Velocity Cafe

Santa Monica, California

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I understand the most recent edition of the _Taschen Encyclopedia of 20th-Century Design_ describes the interior of Velocity Cafe as a veritable taxonomy of postwar vinyl mobilier and oeuvres d’art plastique. The fact of its inclusion in this volume will most certainly ensure that cafe receives the patronage of thrift-store enthusiasts, nostalgic baby boomers, and the occasional graduate student, who, no doubt, is mining the streets of Santa Monica for a profound (and marketable) dissertation topic. In spite (or because?) of the excess of kitsch that appears to have been vomited onto every surface of Velocity Cafe’s insides, the interior is visually inoffensive…nay, even pleasant and fascinating.

What I mean is sometimes cafes take things too far: the chrome Cadillac bumper, for example, should not have been welded to that Soho cafe counter. Or, the tin-pressed ceiling panels (of some hip cafe I am now imagining or recollecting) are clearly of recent manufacture. With its crap canvas paintings; dusty 10-yr-old power strips haphazardly glued to the walls; and crunchy, overgrown brown-and-green fern that hangs by two different types of chain from an overextended hook emerging from a gouged cleft in the semi-glossy painted ceiling, Velocity Cafe has managed to achieve a remarkable equilibrium between product and process. (Imagine, as well, a brick dado, splinter-inducing wood paneling, and terracotta floor tiles, and you may begin to appreciate the complex tonal harmony of brown hues which has blossomed autochthonously from the planes of this streetside polyhedron.) The amalgam of hodgepodge is not an affectation. Its mismatched, slipshod appearance is not a ‘look’; on the contrary, it is the strata of time’s deposits, the open, gaping wounds of use and neglect, the story of something taken apart and put back together again. This place works, not in a Hausmannish way, but more like the winding, beehive neighborhoods of Fez, where routes of movement follow from patterns of habitation and commercial/social exchange, rather than the reverse.


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Velocity Cafe

2127 Lincoln Blvd
Santa Monica, California 90405
http://velocity-cafe.com/


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is a compendium of literary, anecdotal musings on coffeeshop and cafe culture.
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