Bill DeMarco Rates the Top 50 Starbucks in LA: This Week: #2
#2: the Starbucks at Sunset and La Brea
Your Ladyships, make way for His Royal Twojesty, Thee Second Most Reverend Starbucks in All Yee Los Anjealous Dominion, Thee Shoppe in Thine Strippe Maull at Yee Olde Sonsett Y La Brea Blvrds, Starbucks the Penultimate, Arch-Ducke of Holywoode and Other Thynges &c.
We’re getting close. We’re getting damn close. Damn damn damn close. To the number one Starbucks in LosAnjealous. Am I on the edge? Why don’t you ask the edge, which is sweating and turning blue in the face because I’m on it. Yes I’m on the edge. Come from the edge from way back. My coat-of-arms is a coffee bean balanced on an axe. Against a Field Argent, with a Coronet Gules. Bordered by two Ducks Rampant–yes in fact it is quite an interesting coat-of-arms, see the story goes one of my ancestors had fallen in battle when Louis IX–
“I know you.”
Blugh! Who said that? These are not words you want to hear in a strip mall in Hollywood. And yet so familiar, so tinged with. . .Romanian smarm. (I have an ear for accents. And eye. Throw pillows for instance. Did I say smarm?) I should have never stepped out of the Starbucks. Shit’s goin’ down already.
“Won’t you come into my salon?” says the voice again. I think it’s coming from the cell phone store. I surreptitiously step inside.
Madam Urania!!! You’re not a cell phone! The crafty fortune-teller had pulled up stakes and ventured to the other side of the hill, foregoing the glitz and glamour of North Hollywood. Down to the unmodified Hollywood. Good ol’ Urania. New shingle, same racket.
“I see you remember me. Or perhaps. . .you cannot forget?” she intones.
“But don’t you know, future-lady?” I intone back, referring to her supposed powers of prediction, implying smugly that she should already know what I think.
“No, I haven’t forgotten you,” I say smugly.
“Perhaps you would care for another reading of the cards?”
I give the “but of course” gesture and seat myself. She shuffles the deck and starts laying out the cards: Death, Hanged Man, Devil just to start.
“What’s your point?” I interject dismissively.
“No no no, this isn’t so bad,” she says snorting with laughter. She lays down more cards: Emperor, Judgement, Fool.
“Lightening up a bit I see. Lots of face cards, wow,” I notice.
More cards: Entombment, Pestilence, Guy With Two Broken Arms (“Hmm, those are new ones”) Toaster in Bathtub, Strangled Prom Queen, Crabs.
She stops there.
“Look, I could go on, but I think you don’t have to be Tarot card reader to see you are really on shit’s creek.” Her satisfaction is overpowering.
“Keep going,” I suggest politely.
“I’m just telling you that this cards have very serious meaning for you, this very serious for you, bad things are in horizon.”
“Oooookay,” she replies in an accent thicker than freeze-dried borscht.
The cards start taking a different tack: Five of Wands, Tower, Justice. How ya like me now? She pauses. “Keep going,” I tell her. Thumbs Up, Powdered Donut, Fish Wearing Sunglasses. She takes the deck and shakes it next to her ear.
“I think someone hacked your deck,” I say. Hacked your deck! I’m a genius.
“You want to fuck with me, fine. But you fuck with cards, cards fuck you. I’m trying to warn you dude.” She pronounced dude like “doood.” Hilarious.
She slaps down more cards. Coffee Cup, Stop Sign, Skull. She taps her fingers on the table. She stares at me blankly. We sit in silence. Which she breaks.
“Listen, Beel, sometimes Tarot is difficult. . .but sometimes Tarot is not so difficult. I ask you, what do you think last three cards means?”
I reflect long and hard.
“Skulls should stop drinking coffee?”
“Okay, we have a lot of informations on table. A lot of conflicting informations. I am going to lay down one more card–“
Reader I apologize but I freaked. I grabbed the card from her hand and ran out. “Hey you guy” I heard her cry behind me. I ran and ran, up La Brea, dodging cars, up up up, ran and ran and ran. What was I thinking? I know what I was thinking: I didn’t want the card to fuck me. Not there and then in front of the lady. I mean not that I care but I think there might be something to this. I mean not a lot, I’m no dipshit, but let me just take this card you know, real casual, run into these woods up here in the hills, right into this sun-dappled clearing, my heart hitting my ribs like a church bell, just take it easy, out of the way of onlookers, heh heh, if a Tarot card is flipped in a forest, heh heh, nice and easy, lemme just hold this card right here, lean against this nice tree, lean back, nice and easy, slide on down, nice and easy, nice and easy, sit on these leaves, okay, nice and easy, okay, okay. Okay.
I look at the card.