At Kepler’s, in Menlo Park.
A pretty good New York Times article on people who spend a lot of time working in coffeeshops. My favorite: a matchmaker who works out of a “Nora Ephron-ish coffee shop in the West Village” rather than an office because it’s “easier to get people talking in a cafe.”
Essentially, cafes really have become cheap coworking space filled with cafe zombies.
There’s one in Menlo Park that I go to a lot.
Tonight I found another one in Budapest, on Raday Utca. Rather different, but still the same name (allowing for the fact that Hungarians, like Asians, put family names first).
Now I need to look for them in Vienna and London….
[To the tune of Wynton Marsalis, “Autumn Leaves,” from the album Live at Blues Alley (Disc 2) (I give it 3 stars).]
Singing Skynrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" with the Bell Brothers.
And man, do I need to replace that shirt, which is an artifact of my previous body. Maybe I should ignore the credit limit, take a weekend in San Francisco, and Just Do It. I currently have two pairs of jeans and a black jacket that actually fit; everything else ranges from oversized, to cavernous, to drapery.
I have a day with no meetings. Owing to the combination of the Institute being a pretty meeting-driven place, and my own distracting sociability, this is a rare thing. Not one to be wasted.
Last night, as I was having an exceptional second beer in 24 hours (I’d had the first with dinner, and then went to the gym and sauna, so I thought I could risk it), I briefly lamented the fact that when I lived in Berkeley, I had a corner pub– the wonderful, loud, and interesting Bison Brewery, where I’d go, have a pint or two, and write. I wasn’t exactly a regular– the bartenders and I didn’t know each others’ names– but I still enjoyed the place. I don’t have a pub here. I drink so little it would hardly be possible. Still, it seemed a bit of a shame.
Today, as my wife took the kids and their friends to the movies, I headed over to Cafe Zoë, to do some work. (I’m now at that age– or maturity– where I see that solitude is an opportunity, not the absence of others.) I’ve been coming here for years, when it was under different ownership. As I was ordering my chai latte, I read a sign they’d just put up announcing a loyalty program. Visit ten times, your next coffee is free– a deal I’ll be able to take advantage of approximately every four days, even when I’m not running a tab. “I should sign up for that,” I said.
The owner– Zoë’s mother– said, “Oh, we’ll give you this drink for free. You’ve been here a lot more than ten times. You’re a regular.”
I guess I am.
I’m spending the morning at Cafe Zoë, writing to a lot of people. I never expected, when I started working as a futurist, that I would have to calculate what time it was in Beijing and Budapest, and make sure to get some e-mails out while people are still in their offices or awake. But that’s my life these days.
I’ve been coming to this cafe for a couple years now (actually, a quick check of my external memory– aka the blog archive– reveals its been four years and one month), and this morning I discovered a new function. I got to the counter, realized I didn’t have any money, and apologized and told them I’d be back.
“It’s okay,” the owner said. “You can owe us. It’s not the first time you’re here.” She pulled out a book with IOU on the front– I guess there are plenty of people who come here a little absent-minded– and wrote down my order.
It makes perfect sense. Unless I want to never come back here, I’m good for the $3.60. And they want to keep me as a regular customer, so it’s a reasonable risk for them.
Fortunately they seem to be doing pretty well, despite the downturn: there are a core group of us who are here regularly, and they seem now to have multiple clienteles at different times of day: stroller jogger moms in the morning, people coming in for lunch, freelancers or people who aren’t working and home and don’t want to work in the office (hello!), and people from nearby businesses, popping in for a cup of coffee. It’s a real slice of the neighborhood, and very nice to see.
Got a lot of my own stuff that I’m working on, as well as never-ending Institute stuff.
Fortunately it’s a cold, rainy day here, perfect for writing.