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Back Buzz - January 2, 2001

[pumping heart] Django's, 17 Rendezvous Street, Folkestone, Kent

Having entered another year proving even more unwieldy to pronounce than the previous one -- can we call it "Oh-One", or must we always say the full "Two Thousand One"? -- I'm but a tiny step closer to finding drinkable coffee in England. When I'm in East Kent for my morning coffee I'll buy Taylor's of Harrogate Monsoon Malabar beans which are quite fragrant and tasty. And there is now one cafe in my area where I can find a perfectly tolerable espresso.

Django's is located in the heart of Folkestone's pedestrian precinct in the same location as the now-defunct Fitzpatrick's. A victim of Musical Cafes/Pubs, Fitzpatrick's moved across the street last year and then closed, the second location quickly reopening as the Town House Pub.

But back to Django's, before I get completely off the track. It's very much the same as Fitzpatrick's was, with a similar lunch menu and atmosphere, except for the art-jazz decor. Since they were busy with lunchtime diners when I stopped in I walked up to the counter and asked if they did espresso, saying I wanted just a quick drink. The waitress said she'd be with me in a moment, presumably to take my order. Before I knew it she'd brought me a simple espresso. So I can't speak for Django's macchiatos or cappuccinos, but my single espresso was surprisingly satisfying. Not the best I've found by far, but happily decent.

And this in the heart of Folkestone! How long Django's is destined to survive is anybody's guess, but I hope the fact that I saw lots of people sitting inside is a good sign. I'd like to think I could get a drinkable espresso in the Folkestone area any time I want. This would make me a much happier person who wouldn't moan nearly so often about lousy English coffee.

I still have one burning question, though: if this is supposed to be a jazz-inspired cafe named after Django Reinhardt, one of jazz's greatest guitarists, how come the stereo was playing "Picking Up The Pieces" by Average White Band?

Speaking of burning questions -- like what to buy my friends and family for Christmas now that Christmas is over and I finally have time to think about it -- I'm reminded of an e-mail exchange from a year ago with my Bay Area friend about a great gift idea:

The following is a short article I found in the July-August issue of Utne Reader by Craig Cox:

"The most recent evidence of advertising's raw power comes from Auckland, New Zealand, where 24-year-old graphic designer Fiona Jack last year concocted a bizarre billboard campaign to market Nothing(TM).

"'I was thinking about advertising and all its strangeness, its coercive ability to sell the most completely bizarre things to people who usually don't need them,' Jack told Adbusters. 'I realized that the ultimate nonexistent product would be nothing. [So I decided] to actually call a product Nothing and try to market it.'

"Jack pitched her idea to New Zealand's Outdoor Advertising Association (OAANZ), which agreed to plaster the Nothing(TM) brand on 27 billboards around the Auckland area as a market research project. The results? Several Aucklanders phoned the billboard company, anxious to learn where they could buy Nothing(TM) -- apparently unaware that they already had more than they could ever use.

"'I think the Nothing(TM) campaign proved the point that you can market anything if there's enough money behind it,' says Jack. 'Money is basically the main thing that's required to convince the public of something these days.'"

That's a great idea! Do they really have a Trademark on it? Is it international? Otherwise, this may be the idea that will let you retire in wealth at the end of the Christmas season. Gift-wrapped boxes of Nothing will sweep the nation! (In pretty boxes, of course. Perhaps a mass-produced version of your fine hand-painted papers -- you could probably exploit immigrant or 3rd-world labor.)

There's already a theme song for the media ads. Wouldn't the Fugs' "Nothing" be public domain by now? . . .

"Monday nothing,
Tuesday nothing,
Wednesday and Thursday nothing.
Friday for a change a little more nothing,
Saturday, once more, nothing."

...and on the subject of the holidays -- and all the money I've been sinking into those essential holiday taxi fares -- here's another exchange from two years ago in Seattle:

Recently our friend Celia was at our house and needed to go to a friend's on Bainbridge Island, so she called a taxi to take her to the ferry. As we were waiting for the taxi the phone rang; it was a guy from the taxi company asking me if they had the address wrong. They did; they'd left out the "North" in "Third Avenue North". Okay, he said, the cab would be along in five minutes.

A minute later the phone rang again. I said hello. This voice said "Hi, I'm calling from Gray Top Taxi Service, and I just wanted to let you know I'll be there" (Click!)

So was the guy's call completely computerized, or was he really calling and then pushing a button for "One"? And if he was completely a computer, had the previous call been made by a computer, too?

Who can you trust these days?

Wow, that "one minutes" arrival time prediction -- could that mean the computers were tracking his position by GPS? When the cab finally arrived, was there a person at the wheel?

You know, I didn't actually see the cab driver myself. But I did hear Celia talking to him. But she could have been talking to a voice-actuated self-inflating driver, for all I know. (I picture something like the automatic pilot in the movie Airplane -- except a self-inflating taxi driver would probably look more like a smiling crash-test dummy sporting a cabbie's cap.