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September 05, 1996 - Image 26

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-05

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IV .

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8B - The Michigan Daly Weeken Magaiie -Thursday, September 5, 1996

Th Mihian Dady Weekeni I
Comedy Central releases batch of videos

DAbout the Town
Cozy' Caribou Coffee enters into
Ann Arbor coffeeshop contest

By Michael Zilberman
Daily Ars \\riter
"We don't pretend to be European-
styled.' readily states Caribou Coffee
manager Shelly Smith. True, for your
average Ann Arbor caffeine connois-
seur, the first visit to Caribou Coffee
may turn into a quite disorienting
experience: there is no music, abstract
paintings are nowhere to be found,
and the familiar Paris-filtered-
through-LA ambiance is sorely lack-
ing. Instead, there is a fireplace, a
warm color scheme playing up pol-
ished wooden surfaces, and even a
kids' menu. The blasphemous epithet
"cozy" actually springs to mind.
Simply put, Caribou is nothing like
any other java joint on campus, and
that may be the only reason why it
might survive.
Situated on State Street between
North University Avenue and Liberty
Street (and bravely facing Espresso
Royale, Amer's and Gratzi), Caribou
Coffee is a branch of a franchise estab-
lished three years ago in Minneapolis.
According to the official legend, the
creators and current owners of the com-
pany, Kim and John Puckett, a couple
of Wall Street brokers, were vacation-
ing in Alaska. The sight of caribou

herds stampeding across the plains was
something of an epiphany, and upon
their return, the couple severed their
Wall Street ties. Soon after that, Kim
and John tried their luck creating a cof-
feehouse concept, taking its cue from
Alzkan lodges rather than Latin
Quarter dives. The strange-on-paper
combination of rural and urbane
worked: the pretentiousness of the set-
ting has been deleted without damaging
the sophistication.
But let's not overanalyze the walls,
since for whatever reasons people
could be interested in checking out a
new coffeehouse, they'll stay for the
coffee. Caribou's coffee is roasted in
its own Minneapolis-based company
rather than bought from a retailer, and
gets recycled every three weeks.
Every hour, customers will hear a
beep of a timer going off: the coffee is
immediately rebrewed, and the
remainder disposed of. Shots are
brewed on request, the milk is never
warmed-over; all of this may account
for slightly higher prices than your
average coffeehouse, explains Shelly.
If the prices are in fact higher: none of
the customers I spoke with seemed to
notice the difference.
For all its discipline, there is an

intriguing goofy side to Caribou: take
the rubber monsters that come with
kids' drinks ("you'd be surprised how
many adults can't resist the offer,"
Smith noted), or the daily trivia ques-
tion on the wall. "We want to bring the
kids in," she adds. "No other coffee
place caters to families with kids. But
the last thing we want is to be exclusive
and focus on one group of customers"
The customers, for their part, can
appreciate that. "It has a nicer atmos-
phere than most (coffeehouses), and a
better menu," an anthropology student
said. "It's going to be really cozy in the
winter." "I like the national park-type
atmosphere," added Lowell, a senior
psychology major. "A great place to
write," said another newly minted fre-
quent customer.
The new business also seems to have
fit in well with its more established
neighbors. SaidBillie Spurlin, the man-
ager of the nearby State Theater, "I
think we'll help them as much as they'll
help us. People waiting in line for a
movie might decide to get a cup of cof-
fee afterthe show, and people going to
Caribou can't help but see our mar-
quee." Managers of other coffeehouses
have stopped by to check out the new
place, although "none of them were too
willing to start a conversation," Smith
said. In fact, Caribou is doing so well
that it might add a second Ann Arbor
branch on Main Street (which was the
original choice for the first location).
For a franchise that's multiplying at
a somewhat frightening rate (the goal
for 1998 is 300 locations, up from the
current 50), Caribou refreshingly
lacks the indescribable - but easily
spotted - corporate spirit that marks
some of its competition. Said Lora, an
employee since the Art Fair days, "we
have a small crew, and everybody
pretty much knows everybody else."
Hopefully, everybody else in Ann
Arbor will also get to know Caribou.
"Especially later in the fall, when that
fireplace lights up." Then you simply
have no choice.

BOHDAN DAMIAN CAP/Daily
Caribou Coffee on State Street, one of the newest additions to the coffeehouse
family in Ann Arbor.

