Bill DeMarco Rates the Top 50 Starbucks in LA: This Week: #3
#3: the Starbucks at the corner of Hawthorne and Palos Verdes Blvd.
I’m getting my bass fixed. Okay, re-fretted. I didn’t want to sound pompous. Sometime in the afternoon. The son hangs in mid lurch. I scoop the last few drizzles of salsa verde out of a corrugated pie pan. This was supposed to be â€˜for here.’ A girl busses dishes. She’s 17 maybe. I think she’s trying not to look at me. But she might be just not looking at me. If her pants hung any lower you could see New Jersey. Why do they do that?
Phone rings. It’s Ken from Ken’s Basses. He’s gonna need another two hours. Something about “not quite ultimate tone”.
“Hey Bill,” he says.
“The tone is pretty good but not quite ultimate.”
I shake my head but not like an asshole.
“Make it ultimate.”
This time I do sound like an asshole. I clap shut my phone and sigh passive-aggressively. The deal is I don’t like to be away from my bass. Now what. The girl is still bussing dishes. Hunh. All I’m saying is there weren’t that many dishes in the restaurant. Definite vibes.
“Hey waitress,” I interject. “Do you know if there’s a Starbucks around here?”
“There’s one if you go over the hill.”
“Is it classy?”
“I think it has a fireplace.”
A Starbucks with a fireplace? What are you doing here sister?
“Wow. I gotta see that.”
“Yeah,” she says regularly.
She walks into the back with her tub of dishes. A garland of tattooed boysenberries winds across her sacrum. It’s textbook how hard she’s vibing me. But the roads are lovely long and steep and I’ve got promises to keep. Well actually no, no promises to speak of.
So I’m driving and driving. Escalating up ol’ Hawthorne way. This doesn’t look right. I read some book about how you can sort of tell when things aren’t going to happen. It’s a gut thing. But sometimes it’s wrong. But not this time. But no I mean with the second one.
Of a sudden I’m reaching an apex. The road levels. Pressure in my head pushes out sound. Spread broadly before me are pavilions of cloud. Sunbeams glamour, salt-air braces. The beauty makes me laugh. Where did this come from? It’s the secret level you reach after beating the Boss in Maze 5–a platinum racetrack covered with keys or coins or pies. All ugliness eradicated, all worries dissolved. (Confession: it took me two months to beat King Hippo.)
I wend serenely as a dragon down the scroll of the road and alight me at the Starbucks on the corner of Hawthorne and Palos Verdes. Hawthorne and Forever. You can’t believe this place. It’s an aria. I think I saw a centaur duck behind a bush. I don’t remember ordering an Americano but I nonetheless find myself on the back terrace holding one. And there be the fireplace, and there a stoplight, and there the ocean.
Did bearded eminences of antique time convene here? It’s daft but one asks, the place so inclines one to philosophy. Did Socrates draw a smile in the sand and a froward youth erase it? Did Democritus tell jokes and Zeno disprove them? Did Anaxagoras order a venti non-fat mocha, and when he went to pick it up at the counter he accidentally got a regular drip coffee, and then Epicurus said “hey I think you got the wrong drink” and then Anaxagoras asked the barista “is this a non-fat mocha?” and Epicurus said “it should be a drip coffee” and then Anaxagoras said “my bad man” and Epicurus said “hey no worries?” Did these, too, happen? Yeah Greece is 2,000 years ago but a man can speculate.
The philosophers take the conversation to my midbrain as I ease into a metal deck chair. This Starbucks is so pretty that I’ve forgotten to renew my credit card identity theft protection plan. I can’t remember the last time I felt such peace. Without question the 3rd best Starbucks. And you sages. You had your morals and your physics and your discuses. Fine indeed, enjoy the hemlockuccino. I, no thinker, am haunted by a woman passing fine. Chantal, Chantal. I will discover the irrational square root of you.