"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

20 January 2015

Remembering Paris

Something of a musical mantra for me. Contextually, it seemed to fit...

"What goes best with a cup of coffee? Another cup."-Henry Rollins

I heard news from the gypsy today, no joy, a coffeehouse I used to frequent has closed its doors after nearly thirty years of operation. It was enough to pin me in my seat, like hearing an old friend you'd not spoken to in a few years suddenly died. Certainly, said old friend and I hadn't been that close in recent times, I think it's been established I can be bad at that, but during our time the closeness couldn't be severed with a laser.

Back before I was tea fiend, I was a java junkie. There was a button to that effect on my pack, and, if it's on a button, then it must be true. The first time I stepped into the place was early in my roaring twenties, with a few cats I graduated high school with that insisted on playing Sir Mix A Lot's Baby's Got Back just one more time in the tapedeck. I wanted to murder the lot of them.

We stepped in the door to Ministry's Psalm 69 playing at ear-splitting levels. The air was so thick with smoke if you wanted a non-smoking section, you'd need to lay on the floor and hold your breath. There was a used bookstore and the cat running it was engaged in two games of chess at once.

"Oh, fuck yes," I whispered to myself with the most wicked grin of joy upon my face. I was in love.

It's hard to recall my favorite memory of the place. The best story. There were so many. Times by myself, scribbling away in a notebook with black India ink or reading tomes of forgotten lore. Games of rummy with Jezebel until the small hours between late night and early morning of spirited debates with philosophically minded friends of the time. Games of chess with my daughter. There was the time Jezebel told me if I really wanted to see if a girl was my type, I needed to take her our for coffee.

"What you need to do, is bring her here, order a pot, and write," she said. "You know how you get! Sit her down, ignore her for a couple hours as you bury your nose in your notebook and see how she reacts when, after those couple hours, you try to read to her what you wrote. If she doesn't tell you to 'fuck off', she might be worth keeping."

Then came the time, many years later, when Sabina, after she said she wanted to run her fingers through my hair, but before we got together was subjected to me purging words out of my skull over a cup of coffee. It could be arrogance or the Confirmation Bias made manifest, but she listened intently to every word I read back. The expression on her face was what I would come to know as her I love you smile.

One of my friends stopped being just an acquaintance at that coffeehouse. Job advised me on how to deal with violence wrought by the jewel eyed girl over a cup. A year later, over another cup, I would be consoling him about his impending divorce.

That would be the last time I set foot in there. Perhaps it's for the best. The summer my grandmother died, the bookstore was closed down in favor of a wine bar. I likes me my wines, but it did something to the place. A spark was extinguished that could never be reignited. Stories I'd here after I moved away from the greater metroplex spoke to place becoming even more gentrified, and that's just boring.

I went on walkabout to digest the news I had been told, getting entranced by the snow and trees and rocks. It's been well over twenty years since I first set foot in that coffeehouse, first met that old friend that has now passed on. Nothing lasts forever.

After my walk, I had to go get wine. On my way home, I stopped by one of the local coffeehouses, which is in the process of shutting down, the owners unable to live at altitude. The place has a used bookstore in it. This twisted bit of symmetry is not lost on me.

I got myself a cha'i and picked up a few books. At first, when I walked in the door, I tried to tell myself I have more than enough books, but I realized that was as absurd as one of my audiophile friends looking at a rack of vinyl and saying they have more than enough music. Bidding the proprietor a good day, I stepped out to warm mountain afternoon. I thought about that coffeehouse down below now gone and the one I'd just left that would be closing in three more days. With my cha'i in hand, I toasted the surrounding peaks. The peaks are now and the coffeehouse was the past. Then and now. So it goes.

Words to live by...


  1. So sad that this place closed its doors. Sounds like you have a lot of fond memories. I love the small, intimate places like the one you describe. I sincerely hope they do not all die out...

    1. It was a great place and it is sad. I share your hope that not all the funky places go away.

  2. For me, it's the Dog House, a Seattle landmark. 1940s old, funky, with a seedy bar in the back that no matter what time of day or night there were guys in there boozing. But it was THE place to go late at night or early in the mornings. The best coffee and a diner-style breakfast that couldn't be beat. It's been gone now for years, even after many protests and petitions to save it. Sad when all that's left of a truly unique place are just memories...

    1. It's terribly sad. There have been a few funky places that have gone away, but this is the one that truly hurts me.

  3. One of the towns I lived in had an energetic little place called The Red Lantern. It's gone now, but the proprietor still mingles with her patrons, which makes us miss it all the more.

    1. I can imagine that's actually a little painful to have that happen.