites. I wished Jude well and hoped she would become popular in the states so I could say I met her.
I went to one of my usual easy-parking Starbucks to get online and wait for a response to several replies I sent to ads for used cameras on Craig's List. When I entered the bathroom, the homeless smell was almost overpowering. I had been in that bathroom several times before but had never felt it so strong.
I waited hours but never heard back about the camera, so I headed back to Maryland to try and get a few hours in a work. On the way, that Jonathan Schwartz show on WNYC played a swing version of "Old McDonald" -- I guess what they say is true-- you can swing any song.
Got kind of lost visiting new stores in Brooklyn and Queens on the way to a Scrabble tournament in Bayside. After the tournament, which turned out merely so-so, I rushed east into Long Island to visit a store in East Northport before it got dark out. Just a few miles shy of the store on the Jericho Turnpike, I passed some business called Kiss, and my T&A sensor went off. I pulled into the adjacent parking lot, jogged over to the place to see if it was worth a visit on my return trip. It wasn't, and that's not important anyway. What is important is that, when I returned to my car, I decided to hop a metal guard rail instead of going around. But mid-hop I chickened out and pushed against the rail to complete my jump. I cursed myself, because that was an easy jump, and in my younger days I would have cleared it without hesitation. But now that I was getting old, and lacking in health insurance, I was becoming more and more fearful of injury. I was reminded of a news brief from the previous day about how Jackie Chan says he (at 51) is getting too old for stunts. Jeez--I'm only 33, and I'm already feeling too old. Disgusting!
After E. Northport I continued rushing east, to the LIE, trying to decided whether to eat or whether to try and reach Southhampton before it got dark. Just before I hit the freeway, it was apparent I couldn't drive the 40 miles in time, and so I popped into a place called Mama SBarro's for some s'getthi. It was decent, and I even managed to bargain the price down a penny.
During dinner I remembered that I had forgotten to check what the midnight movie at the was. A buzzing in the back of my head said it was important to check, so I backtracked a bit to the Hauppauge store. But it didn't have T-Mobile, so I went over to the Islandia store, which had actually been closer. Aah!!! Goodfellas!!! I had been wanting to see Goodfellas on the big screen again forever! I was really regretting all the time I had wasted, because I was already feeling exhausted, and even if I made it to the Southampton store and back to Manhattan in time, I still had to stay awake 'til 2:00 AM.
Southampton was a really cool store, built in an old diner, and I wanted to see how it would photograph in the morning. But... Goodfellas! So I rushed off. After about thirty minutes, though, I was feeling so tired I just wanted to pull over and sleep. But... Goodfellas! I pushed on and maye it into Manhattan and reached Allen Street, just a few blocks from the Landmark Sunshine, around 11:30. I figured I might as well try and close my eyes for a few minutes. This required me to do something I don't like--I snuck into the bathroom of a bar down the street from where I parked. I usually like to buy something if I use the restroom, but I was too tired and short of time to worry about it.
I "woke up" a few minutes before noon and rushed over to the Sunshine. On the way I passed I girl who seemed in as much of a hurry. When she showed up at the ticket counter about a minute after me, I took that as an omen and tried to strike up a conversation. Inside, the movie had already started and the theater was dark, so I stood at the door trying to spot a good seat (place was packed), when guess who walks in but the tall blonde. She chooses before me, a half-row at the back. I don't want her to think I'm stalking her, so I keep looking. I don't see anything, so I have to grab a seat in the same row, a couple down from her.
The sleep, and the DoubleShot from Southampton, helped, and I stayed awake to enjoy the movie (and it was good). I went to the restroom before leaving, and when I reached the corner of Houston and Allen there was the blonde again. She was on the phone, but she looked up when a bottle cap or something that I inadvertently kicked rolled right up to her. She noticed me and offered a weak smile, as if to say "why are you still here??"
The blonde was quickly forgotten when I returned to my car to discover that my cameras (the 2500 and the broken 800) had been stolen from my seat. I scrambled to see if anything else had been taken, but everything else appeared to be in place, including the debit card that I foolishly leave in plain sight way too often. The good camera I bought for $75, but still... AARRGHH!!! The photo of Southampton! The photo of Southampton!! 90 freakin' miles away from Manhattan, and I lost the freakin' photo!!! AARRGHH!!! From now on I'd have to be more careful, keeping things out of view in the car--what a pain in the ass.
Well, there was nothing to be done about it at 2:30 in the morning, and so I rushed downtown to Front Street, to my favorite lower Manhattan campground, to discover that the construction had been finished, and the street had reopened. I still stayed there, but as I expected there was the occasional passing car throughout the night.
After spending the night on a couple of streets in Portland, I reshot the Exchange St store while the street was empty, and then I grabbed a to-go breakfast from Becky's Diner, a place that was hopping early on a Sunday morning. I got a bad vibe when the waitress said, almost reluctantly, that she could get some biscuits out. I should have figured they would not be fresh, and they tasted accordingly.
