Bikini Baristas: Would you like whipped cream with that?

We all know sex sells pretty much anything. In the State of Washington, home of the iconic Starbucks, it also sells coffee. Not by the aforementioned corporation, I hasten to add for fear of being sued, but by some small, independent coffee chains. Typically those that operate out of roadside stands, rather than having retail space inside a commercial building. And not everyone is happy at being served their lattes by beautiful young women in skimpy bikinis. You have to pity the sad puritans who don’t conjour up an entirely un-caffeine related fantasy at being asked if they’d like some whipped cream on their hot venti.

I give you Girl Town Expresso in Lynnwood. According to this article, a picture was sent to the Snohomish Health District that showed the owner, Rick Summers, having sex with one of the baristas inside the stand. Fortunately for Summers, he was able to prove that the incident took place long ago, when the interior was painted a different colour. And he said they were closed at the time. So, happy endings, and Girl Town Expresso is once more open for business. It’s worth taking a look at the comments below the article to get an idea of how Washingtonians think about the issue. Certainly, some Americans are prudish, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a member of the Disgusted Squad who sent in the photo.

But there’s nothing illegal about employing bikini baristas. Faced with this painful fact, Kitsap, a conservative county, is seeking to protect God-fearing Americans from the sight of bare flesh by erecting barriers round 3 expresso stands. The Kitsap Sun reports that planners are writing zoning regulations for future coffee stands, but the only thing they can do with the 3 existing ones is to build 8 ft barriers round them. Do they not have even the most basic grasp of male psychology? Anything covered up is automatically lusted after. Ask your average Victorian bloke about ankles.

You have wonder at the logic behind all this. Even if the aim is to protect impressionable minors, the baristas are wearing bikinis – standard issue on public beaches. When concerned parents take their children on vacation, do they spurn beaches because of the moral danger? In any case, if this blog post has excited your curiosity and you wish to do a little sight-seeing next time you’re in Washington, here is a directory of bikini barista stands in the state I was proud to call home.

Consider it a Public Service Announcement.

Thought for the Day

This is my version of the BBC’s Sunday radio programme, Thought for the Day. They still refuse to allow secular voices, even though it’s billed as “Religion & Ethics,” and presumably atheists are allowed to have ethics. Or perhaps not. Anyway, I think the video below is prime Thought for the Day material.

I lived for 20 years in Seattle in Washington State. It has always seemed the best and most liberal place in a country I’ve never really understood – a place where extremes of sentimentality and barbarism can sometimes mix in the same people and groups. Not surprisingly, Republicans and those further to the right are not my flavour of the milennium. The thought that one of the venomous dunderheads running for president could make decisions on a national and international level is truly appalling.

On Wednesday, Washington State passed a Gay Marriage Bill. Obviously, as a liberal (in American terms), I’m delighted that what I came to think of as my home state has passed such a progressive measure. It makes me proud.

More than that. This video of a Republican State Representative talking about voting with her conscience to pass the bill is extremely moving. I feel slightly ashamed of my tribal knee-jerk responses. Maureen Walsh is a woman of honour, part of the pride I feel in Washington and its people.

Bootleg Beatles in Campbeltown

Highlight of this year’s Mull of Kintyre Music Festival was The Bootleg Beatles, playing as Saturday night headline band in the Victoria Hall.  I’ve only seen one other Beatles tribute band – Imagine – at the Puyallup Fair in Washington State, and I thought at the time they were really good.  Certainly had me well and truly blissed out.  Here’s a short clip of them at the Puyallup.

But the Bootleg Beatles win the prize for the best tribute band I’ve seen so far.  Before I talk about them, though, Campbeltown’s very own Twisted Melons deserve a huge round of applause.  The Melons were the support band, and opened with a fine, rocking 60s/70s retro set.  Not their usual territory, but they got the evening off to a high energy start.  Here’s one of their videos.

The Bootleg Beatles are everything they claim to be – the world’s premier Beatles’ tribute band – the whole package, from the accents and clothes to the uncanny physical resemblance.  Paul, John, and George were the spitting image, and only Ringo was not quite as I remembered him.  Still, Ringo is a one-off, it would be strange if anybody else looked just like him.

The Melons played for an hour, the Bootleg Beatles an incredible 2 hours and 15 minutes.  Didn’t finish until gone 1:00 am, by which time I was exhausted and wanted to go home to bed.  Must be getting old, though I still enjoy that good bass rumble from the speakers that moves your internal organs around.

They played just about every song the Beatles ever performed, with perhaps the exception of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Yellow Submarine.  Pity.  Great memories in those songs.  And they changed clothes, from the original Nehru jackets to the Sgt. Pepper gear and on to the Abbey Road fashions.  Films and newsreels appropriate to each song played against a backdrop behind them.

The sheer professionalism really impressed me.  They gave everything to the performance.  They were canny, too, saving the best for last.  Hey Jude was the last official song, but they’ve obviously built the inevitable encores into their act.  So the first encore was a song guaranteed to take any Campbeltonian to Heaven – Mull of Kintyre, with 2 local musicians playing the bagpipes.  Followed by Twist and Shout.

A great evening.  Here are the Bootleg Beatles playing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the BBC.