Tilt Coffeeshop

Atlanta, Georgia

tableaux'd by: and

As Tilt Coffeeshop was visited by two (2) Cafe Tableauxists simultaneously, we decided to post dueling tableaux, as a sort of ‘He said, he said’ experiment – a look at the divergent, opposing, and/or confluent views of a shared experience:

j.h. trefry said:

Tilt Coffeeshop

This was the first shop I had visited with Thos. since Mani’s Santa Monica in the fall of 1998, about 9.5 years ago, that neither of us had previously visited. This experience was pretty much the same as that one, although fleshed out a bit more by 10 additional years of repertoire rehearsal. We bickered and picked the place apart while trash-talking about people like Grace Lau, who, I would imagine, we would have just begun complaining about 10 years ago at Mani’s. It doesn’t really bother me that so little has changed. It is pleasant in a way that there is a constancy in the personality of the independent coffeeshop, even the new ones that keep stacking up on top of each other in the gentrifying corners of the country, that refreshes my spirit like bullshitting with an old friend.

Tilt Coffeeshop

Established old friends, we like them because they have grown on us, we are able to overlook things that have faded into the background over time. With our good old friend the coffeeshop, we are faced with the difficulty of reconciling that familiarity with the jolting differences that we find in the newer manifestations of their kin. It would be deceptive to chalk Tilt up under the BFF ‘standard independent coffeeshop’ category in which you might find Xhedos in Detroit or Green Line in Philadelphia. There was a pulse to Tilt that beat with the juice of modernity’s life’s blood. No, it wasn’t ‘damn fine coffee.’ It was teevee. I can go a long time without watching teevee, and any time that I do I end up wondering why I hadn’t done something else with my time. Perhaps you have encountered self-loathing grouches like me sometimes. Perhaps you think it is out of step, or painfully self-conscious. But my question is, how can it be that a human being can not survive, or at the very least, not be able to while away the moments in a coffeeshop, without being linked to their own personal television set, or for the more socially inclined, the group teevee room in the back with the big flat set on the wall. It is odd to me that that might be a selling point or an attraction to the coffeeshop goer. It makes me think back to the terminal at the old Melbourne (Florida) Regional Airport that had hard black plastic teevee/chair combos that you could pay 25c to for 15 minutes of black and white re-runs. But then again, you ‘had’ to be there, which would be the only excusable reason to need a teevee to pass the time there, if you had not the prescience to tote along a text or blankbook. One doesn’t go to Tilt because they have to, and it would follow that you would be going there as a destination to pass the time filled with that destination, not going there on purpose and then requiring a teevee to distract you from being there. It doesn’t add up. At least you could turn the built in sets at the small tables off, which we promptly did upon sitting down.

Tilt Coffeeshop

Tilt Coffeeshop

It is hard to know what Thos. is going to latch onto for his Tilt narrative. We agreed to post our tableaux together and compare them. I might guess that he would talk about me forcing him to walk through the heat to get there, or he might damn his camera for sucking dry his batteries before he could take pictures of the toilet room at Tilt, or rail against some minutiae of the interior design like the overwhelming turnbuckle fetish or whether the place was called ‘Tilt’ because the shelves were improperly braced and threatened to toss a plate of brownies onto the floor. I can only guess. It will probably have more subtle and lucid language, less hyperbole and melodrama, and probably not reference the fact that he was there with me at all.

Tilt Coffeeshop

I hate to sell Tilt short as the place with the television sets at the tables. That would be like describing your experience on a MARTA bus solely through the get-rich-quick infomercials in which a propped-up Tom Bosley implores you over the bus’s built-in teevees to sell crystal unicorns and embroidered throw-pillows over the phone, instead of expanding the narrative with screaming children, adults screaming into their cell-phones, and teenagers listening to screaming adults over their poorly shielded headphones. I actually enjoyed my time there, I enjoyed the open roll-up door letting in sunlight, I enjoyed the missing ceiling tile in the bathroom that let you see back out to the main space, I enjoyed the little soy milk pitcher and the free soy milk, I enjoyed being complemented about my tie by the diminutive male barista, and I enjoyed having a new yet familiar place to visit with my old friend.

addendum: After further reflection I have realized that I have visited quite a few establishments for the first time with Thos. I don’t know that the cafes in Paris should count, but certainly Chapterhouse and the dive in Chelsea that will probably remain forever absent from this website should count.

Thos. said:

Jesus Christ, if I had known the brutal nature of the journey we were to undertake, I would have made preparations by fortifying myself with the four-vegetable plate at Eats, then stripped about half of the layers of clothing insulating my body and fashioned them into a sun-shielding covering for my head, neck, and face. Instead, I began the day’s ordeal unaware that JHT had devised this trek as a method of retribution for what he perceived as punishment inflicted upon him, per my design, as we strolled along the streets of Philadelphia last Spring, as expertly documented in his Chapterhouse tableau.

Somehow, when I am away from Atlanta, I manage to forget how fucking hot it gets there. There are cities located further south, and certainly places that are more humid, but somehow Atlanta still feels less comfortable than Miami or New Orleans or even the DF. Possibly it has something to do with the fact that you can walk from MSME to Tilt and back without seeing a single tree. As I staggered along our path, the heat beating up from the asphalt and on all sides from the enormous concrete volumes that fill the city southwest of Five Points, the only glimpse of greenery I managed to catch was a patch of grass bursting through an abandoned parking lot 600 feet below the web of viaducts we traversed across the wasted land that JHT affectionately calls ‘The Gulch’.

Atlanta, GA

as seen in 2005

Who knows when and where that name became popular; I’ve never heard it used before this blistering march across town. The Peachtree Plaza is now the Westin, the Nationsbank building is now Bank of America Plaza, Bellsouth is now the AT&T, HP is now Crawford, and Stewart Avenue is now Metropolitan Parkway. I never saw the sign, but my dad still complains that Ivy Street is Peachtree Center Avenue and Houston is John Wesley Dobbs. I would bitch about the OMNI, but I recall that they imploded the last bit of it to construct the Philips Arena or the Georgia Aquarium or some more Post Apartments. I grew up around these places, but when I talk about them now, I get all of the names wrong, appearing like a clueless greenhorn fresh from a boat from Cleveland. Amidst my protests regarding name changes of buildings and destruction of buildings that are superior to their replacements, viz.: The C&S Tower and the First Atlanta (later Wachovia, natch) Building, JHT claims that when you die, you forfeit the right to have something named after you; however, I did not hear him complaining when he was driving down Ponce de Leon Avenue a mere 45 minutes earlier in the infernal afternoon.

R.I.P. Wachovia

R.I.P. Wachovia

I did not enter Tilt for the coffee; I sure as shit did not do so as the thermometer on my wristwatch climbed to 102°F. I entered Tilt and ordered a beverage that could have been brewed at room temperature out of duty to CT. I do not recall Tilt being distinctive compared to numerous other cafes — or bistros, boutiques, bike shops for that matter — located in former industrial sites that have been gutted and fitted out with stainless steel fixtures and exposed halogen bulbs – excepting the fact that there were televisions on every table. I do not know if Christian Unverzagt has built anything; I do not want to know, but this is what I imagine it would look like — minus some green curving planes or Lucite. If I was not obliged to take part in this tableaux tandem, I would have forgotten Tilt as quickly as I forgot the flavour of their brew as I sweat it through my pores, swooning whilst hearing JHT, as though from the bottom of a boiling well, tantalize me with mirages of falafel sandwiches and the number of a girl named ‘Thos.’ from the Green Line during the plod ‘home’.

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Tilt Coffeeshop

274 Walker St. SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30313

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