One More Cup of Coffee Before I Go (to the city below)

Evenings downtown have been downright pleasant lately if you’ve gotten out a little earlier to appreciate what heat and humidity really feel like. By around 7:00 a light breeze glides between the buildings, which also offer shade from the setting sun. At that point, it’s finally possible to breathe, again. On one of these evenings recently that I decided to go out for coffee. I’m big on coffee and soon I’ll give my review of local coffee establishments, but on this particular evening my goals were to go light on the budget by only buying a cup of coffee and nothing more and specifically, to try Remedy on Jackson Street in the Old City.

I didn’t make it past Market Square before the plans started to change. First I saw what could have easily been a musical mirage: a string trio playing in the middle of the square. It turns out to be a quartet (minus one, sometimes) named Norwegian Wood. It is the brainchild of Alexia Pantanizopoulos who told me that she started it because she loves the Beatles. You might guess that their repertoire consists entirely of Bob Dylan songs . . . but you’d be wrong. They play all Beatles, all the time, though Alexia is classically trained. I dropped a dollar in the case and thanked them for letting me take a picture.

Then I saw Taylor, AKA the Rose Guy. I had to buy a rose, so of course, there went three more dollars, but money well spent. I heard later that he is leaving town and I really hate that. I’ve seen him around for years, but only recently started to get to know him. Certainly a gentle soul.

After leaving the square I walked through the 100 block of Gay Street to see how the construction is going and caught the light of the setting sun on the side of the Sterchi Bullding. I’m not photographer, but I think the picture is good enough to show why it caught my eye. Remember, you can click any picture on the site to enlarge it for a better look.

Once I entered Remedy, I realized that not only would I have coffee (which they brewed fresh for me), but I would have live entertainment – on a Tuesday night, no less. A keyboard player moved seamlessly from one song to another for the next two hours while I drank coffee and edited a chapter for a friend at a table only a few feet away. Like everyone else I ask, he agreed to have his picture taken – and, of course, I tipped him and the nice barrista. Remember this was supposed to be inexpensive? Oh well.

He played great music that could have been delivered from my Ipod: Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, Have I Told You Lately that I Love You by Van Morrison, Just Another Day by Paul McCartney, New York State of Mind by Billy Joel and on it went. By the end of the evening, after realizing how large a musical vocabulary he had, I guessed who it might be just by reputation and the barrista confired it was, indeed, Wendel Werner. What a delight. For the price of a cup of coffee.

Around 10:00 I started the walk home, but detoured down Central to check on the progress of Aisle Nine, our inchoate grocery store. I spoke to a nice lady inside who assured me there would be vegetables next week. Color me skeptical at this point. I see large amounts of beer and candy. I’ll still hope.

As I crossed the street and neared Java Old City, I looked inside to see if anyone was there I had met at the poetry slam. I had such a good time, I thought I might thank them for hosting it. I didn’t see anyone familiar, but as I turned to walk away, something – or more specifically, someone – caught my attention. I stopped and thought, “Was that a bride in full bridal regalia sitting at a table in a coffee shop?” I walked inside.

Much like the blackberry car that I thought might be a harbinger of a juicy (sorry) revenge story about an angry ex-lover, but turned out to be simply a mulberry car, after all, this wasn’t quite what I expected, either. I imagined the jilted bride walking from the church, ultimately to take haven in the warmth of a quiet, comfortably shabby coffee shop: “I’ll have an espresso. No. Make that a double.” Fantasy turned to reality when I met a very gracious young woman named Sara Bowles who wears these clothes for performances and who was set to perform later in the evening at the Pilot Light in the Old City.

So, finally, I walked home. That was quite a cup of coffee. I still think she made a pretty bride.