Octane Coffee

Atlanta, Georgia

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Oh the new shop. Actually I don’t know how new. Thos. has been asking me to go here for some time I believe, and I have finally made it, on a rather non-descript early fall evening. With the new shop and the fresh I night I ventured to revisit an old piece of writing that has been on the shelf since spring awaiting my completion of another thing, but it doesn’t mind, it has been languishing for 6 years now, most of it in a completely unassembled state, and for the past 2 years, in a 1/3 complete state. My feelings for the shop, as is the focus of this site, were in turn corrupted by my attempts to reattach myself to this tired old text. The pattern of writing has seemed to be, write non-stop mess against a slightly linear outline, assemble into digestible paragraph blocks of similar length, blend edges of paragraphs, draw out major lines of imagery and action, write another sequence, etc. This revisitation finds me in the middle of a train of thought which I had closed the book on in the blink of an eye, all the direction left unzipped, and unresolved. So, diving into it in a new place made me feel doubly alien.

Octane Coffee

Luckily, I was not in such an unfamiliar place. Within the canon of coffeeshops, there is a limited palette of styles and atmospheres. What I found at Octane was comforting enough on two fronts to allow me to sink into the worn armchair (armchairs at a small circular table! genius, the table is for beverages only of course, composition is done on the lap) and sew up my memory. Two fronts: the aesthetic and the social. Octane is in the school of Portland’s Stumptown and Atlanta’s own Inman Perk (although not quite as designed). It is an intensely volumetric space, the lighting has sparkle, the surfaces are used and abused, but tempered with slick cold treatments in bars and furniture, and new storefront glass, in short, everything feels like it is reflective, even when it is dull and decrepit. But perhaps more soothing to me was the clientele. I don’t know if it was that night in particular, but the place was filled with geeky looking folks wearing ironic t-shirts touting that “as a matter of fact, the earth does revolve around me,” girls with greasy ponytails, and professional student types sporting those yellowy clear braces that are clearly braces although they look more like plaque and the person still looks like they have an orange rind in their mouth when it is closed. This is comforting because these people are clearly from my alma mater, Georgia Institute of Technology, and although I never spent time with their ilk during my matriculation, their presence puts me in the old psychology building studying for an history test while listening to Tiamat on my Walkman, or falling asleep in a chair on the top floor of the library, that big modernist womb.

Octane Coffee

It is strange to look at them from outside of the situation they are in, and I was once in, and strange to look at myself in a new coffeeshop, dozens of which seem to be springing up all over the city, to both my delight and chagrin, for I have undertaken the responsibility to haunt them all, when I would much prefer to go to Octane, or Inman Perk, or Joe’s, or Java Monkey. I still haven’t been to Maasty. I did not ever really enter back into the text. I’m not sure I really even entered into the stream of Octane either. There were too many associations abuzz, too many loose ends that were tickling my neck mutely. As with all of these places, it is not their fault, and I appreciate them for being little incubators that somehow rouse in me this nostalgia. Perhaps though, it is the beverage. I am reminded of the quote that periodically pops up on the front page: “As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move…similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.” Lucky putain! Octane, I will figure you out!!!

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Octane Coffee

1009-B Marietta Street NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30318

One Response to “Octane Coffee”

  1. j.h. trefry

    i dont know if octane usually turns into a bar at 8:30, or if it is just on thursday nights. i know there is a bar there, but i see a difference between ‘being’ a bar and ‘containing’ a bar. i felt bad for the north-african-looking gentlemen who, when the lights were dimmed to an intolerable level at 8:30, was forced to close the massive white binder he was reading from, look around the room hopelessly, look back at his binder, barely reflecting the glimmers of the tea candle that had just been placed on his table, listen to the baristi praise the ‘subterranean’ atmosphere laughingly, look across to me who was sensing his frustration, then pack up his things to leave amidst the ghostly glow of laptop-lit faces not paying him mind. maybe lars lerup is right, everything is done on computers these days. i guess the proprietor/proprietrix was watching the webcast of his pathetic lecture at 9am this past saturday too.

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