Welcome to where the seeds of dreams are planted--where one can sip from the charmed chalice of life & meet interesting folk through (hopefully) intelligent conversation.

One never knows nor can expect who will sail into the fray--what we do know is that no soul here is perfect no matter how we try. So let us celebrate & raise our mugs to the idiosyncratic nature of life--to the Kramer's & Norm's of the world, the Roseanne's & Allan Poe's. Some old, some lost, some tortured, some blessed, all souls sharing a drink at the same time in the same place. The ensuing tales are authentic with names trending towards monikers. The flag waving on our doorstep means we're open, so come perk your curiosity in Le Harbor Bungalow Cafe.

Bonjour! Mesherfin! Hasta la vista! Your barista.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Gifted Conundrum

Gray clouds cover the harbor this early autumn morning, as well as the popular waterfront neighborhood, the Point called Fells.  Patrons scurry off the sidewalk and out of the misty rain, collapse their umbrellas and yawn their caffeine orders across the counter of le Harbor Bungalow Cafe.  How would America ever operate without caffeine and sugar?--our protagonist, the barista wonders.

The weather this morning reminds the barista of the final day of the Harbor Fest--the first Sunday of this month.  He arrived for his 11 a.m. shift at le Harbor Bungalow Cafe in his brown corduroy barista hat that morning hungover like a homeless war veteran passed out on a bench at the Korean war memorial one neighborhood east of the cafe--only without the irony.  His head as foggy as the skies above.

So why did he get so drunk wearing the hat of bassist at Betters of Lead?  A cafe patron asked him as much as the barista pressed the roasted coffee grounds.

"They were gifts, ya know," answered the barista.  "I feel it's bad luck to turn down a gift.  People are happy to give, who am I to make them unhappy by turning down or passing along a nice frosty, 8.5% alcoholic brew?  So, like Curt the night before, I took one for the team. Okay, I took five for the team.  It's not as easy as it looks."

Despite his sleepy state, the barista continued to justify his position that morning...or was he exposing a weakness?  "Some folks like a drunk band.  There is a certain charm to it.  It allows the crowd to share in the feeling of being vulnerable--to the effects of alcohol that is.  Others give to kind of test the musician--but that usually comes in the form of a shot of some sort."

Betters of Lead, like many bars in many cities across America, pays a modest amount to the acts they book.  Many musicians, like our protagonist, look forward to a few choice beverages as part of the trade-off for the the live entertainment they provide.  In many cases, the better the band, the drunker they become--at least in this neighborhood.  A funny conundrum. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Harbor Fest, Part II

Less than ten hours after leaving Betters of Lead, the barista--now bassist--returns to the stage (corner of the narrow bar, next to the front door where drunk dancing folk can knock over the tip jar and sway the microphone).  But not before heading to le Harbor Bungalow Cafe for un cafe, with room, for Jamison.

"Hey man you all alone?" 

"Yeah, Michelle went to Good Will," fellow barista says while he simultaneously brews coffee, makes sandwiches and serves single order pastries in large bags.

"When did she turn into Otis?" the bassist replies comparing their young coworker's break to an elderly, regular's daily routine of scavenging the second-hand store for lost treasures between cups of coffee. 

"Hahaha!" Laughs all around...including Otis who sits in the background on his laptop computer.

Walking through the square of the Point called Fells with his hot coffee--brewed in the Arabic style from Guatemala and somehow simultaneously a French roast (and soon to be Irish thanks to Jimmy the German bartender)--the barista wearing the hat of singing bassist meets up with his fearless band mates.

"Curt, did you get any sleep last night?!" The bassist had never seen his comrade so loopy as earlier that morning at the end of the 4-hour set.

"Hardly.  Crissy and I got hungry and hit Denny's last night.  Didn't get back till after five in the morning."

So the CR Experience trouped on with mellow numbers by John Prine, the Eagles and Crosby Stills & Nash, when all of the sudden Squeaky from  LHB Cafe peaks his head through the swinging saloon doors.  

"Haaaaaayyyyy! I know you." Squeaky says between songs.  "I'm on break from working the beer tent."

"You're not sneaking any of the beers, are you?" the bassist says.

