Ironically, Anti-Yuppie Scarecrow will be the next big hipster band

18Jun10

This is probably only relevant to residents of Toronto, but as I’ve mentioned before, although Danforth Avenue—”the Danforth” to locals—declines in trendiness east of Pape Avenue and is definitely depressed by Donlands Avenue,1 the real tipping point is in between, at Jones Avenue.2

As evidence, I point to the Starbucks on the north side of the street at this intersection, which is faced by a Coffee Time directly across the street on the south side. On the north side are the hipsters and soccer moms. To the south are the junkies, whores, and hobos. Though I’m frankly not sure which I prefer,3 this delineates a clear socioeconomic border; a weather map of this area would show an isobar here representing a gentrification front blowing in from the west.

It should be no surprise that worlds clash here, but a friend of mine lamented tonight while picking up a large decaf coffee from McDonald’s to help her stay up late to work (but not too late) that she’s been all but driven out of this particular Starbucks by the constant presence of a crazy guy constantly bothering her and other customers by asking if they mind if he joins them, joining them anyway, and driving them out of their minds. Why, she asked, can’t the management do something about him?

My answer is that the management doesn’t want to do anything about him. This man is effectively working for Starbucks, helping promote table-turnover and freeing up room for new customers by driving out the old ones. He’s not enough to prevent you from going into there in the first place, but he sure makes you drink your coffee in a hurry and get out. For every one seat in the place he takes up, he frees up another five or ten that would otherwise be filled by people camping out, nursing lattes, and poking away at laptops.4 Basically, he’s an anti-yuppie scarecrow. Far from tossing him out, it might even be worth it for the staff to float him a free cup of coffee now and then to keep him around.

However, this theory now makes me wonder what’s going on across the street at the Coffee Time. By the law of parallel worlds, there has to be someone ruining it for them too. While Coffee Time’s customers are busy scoring drugs, turning tricks, and re-knotting their bindles, they’re all glaring at some hipster camping out and working on a screenplay and complaining about how the management hasn’t thrown this douchebag out. And rightly so.

1. This is where I live.
2. This doesn’t apply to the neighborhoods immediately north and south, which seem pretty similar all along the Danforth. It just applies to the main strip itself.
3. That may be the reason I have a coffeemaker in my kitchen, although other reasons may include being cheap and hating to leave the house. See Note 1.
4. He’s not eating up Starbucks’ bandwidth by leaching off the Wi-Fi, either. He wants nothing to do with invisible radio waves–hence the tinfoil hat.



5 Responses to “Ironically, Anti-Yuppie Scarecrow will be the next big hipster band”

  1. Ha, I was just talking with a friend today about how if you live near a Coffee Time, you know you’re not in a great neighbourhood. She was saying how the Coffee Time near her old place became a Tim Horton’s, which made her feel confident about her area’s urban renewal project.

  2. 2 Peter Lynn

    The three businesses that tell you if you’re in a bad neighborhood are Coffee Time, Money Mart, and Champions off-track betting. There’s a nice old bank building out around Coxwell and Danforth that’s been converted to a Money Mart, which saddens me. It’s the same kind of business, but a much degraded form, like going from being a high-class call girl to a truck-stop hooker.

    Also it’s really easy to tell during patio season if a tavern is a dive bar, because the clientele is right there on display. I often refer to such patrons as “lowlifes living the high life”.

  3. 3 jason

    What *really* makes a neighbourhood downtrodden is a FAKE Coffee Time. You can always spot one of these because (a.) the colour-scheme of the sign is still maroon and gold, (b.) the name will make no sense because the owners tried to change the sign as little as possible so (i.) people might look at it quickly and think it’s still a Coffee Time, and (ii.) changing signs in a big way is expensive, and also (c.) the interior of the place looks exactly like a Coffee Time, especially the price-board behind the cash register.

    Notable examples:

    Coffee Team, Kingston Rd and St Clair E
    Coffee Lime, Pape north of Danforth
    Coffee Dome, Kingston Rd and Danforth
    …and several others.

  4. 4 Peter Lynn

    I know Coffee Lime well, having lived nearby for ages. I’ve never gotten up the nerve to go in, though.

  5. 5 Marlene

    What if they neighborhood has Money Mart, more than one pawn shop, a rent-to-own furniture store, two porn shops, a transit stop (one where all the buses meet and sit for a while), and signs that say, “This neighborhood does not tolerate prostitution” (which it clearly does) or “Report a John” (which no one does)? That’s what our Edmonton apartment was close to. I’m sure I’m leaving out other seedy locations that just blended in with the filth.


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