Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Coffee & Brooklyn: London

The hardest part about trying to become a famous writer is the trying part. Honestly, if I hid an addiction to cocaine or heroin, I'm sure my work would be more profound and visceral, but I only have the experiences lined in the streets of California's Bay Area and have an allergic reaction to needles and anything (outside of my finger) that needs to go up my nostrils. I'm a horrible candidate for an addict. Outside of my need for caffeine and shoes (both easily cured by a trip to DSW that allows me to walk in with my Starbucks Skim Grande White Mocha), I may be one of the most boring persons walking this side of the Brooklyn bridge.

This my reason for touring life. As an artist, one must find life to write about, that is - if it doesn't find you. And this is how I landed in Heathrow Airport back in 2002. And the food poisoning followed me for the two weeks that followed but I was certain that I would find a nook or cranny worth living and then writing about. It would take me a couple of years, minus a run in with promoters and fans before I realized, I don't need the experiences as much as I thought. I just need the coffee. And more importantly, the shoes. It is at Cafe Nero that I am reminded of Heights Coffee shop in Brooklyn. A sleek representation of life, and the reason I've allowed myself a rest from the 11 Starbucks in the central London area - this is my attempt to find some morsel or unique idea through osmosis of coffee beans as I walk down the cobble stone street a mile below the Angel tube station. Like Brooklyn, London has such quaint tree lined streets, one would never guess it existed in the memory of Jack The Ripper, or more recently Love Actually and Spice Girls.

Brooklyn has always been a hidden jewel.

Hidden in its bosom: the Brooklyn Museum, Botanical Garden and Main Library. You can lose yourself for hours in the borough of Babylon listening to music, sitting in the park or drinking at one of the many cafes without ever receiving physical assault or losing your wallet to the wiles of its sexy older sibling, Manhattan. This is where the resemblance between London and Brooklyn end. London is expensive, fast and dirty. The bus rides are cramped and cost 2 pounds each ride, no matter the fact that it’s a two part bus ride to one location. That’s right – Big Ben’s home does not offer transfers people. And don't think of asking for any special accommodations on your sandwich, there are no cheese substitutions. Very un-American, I will have you know.

Still, it is in the café Nero or Itazza lining the streets of London like the heavenly arches that anything and everything is at your command. Double shot with hazelnut syrup and light foam cappuccino!? Enjoy, not too hot, plus whipped, with demerara on the side…Done! It is an amazing moment in the coffee lover’s life. And once your piping hot cup of fortune rests on your tray, next to your muffin of choice, and you search the café for a spot to write and dream and produce, you whimper in defeat.

The space is filled with people on cell phones, a TV blaring and a baby feeding on organic apple juice. This is when you remember your laptop carriers holds the key to silence: headphones. And so the dream can be fulfilled. Heights Coffee, resting outside of the 7th Avenue subway station, swarms with people and laptops and coffee tinted air. The leather chairs steal and hold tight your body heat and the establishment offers free wi-fi as well as, electrical plug ins for the battery drained laptop holders, like myself. I will write about London, I decide, sipping the mocha like a secret, still hot to my tongue. I will write about the Cafe that took my coffee order and perfected it for the sake of my smile. I will write about the difference between Flatbush Avenue and London cobblestone. I will be cunning and liken the cream to the wrap over my shoulders and the smell of Guatamelan beans. I won't fear the workers weren't paid fair wages, that is another writing altogether. And honestly, I need another cup of coffee before I take on that project.

1 comment:

Ebony Stewart said...

Damn I sometimes wonder how your words jump off computer screens and into ink pens...but you are a walking poem feeding from life-I love it.