WE'RE OUTTA THERE. Starbucks' September 1 announcement that its US stores will cease to carry free papers like Seattle Weekly made the front page and TV news. But we won't add our voice to the chorus of complaining readers. Starbucks can run its business any way it likes, and we can certainly understand the company's wish, as stated in its press release, "to reduce a growing amount of store clutter" (our italics for emphasis). Maybe our humble paper really was interfering in the average Seattleite's effort to order a latte and scone.
In a frenzy of guilt and self-reproach, we decided to investigate what obstacles confront the ordinary customer at the U Village Starbucks. Inside we found:
One (1) Hear Music listening kiosk, allowing patrons to sample and purchase a diverse international cornucopia of CDs.
Twenty (20) Sets of Cranium board game, with additional twelve (12) booster kits.
Four (4) Black golf-sized umbrellas bearing Starbucks' buxom mermaid logo.
Two (2) Copies of Joanna Copestick's The Family Home: Relaxed, Informal Living for All Ages. As she writes, "It's always better to work around your offspring than fight against the decorative limitations they impose."
One (1) Kozmo.com video return box (staffed by one  goateed Kozmo.com employee crouched on floor, emptying contents).
Two (2) Stainless steel letter openers.
Six Dozen (72) Blank greeting cards in assorted styles.
Three (3) Copies of Hillary Mandleberg's Essence of White, a "why-to" guide to your home's most versatile color.
Four (4) Tins of imported Italian paper clips.
Five (5) Tins of Starbucks After-Coffee Mints.
Three (3) Varnished, mahogany-like picture frames.
Eight (8) Bent-metal candle holders.
Nine (9) Glass votive candle holders.
Twelve (12) Pieces of painted, stemmed glassware.
Twenty (20) Ceramic coffee mugs in assorted sizes and styles.
Twenty-four (24) Insulated stainless steel car mugs.
Twelve (12) Pieces of assorted china.
Fifty-six (56) Copies of Howard Schultz's Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time (discounted).
Twelve (12) Finnish-designed glass tumblers.
Five Hundred (500) CDs, including: Ciao Amore; Shimmies & Shakes; Fits of Passion; Smooth and Soulful; La Grand Passione; World Beat Sampler; Outro Lado; Hear Music Vol. I; A Story to Tell (The Very Best of Coffeehouse Music, Then and Now); Ol᠂rasil; Barbecue Beat; Blending the Blues; Blending the Blues II; Patio Mixer; Peace, Love & Music; Blue Note Blend II; and Kenny G's Greatest Hits.
One (1) Tidy, discreet, convenient, and unobtrusive stack of the Seattle Weekly.
In conclusion, we're forced to agree: Who needs the clutter of newspapers? After all, we're not there to read.