It’s been a long time since I cafe tableaux’d. Let me get back to this cafe that practically tableaux’d itself even before my first visit. There is probably a LibreOffice document in the ‘tableauxes’ directory on the old banana cream Aspire under the bed in my spare room that begins, ‘The worst thing about Grindcore House is that it is four miles from my house…‘
Sike! I don’t have a house or a bed; I sleep on a curb alerted futon mattress on the cement floor of a basement SRO efficiency. In any event, I would have typed that lede a year or more ago – the day after whenever Grindcore House had its grand opening – a mediocre year or more ago at that: one amounting to nothing, sans accomplishment, sans highs and lows, quite distinct from the previous year, which should be 2009 — it’s difficult to determine without referencing a calendar – as that was the year of complete darkness, the accumulation of hundreds of hours of alternating between hammering my fists against my knees and lying catatonic on the carpet envisioning circles of ravens as black fog closed against me, until the latest DVD of Battlestar arrived from Netflix. At least I had time to bicycle to the top of Mount Washington once a week. This past year of squatting on the Grindcore tableau lacked such drama; it was only day after day spent sitting by the radiator and/or box fan, moving some text or photos of bison up and down the screen one pixel at a time.
Unlike other editors, I don’t have the focus and discipline to seat myself before a blank sheet of vellum and fill it with 1000 lines of text before my 9am coffee break. Almost certainly, I have described my bouts with [Edited to add: literary] impotence to our readers before today; unlike the artist known as Prince, however, I never revisit my own work. I burn my ships when I reach the shore, so I can not verify what I once may or may not have proclaimed. Regardless, as a result of this literary flaccidity, over the years, many worthy tableaux have fallen before they reached maturity: Metro (r.i.p.), Jittermugs (r.i.p.), the Lund Trilogy, and the one-word Unitea (r.i.p.) tableau.
Putting off this Grindcore piece for so long has its advantages, however. First, it is still in business, unlike, say that coffee place that replaced Walnut Bridge after it went out of business. Secondly, and more importantly with regards to the Cafe Tableaux Manual of Style, the time has given me pause enough to abstain from gushing like a pasty, sycophantic fanboy and to set my gaze upon a negative angle to bitch about like the ‘fucking pretentious idiot‘ our clients have come to expect:
What’s the deal with all the fucking dogs at Grindcore House? Without fail – without fail!! – every visit this tableauxist has made has involved an encounter with a customer standing in line with one or more dogs. These aren’t Pekinese or Chihuahuas, either; they are human-man-sized Kangals and Leonbergers trying to sniff everyone’s shit and barking at full volume. One old prick in a two-tone Columbia sports jacket let his Golden Retriever off leash in at the counter, whilst a couple brought a baby stroller (don’t get me started) and two dogs in to the back seating room so they could lay in the middle of the floor where people carrying hot coffee and platefuls of biscotti had step over and around them.
Though the atmosphere is slightly more hipster at Grindcore, there is some overlap between the South and West Philadelphia cultures. The crust punx, trust fund students, and aging granola types who inhabit West Phila coffeehouses sure as shit have dogs; quark only knows you can’t sit in Clark Park with your hoagie without one trying to rub its filthy snout on it within seconds, but you never see one holding up the line at Green Line or Earth Cup; even the “scum fucks” at Satellite have the decency to lash their animals to a bench when they hike over for a smoothie (Though the cat from Firehouse Bicycles is welcomed into Satellite at any hour, which is perfectly acceptable).
So why do the dogs Occupy Grindcore? I presume the ‘vegan’ sign over the door encourages it. “Oh, they don’t eat animals in this coffee shop, so I wouldn’t be acting like a selfish prick if I brought one into the confined space and allowed it to bark at people.”
