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Global Networks

Yesterday afternoon, I spent a couple of hours in a small café a few blocks from here, first doing some reading and then having coffee with a former student. The café’s quite cool — imagine a merger of French bar and college-town co-op coffee house — and felt somehow very much like home to me as soon as I walked in. It took a second to register how much so: the voices coming out of the café’s speakers were American. Not just American: familiar.

The café, it turns out, was streaming KCRW over the internet.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, it’s quite cool that they can do so, and the music that played during the time I was there was great. On the other hand, there’s something in it that feels a little too much like the sudden explosion of Starbucks here.

Once upon a time, one went somewhere far away to see and hear and taste things one couldn’t see and hear and taste anywhere else. Now one can see and hear and taste many of the same things wherever one goes. Has the point of travel come down to simply being far away?


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