Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Artist 503
A mind-blowing special alert came via email tonight from David Schmader, an explorer of the weird not normally given to hyperbole...which is why it caught my attention when he declared the following, "the most mind-blowing news item he's seen in a month of Sundays."

The scene: The Starbucks Licensed Stores Awards ceremony, a celebratory/motivational leadership conference, held this evening in the fourth-floor ballroom of the Washington State Convention Center. "Boring stuff, as usual corporate things go," writes our man on the scene. But things took a turn for the surreal when the emcee announced "something special for you all--Jefferson Starbucks!" after which the hydraulic stage rotated to reveal a pretend band comprised of the upper-management folk the audience had heard speak earlier in the evening.

"They were standing in front of a huge American Bandstand-esque 45 single dangling in the air," writes our eyewitness. "And they all had on rock 'n' roll Halloween costumes: pink glitter wigs, white fishnet shirts, fake leather pants, as well as big fake instruments--a huge, oversized piñata guitar and keyboards. It was like a living cake decoration."

From this most promising of plateaus, Jefferson Starbucks quickly ascended to the heavens, lip-synching their way through a company-specific rewrite of Jefferson Starship's "We Built This City," the 1985 anthem that made fresh headlines last year by topping an international critics' poll of the worst songs ever. But tonight, Starship's crap was Starbucks' gold, as "We Built This City On Rock 'n' Roll" was reborn as "We Built This Starbucks on Heart and Soul!" with lyrics rewritten to celebrate the Starbucks way:

Knee-deep in the mocha/making coffee right
So many partners/working late at night
We just want to build here--IMDS, does it pass?
We call on development to complete the task!
Living the way of being,
In the Green Apron Book!
Don't you remember?
We built this Starbucks on heart and soul!

The rewrite even replicated the weird helicopter news report that appears in the middle of the original: "I'm looking out over hundreds of partners on another fantastic leadership conference and I'm seeing a bunch of everyday heroes!" "I couldn't fucking believe it," writes our poor, suffering witness. "The rest of the crowd was stunned, too. Eventually, the emcee berated them--'Come on you guys! Dance! This is your band! This is for you!'--and the crowd half-heartedly got up and just stood there." (A moment of silence for the million silent deaths experienced by the audience during the song's merciless four-minute-and-48-second running time.)

Best of all, before his departure, the victims were given their very own copies of the inexhaustibly mind-blowing song, pressed onto souvenir CDs and distributed with pride by Starbucks stars.  Thank you for surviving and sharing. Humanity is forever in your debt.

And now, for your listening pleasure: Jefferson Starbucks.