Method Coffee Bar and Tea Lounge

Decatur, Georgia

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(DECOMMISSIONED)

I am a connoisseur of silence. On my back porch the birds sing above the crouch of quiet cats. The Bubo Virginianus that lives in the woods behind my house is back. I hear him. I know silence not for its aural qualities, but merely as a condition in which I recognize the opacity of things, of the air. Airplanes from Hartsfield bring thunder invisibly from the low cloud ceiling all at once. It has been a silent afternoon.

Method Coffee Bar and Tea Lounge

University classes start tomorrow but today Emory was mine. At one PM I stepped through the marble gates which were at the time being rebuilt by two laborers chatting and stepped through a planter to fork on the right side of a long wooded gulley toward the again marble Carlos Museum’s back entrance which I had entered alone probably seven years ago for a lecture about Huysmans and color whose title alone, if I closed my eyes, would be more evocative than the words which drained out of it in an upstairs room with a lingering slide of Moreau’s John the Baptist in radiant decapitated stillness.

Method Coffee Bar and Tea Lounge

At the bridge that crossed the gulley a woman in a black cloak talked on her phone opposite me and I stopped for a moment to allow her to walk ahead. Below me almost disappearing into the leaves a rusted diamond plate landing with very narrow steps led into the woods and down the slope. A small sign indicated the path to be a work of environmental sculpture by George Trakas. Intrigued I followed the path which turned into a single wood plank inches above the leaves. A tree had fallen across the path and I stepped on it and over as it led down to the creekbed and stopped three feet above the wet stones and flowing water. I sat on it like the end of a diving board in the woods beneath the city and heard traffic noise pass above me, able to grasp only edges of it. I crossed the loose stones to another steel stair on the opposite side of the creek and climbed up to the back door of the Carlos Museum. It was open. An empty coat room was lit to my right and I boarded the elevator contemplating spending a half of an hour looking at photos of the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb. On the first floor the elevator opened facing a gift shop. It, like the rest of the campus save the departed woman in her cloak, was empty, but open, and Billie Holiday sang “them there eyes” in tinny distance from behind the shelves. To my left the front door let out onto the quadrangle and the Cannon Chapel in the distance. After the Huysmans lecture I had gone to the chapel and recalled nothing of it. It being a work of a canonical mid-century architect I felt like I should have an impression. It was closed this Sunday.

Method Coffee Bar and Tea Lounge

I felt the dilemma in the emptiness of the campus of selecting just the right spot to sit. This task is usually sorted out for me by the distribution of people in a public place, but here today I was overwhelmed by the freedom of the benches surrounding the quadrangle and leading down into sub-quads and tributaries. I followed the path down below the ramp to the chapel and beneath the barrel vaults overlooking the campus central plant where three giant chillers whirred. Once out from under the building I was in a courtyard with a smooth concrete and glass building ahead of me. It looked flat and dead. I made the decision not to retrace my steps and sat in a raised circular brick patio next to the back entrance of the chapel. Although it had rained for the last three days and the air was still thick with cloud the smooth bricks were dry. Rudolph at least succeeded in designing a plaza that could drain. I sat leaned against the high end of a brick wall that spiraled down around the perimeter of the circle to a zero point where I had entered it from the third step up off of the courtyard. I edited the first half of a story and listened to the cooling towers. Two couples walked through the courtyard to the back door of the chapel which was locked. As quickly as they passed out of the courtyard I felt as if they had never passed through it. An entire university campus empty under the full sky. I felt that the sky had come down into the spaces between the building and although I could see every surface with shadowless clarity far into the distance I was within its humid solidity. I had an impression of the chapel now.

