Jun 7, 2006

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico –  Jetlagged and cranky, a half dozen travel writers hunch over coffee at the Albuquerque's Sunport. They're idly ripping on "the Starbucks Experience" – cloned fern-bar chic.

"And they're squeezing out the local bean roasters," I add. "Or worse, buying the brand and filling the bags with Bucky's substandard beans.

"I wrote on a piece on it last year for a British magazine. The backlash is growing. You know how the Starbucks website has an outlet locator – punch in your zipcode and it reveals the closest store?"

A colleague interjects: "You mean the closest six stores. On the same block."

"Exactly. Well, a Californian artist collective created its antithesis – Delocator.net – that identifies local cafes nearby."

One writer was strangely silent, studying her rings. Fancy rings. Rings of precious metals and real gemstones.

A finger pointed in accusation. "You've got stock," a young woman hissed.

When the wolf pack corners its own, the results aren't pretty.

Gonna be a long few days...

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