Café Culture

Conversations in coffee houses are no different from cocaine conversations. Same sense of over-eagerness, same ebullient vigor, same joint-rattling shakes and tremors. Here Starbucks has figured out a way to serve coke in a cup and wrap it in that café aesthetic that we all love. Amazing that I have to flash an ID to get a beer but I can get a hot joe with a smile and a fiver.

Epicureanism

Man does Starbucks make a terrible cappuccino. I say Starbucks as if every one of their ten gabillion barristas makes the same cappuccino. Starbucks as a whole, I mean. I’ve gotten some nice espresso drinks from the Bucks but I’ve also gotten some remarkably terrible ones, including this one I’m drinking now. It’s all milk and he burned it a little and their espresso is bitter and I think it might even be nonfat and definitely was resteamed, in fact it’s the worst milk that’s ever gone into coffee, and do you know what? I am a happy man.

I’m sitting here on a comfortable bench in my neighborhood of my city on thanksgiving morning. On the table in front of me is a stack of bread and a box of pastries, breakfast for the two of us. It’s one of my spots, the black bench in behind Kazumi Sushi Bar. Nobody and nothing is bothering me. The first stranger I saw this morning smiled at me. She was a cute girl walking a nice dog westbound on University and I was tempted to follow her. No matter – a me followed her in another universe. Inside Bread and Cie I was cool and calm and my witticisms flowed, which for whatever egotistical reason is generally of prime importance to me. My witticisms have to be heard and giggled at and they have to flow and I cannot be shamed. Then in Bucks I was able to keep up with their edgy, caffy vibe that often borders on the cocaine-addled in its intensity of feel-good inanity.

In other words I am a happy man. Twenty eight years old and in perfect health. Perfect health! My dequervains tendons ache and my left knee still needs a brace at most times and my elbow is sprained from martial arts class and general inflexibility is desitined to hurt me in later life. But for today I declare myself to be in perfect health. My heart rate is low, my blood pressure is low, my liver enzyme activity is low, my cholesterol is way low, I work out nearly every day and walk at least a mile on those days when I don’t, and right now there’s no conceivable reason barring an unseemly accident that I shouldn’t go on living in perpetuum. Amid all this vibrant Ponce de Leon healthity, I sit sipping the worst cappuccino made on earth today. The very worst!

Consider the quantity of cappuccinos made today! Think of every single single capp ordered in every last Bucks, every last café, every measly wormridden restaurant, every last truck stop and airport and mcdonalds today. I’ve seen cappuccinos poured out of a machine with a button that said cappuccino – still, those were better cappucini than this one that I’m drinking. I’ve heard waitresses bemoan “cappa-what?” and march back furious to the greasepit kitchen where they poured half-and-half into a boiling pot of folgers and returned with a spit of “Your capp-u-cino, madame.”. I’ve seen Tyler Durdens spit into their frothpots and how many Tyler Durdens are jerking off into them behind those kitchen doors? Hot semen infused cappuccinos and still, still, they’re better than this one poor cappuccino sitting here in a 12oz Fuckbucks cup because, as the barrista put it, they’re out of the short cups.

“Zat because nobody orders the small-small?” I ask.

“No. It’s just. We haven’t gotten any in like a while. Yeah.” He says. “No, not too many people want the short size.”

“Right.”

Bungo, as Brett would say. Bungo, chap.

Most of the way through my capp and now I’m truly convinced – no buzz. I’m not buzzing. This is the final letdown – decaff. It’s like finding out you’ve just snorted baking powder. I want my money back, I’m ready to torch the mermaid, burn the place to the ground, spread the ashes, salt the earth. Over a cappuccino? Over a damn cappuccino! Wars have been fought over less. Wars! Can you imagine a war? I can’t even begin to fathom it. Two sides, lining up across from each other, spitting political rhetoric, facing certain death. The organized cleansing of excess males. War as an evolutionary tool by which the 40-plus men rid the population of gutty young men, thus improving their own chances at scoring with the young babes. The way of the world for centuries. So be it.

And me at peace, dreaming of warfare over the worst cappuccino ever made. Hah! This is it, the epitome of mankind. The dawn of a new epoch. The day, the very day out of the million since that first day on the savannah when the apple was eaten, when man reached an accord with his own sensibilites. How did this occur? Simple. Today, man, a man, this man, learned the secret. The secret of life. What is the secret life?

To know what it is to make a cappuccino. To appreciate the craftsmanship of a well made cappuccino, to appreciate the farmer who planted the beans and the laborer who picked them. To appreciate the global commerce network that got those beans here, and to appreciate the guy who squatted down on a Seattle sidewalk and with his bare hands begat the Mermaid. To appreciate the men who threw the brunt of their lives into domesticating cattle so that I mean have a squeeze of their teat-juice. To appreciate steam, all the punkery and whiz-bangness it took to arrive at the espresso machine, that most reliable of itallian machinery, maybe the only reliable piece of Itallian machinery. To fall in love with the process of pulping trees into paper for the cups, and the marketing round-tables that came up with the little holiday cheer on the side of that cup, the secular holiday lights and little slogan “It only happens once a year.”. To adore the soccer moms tripping on their third triple latte of the day. To want to kiss the man who made with his bare hands this abonitation in front of me. To know what a good cappuccino is and to know what a great cappuccino is and to have in my mind the best cappuccino I’ve ever had – Woodside Bakery, 1995 , barrista = Rudy, the Guatemalan Legend – and to sit here with my decaf burned cup of cino, enjoying it, relishing it, loving it.

