Starbucks, Beaver and Broad Streets NE, Financial District

Photo via Kin Tsui
Photo via Kin Tsui

You are clearly close to the seat of financial power indeed when the local Starbucks has a revolving door for an entrance.

Once more, from the top: this Starbucks has a revolving fucking door.

Its door revolves. Like you’re entering the lobby of the Daily Goddamn Planet in a shot that establishes what a difference this all is from Smallville.

Axl Rose welcomes you to the jungle in the opening number on the radio. You nearly revolve a full 360 degrees and back out onto the street, but you enter anyway, and the next space in the door brings an older man stomping close at your heels. He’s got a black felt fedora and jacket, long white Arlo Guthrie pony tail undulating down his back. You’re certain of two things: he is a Baby Boomer, and he must have once been in finance. His story would be a familiar one to a lot of his cohort. He’d have started out as a hippie in the sixties, gone disco at the absolute last minute in the 70s, and then sold out until he reached the age of retirement, when he could finally afford to be a hippie again. He’s reading the Wall Street Journal. He probably is the P in J.P. Morgan. He’s probably the man Morgan Stanley borrows from.

En Vogue is now inviting us to free our minds. Meanwhile, you finally take a closer look at the green cup to your right. It looked like a jump-the-gun holiday cup at first—there are locations in Brooklyn that are already playing albums of improvised jazz Christmas music—but it is, you realize, a Unity cup, with a single circular break in all that green with thirty or so people phonebooth-stuffed in. Okay, so, unity, then, but no one bothered to color this in, so you think that either Starbucks is saying that we all must fill in the world with our individual conceptions of race or they’re saying we’re all the same, which is to say: white underneath it all.

You start looking around the place for hidden cameras, for other versions of this cup that don’t have the same printing defect. No luck. Just a woman behind you who has a voice like a she’s on speakerphone.

It’s as if Starbucks originally designed this location for Washington DC’s Union Station, and when Amtrak told them to eat dirt, they airlifted the whole shebusiness to Beaver Street. Why oh why must it be this way? A long counter on the south side of the café is the exact right height for circus freaks, but the rest of the place looks like the oaken study of some atrium-loving nabob, with actual, swear-to-god booth seating, and round… you don’t know what these are called. Infinity couches? These couch donuts each have a handful of tiny tables, and people who have never met share them as though the curving horizon of the seat is too far for them to see past.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, Cyndi Lauper will tell us what girls just want to have.

A bald man walks by wearing a suit that Paul Reubens would call “uncomfortably tight.” He’s not wearing a tie, because it’s 2016 and Obama has done to the neck tie what John F. Kennedy did to formal hats. By early 2017, we’ll all be wearing red baseball caps outfitted with thought-monitoring chips, but the only words they’ll be scanning for are “Trump” and “pendejo” in the same thought. Baldy McNotie will be wearing a five-foot wide pink tie by then, and his suit will be as ill-fitting as Il Douche’s sartorial presidential exo-suits.

Coldplay is singing… something. It could be any of their songs, maybe something about the speed of light or the aroma of love or the tactile sensation of eating chalk. It’s a reminding that time progresses in a straight line while humans progress in maddening zigzags.

A heating has been clunking under your feet since you got here. Perhaps the beaver that gives the street its name, that was the indigenous species of this island long before bipedal primates arrived from whichever cardinal direction they might have come from, is thwacking its ghostly tail against the pipes, trying to scare away the interlopers that have taken over in the last two hundred and change years.

Bruce is sick of sitting around here trying to write this book. You know how he feels.

Perhaps Hamilton himself is floating beneath the ground floor, clutching his best friend, a sentient phantom beaver named Burr, and swinging him wildly at the boiler, furious at what we’ve done with the financial system he created, what we’ve done with the democracy he helped shape. But you can’t start a fire, Alexander, sitting around and crying over a broken heart.

A double-whack comes from the radiator this time, as if Hamilton is saying, in Morse code, “I know whose fault this really is.” Smart men don’t like feeling stupid, and either he gave us, the future Americans, too much credit, or he only built this thing to last for 240 years without servicing. Either way, he must be feeling dumb.

Or maybe, like Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, he has an endless love for his countrymen, his paisans.

A woman walks by wearing Grover Sesame Street pajama pants with a US Olympic team hoodie. Not the kind you buy in a Trump-approved Planet Patriot retail store—this looks legitimate, like she once, maybe in the 70s, threw this over herself while she waited to get back in the pool. Maybe she’s USOC. It’s hard to imagine an aging athlete earning enough to still live in the middle of Exchange Central.

Maybe someone made-a her dreams come true. Probably not, Daryl, but you appreciate the sentiment.

There’s a room in the back with a big wooden table and only one set of outlets. You look up the dinner table bargain—could that be the room where it happened? The room where it happened? Michael Stipe is trying to sing over the Hamilton sound reeling around in your head, and a group of teenagers take over the empty back room. Something‘s gonna happen. Michael thinks he thought he saw them try, at least.

“Losing My Religion” is no time to look out the window of a Starbucks and see a taxi floating a Flashdancers ad down the street. Now you’ve said… too much.

Only two people in here look anything like Trump’s sons, and for some reason, the ones that do look like Eric Trump, even though Donald Trump, Jr. looks far more like Trey Parker dressing up for Halloween 2000 as Patrick Bateman. The two Swedes from The Beach, another 2000 film, are here as well, and now “Wonderwall” is playing. People are singing sarcastically in bad Manchunian accents. Across the street, the window of Duane Reade is advising you to “Get Your Flu Shot Today.” How does one shoot a flu? you’re wondering, because this election has changed what everything means, how everything’s read. Someone switches off “Wonderwall” before it even gets to the second verse.

Maybe they want you to get your flu shot today because time is running out before President Trump installs Martin Shkreli as czar of Obamacare Reform. You look up Martin Shkreli on Wikipedia and find out that his entire career has been predicated on acting like he knows what stocks are going to do, and then shorting them, with a fairly bad success rate and generally lacking the funds to cover his funds’ positions. What you typed up as a joke now seems to cement Shkreli future in the administration of a man who isn’t even as good at making money as Paris Hilton.

This is no ordinary love, is it, Sade?

People are out there, buttoning up their jackets as they walk down the street, wrapping and rewrapping scarves. It’s cold out there, and even though there have been sunny, warm days in recent weeks, 70 degree anomalies in the fall of summer, everyone can sense it in the air. It’s going to get colder and colder, and there’s no way of knowing for how long until Tuesday, when the weasel will or won’t see his own shadow and run scared back into his hole.

4 stars, at least 12 outlets. 56 Beaver Street at Broad Street. Bathroom code: HAMILTON.