Cafe Medici

Austin, Texas

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In the middle of it all we were hanging out in the basement print lab of the UT architecture school. It was September 2008. I had my copy of ‘Strange Details’ alternately curved in my back pocket or stuck in my waistband like a pistol. An almost Los Angeleno night breeze spoke in the dark courtyards. It was the dry kind that made it feel like the sun was still up; the last time I felt it was poking my head out of the sliding wood door in my studio in Marina Del Rey ten years ago. I could feel my thicker hair and smell Ray Chi and Jin Won Kim’s cigarette smoke. Jin Won could smoke a whole unfiltered cigarette in under a minute, in 3 drags, with his hard yellow hand cupped over the top of the ember.

Cafe Medici; Austin, Texas

We were told they had French press coffee almost immediately across the street and I was anxiously waiting to take a hot glass vessel with heat discolored brass fittings that looked like the sun shining in oily puddles back to my table to relax and watch the sinister roast suck light from the air.

We took a detour for dinner further north up Guadalupe and then strolled back toward Medici full of dry overglazed tofu and noodles. Coffee should have been the furthest thing from our minds. I knew it would take my stomach on its descent through the night. We eagerly ordered in the vast hall downstairs and took our coffee cups gingerly up the steps, somewhat dejected. I surmised that they made the coffee in French presses and then poured it in a cup and served it to you.

Cafe Medici; Austin, Texas

Part of the joy of French presses is the ritual of preparing, serving, and carrying on in the presence of the press as a prop. Certainly it tastes superior, but half of the taste is knowing visually that it came from the press.

I am one to whom context affects the senses. A lousy meal, like the one Weaver and I had just eaten up the street, can, in the thread of an evening that began after a swim at Hamilton Pool in the afternoon and a long hill country drive, tossing out conjectures about the end of a news snippet we caught which offhandedly noted that McCain was suspending his campaign, back to Waterloo to waste money on records, then after a short nap in the hotel, we walked the couple of miles from downtown in the cool air to stalk the UT College of Architecture and break on the weak forms and hack modes of representation, which now lead to this compartment of experience which became a facet of the worked jewel of a memorable afternoon, not a frustrated stuffing of braised tofu into my craw while I tossed scorn at the waiter who spilled water on me or the bleak streetscape of midtown Lavaca, or the fact that I didn’t hold a steaming French press in my hand.

Cafe Medici; Austin, Texas

So, carrying on about the context manufactured by the French press I recall Medici now, having described it all leading up to this, as being within the context of this pleasant afternoon and evening which then found us on foot again all the way back into town to sit in the yard of the Gingerman Pub for a few more hours, still carrying my copy of ‘Strange Details.’

Cafe Medici; Austin, Texas

Postscript: Although the atmosphere of a vast lit hall in a black night made me feel as though I had walked through an entire desert to find its light and warmth as a mirage, so otherworldly was my displacement in the limbo of idleness, my eyes closed to listen to Mulatu Astatke over the stereo only to open on a sea of hand-made chairs that, for me, could not have looked less comfortable. Utilizing the tripod, which is of course the only logical leg’d structure, they fouled up by putting a single leg in the back and a pair in the front. Were I alone and pulled up at the table to work I may not have cared, but in company I like to lean, and the shortcoming in this aspect of its function is all too apparent. Luckily there were some upholstered seats in the back by the top of the stairs from which I could spew my unfounded venom.

cup

Cafe Medici; Austin, Texas


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Cafe Medici

2222B Guadalupe St
Austin, Texas 78705
http://caffemedici.com


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CAFE TABLEAUX is a compendium of literary, anecdotal musings on coffeeshop and cafe culture.

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CAFE TABLEAUX
is a compendium of literary, anecdotal musings on coffeeshop and cafe culture.
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