i’m writing about The Cafe.
i’ve been frequenting passenger espresso regularly again. they’re coffee is great, it’s affordable and i’m now a regular. it doesn’t even matter that it’s a 30 minute round trip bike ride. exercise AND caffeine = win win.
and every day that i’m there, i read a little from their magazines and hear something great their playing on the stereo. every day.
in the last week or so, i’ve discovered the chances with wolves blog (i know, i’m so far behind) and their excellent radio program (the one with Talib Kweli as a guest got me through an all-night application-writing session); the soundcloud mixes of maart roux and a cell of one, plus charles mingus’ chazz! album (well, rediscovered). i’ve taken the time to chase up the links, downloaded tracks from those mixes or tagged them on whyd.
i’ve followed the trails of music and incorporated new sounds into my life. it has been expansive.
just like i did when i was a teenager and i went to school and my friends shared music with me – they made me mixtapes and i read zines and ordered distro catalogues and ordered new stuff. it’s exciting and i feel invigorated by continuing to expand my taste.
and the same thing with the magazines – i’ve read great articles in magazines that i don’t have a chance to own, or would never have found otherwise: it’s nice that, frieze, 032C, der greif and datacide. i discovered cabinet magazine in a similar way in london.
now, i know that for those of you who are hipsters, trying to stay on top of the Next New Thing, or my fellow Music Snob brethren from back in the day, this will be quite passe. But I don’t really live that kind of all-consuming life anymore. I spend a lot of time separate from a TV or traditional radio programs. I livie quite a nomadic lifestyle and am often more consumed with my own art production, or keeping abreast of current affairs or reading fiction.
I have loads of friends, but they’re all spread out over the world and I don’t really have a posse close by who will say – hey, check this shit out, or lend me their latest issue of Frankie. Even the facebook like/share thing is not really so music/literature focused, but political (which i like, actually – replacing the newspaper).
so, this means that i don’t get to hear as much new music as i used to. i can’t afford to buy it all the time, or lug records’n’shit around for the old good stuff.
and i don’t have loads of space or money to buy new magazines, or space to lug new shit around. the good stuff isn’t all available on zinio or ebooks or newstand, and i don’t want to read all my stuff electronically. i’m a luddite at heart.
and new music, new magazines are important for keeping me stimulated with new ideas. sentimentality and familiarity are great (biggie smalls on a daily basis is a wonderful thing), but i also want to keep my mind expanded with discovery.
and i think i’m not alone here. although loads of the middle classes in australia and england are planted in front of TVs and radios, i think most peeps my age and younger than me (although not so young that they’re technically ‘yoof’), have a similar deal: not necessarily in situations that facilitate the discovery of new ideas in an accidental fashion. and i could be wrong.
regardless, i feel like the cafe is a really important site for this.
it’s the place where you can slowly ingest. even if you’re intravenously consuming your coffee like i do, you still get to slowly ingest the literature, or the music. you get to discover, without the committment of it having to be good, or even the time committment of having to do the discovery. you avail yourself of it.
and it’s still communal enough that you can chat and share with the baristas and other regulars about your taste-discoveries, which i think is an important aspect to really opening up your taste. that reinforcement thing in a meaningful way (ie: more than just a like or a single play).
the cafe is an important ‘incubator’ (to use a more stringent term) for culture, in the way that the library can be for books, that the agora/soap box/newscast was for politics.
i know it sounds oh-so fin de siecle modernity, but perhaps it is a similar state: the cafe then was the site where you could discuss politics. you could interact with The City, you could observe change and acquire taste – usually fashion/clothing/food, but still – taste. and in real time.
obviously the internet is a melting pot of taste, that you can find ANYTHING there. but sometimes it’s too much and it’s slightly abstracted and two-dimensional. it doesn’t fulfill all my desires for chance.
whereas i think the cafe is making a resurgence as a site to fulfill that purpose, augment the amazness of the internet and deal with our ghastly caffeine (as opposed to absynthe) addicitons.