The Null Device


In the Los Angeles suburb of Los Feliz, someone has opened a fake Starbucks outlet labelled “Dumb Starbucks”. The logos, cups, furniture and design are all very close to Starbucks' corporate scheme, with the crucial difference that everything is preceded with the word “dumb”, from the name on the logo to the names of drinks like “Dumb Grande” and even to CD cases on display with titles like “Dumb Jazz Standards” and “Dumb Norah Jones Duets”. The outlet is currently giving away coffee for free to the large numbers of bemused punters queuing outside; a notice in the window asserts that the use of the word “dumb” makes the store a parody, and thus negates trademark law (a somewhat sketchy assertion), and that the store is a real business, though is masquerading as an art gallery for legal reasons.

It is not clear who is behind Dumb Starbucks; the baristas were hired from ads on Craigslist. The fitting out of the store must have cost a fair bit, and the whole enterprise must have involved considerable organisation for something ephemeral (chances are it'll be gone by the time Starbucks' lawyers get around to dealing with it). Is it some wealthy Discordian using their fortune to freak the mundanes and fill the world with the inexplicable? A (well-funded) performance art project? Banksy's latest happening? A viral campaign for Starbucks themselves? Or (as someone in the MetaFilter thread suggested) some implausibly rich guy who, for some reason, was pissed off at Starbucks throwing money at annoying them in the way that only a narcissist insulated from everyday reality by nigh-unimaginable wealth can? Or some other explanation altogether fnord?