Kickstand Cafe

Tacoma, Washington

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at trader joe’s in seattle on thursday morning a conversation was forcibly struck up between us and the cashier, and eventually with the older local lady in (if i recall correctly) some sort of athletic tights and probably a fleece northface vest. it came out that we were headed to tacoma after purchasing our smoothie, batard, and mango flavoured tortilla chips. “get ready for the aroma of tacoma,” the cashier joked. forgetting that we were leaving the city, the two seattliens proceeded to bombard us with suggestions of things we should do in and around the seattle metro area, most of which we had already done, and some of which (the suggestions made mostly by the wealthy idle looking woman) we had no intention of doing, especially not after someone had recommended them to us. i was glad that this shameless verbal tourbook had been visited upon us as we were to imminently leave the city so it could not spoil my feelings of independent discovery. we took off, not wishing we could stay and do the rest of the things the chamber of commerce shills had suggested, but looking forward, with speculation and curiosity, to the one negative thing they had told us, which was meant more as a deterrent from tacoma, its “aroma.”

Kickstand Cafe

riding through the darkness in downtown tacoma, thursday night, on high hills above the water, we listened to neil young and looked for a good view of the port through the perpendicular streets that sloped down to our left. it was strange to be in a car after walking around seattle all week. the hilltop area was bleak. the moon, approaching full, caused a baseline blue tone to coat every surface, broken by the yellow orange of the streetlamps which swelled into a pleasant rhythm with ‘in the meadow dust i park my aerostar,’ some lines i always pictured as yellow, maybe it is the glow of the harvest moon, from whose absence loped forth a lone coffeeshop, a quaint personality waiting for the city to catch up with it, and our plans for the next day were solidified.

Kickstand Cafe

in day little was different. replace the blue with a blinding white sun, and the streetlamps with shadows. it was bleak. kickstand’s sidewalk patio kept us warm as the sun crept toward and over us. it was either that the proprietors of the shop forecast a growth of the burgeoning waterfront up the hill, anticipating a gradient from the uptight tully’s crowd to the more quirky and independent as the roads sloped away from the water (or that they sought to germinate that growth by giving it a destination), or that this hilltop had once been a cozy commercial alternative that had been burnt to death in the bare sunlight.

Tacoma, WA

either way, we welcomed the respite and the home base as we wandered down the hill, following an almost verbatim manifestation of jbjackson’s “stranger’s path,” complete with an adult movie theater and a ‘temple of labor’ (labor omnia vincit!!!) and culminating in the sterile waterfront with predock’s museum and the glass museum that costs more money to get into than i had spent on the 5 loaves of bread i had eaten that week. perhaps we would have been better off at the top of the hill, at kickstand, hypothesizing about its relationship to the city, but never testing it. the climb back up the hill was brutal. but without directly comparing its warmth and individuality to the corporate redevelopment of the rest of the city, we might have assumed the city was better than that. still, we never found the “aroma.” i don’t know, maybe it was coffee.

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Kickstand Cafe

604 South Fawcett Avenue
Tacoma, Washington 98402

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