"No, can't do that," the recovering alcoholic says.

Curt hits the head and gives the stage to Crissy.  She usually picks the banjo, but it happens to be in the shop this weekend. On guitar she slides into the Beatles "Rocky Raccoon" with the bassist ably following along.  Curt had already led "Ticket to Ride" so when the spotlight turns on the bassist, minutes later, he sticks with the Beatles theme turning Crissy's head--having never heard his rendition on solo acoustic bass.

I once had a girl, 
Or should I say,
She once had me.
                                      --from Norwegian Wood

Slowly, as the afternoon drifts along, Betters of Lead fills up to capacity and the CR Experience's hangover washes away kicking the songs into full gear.  Outside the bar, the streets are blocked off to automobile traffic and vending tents hawk all sorts of crafts and clothing.--scarves, paintings, knit hats, necklaces, T-shirts, even hammocks.  People scurry around like ants.  The saloon doors of the bar swing constantly as people filter in and out. As the tip jar fills, the bassist cannot keep up with the line of Loose Cannon beers behind him.  The name of the beer eerily appropriate.  Why is it so hard for the barista to turn down free beer when he is already drunk?  Can anyone out there relate to his predicament?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Harbor Fest!!! Part I

The neighborhood swelled this past weekend, like the harbor after a tropical storm from the Caribbean—only instead of the nasty urban water flowing, it’s beer.  And lots of it. 

Nothing brings the crowds out like a drinking festival in a historic, 200-plus year old neighborhood—with music…and knick-knacks to look at, if not purchase.  Autumn came to the annual, weekend festival as well, chasing many folks into Le Harbor Bungalow Café to warm up.

The barista wore the hat of barista on Sunday, but a day prior—along with the night prior to that—the barista played the role of bassist at Betters of Lead—a local watering hole—with The C.R. Experience.  Eight of twenty-four hours pluckin’ away and working on his first index finger blister in years.

“Hey, Curt!—I’m back in the neighborhood. Long story. Still want me to get my bass?”  The barista was excited, if not a bit jumpy. 
“Wow.  Ok, tell me later.  We got some extra time since we can’t get Billy off the stage.”  Curt motions to the barista’s right where a fellow H.B.C. patron howls into the microphone and strums his acoustic guitar.

Minutes earlier, the barista returned from his birthplace—an hour and change car ride north along the freeway—where his family celebrated the life of—while burying—his sweet, late grandmother (age 95).  A long day it was, and a long night it was to be.

As a freelance musician, the barista picks up gigs here and there from guitarists who sing and are in need of a chillin’ bassist who also can sing a tune when aforementioned guitarists need to drain their bladder for a few minutes (and/or need a smoke, etc.) because the booze they’ve been sipping to that point in the night or early morning is screaming for release and, as host, they don’t want the music to stop.

“Hey, Reg.  How ‘bout singin’ Dead Flowers?” Curt offers between songs in that dingy, narrow, dim, dive of a bar. Crissy nods, wide-eyed with approval.  The Rolling Stones country-sounding tune is a staple of the barista’s open-mic repertoire, so he nods and sets the pace.

“And I won’t forget to put roses on your graaayy---aaave…”—chills tickled the barista’s spine from tailbone to neck as he sang that final line—a line he sang dozens of dozens of times—but never as he did this night.  A feeling of being in the right place at the right time falls over the barista.  Wait—maybe that was the shot of Jaeger his buddy Rob just bought him before he strolled out through the swinging saloon doors with his cute Brazilian bride.

So not only did the barista read and act as a pallbearer at a funeral that final day of September, but he also celebrated his twin aunt and uncle’s birthday, was forced to cancel a wedding invitation from a cute cinnamon girl, but able to celebrate the anniversary of the wedding of his ole, high school and musician crony.  Things kept aligning.

“Yooo!! Me and Paula will be staying around the harbor tonight,” Rob messaged earlier that evening. “Celebrating seven years of marital bliss, dude!  If your around later, let me know and we’ll get a ‘Boh!”

So the barista finds him in the center of attention in that cramped corner of the bar with a hug on the way in and a shot on the way out.  Friends like these.  Days like this.