Have we solved the mystery of the "Drake You Ho" graffiti?
Torontonians are devastated—devastated!—to find out that a cherished local landmark is closing. That’s right, the news is just beginning to settle that the Starbucks at Queen and Dovercourt will close on February 19th, and make way for the Natrel Milk Bar. Every caterpillar must become a butterfly, Toronto.
Just before its 2005 opening, the Queen and Dovercourt Starbucks was famously graffitied with the phrase “Drake you ho this is all your fault.” Which stealth activist railed against corporate interests? Who dared to speak truth to caffeinated power? Who was this city’s Dark No Foam Knight?
After a decade of investigation by a team of 33 barista-journalists, a week of extraordinary rendition, and many many skinny vanilla cappuccinos, we believe we have unearthed a memo that reveals the true culprit.
MEMO: Neighbourhood Assimilation Meeting
TO: Howard Schultz, CEO
FROM: Starbucks Marketing, Gentrification Division
November 1, 2005
Our team has been working towards a neighbourhood strategy for Toronto’s Queen and Dovercourt location.
Any business with an eye on success will want to fit into the ultra-hip neighbourhood of West Queen West. It’s a neighbourhood that prides itself on creativity, youthful energy, and edginess, as well as not being Parkdale. The community has lots of notable landmarks, including Trinity Bellwoods, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (…Canada, right?), and The Drake Hotel. The Drake has re-opened following a massive renovation. Our research has shown that this will bring to the area more money and attention. Naturally, residents hate it.
Based on our previous experience in other cities, the Drake will be an asset to our store opening. Like boutique hotels elsewhere, it will become the go-to location for [insert social activity]. Like boutique hotels everywhere, going through stages of loving and hating the Drake will likely become a rite of passage for Torontonians, and provide thinkpiece material for the city’s alt-weeklies.
As you know, we deploy several strategies to endear ourselves to otherwise hostile neighbourhoods. We have settled on a local wall tag. While putting graffiti on our own location seems counter-intuitive, it’s not illegal and doing so builds our Cool Quotient™ (as per the consultants’ formula).
We put together some drafts for your approval.
- “Hey sluts, get some coffee” – team feels the tag needs cussing, but are not sold on overt coffee sell. See Appendix A for statistics on key ‘sluts’ demographic.
- “Shut this fine establishment down, fuckers” – team feels neighbourhood will be appeased by sign of rebellion with call-to-action.
- “The end is now. It’s too latte” – team likes this for other occasions; not confrontational enough for neighbourhood.
- “Thou art a harlot. Sip here from the cup of betrayal.” – team went to Shakespeare in the Park together and wishes you were there. Next time.
- “Screw the Drake, coffee is fake” – a local hotelier looks to revitalize the neighbourhood and this has upset the neighbourhood. Team feels there is opportunity here.
- “The revolution will have seats and cold beverages” – team feels this speak to the iconoclastic tendencies of the neighbourhood. Note for retail team: will there actually be seats?
- A Banksy – team suggests outsourcing to Banksy at [contact information redacted]; rates are competitive but service is unreliable. Danger of inciting actual hatred.
- “Drake you ho this is all your fault” – team feels this is too on-the-nose, but ‘ho’ is charming urban.