Four Star Coffee Bar

Fort Worth, Texas

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From the safety of the airplane flying away from Fort Worth it is possible to review my impressions, which of course will be funneled through and interpolated into the cup of coffee that I drank there this morning. The coffee experience was more of a distraction than a necessity. Although I woke up at 4:54 AM and had just been in Texas on Friday, my sleepiness and weariness had washed over me with a more subtle pang. These feelings at this point in the spring had become more innate and it was the fear and stress attached to my visit that painted my vision, albeit coloured by the slackness of my eyelids. I had put off the trip for more than a year hoping its impetus might disappear. The explicit details of my paranoia and the resolution of the trip are not necessary to detail here, but they will track me as far as my frittering away of time looking out upon the empty dust bowl of downtown Fort Worth from Four Star Coffee.

Four Star Coffee Bar

Like the breezes blowing through a smaller empty weekday morning city, Rapid City for instance, the sun rode in, painting its details with the dappled shadows of street trees, the quiet texture of brick, and the far reaching shade of tall buildings, yet they nary fell upon the shoulders of pedestrians. The sun and the landscape in the quietude of Monday morning downtowns are abstract, like watercolour sketches drying in a clothespin hung from an open loft window. These empty cities are soft, devoid of the voices of triviality and charlatanism that trail the shades of city folk seeking a Starbucks. Instead, the people I encountered in my jaunt from the office building where my meeting waited were shades of people, translucent in their movements and their speech. “They just drifted apart” “We are all split up today, we don’t know what to do with ourselves” It was melancholy, like an empty sun-scattered sidewalk beneath handsome retail signs from the hey-day of the inner city. These shadows, cogs from governmental office buildings taking their first 15 minute after 45 minutes into their work week, frittered the morning like me, less out of fear than ennui.

Four Star Coffee Bar

The sun fell away from Four Star. I drank my thin black coffee from a heat resistant Styrofoam cup, the kind which is covered in some sort of grippy substance. The still conversations, between a police officer in shorts and what sounded like a government school official with a key fob, and something that could have been an extremely informal job interview, drawn in out of the sun, possessed the same soft gasping, the impossibility of voices bodiless stretching through the street. Had the shop been completely empty physically it would have felt more full than as it contained myself and others fallen into Monday morning purgatory. The baristas shuffled and slowly turned on a post-rock soundtrack, possibly some Godspeed spawn which languidly drew the black tile surfaces cloaking me into immateriality, like shadows.

Four Star Coffee Bar

Although the connotations of emptiness veer toward the negative, it is with relish that I find these urban environments devoid of urban stimuli, where the world-weary love of the physicality of space is able to subvert the temptation toward bustle and rush that accompany cavernous streets and coffee. It is in these distances, both away from your own body and troubles and away from the behaviour that your physical environment typically necessitates that you can take stock. It is not just the quietness, but the quietness in a context where it does not below. Four Star was quiet and empty. From out of the emptiness I saw into the emptiness of the rest of the day and its people struggling to be something real.

Tonight I made note of a man bitterly complaining about the dryness of the beef he wanted to order from Manchu Wok in the food court of DFW. On the plane a female soldier entered; she was crying stoically, most likely on her way to deployment in Iraq, seeing into the visceral emptiness of her mortality.

Four Star Coffee Bar


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Four Star Coffee Bar

815 Houston Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76102



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