On Starbucks and Meadowood Library

The Stately Manor is open to customers only

A few years back, drunken bums set up housekeeping at a Brittingham Park shelter. Comfy on sofas discarded on curbside, they blasted tunes on boom boxes as they got their jones on by mid-day. Homeless advocates celebrated the squalid squatters as if they were integrating the neighborhood. Of course, said advocates did not live in the neighborhood. Unenlightened souls who disagreed were castigated for their intolerance and lack of social consciousness.

Finally, the city parks director made a cogent observation. There was something wrong when mothers no longer pushed baby strollers through the park. Brittingham Park got cleaned up. 

Later, the same miserables camped out at the entrance to the City-County Building, pooped in the hallways, and fought for primacy on the generous benches inside. Took local government forever to clear them out. If memory serves, the benches were removed before the homeless and their piles of junk.

Try to rest your weary dogs at the CCB today. That public space has been permanently degraded. Not a bench in sight.

This recent history came to mind after a fight between two boys broke out Tuesday 05-22-18 at the Meadowood Public Library in Ald. Matt Phair’s district. Fighting in a library? Got to admit, that’s a new one. (No fighting in the war room.) Police responded after the fisticuffs moved to the strip mall parking lot outside. Perhaps the library was not posted against fighting.

I prefer to think these young ruffians, ages 12 and 13, were debating Nietzsche’s view that the death of God caused the absurdity of life versus Kierkegaard’s opinion that one must make a leap of faith in God to find meaning and properly balance us as human beings and things just got out of hand. In any event, the combatants were taken to juvie. No doubt some stern restorative justice awaits!

No shirt, no shoes … no offense! Just kidding!

We should, one supposes, be grateful that the lads were in the library at all and not at some drug house. But Tuesday’s disruption was not all that isolated nor, does it appear to this observer, that “library voices” and behavior are enforced.

How many fewer mothers with strollers will curl up with a book at this library in future? Tuesday’s small degradation of that public space expressed itself on the national level at that Starbucks coffee shop in Philadelphia last month when two black men — not exactly customers — were forcibly removed after refusing to leave. They said they were waiting for Godot.

Starbucks shut down the entire chain for re-education camp even though its barristas do not strike one as Bubba and Billy Ray. New policy: bathrooms are open for all!

Then the customers rebelled. The hipsters who congregate at coffee shops were not keen on sharing with their laptops and latte with the street people and drug users.

Earlier this week, Starbucks revised its Open for All policy. Talking too loudly, playing loud music, watching porn on the mobile device, using and selling drugs. In other words, no disruptive behavior. Seems reasonable — until the next social justice warrior pulls out his/her smartphone camera.

Blaska’s Bottom LineFor some time now, Downtown Madison establishments have been finding junkies passed out in the bathrooms. Some of those places even have signs advising “Restrooms For Customers Only.” Who knew they were practicing Jim Crow?

• Daniel Henninger in the Wall St. Journal on Starbucks’ Homeless problem.

• Mixed reactions to Starbucks policy in Los Angeles.

Platinum subscriber bonus effluvium: Re: the NFL kneeling ban; these guys are on the job at the workplace. Insulting their customers is not good business. 

Congratulations to Mark Hanson who retires June 15 as Madison city assessor. A good guy and a great leader.

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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16 Responses to On Starbucks and Meadowood Library

  1. Kevin Wymore says:

    I was also struck (no pun intended) by the novelty of physical fighting in our neighborhood’s Madison branch library. When can we expect a positive return on investment for all of the new bricks and mortar projects in your tenure in SW Madison, Alder Phair? Instead, in the last two weeks, we have had a steady drumbeat of gun violence within walking distance of my home.


  2. richard lesiak says:

    12 and 13. had a fight. Left the library and took it outside. So what? The only reason you writing about this is because it’s in Phair’s district and you’ve had a viagra on for this guy. Two kids had a fight; oh the horror. RWSF nonsense.


  3. richard lesiak says:

    They had to be both white because the cops showed up and took them to juvie. If black they would have been tased, beaten, cuffed and toss in a cell downtown.


    • Marcus says:

      You’re a caricature, right?


      • richard lesiak says:

        Nope. Just a truth-sayer, No one has said otherwise. A couple of kids playing slap and poke in a parking lot has you trump snowfakes doing cartwheels?


        • David Blaska says:

          If only that were the exception and not the rule in Meadowood, Mr. Lesiak.


        • Kevin Wymore says:

          Richard, you don’t seem to shrug your shoulders at the three recent incidents of gun violence nearby, just the admitted irony of the kiddie pugilistics near the summer-reading display. One of these days, an actual human will be plugged by said gunfire. Then, there will be the inevitable round of “how can this be prevented” handwringing and community meetings.


  4. steve says:

    Several years ago, I even found a bum passed out in the bathroom of the county jail.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dave, not B says:

    When you engage in a fight in a library, at least use a book as your weapon. Hillary’s book is not useful for anything else, so why not grab a copy and start swinging?

    Liked by 1 person

    • richard lesiak says:

      They could have a duel. There’s a lot of “Unintimidated” laying around along with scooter t-shirts.


  6. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    Libraries across the country–and certainly in Madison–have become little more than homeless shelters with books. Not long ago I was at the Hawthorne branch and witnessed a fight between two (black adult) guys break out in the entryway. One of the librarians sprang into action and broke it up before too much damage (an overturned newspaper rack) was done. I wonder if you need to take a course in crowd control in order to get your degree in library science these days. Long gone are the days when Marion the Librarian could singlehandedly enforce a code of civilized behavior.


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