Thanksgiving

Neighborhood

Bright noonday in falltime! Empty crest today because of holiday, we lounge in the park, we sit on benches and think about six or seven generations removed from a ubuiqity of human squalor for all but the wealthy caste apart; we talk about the luxurious manner in which we live, about how cheap food has become, about all the infinite jewels provided for us by a free market. History is a tidal wave, all the undertones and even the backsweeps are just speedbumps on the way to individual liberty, individual joy. Bitter William Burroughs was nowhere – we are a spectacular country in SPITE of all the shit.

Porch

Sitting on my porch, drinking Spanish methode champagnoise at noon. Nine skinny palms rise above Hillcrest rooves, I’m hyper aware of each blade of grass, not only each tree but each little seedling growing below it, the ones you can tell at a glance they won’t make it but man how they grow anyway – the most beautiful spirit in the world is that which thrives when logic says that by rights it should be dead.

Pool

Antediluvian instinct for aqueous surroundings but also just pillow desires of being buried, enveloped but also that pressure on the ears – could it be that the desire to be loved, to be hugged, surrounded by warmth, is rooted in our aquarian past? That when we left fluid and moved into gas, we lost the sense that the Something Fluid provided and that our lives everafter have been attempts at recompense and reconciliation? Idiocy, I know, but consider this – Dolphins and Whales, those flippered intelligentsia, missed the sea so much that they dove back in.

Glasses

Opaque non-ness shaped and formed! Even unfilled, the glass can get you drunk if you look closely enough – this is perfection in form. Games and especially complex video simulations, they’re too much. We don’t need more than to study our immediate surroundings. A well-built game is a ((complex item)) to a two year old – the rattle will do! More than do, the rattle is the gunpowder causing ideas to explode. Complexity is a siren call; we do better to sail our Med, tripping on waves under the sun.

Me

That I can sing the song of myself! This is what I am thankful for. No more. All else is ancillary. The mundo and everything leading up to now : a preamble. Ha! Music comes on. I dance around the stage like a maniac, only I am one.

Wine Tasting

Liquid in my mouth; an attempt at a stand – to disregard football game, other odors, hunger pangs, girltalk, gibber jabber of the complicated world; must resist the uber-alles urges to be EVERYWHERE AT ONCE WHICH THE NET BEGINS TO TEASE WITH and be right here, tasting. Tasting mushrooms, tasting spice, tasting a rich burgundian field, all the historicity that an Edna Valley vineyard (in San Luis Obispo of all places!) can produce!

Eat

History is a tidal wave; A tidal wave of death is more like it.

Post

Satiation and regret, lament, sing songs of half-drunkenness and all the chatter that goes along with it. Clatter, clamor, clang of dishes stacked. Drone of football – always a siren, singing somewhere. Sleep sleep, sleep sleep, she says. This is how we die – Dylan Thomas didn’t rage, he heard the siren and went sigh – singing Sleep sleep, sleep sleep…

Time

What a month. I can’t remember a more intensely packed 3 weeks than the three which just ended tonight. I believe the word is Phew, that old blow which describes the endgame satisfaction of the pugilist who’s a bit too boxed out to celebrate.

It started with an upgrade of our contact management database from old-dumb dBase to chatty SQL. The conversion alone cost me a week and a weekend planning, testing, and then performing the upgrade. Then I spent the next 4 days troubleshooting sniggly issues before making an escape last weekend to SLO. This week was similarly intense as I juggled our contracting data between the old idiot new-field-for-each-entry system and my new relational model. Finally this afternoon I was able to flip my new system to the On position and take a nice, well deserved Deep Breath.

And tonight, a little wine, a little walk around Hillcrest, maybe some comforting Itallian for dinner, maybe a movie, and then to bed for eight hours of peaceful sleep.

And tomorrow? Writing. The Artist me. Again. Finally.

Physical Activity

It’s amazing how hard physical activity can put you on the moon. I got home from work today at 4, having been at since 6:30, not feeling like doing much more than studying the psychology of the flamewar while forum surfing on the couch and certainly not heading out to cold, wet Mission Bay to train martial arts. But I’d skipped class on Saturday and owed sifu for the month anyway so with a Toughen Up Boy! I got off the couch and drove out to the beach. And was sifu in the mood to bust us! Funny thing about excersie high though – it ain’t easy obtainin it. The stock feelgoods – mindless TV, booze, weed, caff, other more illicit uppers and downers, they’re easy. Sex is easy. THey’re all just flip a switch, guzzle this, inhale that, yank ya crank diddle ya fiddle. Not physical labor though – physical labor is hard, painful, unpleasant. But it works, and not only that but it works when everything else fails.