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Thursday, January 11, 2007

you know where i go

... in the downtown sCruz,
facing each other,
like a couple of kids
staring across those dividing tracks -

the lower side.

the upper side.

She moves briskly, hugging the shining chromey grill of her automobile, soft green gloves daintily locking the door with a flick of her fingers on a jingling switch of keys, eyes straight to the shop's bright window, choosing to ignore all rubble in her way. A matching scarf drapes, perfectly casual, around her slender, creamy neck, both colors highlighted by a trim, modernly black business coat. Warm and bundled against the slight chill ... she escapes from the street into the familiar, safe purchasable goods offered on the upper side, every upper side

Across the tracks, it is a wading through crazy eyed men. Hairy, dirty, loud ... it's a negotiation past each one. Sometimes they challenge, sometimes they turn in with embarrassment, sometimes they ask for money, sometimes they just want to be left alone. Men who count things randomly, men who have little control left over voice or thoughts ... men discarded by us, by themselves.

Starbucks. Inside is bright and safe and crowded with ... people who look the same, have the same skin, watch the same television, listen to the same music, buy the same necessities from the same stores all in hopes of being perceived as ... safely same.

The other shop ~ darker, dirtier, filled with nooks and shadowed corners that surprise and can hide. Spotted with smudge colored people, sharing smudged histories, staring at smudged futures. Mixing together, nothing safe, nothing left ... unscrambled.


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

"buy the same necessities from the same stores all in hopes of being perceived as ... safely...."

"same" isn't the word i'd have used to finish the sentence. hip, cool, in-the-know, above average (in the Lake Wobegone sense), etc. That by consuming this $5 900 calorie strawberry milkshake thing, I'm a little hipper, cooler, smarter than those Denny's coffe drinkers.

But don't think that the other coffee shop doesn't exploit the same insecurities. It's just that their customers get to look down on the Denny's customers AND the Starbucks ones.

It's coffee tribalism, and at it's root is the same thing that leads the mullet retards to put those die-cut Calvin pissing on the Ford emblem on the back of their Chevy crew cabs. Or the campy cats to look down on the shimano dweebs.

We all want to think that our group has it dialed.

[Do I get fined for an overly analytical and verbose response?]

Velo Bella said...

coffee tribalism?

That doesnt happen at the gas station coffee thingie.

X Bunny said...

i want a strawberry milkshake thingee

they do make me feel safe

Anonymous said...


vine street peets in north berkeley. lots of smudges.

Brent Chapman said...

I like the back deck at Lu Lu's.
Gets really dark back there. And smells like weird hemp or something.

Grey said...

Olaf, taking pot shots at Starbucks is so easy. I loved the scene in 'Best in Show' where the couple with the disfunctional dog talk about how they met after seeing each other across the street at different Starbucks. So funny.

If you want to have a whole 'nother kinda cultural experience you should come up to SF and go to Ritual on Valencia Street. Try and find a place to lock your bike because the posts are cluttered with fixies. Thing is, and this is totally weird I know: the coffee there is top notch and they have vegan beet bread. The clientele is safely tattooed to fit in in such a hipster establishment.

And Lauren: I used to beat trail from that Peets down to the cheeseboard and back when I lived in Albany. That's a great place to hang out.

Anonymous said...

one cup of coffee from anywhere, and i love everyone.

Anonymous said...

grey is right.

ritual roasters serves an espresso with excellence defying description.

like no other.

and i just accept i'm at least two orders of coolness below the standard in there.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

there are no groups.

there is only the sense of calm brought about by familiarity.

i have a hard time believing people listen to each other much, or take time to let anything sink in.

Today, i ran out of the office pulling hair out, cursing idiotic egyptian embassies because they think nigerians are niggers.

and i pushed and pushed the cold air away, settling into a leadened pace until i found myself on the fringes of a frantic kiddie game of tag n' seek.

little rats, squirming this way and that, giggling, screaming, flailing hands and feet out to touch each other, evade each other, grinning wild and free in exuberant play.

i stopped and watched, grinning myself ... at their dramas in minutae, one wanting to be chased, one ignoring all others to tag a certain squawker. i found myself entranced by their circling, diving antics.

and then i noticed the plumpy hedgemom, eyeing me with suspicion.

what grown man watches children play?

i left.


Anonymous said...

I, like Marscat say there is no life before coffee... However I take mine black via my French Press from my kitchen in the a.m. Damn those silly corner coffee monopolists!

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

from the bummer life

if you're into such things.