August 23, 2013

Mom & Pop Operations

Blogs especially in the early days, exhibited grand idiosyncrasies,  amateurism, and lack of marketing influence.  Very refreshing.

I was thinking about that while I read this article about Starbucks, specifically this passage:

About That Logo...

At close inspection, the Starbucks logo makes no sense. At closer inspection, it makes even less sense, plus you risk dipping your nose in frap foam.
There's some lady with long hair wearing a crown and holding what appears to be two"¦ giant salmon? Decapitated palm trees? Miniature sand worms from Beetlejuice?

Conspiracy theorists have had a field day with the cryptic image...The real story is less about evil conspiracies than prudish graphic design.
Since Starbucks was named after a nautical character, the original Starbucks logo was designed to reflect the seductive imagery of the sea. An early creative partner dug through old marine archives until he found an image of a siren from a 16th century Nordic woodcut. She was bare-breasted, twin-tailed and simply screamed, "Buy coffee!"
In the ensuing years, Starbucks marketing types decided to tastefully cover up the mer-boobs with long hair, drop the suggestive spread-eagle tail and give the 500-year-old sea witch a youthful facelift. The result? Queen Esther at Sea World.
This seems the typical process: you do something creative, like use an image from a 16th century Nordic woodcut, and then it gets watered down or modernized by a marketing area. In Christianity there's ever the same temptation, to give oneself to the marketing reps and allow anything distinctive or creative to be watered down. (You just knew some church would 'modernize', even if in the 16th century, and deny the seemingly eccentric belief that the Eucharist was the body and blood of Christ.) 


I was also thinking this also when I realized that the '60s station on Sirius XM radio almost never plays Richard Harris' MacArthur Park.  The song is too eccentric and colorful, but personally I love the chutzpah it took to write the lyrics, "someone left the cake out in the rain / and it took so long to bake it." 

Those "anti-romantic" and anti-poetic lines, married to a striving melody with orchestral climax, make it a most interesting song even if one widely vilified.   Writing about cake left out in the rain with the green icing flowing down is the equivalent of trying to write poetically of spammer's emails,  suburban Ohio, or Tuesday afternoons.  It ain't easy when you can't sprinkle in French place names.

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