Method Coffee Bar and Tea Lounge

At three PM I felt the pangs of urine tapping at my bladder and finding the doors to the concrete building at the far side of the courtyard locked I made my way back to the hydra of an intersection at the entrance to the campus to find a public toilet. I opted to play the urban game of paying for a hot beverage at a coffee shop in order to use its toilet. The cycle has been described in other tableaux I daresay. I floated into Method Coffee Bar and Tea Lounge through its covered patio and glimpsing the restroom to the far left approached the barista to order a tea. He spoke kindly to me, beyond the minimum of an exchange and put me at ease. I used the can while he put my tea together and then sat against a felt banquette to drink and do some additional editing. A booji couple on the turtleneck end of the spectrum of their ilk came in to inquire about the whole bean coffee for sale and asked whether the Yergecheffe could be used for espresso. The proprietor was polite and offered one of his espresso roasts as they went into a strained sounding reminiscence of the Ethiopian espresso they had subscribed to that was no longer available and longed for its smooth flavor. They ordered a tea and sat down.

Method Coffee Bar and Tea Lounge

I espied a group of four glass carafe cum funnel vessels on the counter and noticed next to the list of coffees available a chalk sketch of the same vessel. Feeling let into a conversation with the proprietor after his initial offering I ventured out of myself and walked to the counter to ask about the vessels and whether he served coffee from them. Indeed they did. I asked if I could photograph them. I could. He suggested that he was about to make a cup for himself and I could photograph one in action and as it brewed we talked about the origins of the brewing method, his shop, his name was Don, its proximity to Starbucks and the fact that college undergraduates don’t drink coffee they drink Starbucks, the coffee ‘cupping’ similar to wine tastings that his shop hosts, Costa Rican Tico coffee preparation, the fact that his shop was in the former home of the Emory branch of Inman Perk, which was in the former local outpost of Caribou, and breaking my cover as I never have before, the existence of this website. He gave me the cup of coffee he had just brewed on the house, it was the Nicaraguan, and I packed my things, and, thanking him, promised to come back. I felt like the translucent ‘I’ in a Sebald novel, sometimes myself, sometimes not, slipping through a barely grey luminous world and limping into faint sketches of conversations with familiar strangers. Don had looked, in certain poses, like my college mentor and as much as we spoke, I still had the peaceful feeling of having been silent throughout.

Method Coffee Bar and Tea Lounge

On the patio a man sat against the window with a book of Chekov criticism and I fancied the scorn I would garner in some forums of feeling a certain satisfaction at being alone on the patio with that man for a moment. Other than him the metal mesh tables were all empty and the same shadowless light from the courtyard filled the plastic enclosure with the calm abandonment one finds on the French coast out of season with white skies and empty cold beach patios, or the vision of the resort patio where the protagonist from “Souvenirs du Triangle d’Or” sat and was apprehended from, and I thought about the chance events spilling forth from my full bladder which allowed me to reflect back on the events of those three hours and make them concrete.

I took my Sebald novel to one of three benches across the street in front of a drug store and did not read it. A booji beturtlenecked man in his late thirties came out to a Landrover parked in front of me with a girl dressed in black tights and a cloak with bright red lipstick and straight dark hair, she felt too old to fit comfortably as a daughter, yet too young to not look oddly suspicious kissing his grey temples, which she did not do but in my mind’s eye, but too similar in costume and mien to have not been selected out of society by the man. Both were as disinterested in each other as a father and daughter would be, or as Delores and Humbert were rolling down the highway (in the film!) after the release of their first tryst. As they pulled away she leafed through a stack of long register receipts held up against the light through the windshield. The automatic bifold front door flapped like a mechanized screen door hitting its dryrotten jambs and a parked car filled with children that had been there for thirty minutes already still sat with its left turn signal flashing. Everything felt slow, as if the coffee had sped me up enough to document the intersection’s tableau vivant in minute detail as it moved at regular speed. At four PM blue ribbons threaded across the sky like Escher’s unraveling head.


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Method Coffee Bar and Tea Lounge

1593 N. Decatur Rd
Decatur, Georgia 30307
http://www.methodcoffeebar.com


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