San Francisco September 2010

by Amy D Lux

I still have several days to kill before I get to work in San Francisco. I’m running out of money, bored with myself, and spending an exuberant amount of time in coffee houses expecting to be fulfilled and surprised like I was when I was graduating my teen years at The Last Drop in Philly. The next thing to do was always found at that vortex of 13th & Pine, even if it meant just sitting on the stoop at 13th & Pine. You could get drunk, get drugs, get a boyfriend, get dumped, get coffee, get inspiration, get philosophy. You could link up, meet up, hook up, grow up, grow dreads, shave your head. The world was completely available and if it wasn’t cheap, it was free.

These days I don’t tend to expect much more than a good cup of caffeine. Some tasty grub helps the experience and good tunes certainly don’t hurt. I suppose that was what I was expecting when my friend recommended Muddy Waters on Valencia. To be fair, he hadn’t been here in a decade and said he couldn’t really vouch for the current operation, but the last time he was here they made some damn good coffee. That is true. The brew is so thick I had to double my creamer.

Since even the suckiest places in San Francisco have delicious food, I wasn’t expecting my egg & cheese bagel to form in less than a minute with the egg shaped like it popped out of a plastic mold and the orange slice of Velveeta shockingly unmelted. I thought Velveeta was born melted.  I did not want an egg & cheese bagel in the first place but the menu is sadly limited and even Dunkin Donuts can pull those off with a smidge of flavor.  Judging by the cute butch in the Anti-Racist Action shirt sitting next to me and the fact that one of the baristas looks like a Palestinian Freedom Fighter and the other looks like a quintessential seventies feminist at a jazz lounge, young punks and anarchists surely adore this place. The walls haven’t been painted in at least twelve years and they only take cash, which means they are really stickin’ it to the man. The paintings on the wall have rage and potential but they are lazy and unfinished, which does not stop them from being overpriced. Most of the time there is not an ounce of sound outside of the boisterous table near the window but every once in a while the barista gets bored and starts watching youtube on her iPhone which is connected to some dime store speakers behind the counter. It is a dim and distant sound and within nanoseconds the phone rings, or a customer comes in, and she turns it off, keeping her dine-in audience feeling distraught and discombobulated, a perfect emotional stratum for a protest on the square.

Recommended for anyone with an abundance of angst or a simple taste for coffee to go.

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