Java Break

Lawrence, Kansas

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Thos boots up his Tabeo and ‘logs on’ to the Marvel website to see about legally downloading some comic books. JHT catches him, “My real work had one of those devices, but we couldn’t figure out how to use it so it is in a filing cabinet somewhere, next to the boss’s empty iPod.”

Thos: “I just use this to read comics and carry photos of my cats.”
JHT: “Oooooh, that thing holds comics? I was lured into reading some comics last year, but I did not see the appeal. It was all camp. I couldn’t look at any of the characters without thinking of them on the Superfriends cartoon. The Watchman [Watchmen — ed.] was slightly less silly, but hey, I’ve pretty much read the literary precursors to everything written after 1957, so it wasn’t overly new or interesting to me.”
Thos: “Who convinced you to do that — the guy who only reads DC? I don’t get along with those people.”
JHT: “█████████. He is into the actual stories as entertainment and as, I guess, like a soap opera?”
Thos: “He did strike me as someone who really cares about the characters, and follows their ‘lives’ come hell or high water. I am interested in the content and interconnection of the meta-universe, the paratextual framing, the oeuvre of particular artists or writers; the characters are mostly secondary. Except for Carol Danvers.
JHT: “Fascinating!”
Thos: “I mean, I don’t particularly care for many of the Avengers, so if they took Bendis off writing duties and replaced him with Quesada, I would just drop the title or titles. I bet █████████ reads anything with ‘Batsomething’ in the title, no matter what it is or who produced it.”
JHT: “Bat…woman? Say, that reminds me, what the fuck is She-Hulk?”
Thos: “You just said ‘Batwoman’, so I suspect you already know the answer. When you get wrapped up in characters and myths like █████████ does, you will find yourself stuck following titles for years after the creative quality has fallen. Miniseries or storylines that are plotted with a definite end are superior. Not only comics, but everything should be made in a limited run – comics, tv shows, bands, careers. Nothing can stay sharp forever. It’s why Breaking Bad is awesome, while The Walking Dead is going to be nonsense. I never gave two tugs over Punisher before Garth Ennis was able to write him without regard to the rest of the Marvel Universe, aging him in real time. Jason Aaron was able to replicate that success in his own out-of-continuity series. Who gives a shit about Punisher if he is just another superhero who turns into a cyborg or goes to Hell?”

JHT leads Thos under a ‘stained glass’ ‘dome’ and into a concrete chambre populated with tattered couches that seems to have been transported through spacetime from a 1976 Southern Tech dorm basement. “I think I’ve been in this room before,” Thos worries. The walls and floor are smothered with graffiti, mostly done with Sharpie, and all of it is vulgar. Any innocent image or phrase has had a phallus or X-rated clause appended. ‘I am a unicorn…with a cock!’ ‘The Stone Roses….can chew my ass!’

Java Break; Lawrence, KS

Thos: “As we have discussed over email, everyone loses their edge, George Lucas, Robert DeNiro, Eddie Murphy. Probably not Steven Spielberg, yet.
JHT: “Grumble…”
Thos: “And whatever I had, I lost in the 90’s. At some point our parents were hip. My parents were my age when they had kids; now that I am at that age, I have realized that you can still be aware of the culture around you; I guess that they were able to maintain an awareness, as well. I had always assumed that they were in a sort of arrested development from the point when they had children. When my mom mentioned that Chewbacca uses a bowcaster it blew my mind; now I realize that she was only 30 when Star Wars dropped, so of course she would be able to follow it. It was probably as cool to her as Dark of the Moon was to you. My dad was listening to the British Invasion and fighting Rockers on his Vespa like five years before I was born. From my point of view, that was something that happened in the distant past, to strangers, but all the stuff they did as a young couple, like living in Europe and Clarkston was the immediate past for them. Five years ago for me, as of today, I was writing for CafeTableaux; that hasn’t changed for me. I remember my Joe Coffee Bar tableau like it was yesterday. Anyway, the point is that you slowly become square or out of touch without realizing it.”
JHT: “That doesn’t apply to me, because I am still pretty hip.”

Thos: “Example. I was listening to Paul’s Boutique in the bathtub last night. That shit came out over 23 years ago. That’s less time than between Abbey Road and when I called my dad a fossil for not listening to The Farm’s Spartacus!
JHT: “My parents didn’t allow me to listen to music, unless you count ABBA. My dad had The Eagles’ greatest hits on cassette in his Gremlin, but he never played it for me.”
Thos: “The band is called ‘Eagles’, not ‘The Eagles’.”
JHT: “Whatever. I hate the fucking The Eagles, man.”