On the way up to Bangor, I spotted a sign for Freeport and remembered that the store there was pretty and worth a few more photos, so I made a quick detour and snapped many frames while the street was relatively quiet. From what I remember, as the day progressed the variety of shops and eateries along Main Street would attract a healthy number of visitors.
Yay!!! Finally, at 11:00 AM EDT, I finally reached the long-awaited Bangor Starbucks!!! The farthest northeast!!! Unfortunately, it wasn't a very exciting store.
It was 230 miles back south to Massachusetts and the first of four new Starbucks in the area, but I made great time following some car at 90+. Unfortunately, most of the way I had to deal with a stupid ass in a white minivan who kept either driving up to close to me or hovering near my blind spot on the right. I had to keep making erratic lane changes, braking, weaving, and turning on my hazard lights to get the driver to back off. It wasn't until we hit the bypass around Portland that I lost him.
I stopped in South Portland to reshoot the store, and whaddayaknow, the goddamn crank to my window broke, again!!!
I also checked my e-mail, and I had a message from an informant who had discovered several new secret stores, two of which were in the Boston area, another in CT. As I drove down towards MA I made calls, and learned one store was upcoming, and the other had been planned, but never built. Whew! Otherwise I would have had to wonder if their omission was part of that great Starbucks conspirary to keep me from visiting all the stores.
I coulda been that breakfast was wearing off and my body was a-longing for lunch, or maybe just all-around stress, but a persistent headache started and keep me popping fake Tylenol every few hours.
I had made plans to meet a "fan" (though she found me through Scrabble first) down in Providence for dinner, but it soon became clear I wouldn't make it in time, and that I had to eat something. I pulled off I-495 in some unknown town and grabbed a couple of slices of pizza. Later I began to feel queasy and hoped that I wouldn't succumb to food poisoning.
I called the Wakefield, RI, store and learned, to my kind-of surprise and shock, that it closed at 9:00 PM, not 10:00 like I would have hoped. That meant I was in danger of not being able to visit the four new stores around MA and reach Wakefield in time, let alone stopping for dinner with Beth. I started to speed up, and a process of calculating distances and routes. I was delayed in Billerica by a partner who wanted a photo, and also in Leominster, and then when I got lost on the way to the new Marlborough store it was apparent I couldn't reach Wakefield in time. Had I been able to, I would have had to decide whether to keep my meeting with Beth or ask her to meet me in Wakefield.
But since I couldn't reach the store, I had plenty of time to hang out at Julian's, a quaint little place in central Providence. The sandwich I ordered was only so-so, but the decor was really cool, especially the collection of Star Wars action figures in the bathroom! This place is a must-visit for any SW fan.
It was already much later than I had hoped, and I knew I wouldn't be rolling into work at any kind of decent hour the next day, but I figured that since I was already so late it wouldn't hurt to stop in New Haven and check out this club I'd seen ads for in the Fairfield County Weekly, Stagedoor Johnnie's. Actually, it was ostensibly two clubs--Stagedoor was topless and had a bar, while across a hall was Backdoor Johnnie's, which was nude and had no bar. A couple of unusual thing--it looked like the girls were giving nude lapdances, which I didn't think existed in the U.S., and also that rather than being on stage for 2 songs, as is customary (sometimes just 1, or sometimes 3), girls had to stay on stage for 15 minutes. But what was really unusual (or maybe not) was that, according to a dancer, the club was run by the Hell's Angels. After I heard that, the whole look of the doorman and the guy I presumed to be the manager made sense. And the snippet of conversation I overheard between the doorman and the bouncer, with the former complaining that whatever the latter was up too was going to get their liquor license taken away, made more sense. There weren't many girls working, and while debating whether to spring for a dance I sort of kept my eyes on a bit of drama that seemed to be unfolding with that bouncer involving a dancer and something that had come up missing? Drugs? Well, I couldn't exactly put on my reporter had an interview them, now could I? Man, I bet if you could sneak secret video and audio recorders into a club like that you could get some really juicy stuff (and maybe get killed too).
On the way to a Scrabble tournament in Dover, NH, I visited a cool new store in Simsbury, CT, built in an old tavern dating back to the American Revolution.
I finally did well at Scrabble after a serious slump (more like a crash), and I had a spring in my step as I headed first to Portland to see one of my favorite masseuses and grab some dinner before heading up to the long-outstanding Bangor store.
Whew! I finally finished writing the code for the city index that I'd been thinking about for many years. I hope that this index, plus some more nuanced text on my home page, will help cut down on the number of e-mails I receive about stores I have already visited.
Stealth visited to the new Paramus store, but was recognized by one of the baristas.
Son of a bitch! It took me days of examining my database on and off, but I finally figured out why my total store account, according to a query, was not equal to my previous store count + 98, the number of stores I visited during my trip. And the reason is... I LOST A FUCKING PICTURE!!! Somewhere between Reno and Lincoln, or maybe later when I labeled the photos, I lost my picture of the Robb and Mae Anne store! And it had to be in Reno, too, a city that I don't get too very often.