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Well, well, well...I'm gone only three weeks and already another Dunkin' Donuts has elbowed its way into another downtown location, right next to a Subway Sandwich franchise. Congratulations, jerks!

The new DD looks like it just pushed the surrounding buildings aside to secure its position, like one of those old Chinatown ladies determined to squeeze themselves and their seventeen pink shopping bags filled with dried shark fin into the impossible sliver of middle seat left on the subway during rush hour. It's so narrow that its (many) employees have no choice but to sidestep their way along the space behind the counter. I'm not sure why they even bothered.

People often lament Starbucks as the death knell of any neighborhood in the city, but Starbucks is a quaint old-world bohemia compared to Dunkin' Donuts. (Or "Fuckin' GoNuts" as I prefer to call it, to the delight of all!) At least Starbucks (Or "Fourbucks" as I prefer to call it!!) has the decency to attempt to blend in with its surroundings. The understated greens and browns are almost a polite apology, their restraint desperately but quietly compensating for their ubiquity.

Then there's the miserable chocolate frosted big top circus that is Dunkin' Donuts. The interiors are more brightly and starkly lit than most operating rooms, in order to provide their security cameras maximum clarity, even as it induces migraine headaches for customers and employees. And DD's brand colors—tangerine and pink, both filtered through a fecal-tinted gel—coordinate with absolutely nothing, which is obviously the point. They're designed to confront, to draw attention to themselves. Those colors are the nouveau-riche creeps who rent a neon-yellow stretch Humvee to parade their PlayStation-fattened teenager and his friends around on prom night. If Dunkin' Donuts were a person, he would name his yacht "The MILF Hunter" and cruise the harbor while blasting Snow's "Informer" from his boat's $50,000 stereo system.

I realize Dunkin' Donuts is a juggernaut and it's probably silly to protest it this way. It's like trying to cure AIDS—most people have just gotten used to it, right? But the thing that bothers me about the newly minted one in the area near my office is that it's directly across the sidewalk from one of those mobile doughnut carts. This cart, in particular, has been doing a really brisk business for as long as I've seen it, and part of that is a credit to the owner/prisoner trapped within it. He seems genuinely happy to be some kind of half man/half vending machine, and it kills me that now there's a nationally franchised doughnut shop staring him in the face each morning. I wonder if he drags his store home at night and laments to his wife and seventeen children about how "All day it is a party in there, with sprinkles and coollatta!" "These millionaires with climate controlled air and straws that are also spoons!" "What am I to do?"

And sure, he could change locations, by pushing himself a block south, but that's not the point. The point is, it's utterly depressing to watch a tacky chain like Dunkin' Donuts pop up with no other apparent reason to exist than crowding out a one-man operation. And it's even more depressing when that one-man operation is out of blueberry muffins and Dunkin' Donuts has delicious and fresh-seeming ones in stock, so now I have to remember to hide a DD muffin bag in my backpack as I walk past the doughnut cart each morning. No one wins here, except my belly. And Dunkin' Donuts. Well, I guess technically everyone wins except the man who lives inside a metal box built for doughnuts and pastry.

WE FIRST MET ON 06.18.2007

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