Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Caffeinated Speech

The following is a speech done on the importance of coffeehouses (all tongue-in-cheek, of course) for a class assignment. All you see below is the actual written 'script', word-for-word, copypasta -

My fellow classmates, how was your morning? How did you wake up today? Perhaps you woke up with a nice warm cup of coffee. How did you get this coffee? Perhaps you made it yourself, perhaps you went to a Starbucks along your way here, perhaps you don't even drink coffee. For all that matters, there is no wrong time to have a nice, warm, drink in your hand, and there is nothing like going to a coffeehouse at the end of the day.

But coffehouses are more than just places to grab a warm, tasty, overpriced beverage. Coffeehouses, are ideal places to gather, share ideas, and commune well before green sirens took over every street corner. Way back, centuries ago in Istanbul, the first coffeehouse was established to much popularity. People began to gather around as these places of coffee expanded throughout the Ottoman Empire and beyond. In these warm, welcome places, people talked. They talked of the news, of criticism, of anything without regard or fear. A brief moment where one had a freedom of speech in a time of massive control. As expected, countries attempted to ban the coffeeshops with success akin to that of the brief prohibition period of the United States.

In 1600s Europe, coffeeshops became commonplace with 3,000 shops in England and a near-monopoly and Paris. Again, attempts were made to surpress the coffee culture, again to no avail and infact causing the opposite effect – more people flocked to them. Much more so that by the 1800s the coffeeshop had nearly replaced clubs in England as common meeting places, with some being a precursor of sorts to a stock exchange. The coffeehouse had effectively become a hub of information.

Over here in the States, however, this hub of information, until very recently, did not exist in the same way. Coffeehouses were near-nonexistent until the 1950s, when immigrants from Italy brought forth a style of cafes common to their home region – espresso. Even then, this wasn't widespread. The hub of information was more of an entertainment venue common mainly in art districts and college towns like the very one we're in.

Slowly, but surely, the concept changed. Youth started to copy the concept of the coffeehouse, and small organizations communed in these cafes, sharing information once again. However, to much Americans in the 20th century, a coffeehouse was a mere diner where coffee was an afterthought, and the overall intent was a place to dine. Then in the 1970s and more rapidly a couple of decades later, the coffeehouse in the original form was finally made widespread by a Seattle chain started by the aforementioned youth. Starbucks enacted a catalyst – suddenly coffeehouses, independent and otherwise popped up across the nation. And as in the early times, people began using these coffeehouses to gather, meet, and more recently stay connected to one another. The coffeehouse was finally a hub of information in the new world.

So next time you enter a Starbucks, a Peet's, or Mishka's, don't just grab a cup of coffee, take a seat, socialize, hang out, or even go online if you wish. As you do so, take note and think – you are taking part of one of the oldest hubs of free communication, expression, and information, a type of place that has so much history and culture behind it. A place of influence.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekend of Bizarre Dreams

I am not quite sure what's been going on in my mind lately, for these past two nights I have been having the most random of dreams. Perhaps it's something I ate... Nevertheless, it all started on Friday evening, a little bit past midnight, little after snoozing off...

I find myself in the middle of the night at this british-looking row house (oddly enough in Los Angeles). It was raining (or looked like it just did). I walk around the corner and enter the house through a narrow wooden door. The interior turned out to be in sharp contrast to the exterior: modern, big (seemed bigger than the house itself), high-class and well-lit. I find myself in the small, yet quaint kitchen for some-odd reason when two dogs (and a cat) suddenly walk in. I follow them around, and then up a randomly-appearing staircase adjacent the kitchen. As I turn around, a party suddenly happens, almost as if it were happening all along. I walk down, back to the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired living room, joining into the party and suddenly seeing half my school there, in a near-uncanny experience. Then once I begin to enjoy myself, all of the sudden...

... I woke up. I guess I was having quite a lot of fun in that dream, as I woke up rather depressed. Seeing the time - 6 AM - I decide to go back to sleep.

Not surprisingly, the entire setting changes - I find myself in a utility cavern which turns out to be part of the Submarines from Disneyland... only there is no water, yet the subs are still running. I grab hold to the back of one of these surprisingly short submarines, and go through the increasingly-industrial 'tunnel'. Out of fear of getting caught 'backstage', I jump out of an open manhole in the ceiling and enter what I first thought were lockers. I look around, and see backpacks and random items scattered about this vast hall. Looking to my left, I see rows of open doors and what looks like the park itself. As I walk out, however, I find myself stuck in a weird portion of backstage, with all of the park's icons scattered about, all behind vague, grey buildings (point of reference for those who can recognize these - I was facing east with Grizzly Peak in front of me, Space on my Right, and Matterhorn to the Left). I do a quick turnaround to find myself in an asphalt lot next to railway tracks, with plenty of grassy fields, and what looks to be a widely open Frontierland in the background. I proceed to walk towards this land, seeing a line for some random attraction, hopping right over the line, and get told off in Spanish by a random cast member. I try to explain my situation, and she decides to escort me across the park. As I pass by the hub/castle, the perspective suddenly changes to third person, and everything appears as if it were an anthropomorphic cartoon made by DC Simpson, which involved something to do with rabbits and shopping. Shortly after this, I wake up, two hours later.

Moving on to last night, the Disney theme was (albeit to a lesser extent) continued, as I find myself on a CGI lego highway en route with my class to California Adventure (I presume this was the upcoming senior trip). Suddenly our lego-looking bus driver, and the bus itself, disappears; forcing us to walk the way to the park, as day turns to night, and everything becomes more 'real'. Evidently, California Adventure seemed to have become just Paradise Pier by the sea, with Screamin' (the big coaster) replaced by a giant steamship which we later found out was just a small, compact prop for reality shows as well as a parking garage. I explore around a bit, finding myself on the boardwalk wearing my tail, and then along this hilly, palm-tree lined road lined with condominiums on the right and an open-field park to the left before inevitably waking up.

Frankly, I'll admit, these have all been a tad bizarre. I guess that granted, that is how dreams typically are (yay rhyme!). But 'tis still odd.

Granted, I have had stranger dreams in the past, like that one time where my school held a combined 'furry and flower/gardening convention'. =P