By Ted Watts
Daily Arts Writer
Comedy Central, that bastion of "We
refuse to keep good..shows," is in the
midst of having a bunch of its first-run
comedy shows released on video by
Rhino, that bastion of extremely nice
archival releases. After the initial slew
of "Mystery Science Theater 3000"
tapes several months ago comes the
newest batch of other shows. And while
the "MST3K" tapes were ripe for home
video release, 75 percent of the shows
being released now don't warrant the
treatment at all.
"Politically Incorrect with Bill
Maher" is a good show. So good, in
fact, that it's leaving Comedy Central
this fall for ABC. The release of the two
tapes of "PI" tends to reinforce the
image of Comedy Central as trying to
cash in on what it's about to lose, an
image the "MST3K" tapes initiated
(that show is moving to the Sci-Fi chan-
nel this year). But the "Pl" episodes
have much less reason to be showing up
on the shelves of your local video store.
The first-season episode with Roseanne
and Roger Clinton is definitely star-
studded, but the show looks amateurish
compared to the show's current product.
Bill Maher looks as if he is reading
from a cue card and has his ideas written
down so distinctly that he can barely
maneuver. His guests in this particular
episode tend to argue loudly and dumbly,
rather than intelligently or at least intel-
lectually interestingly. It seems like this
episode was chosen for its members and
the simple arguing that is occurring,
rather than any quality inherent in the
episode. Sure, Bill Maher's hair color is
probably more natural than it is right now,
but there must have been better episodes
for the executives to have chosen than
this. At any rate, it looks as if the two

compilations of two shows have been put
together for the names only. How disap-
pointing.
"Dr. Katz Professional Therapist" is
also a good show. And it has the merit
of having stories at its base instead of
people talking about political and
philosophical issues, which is a plus
for something being sold on videotape.
The show's revolutionarily cheap form
of animation ("Squigglevision") is not
of particularly high quality. It is, after
all, essentially an optical illusion of
movement based on distortion of still
images. It is, however, an extremely
tunny show, showcasing various stand-
up comics' acts in the setting of a psy-
chiatrist's office. Comedian Jonathan
Katz is, oddly enough, the voice of the
mild-mannered but very funny Dr.
Katz. The placement of stand-up into
the midst of a sitcom, hidden as some-
thing other than stand-up, is hardly
new (see "Home Improvement") but
this is a new and very effective way of
doing so.
And it's the new part that makes this
kind of odd as a video release. Several
of the videos on the tapes have been
shown in the last few months, if not
weeks. There simply aren't enough
videos to have anything on them not
readily available given a little time. Oh
well, it's still the best show out on the
videos. The main question should
probably be whether people will be
willing to pay $12.95 for something
they can see on basic cable. It won an
Emmy for something, so people with-
out basic cable will buy the tapes.
Good for them.
"Comic Justice" and "Comics Only"
are two extremely bizarre choices for
video releases. Both shows had fairly
short runs on Comedy Central, "Comic
Justice" fairly recently and "Comics

Only" a few years back. And both these
tapes seem to have fairly targeted audi-
ences. "Comic Justice" was a minority-
based stand-up show that was as good,
if not better, than most stand-up shows
in the last five years. But nothing about
the show rates being put-on video, other
than specifically marketing it to minori-
ties. Just like "Politically Incorrect"
with its lack of quality but apparent
saleability.
"Comics Only" is curious because
both episodes of the comic interview
show on the video feature Jeff
Foxworthy, that "You Might Be a
Redneck If..." guy. He wasn't a regular
on the show. Looks as if it's being mar-
keted to the white-trash audience. Did I
mention that the shows aren't particu-
larly interesting, either? Do you see a
pattern developing?
There's minimal reason for "P1,"
"Comic Justice" and "Comics Only" to

be on video. Their
respective formats don't
really lend themselves
to the type of viewing
related to tape, and the
episodes aren't all that
good. As for "Dr. Katz,"
it's good and all, but it's
still on the tube. The
"MST3K" tapes were a
much better idea, since
Comedy Central has
virtually banished that
fine show and video is a
much more reliable way
to see it now. Well,
hopefully the next batch
will be of Mike and the
bots. Just hope that they
are willing to break
their pattern and aren't
thinking of axing the
good doctor.

"Cool" -Yahoo. "**** " -Magellan " "Nifty" -LA Times
Don't know how to brew beer in your dorm?
You haven't been reading Student.Net
www.student.net
The Website for College Students
intelligent daily articles " free anonymous personals - find friends' homepages - play pranks over the 'net
IThe FREDDY INESBand

p.-

BOHDAN DAMIAN CAP/Daily
Caribou Coffee Assistant Manager Jason Dobry makes drinks for customers.

Mmacea pm
FOOD It
Biology 102, Section 001
Biological Anthropology 364
Classical Civilization 452
English 317, Section 002
History 397, Section 001
Italian 235
Kinesiology/MVS 542
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TONITE & TomoRRow SEPT 5 & 6
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8 Public Lectures, receptions with food fro
8 Feature Films, Michigan Theater, Admiss

"Mystery Science Theater 3000's" Crow T. Robs

If International Conference, October 25-27
ot, Mike, and Tom Servo (left to right).

r
MONAM

. . . .

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