Java Break; Lawrence, KS

JHT seizes upon Thos’s silent rage as an opportunity to further strengthen the case for his hipness by talking about Darkthrone 1994 versus Darkthrone 2012. Before reaching the ultimate point about new jack kids who only listen to new jack clones of Darkthrone’s early black-metal blueprints, but decry Darkthrone’s current speed-metal-punk as posertastic, JHT is awkwardly silenced by the entrance of a Java Break janitorial staffer in a Dying Fetus tee-shirt who has slowly been mopping his way toward the exegesis on metal trends. Finding only silence, the hesher heads on to the janitor’s closet allowing Thos to retake control of the conversation.

Thos: “It amuses me to see the bands that people post on facebook that they ‘like’ these days. Back in high school, someone like ████████████ would have found Ultravox! or Deep Breakfast in my Dodge Charger’s tape deck and called me an ‘art fag’ for not listening to Naked Raygun or Voivod. Now, of course they try to prove their urbane eclecticism by posting Jacques Brel and RZA and Band of Horses and Marissa Nadler videos all in one night.”
JHT: “Sounds tedious.”
Thos: “Truth be told, most people just post photos of their kids standing in the yard. Which is fine, I guess, if that is all you have going on in your life. I just post photos of cats and food. And links to cafe tableaux that no one clicks. But if I didn’t know these people when they were younger, when they had an ‘edge’, I would just think they were ordinary old schmucks.”
JHT: “██████████ seems like a cool dad. He’s pretty much the same guy I knew in 1996.”
Thos: “I’m not sure what is so radical about sending your kids to a ████████████ █████████ .”
JHT: “I think what I am trying to tell you is there are dumber parents than ██████████.”
Thos: “You think because he has listened to ██████████████ for 16 years that he is not like other parents? My dad was listening to Cream.’
JHT: “I guess the difference, in my opinion, is that probably when your dad was listening to the Wheels of Fire 8-track, so was every other person on Earth. I know you loathe breeders, but you have to admit that simply having a kid doesn’t immediately mean you are a fuckwit. Stanley Kubrick had kids, the original James Joyce had kids, Perry Kulper has a kid! Its funny, I see this as a similar argument that a lot of straightedge kids have, which is, not drinking liberates your mind to conquer new territories and contribute more to society. I am all for that! But many of the ones I grew up with were wasting their lives as much as any East Atlanta barfly is. They would, and probably you would, believe that because I can only write when I am drunk that my work has no merit. But, all I care about is what people produce, as long as I don’t have to pretend to care about their baby pictures.”
Thos: “My point was that our residual self images do not evolve with others’ views of us; so I’m lost on your tangent of trying to prove that ‘kids are cool’. Fuck it. My interest is waning.”

JHT shakes his head and excuses himself to the restroom, which opens immediately into the seating area, sans ‘buffer zone’.

Java Break; Lawrence, KS

Thos: “I’m bothered when bands…”
JHT: “Enough! The airport is an hour away; can we please not pad out the remainder of this tableau with another ‘dialogue’ of half-cooked philosophical rants?”
An arduous discussion follows concerning artists who remain staid while the scene around them changes (Aerosmith), versus those whose output evolves (The Beatles). Special attention is given the latter, with regards to what changes seem forced (Bright Eyes, Iron & Wine) and what seems natural (Radiohead, maybe Darkthrone).

On the way out the door, whilst cursing Java Break’s bullshit wifi account requirement, the tableauxists browse the wall of portraits of past customers. JHT muses that he’ll be a regular here soon; setting up his laptop in the corner and growing into the Java Break community, “Have I mentioned to you that I’m going to die in this town? I hope my face is on the wall before I go.”

The End!!

Cafe Tableaux. On The Road. Summer 2012
« Chapter 8: Aimee’s Cafe and Coffeeshop

Wandering Goat. Eugene, OR Perk Coffee and Espresso. Eugene, OR Java Break.  Lawrence, KS Aimees Coffeehouse.  Lawrence, KS Black Sheep. Sioux Falls, SD The Fix. Buffalo, WY Coffea.  Sioux Falls, SD Liquid Planet. Missoula, MT Zootown Brew.  Missoula, MT

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Java Break

17 East 7th Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044


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