Modern-day pilgrimage?

Tipped off by an article in today's Boston Globe, I thought I would share with you the story of Winter, a young-ish man fulfilling his strange, crazy, corporate fetishistic dream. As you can see by visiting his website, starbuckseverywhere.net, Winter is attempting to drink a full cup of coffee in every Starbucks on the planet. With the single-minded devotion of a pilgrim attempting to see as many elevations of the host as possible, combined with modern tech, Winter is recording all of his visits, although, understandably, he doesn't seem to have time to comment on all of them. There's a documentary beginning to appear at film festivals, Starbucking, recording Winter's travels.

So is this a form of popular religiosity? Devotion to a corporate Other in whose gaze one always finds oneself? The film's director comments, ''as I've looked at all this footage of Starbucks, I often wonder where the hell I am. They're all the same. It's like a universal living room. There's a living room in cities across the world, and they're all the same." Can Starbucks, like airports, function as a Victor-Turner-esque liminal space conveniently located in your own neighborhood due to their omnipresence and lack of distinction? (What someone who wasn't afraid of getting cut off from his own local Starbucks might call "banality"? Note that I am not that someone...) If God is dead and the nation-state is too frail to hold our loyalties, might not corporate fascism, with all of the associated popular epiphenomena like Mr. Winter, be already gaining ground? I say this as someone who just went 50 miles out of his way while traveling home for Thanksgiving to hit the new IKEA (having a swedish meatball in every IKEA...now that hasn't been tried yet...), so I know a bit about internalizing branding. Mr. Winter might be the canary in the mine, warning of how closely attached to our corporations, the all-wise, the merciful, we've become. I need to go back and re-read my Postman.

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