Of the three (3) responses my online personal ad has garnered since August 2010, one was the inquiry, ‘Just wondering, how can a vegan dislike dogs*?’ *It actually said ‘children’, but they are synonymous to me. I didn’t reply to the message, because she was not my type and I have unwarranted, delusional expectations, but I will answer here, in case she is still googling ‘thosxxxmore’: appreciating something conceptually does not preclude hating a manifestation of that concept individually. I ‘appreciate’ art, but I think Banksy is a hack. My queue includes ‘Dark Stylish Thrillers’, but I gave the Vince Vaughn ‘Psycho’ ½ a star. I do not want to see my two nieces killed by a mad woodsman, but I also have no desire to ever see them again. Similarly, the fact that I do not want to see animals, as a whole, abused or used for my vanity does not mean that I also have to be friends with every one of them personally. Some of them, I would; tigers, elephants, sea turtles, all could move in with me. Now, consider the cow: They are cute in cartoons and Far Side calendars, but the real ones have a terrible stench and are covered with flies; my apartment has enough of both, already. Cows can be set to roam freely on the plains or the range or whatever their habitat would be if humans had not restructured it; put it to a vote and I would vote for it, if elections actually made a difference, but I do not want to hang out with them. Dogs and children are in the same lot.
Speaking of which, as long as I am on a tear with criticizing things I can’t explain, I am no longer certain that an anarchist, non-commercialized, industry-free society is ideal. The following tirade will likely be the most conservative, reactionary, and chauvinist thing you will ever read by this tableauxist. NOTE: thos. more has none of the personal characteristics listed in the previous sentence. I have this theory – though it is probably not that, since there are some rigid scientific guidelines as to what constitutes a logical theory. I have this thing that I thought, based on this time I read some musing on the salad days of NASA, when all the dudes working there wore skinny ties and white short sleeve shirts and existed within a basically confined, limited social structure. Those guys had no freedom or expression, but they still put people on the moon. Now we have Casual Friday every day of the week, open-ended hours, in-office daycare, and Dell can not make a laptop adapter that lasts more than a year.
Look, the day I wear a suit is the day I get married, but it has to be more than a coincidence that wearing Airwalks and Hollister t-shirts to the office coincides with the loss of two space shuttles in flight and the U.S. reliance on Russia to send its astronauts to the International Space Station because we can’t make rocket capsules any more. Yes, the country was more stifled and repressed than today, if your yardstick is the sexualization of toddlers in tiaras and the airing of ‘Weeds’ on teevee, but things still got done, and people who raged against the machine produced Catch-22 and Stranger In A Strange Land and Paint It Black; now you can bring your daughter to work day and wear flip flops when you meet the president, but at the cost of producing artists whose only output is abstinence parables about vampires who sparkle and Hungry Games (tl;dr). This laissez-faire attitude is what causes the hippies responsible for supplying vegan foods under their homemade, boutique brand to coffeehsops to lapse after two weekends of deliveries, because baking 24 muffins in their co-op’s kitchen collides with time they would rather spend tweeting about ‘The Walking Dead’ or ‘Gossip Girls’ or ‘The Kardashians Show’.
As a result of this condition, some local coxcomb gets hooked on coffee cake on his first visit, but upon every return to the coffeehouse, he finds the display case empty because his freewheeling do-the-work-you-love generation can not be bothered to get out of bed before noon, so he has to order a day-old bagel that is the same as a bagel he could get without traveling four miles first thing in the morning! Now, this unnamed hot buck is not going to say ‘life was better in the 60′s’, though it quite clearly was by almost any measure, assuming you were a white male of means who did not get drafted and end up in a tiger cage in Vietnam, but can we at least bring back brutally rigid working conditions of putting on a tie one day a week (preferably Saturday night) in order to produce some coffee crumb cake for the masses — or at least for the one guy who gets to the cafe early enough? Furthermore, as long as we are imposing absurd draconian measures, why not institute a moratorium on the ‘Bottomless Cup’? Because little else will stop this tableauxist at four refills, which the above spiel proves is more than anyone needs.
Postscript: This is why we need more than one tableauxist in each city – someone to post about G’core’s shows, readings, movies, library, community meetings, etc, and about how you are, spoiler alert, less likely to hear grindcore over the speakers than you are Fugazi, Count Basie, or Joni Mitchell. Grindcore House is truly an awesome place that serves its neighborhood by providing more than just coffee and treats; the type of quality A++ tableau that it deserves unfortunately is not what I do.
Grindcore House1515 South 4th Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19147
soymilk: no extra charge
wifi: free access