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12-29-18, NOLA

First espresso of the day. First COFFEE of the day. Still no sustenance in the form of solid food. Wondering what to do about that. Had planned to get beignets at Cafe Du Monde but I refuse to wait in that line even if it “moves fast” as I’ve been told; it’s a good thirty or forty yards long.

The espresso was okay. Long creamy body, balanced sweetness, but still just meh. That’s my experience with Nicaraguan coffees though, even if it’s not a very longstanding experience. Anyway, the coffee shop is Spitfire. A hole in the wall with four stools to sit on in front of two planks of wood anchored to a wall. Two women on staff currently. Espresso, pour-over, cold-brew, and some specialty drinks make up the menu. It gets crowded in here quick. Simple L-shaped counter with an espresso machine and POS, wood laminate floors, and a stucco like wall finish.

I leave Spitfire with either Mammoth or Stumptown as my next destination. Strolling down Royal St., a tiny one lane lined with antique shops, jewelry stores, and bad art galleries, I come to an intersection where opposite me looms a Walgreens. It seems so anachronistic, so foreign to this place that I am strolling through (which itself is a bit anachronistic to the current century) that I am for a moment quite taken aback. Like while wandering through this living theater I somehow stumbled backstage, to the real world as it were. I stand here staring at this anomaly for a short while until I am accosted by a crazy African-American guy looking for money for McDonald’s. I offer to buy him a sub at Subway in exchange for a photograph. He agrees but won’t stop moving around, creeping here and there, turning his head this way and that so that getting a portrait is like trying to pin down with a needle a squirming worm. I get one though. Quite magnificent too. A portrait of the maniac in the midst of his mania. Something is wrong with his foot or leg so that he has to limp alongside me, all the while he’s talking about things I don’t even remember. Certainly nothing important. Likely nothing at all. Just talking to talk. Like he has all this verbal puss building up inside of him that this continuous chatter is a squeezing of the pimple which then just reseals and builds up again immediately. If he doesn’t talk, no matter what it’s about, all this puss just backs up and becomes an even greater abscess, and then God only knows what he might do. We arrive at the Subway and all he wants is a six inch tuna salad on wheat, plain. Then asks me to get him a beer across the street, something he very plainly does not need, to which I decline. He’s rather unpleasant to the Subway staff, but clearly he suffers from a mental condition. He seems quite irritated with everybody, and has an acerbic, vitriolic temper. He starts talking to someone else and I take that as an opportunity to escape.

At Stumptown on the ground floor of the ACE Hotel. I remember reading in a coffee publication when this place opened to much fanfare and interest. Now, looking around, it just seems old and outdated. A bit abused. Worn out. It’s lost its sheen. Lost its luster. There is a door inside the cafe that opens onto the hotel lounge. Everyone in there sitting on the couches and chairs looks bored, like a bunch of monkeys sitting in trees waiting for something to happen. It’s a strange sort of motionlessness in there, like at any moment a bomb could go off, and that’s almost like the most likely thing to happen. It’s a period of subdued pandemonium, like this moment’s just been wrapped up in a straight jacket that a nut in a madhouse might wear, before the dinner bell goes ring-a-ding-ding, and once that’s done its drunks either at the table or at the bar or at a different bar, and the riots and the whoopee!, and the dynamite and the sex and the headache the next morning, and some more sleeping in soft beds with soft pillows and the room service bringing up breakfast and coffee and lastly the question of are any of us happy? because if we really were what reason would we have for carrying on in this way.

I’m going out for a drink.

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