Addiction in America

That the U.S. (or any nation) is a nation of addicts could be definitionally true if one were to include all substances, so let us begin by eliminating things like oxygen, liquids, and foods needed for basic human life.

For that matter, let’s also eliminate from today’s inquiry those things that rest on the far end of the obvious scale. (Most) Everyone knows that nicotine, alcohol, many hard (and soft?) drugs, and even sugar have addictive qualities.  Along these lines, it should be noted that nicotine is not only found in cigarettes, cigars, etc.  Articles have been trending lately indicating its unlikely presence in egg-plant, green tomatoes, cauliflower, and even potatoes.

So if not the overly obvious or the essential addictions, what might I wish to discuss, you ask.  To this I respond with the most obvious American addiction of them all.  Starbucks.

Notice the strong resemblance between the Starbucks siren and the Beninois vodun divinity Mamiwata

From a young age, I grew up with a reasonably strong immunity to the wiles of Starbucks’ sultry siren.  In short, I just didn’t fancy the smell of the coffee bean.  Smell inevitably linked to taste, and I therefore had no desire for any coffee until the time I spent in West Africa where I learned to enjoy an occasional NesCafe.

Back to the corporate, however, let us begin with a little history:

This coffee-shop, first named Pequod for the whaling boat in Moby Dick, shortly became Starbuck(‘)s in homage to the Pequod’s first mate. Briefly in California’s San Francisco Bay area, Starbucks charaded as an under-cover restaurant chain, Circadia.  However, these restaurants were soon outed and forced to reel their business back to that of baristas and baked goods.  In 2009, the Bux debranded three Seattle stores in order to offer more diverse menus and function as a form of Starbucks stealth labs.  At some point this year, there is talk of expansion into the juice bar biz with the resources of recently acquired juice company Evolution Fresh.

So basically, they’ve become a big deal.

In the past several years, I have met many wonderful people who actually come from Seattle and have found it interesting that they would lay no claims with Starbucks quality.  For that matter, amongst PCVs, I feel like Starbucks is relatively low on the list of near-obsessively craved American food and drink.

But upon return to America, it’s still huge!  It boggles the mind.  I understand that caffeine’s a big deal.  Perhaps anyone that’s been to university understands that.  I’m just a little confused with what (from my pseudo-foreign perspective) largely amounts to mania for this highly stickered (in Burkina, a cup of coffee runs about $.20) brand of beverage.   And to be fair, it doesn’t end with Starbucks.  People need their particular brand of coffee fix to the point that borders on ritual.

Ritual.  This leads us back to the above photo.

Mami Wata is one of many vodun (voodoo, vaudou, etc.) divinities.  She, or occasionally he, is associated with beauty, water, sex, and the acquisition of wealth or fame.  However, while she has frequently been depicted as a mermaid, she’s not a siren so-to-speak.

Left – effigy of Mami Wata brought to Benin from New Orleans Right – some lady at a beach-side-vodun-festival that I at first believed to be Lady Gaga, then Mami Wata, then perhaps just someone with really sensative skin.

So why do the two likenesses in the top photo (a Starbucks siren and Mami Wata) look so alike?  After much serious research and a cup of NesCafe, the answer struck me with such force I could no longer deny its truth.  The semblance is no mistake.  Starbucks must now be using vodun to promote their product!

And that’s when I understood the addiction.

America is unwittingly hooked on vodun!  But it doesn’t stop at Starbucks.  With the second set of photos, one will perhaps pardon my erreous judgement assuming the photographer on the right to be Lady Gaga.  It was only upon recognising my error that I made the connection between said photographer and a likeness of Mami Wata.  It was only then (and with a bit more research) that I made the most startling of discoveries.

In Lady Gaga’s You and I video, Gaga is presented not only as herself, but also as a mermaid.

I’ll try to let that sink in for just a moment.

Lady Gaga = Mami Wata!?!

I guess perhaps what I’m trying to say is that when it comes to some of our addictions, we can’t really be held responsible.  Mami Gaga is always just a song or a cup away from entising us into a promiscuous life of fame and fortune.  And who wouldn’t want it?  To each her/his own opinion, but I say “Yay” to that sort of addiction.  “Yay” to the dear Lady Wata.

Thanks for coming.  Click the follow button on the right for email updates.

Cheers, Rob


About wagarob

doucement, je commence à apprendre le monde de cette technologie étrange ... doucement
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