Saturday, July 01, 2006

Three Mochas

Yesterday I had a rich range of experience in New York, shaped by three symbolic mochas.

The first came from a Starbucks on Broadway at the head of Wall Street. The long line of people in suits (ok, besides me) was handled with brisk competence by the young baristas, who would face hours of serving the fuel of commerce. Venti, no whipped [cream]. To go, of course.

The second came at the end of the day at Ninth Street Espresso. When the workshop ended I hoofed it to the eastern edge of Greenwich Village, where Ninth Street meets Avenue C, to get to what was reputed to be the best-made espresso in town. I got there just as the owners were starting to close. They did not, shall we say, pour on the charm, but then New York has different charm standards than Kentucky to begin with. But they did make one superb mocha. I enjoyed it while watching the East Village street scene unfold on a summer's Friday evening.

The third came from the Café Orlin, a storied literary hangout on St. Mark's Place in Greenwich Village proper. The mocha came as dessert after a fine dinner, which I began much later than is customary in Kentucky, but was clearly early for the New York crowd. I nursed it through a couple of hours, while reading Pierre Bourdieu's Distinction. All around me were conversations about the book's very subject, the making of cultural distinctions as a tool of class struggle. The waitstaff, a cosmopolitan group, were curious about the book from its title, and the fact that I sat amidst their busy swirl with it for hours. They wrote down the reference, to read later. I went to the hotel, and was abed by midnight.

And so home.

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